Aaron Harang Getty

Aaron Harang falls just short of history with nine consecutive strikeouts

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Aaron Harang led the National League in strikeouts way back in 2006 as a member of the Reds, but we certainly don’t think of him a strikeout-type anymore. Some blame Dusty Baker for killing his arm, but the 33-year-old right-hander has averaged just 6.6 K/9 over the past two seasons. Still, he came very close to becoming an unlikely part of history tonight.

After giving up a leadoff single to Cameron Maybin in the top of the first inning, Harang struck out the next nine batters he faced. To put into perspective how odd this is, Harang had gone 44 straight starts without striking out nine in a game. The veteran right-hander began the top of the fourth inning with a chance to tie Tom Seaver’s major league record (April 22, 1970) with 10 consecutive strikeouts, but Will Venable took him deep to break up the streak and end the shutout. So much for that.

While Harang’s unlikely run at MLB history fell short, he did top the franchise record for consecutive strikeouts, which was set when Johnny Podres struck out eight straight against the Phillies on July 2, 1962. Breaking Johnny Podres’ record against the Padres? Now that’s weird.

UPDATE: Harang tied his career-high with 13 strikeouts before exiting after 6 1/3 innings, having allowed four runs on four hits and two walks. The Dodgers won 9-8 on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.