Last night the Mets and Giants played 16 innings on the West Coast, which caused me to stay up until 3:00 a.m. and tweet some very stupid things. It also allowed Brandon Belt to get eight at-bats and the Giants first baseman went hitless while striking out five times in the 4-3 loss.
Striking out four times in a game in a “golden sombrero” and I believe striking out five times is a “platinum sombrero.” Of course, striking out five times while going 0-for-8 is a whole different level of misery, so I searched Baseball-Reference.com for all the instances of a player going hitless in at least eight at-bats with at least five strikeouts.
Brandon Belt 07/08/2013
Chris Davis 05/06/2012
Jim Thome 07/02/2004
Cecil Cooper 06/14/1974
Bobby Darwin 05/12/1972
Billy Cowan 07/09/1971
Tony Conigliaro 07/09/1971
Ron Swoboda 04/15/1968
Byron Browne 07/19/1966
Rick Reichardt 05/31/1966
So last night Belt became the 10th player in MLB history to have at least eight hitless at-bats while striking out at least five times in a game, including just the third player to do it since 1975. And there are plenty of very good hitters on that list. Chris Davis is the last guy to do it, about 14 months ago, and he’s currently leading MLB in homers and slugging percentage. And the last guy before him was Jim Thome, who’s headed to the Hall of Fame.
Also of note: Two of the 10 instances came in the same game, back on July 9, 1971, when the A’s beat the Angels 1-0 in 20 innings and Angels teammates Tony Conigliaro and Billy Cowan each went 0-for-8 with five and six strikeouts, respectively. They were hitting third and fourth in the Angels’ lineup, too.
In a special for USA TODAY Sports, Mike Vorkunov details how six teams — the Mets in particular — provide an education program that helps their Dominican prospects earn high school diplomas. It seems like an obvious win-win: smarter players make smarter decisions, making them more likely to achieve their potential as athletes. That, of course, requires spending money, which is why only six teams make the investment. For the players, if baseball doesn’t work out, they are better able to support themselves in other ways.
Vorkunov lists the Pirates, Tigers, Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Mariners as the other teams who provide an education program for their Dominican prospects. We learned earlier this month that the Phillies were also investing in making sure their minor leaguers eat healthy. As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, “few teams” supply their minor league players with healthy food options.
Juan Henderson, the head of the Mets’ Dominican academy, said, “We see the benefit of it. I gotta tell you, we’re working with a new generation of baseball players. You see in the past that players just carry a bat and a glove and a helmet on the baseball field and in the academy. Those years, I think, are going to be pretty much over. Now they also do that, but they also carry books, they also carry an iPad, they also carry a laptop.”
Kudos to the six teams for making a great decision and here’s hoping the other 24 teams follow suit.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols cranked out a two-run home run in the third inning against Rangers starter Derek Holland, breaking a scoreless tie. It’s the ninth homer of the season for Pujols and the 569th of his career, putting him into a tie with Rafael Palmeiro for 12th on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard.
Harmon Killebrew is Pujols’ next target at 573, followed by Mark McGwire at 583 and Frank Robinson at 586.
Pujols hadn’t homered since May 13. He entered Monday night hitting a mediocre .228/.309/.395 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 188 plate appearances.
Monday has unfortunately been a day of injury news. Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is the latest to hit the 15-day disabled list, as he has been diagnosed with a fractured scaphoid bone in his right wrist. The club has recalled infielder Cheslor Cuthbert from Triple-A Omaha.
Gordon suffered the injury colliding with third baseman Mike Moustakas attempting to catch a fly ball on Sunday afternoon. He is expected to miss three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports.
Gordon was having a tough 2016 campaign and the injury only makes it worse. He’s hitting .211/.319/.331 with four home runs and 10 RBI in 166 plate appearances on the year.
The Royals will likely use Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando in left field in Gordon’s absence.
The Orioles announced on Monday night that the club has traded reliever Brian Matusz to the Braves in exchange for minor league pitchers Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek. The Braves are also receiving a Competitive Balance Round B pick (76th overall) in the 2016 draft.
Matusz, 29, made his season debut on April 23 after battling a back injury since early March. It’s been a struggle, as the lefty has yielded eight runs on 11 hits and seven walks with just one strikeout in six innings. He is earning $3.9 million and can become a free agent after the season.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the Braves are expected to designate Matusz for assignment. Essentially, the Braves bought the draft pick for Matusz’s remaining salary of $3 million of $3.9 million total.
Barker, 23, has been pitching at Double-A Mississippi after getting a taste of Triple-A last year. So far this season, the right-hander has a 2.00 ERA with a 40/12 K/BB ratio in 45 innings spanning eight starts and a relief appearance.
Belicek, a 23-year-old left-hander, has spent most of the year with Single-A Rome, compiling a 2.49 ERA with a 29/1 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings over 11 relief appearances.