Today is special for so many reasons. Tenth anniversary of the Varitek-A-Rod brawl and . . . the 50th birthday of the best hitter in at least the last half-century:
Note: on the day of that brawl, Bonds was an over-the-hill 40-year-old ballplayer who was hitting .362/.613/.769. And at that point of the season he was actually underperforming his full-season level of production, which was /362/.609/.812. Glad to see he got his power up over the last two months of the season.
In other news, three players are being inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday. Two of them were clearly inferior to Bonds and the third — Greg Maddux — may have been depending on whether you’re comparing them against the values of their hitting/pitching peers or whether you’re comparing them to each other (Maddux may have been the Bonds of pitchers for a time, but Bonds was objectively more valuable to the teams he played for). Oh, and at least one of the three managers being inducted into the Hall on Friday had a healthy assist from PED users to achieve what he achieved. The other two almost certainly benefitted as well.
Happy Birthday, Barry!!
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas belted his 37th home run on Wednesday evening, setting a new club record for homers in a single season. Moustakas had been tied with Steve Balboni, who hit 36 home runs in 1985.
The home run came on a 2-0, 82 MPH slider from Blue Jays reliever Carlos Ramirez, boosting the Royals’ lead to 13-0 in the top of the sixth inning.
Moustakas, 29, entered the night batting .271/.313/.523 with 82 RBI and 71 runs scored in 560 plate appearances.
Red Sox starter Chris Sale recorded his 300th strikeout of the 2017 season on Wednesday night against the Orioles. The momentous occasion occurred with two outs in the eighth inning. Facing Ryan Flaherty, Sale threw a slider that caught the strike zone low and inside for called strike three.
Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strikeout 300-plus batters in a season in the last 15 years. Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson accomplished the feat in 2002, and Johnson also did it in 2001 and 2000. Pedro Martinez had been the only other Red Sox pitcher to have a 300-strikeout season.
Through eight scoreless innings, Sale limited the Orioles to four hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts. The Red Sox offense gave him plenty of run support. Mookie Betts and Devin Marrero each hit two-run home runs in the fourth. Hanley Ramirez added a two-run double in the sixth and Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run double of his own in the eighth to make it 8-0.