On Saturday, the Diamondbacks improved to a 19-4 record after a nailbiting 4-3 finish against the Nationals. Trailing 3-2 in the eighth inning, A.J. Pollock produced the game-tying RBI single off of Ryan Madson, then returned in the 10th to walk in the go-ahead run. With the win, the D-backs tied the Red Sox for the best record in the majors; more significantly, they clinched their ninth straight series to open the season, a feat that hasn’t been recorded by any major league team since the 2001 Mariners. The last National League team to do it? The Cubs’ championship-winning squad in 1907.
Of course, a potential World Series win is still a good six months away, and there’s no telling how the rest of the D-backs’ season will shake out before then. It’s worth noting that their series wins haven’t come cheap — they’ve taken down the Dodgers, Cardinals and Phillies in that nine-series span — though they’ll have to overpower the Dodgers and Astros in the coming week if they want to improve on their historic record. If Saturday’s win was any indication (including David Peralta‘s first multi-homer performance and a bullpen that currently leads the league with a collective 1.62 ERA), they’re well-positioned to do so.
For now, club manager Torey Lovullo is willing to acknowledge the team’s strength while tempering expectations for what they might be able to accomplish in the months to come. “It just means that we’re doing a lot of things right and we’re a good baseball team,” he told reporters Saturday. “We’re excited about that. We know that we’re having a lot of success and it takes a different approach day by day. We’re always ready to play and perform.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that federal agents have interviewed at least six current and former Angels players as part of their investigation into the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
Among the players questioned: Andrew Heaney, Noé Ramirez, Trevor Cahill, and Matt Harvey. An industry source tells NBC Sports that the interviews by federal agents are part of simultaneous investigations into Skaggs’ death by United States Attorneys in both Texas and California.
There has been no suggestion that the players are under criminal scrutiny or are suspected of using opioids. Rather, they are witnesses to the ongoing investigation and their statements have been sought to shed light on drug use by Skaggs and the procurement of illegal drugs by him and others in and around the club.
Skaggs asphyxiated while under the influence of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his Texas hotel room on July 1. This past weekend, ESPN reported that Eric Kay, the Los Angeles Angels’ Director of Communications, knew that Skaggs was an Oxycontin addict, is an addict himself, and purchased opioids for Skaggs and used them with him on multiple occasions. Kay has told DEA agents that, apart from Skaggs, at least five other Angels players are opioid users and that other Angels officials knew of Skaggs’ use. The Angels have denied Kay’s allegations.
In some ways this all resembles what happened in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, when multiple players were interviewed and subsequently called as witnesses in prosecutions that came to be known as the Pittsburgh Drug Trials. There, no baseball players were charged with crimes in connection with what was found to be a cocaine epidemic inside Major League clubhouses, but their presence as witnesses caused the prosecutions to be national news for weeks and months on end.