Interleague games in AL ballparks gave the Cubs a short-term opportunity to call up first base prospect Anthony Rizzo and play him without having to bench anyone, but they passed on the chance and so Rizzo continues to be a nightmare for Triple-A pitchers.
He homered twice Sunday and two more times Monday, and Rizzo is now hitting .370 with 22 homers, 16 doubles, and a .753 slugging percentage in 59 games for a 1.183 OPS that leads all of minor-league baseball.
Toss in the damage he did as a minor leaguer while in the Padres’ farm system last season and Rizzo has the following career numbers at Triple-A: .345 batting average with 48 homers, 50 doubles, 158 RBIs, and a 1.093 OPS in 152 games.
Based on merit alone he’d presumably already be in Chicago, but because finding a spot for him in the lineup would require shifting Bryan LaHair to the outfield and/or lessening the role of a suddenly hot-hitting Alfonso Soriano the 22-year-old Rizzo is left to do his Babe Ruth impression in Iowa against a bunch of pitchers with no shot to get him out.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.