Blue Jays' Jose Bautista hits home runs 39 and 40

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Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista launched his 39th and 40th home runs of the year on Monday in a 3-2 victory over the Yankees.  It was his sixth multi-homer game of the season and gave him a seven-homer lead on Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols for most in the majors.

Bautista is the first American League player to top 40 home runs since Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Pena did it back in 2007 and he has been contributing beyond the long-ball in Toronto for a few months now. 

His on-base percentage on June 19 was .350.  It’s now .370.

His slugging percentage on June 19 was .526.  It’s now .600.

As Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports notes, Barry Bonds had 55 round-trippers at this time in 2001 and Mark McGwire had 51 in 1999.  But home run numbers are relative, or at least they should be relative.  That was the steroid era.  This, hopefully, is not.

Either way, Bautista’s 40 home runs don’t feel any less special.  He’s having a monstrous season for the Blue Jays and it’s largely come out of nowhere.  The 29-year-old’s previous career high in homers was 16 (in 2006) and his previous high in RBI was 63 (in 2007).  Now Bautista has 95 runs batted in and a .970 OPS.

Max Scherzer reaches 300 strikeouts on the season

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Nationals ace Max Scherzer struck out his 300th batter of the season on Tuesday night against the Marlins. Austin Dean was the victim, swinging and missing at a 3-2 curve for the second out in the seventh inning.

Scherzer’s 2018 is the seventh 300-strikeout season since 2000. The others: Chris Sale (308; 2017 Red Sox), Clayton Kershaw (301; 2015 Dodgers), Randy Johnson (334; 2002 Diamondbacks), Curt Schilling (316; 2002 Diamondbacks), Randy Johnson (372; 2001 Diamondbacks), Randy Johnson (347; 2000 Diamondbacks). It’s the 67th 300-strikeout season dating back to 1883.

At the conclusion of the seventh, Scherzer had held the Marlins to a run on four hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts. He entered the start 17-7 with a 2.57 ERA across 213 2/3 innings. Jacob deGrom will almost certainly win the NL Cy Young Award, but Scherzer’s 2018 has been outstanding.