And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Royals 3, Athletics 2Pirates 11, Tigers 6: Put those two scores together and you have the Kansas City Royals in first place in the American League Central. It’s a half game, but at the rate the Royals are going they’re never going to lose a baseball game again. They’ve won eight in a row. They were eight games back three weeks ago. This is simply amazing. And with their bullpen and yet another injury to a Tigers starter, you have to give serious consideration to the fact that, yup, it’s sustainable.

Mets 5, Phillies 3: Anthony Recker hit a tiebreaking, three-run homer in the seventh to break and 0 for 18 slump. Jon Niese gave up two runs on five hits in seven to break a pretty lousy stretch of play of his own. A Phillies’ fan sitting in the outfield seats tried to make this one 5-4 by snagging a ball hit by Chase Utley with his cap, causing the drive to originally be called a two-run homer, but on review it was changed to a ground rule double, scoring only the one run. Probably didn’t matter as Ben Revere flew out to end the game right after that, but good effort, dude.

Orioles 11, Yankees 3: The Orioles won. That’s good! But Manny Machado went out with a sprained knee. That’s bad. But Chris Davis came off the bench to play third and managed to go 2 for 3 with a two-run homer. That’s good! But the home run contained potassium benzoate . . . [blank stare] . . . that’s bad.

Dodgers 6, Braves 2: Speaking of bad, that’s what the Braves are anymore. They have now dropped 10 of 12 and are four games behind Washington in the increasingly non-competitive NL East. This after new Dodger Kevin Correia allowed just one run over six innings. L.A., meanwhile, is five games up in the West.

Rays 7, Rangers 0: Drew Smyly picks up his first win as a Ray, tossing seven and two-thirds shutout innings while striking out nine. Less than two weeks ago he was the expendable guy in the David Price trade. Depending on how Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez go health-wise in the next couple of weeks, he’s going to be sorely missed in Detroit. Colby Lewis walked a lot of dudes. The Rangers threw the ball around and allowed three earned runs. It’s just ugly baseball in Texas these days.

Marlins 6, Cardinals 5: Giancarlo Stanton hit two homers. He also had a nice diving catch on the warning track in the fifth inning. Lazy dude didn’t pitch a shuout, though, so what good is he?

Twins 4, Astros 2: Joe Mauer had two hits, including an RBI single in the ninth to break a 2-2 tie. After the game Ron Gardenhire said Mauer could “get out of bed” and hit. Or, in this case, come off a 34-day stint on the disabled list.

Brewers 3, Cubs 1: Yovani Gallardo allowed one run over seven and struck out six. Asked after the game what was the difference here vs. his last not-so-good start: “Just command, to be honest.” I’m glad he’s being honest now. We’ve lived with your lies far too long, Yovani. It has to feel better to finally come clean about this. You weren’t fooling anyone. *hugs*

Mariners 11, Blue Jays 1: Felix Hernandez: seven innings, one run, three hits, 8Ks. Dude is clockwork. Plus he had 11 runs of support which is something he probably had to have someone explain to him for he is so unfamiliar with the concept.

Padres 4, Rockies 3: Yangervis Solarte hit a go-ahead, two-run home run in the seventh. The Padres bullpen struck out the last seven Rockies hitters of the game and nine of the final 12. Either the Rockies were seriously overmatched or else they all wanted to get back to their hotel to watch Shark Week.

This Day in Transaction History: Cardinals acquire Mark Whiten

Mark Whiten
Otto Greule/Allsport
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As a recurring column idea, Bill will expound upon one interesting transaction that occurred on a particular day in baseball history. It won’t always be the most exciting or most impactful transaction, but always something interesting. Feel free to share which transactions stand out to you in the comments.

. . .

27 years ago today, the Cardinals acquired switch-hitting outfielder Mark Whiten from the Indians in exchange for pitcher Mark Clark and minor league infielder Juan Andujar. Andujar never advanced past Double-A while both Whiten and Clark would go on to have mediocre major league careers. Whiten, however, made history on one magical, history-making night with the Cardinals.

The Cardinals visited the Reds in Cincinnati for what became a three-game series. The first day featured a doubleheader with one game being made up after having been postponed due to rain in June.  In the first game, the Reds won a wild one, walking off 14-13 winners thanks to a two-run Reggie Sanders triple in the bottom of the ninth. The Cardinals exacted revenge in game two, mostly thanks to Whiten.

Whiten went 0-for-4 with a walk and an RBI in the first game, so he wasn’t off to the best start. That, however, changed quickly as he staked the Cardinals to a 4-0 first-inning lead when he mashed a grand slam off of Reds starter Larry Luebbers. The Reds clawed back for a pair of runs against Bob Tewksbury in the bottom half of the first, then the two sides exchanged zeroes for the next three innings. The Cardinals tacked on an extra run in the top of the fifth on a sacrifice fly in what was looking like a normal game.

Whiten, who fouled out in his second at-bat, came to the plate in the sixth following back-to-back walks issued by reliever Mike Anderson. Whiten pushed the Cardinals’ lead to 8-2 with a seemingly effortless swing on an Anderson pitch, depositing it over the fence in right-center for a three-run homer.

In the seventh, the Cardinals put together another threat, hitting three consecutive two-out singles to plate one run and bring Whiten back to the plate against Anderson. It was the same result: Whiten nailed a three-run homer out to right-center field. The Cardinals lead was moved to 10 runs at 12-2.

Three homers and 10 RBI is already an outstanding night, but Whiten wanted to make history. He stepped to the plate in the top of the ninth with the Cardinals leading 13-2. Gerald Perry had just singled with one out off of Rob Dibble. Dibble fell behind 2-0, so he came back with a fastball which Whiten absolutely destroyed, sending it way out to center field for his fourth homer of the game, this time a two-run blast. The Cardinals would go on to win in a cakewalk, 15-2. Along with the four homers, Whiten finished with 12 RBI.

At the time, Whiten was the 12th player to have a four-homer game. He is still one of only two players with a 12-RBI game. Jim Bottomley, also a Cardinal, accomplished the feat in 1924 against the Brooklyn Robins in a six-hit performance.

It took almost nine years for the feat to happen again, as Mariners outfielder Mike Cameron homered four times against the White Sox on May 2, 2002. The feat had never happened twice in the same season, let alone twice in the same month, but Shawn Green would enjoy a four-homer game of his own three weeks later on May 23 against the Brewers. Carlos Delgado added his name to the list on September 25, 2003, as did Josh Hamilton on May 8, 2012. 2017 saw two more four-homer games from the Reds’ Scooter Gennett on June 6 and the Diamondbacks’ J.D. Martinez on September 4.

1993 was a breakout year for Whiten. Though he played 116 games in 1991 and 148 games in 1992, he mustered only nine home runs in each season. He finished ’93 with 25 homers and 99 RBI. Sadly, however, that would be the peak of Whiten’s career. He had an even better campaign in ’94 but it was cut short due to the strike. Whiten came close to reaching that level of production in 1996, which he split between three teams. In the following four years, Whiten hit 12 total home runs. In 2001 and ’02, Whiten played in the Mexican League, then spent ’02 and ’03 with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League.

Despite his very obvious power potential Whiten’s four-homer performance was unlikely. To that point, he had homered twice in a game just once, and he would go on to do it only three more times. Additionally, of the 11 players to have a four-homer game prior to Whiten, five of them were future Hall of Famers: Ed Delahanty, Lou Gehrig, Chuck Klein, Willie Mays, and Mike Schmidt. Sometimes, though, you’re just in the zone and opposing pitchers are serving you fastballs on a silver platter.