MLB Week in Review (May 5–11)

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Over the last two weeks I have written about the great performances of pitchers in what is looking like the year of the pitcher 2.0. With a perfect game and a no-hitter in the last two weeks pitchers and defence looked to be taking over for yet another year. This week though the offence showed some signs of life as yet another milestone was broken except this time it was a batter who broke it. The Texas Rangers have become the early team to beat in the MLB and a large part of it has been the performance of their offence. They are the highest scoring offence in the league and have done so with a mix of styles. One of their biggest contributors has been Josh Hamilton who has returned this year after an offseason that saw him relapse into Alcoholism after a rough end to the season that including a fan passing away after falling from his seat to reach for a ball thrown to him by Hamilton. With the offseason behind him Hamilton is looking to focus on the current season and has returned to his HR hitting ways. He showed this more than ever this week when Hamilton became the 21st player in MLB history to hit 4 home runs in one game. Hamilton was the offensive presence for the Rangers in the game as he was able to accomplish one of the most difficult feats in baseball. It is hard enough to hit one HR in a game especially when you are known for hitting HRs. Pitchers will rarely give a HR hitter the pitch they want and there are only a select few hitters who can take almost any pitch out of the park. With this in mind Hamilton stepped to the plate in the first inning and hit his first HR of the game. Then he stepped to the plate again and again hit a HR off of the same pitcher. He did this twice more in the game despite the fact that pitchers clearly knew not to pitch to him but he was still able to get the HRs. Being the 16th person to do this is also a big accomplishment and being the first since 2003, when Carlos Delgado did it in the heart of the offensive era, shows how difficult it is. His four HR game will put him in to the record books but more importantly it could signify an evening out. Will the offence of MLB teams take notice to the fact that pitchers are hittable. Granted the four HR game was not against one of the best pitching rotations in the league, although he did hit two off of the best bullpen in baseball, but it still shows that offence can be had. The pitchers are still dominating the game for now but Hamilton’s great performance could be a sign that hitters are catching up to the pitchers early in the season. Will the offence continue to catch up to the defence or will pitchers remain the story of the season. As the season continues on into the summer the pitchers may begin to lose their advantage that they gain at the beginning of the season. With the advantage dwindling offensive powers begin to take hold but who will win out in the epic battle of offence vs. defence. Only time will tell as there is plenty of baseball left to play with offences and defences able to make their case.

As offences begin to catch up offensive stars begin to emerge once again with the top batters beginning to get back into form. There are the old stalwarts in the game like Josh Hamilton who are beginning to get into a groove. Then there are the new starts who are emerging in the game for the first time. One of these stars is at the centre of a major debate in the MLB as 19-year-old Bryce Harper has helped to lead the Nationals to one of the best records in baseball. Harper was one of the two “can’t miss” picks in the MLB draft that the Nationals selected with the first overall pick. Harper made his debut in the MLB this week and has made an impact becoming a solid offensive player. Harper is a confident player that sometimes borders on cocky and that has rubbed some people the wrong way. Along with this his aggressive style has angered a number of players. This anger came out when the Nationals took on the Philadelphia Phillies and Cole Hamels hit Harper with a pitch that he later confirmed was on purpose. Unfortunately for Hamels only a few plays later Harper stole home that only added to the accomplishments of the young rookie. Bryce Harper had a lot of hype before he was drafted and so far he has met this hype as he looks to move towards the Rookie of the Year award. So far Harper has shown that he is the frontrunner for the award and is a key piece to the Nationals surge. The big questions will be if Harper can keep the performance up and continue to produce. Another issue will be whether or not he can keep his intensity up without allowing it to boil over like it did on Friday when, frustrated by his lack of production against the Cincinnati Reds, he threw a bat against a wall only to have it bounce off of the wall and hit him in the face. The act of immaturity produced a cut that would keep him out for two games. It will be interesting to watch for the rest of the season as Harper will definitely grab more headlines throughout the season as he looks to help the Nationals continue their rise.

 

MLB Standings

American League

East:

1. Baltimore Orioles (.636)

2. Tampa Bay Rays (.606)

3. New York Yankees (.563)

4. Toronto Blue Jays (.545)

5. Boston Red Sox (.406)

Central:

1. Cleveland Indians (.563)

2. Detroit Tigers (.500)

3. Chicago White Sox (.485)

4. Kansas City Royals (.355)

5. Minnesota Twins (.281)

West:

1. Texas Rangers (.667)

2. Oakland Athletics (.515)

3. Seattle Mariners (.441)

4. Los Angeles Angels (.424)

 

National League

East:

1. Washington Nationals (.625)

2. Atlanta Braves (.606)

3. New York Mets (.563)

4. Miami Marlins (.531)

5. Philadelphia Phillies (.455)

Central:

1. St. Louis Cardinals (.625)

2. Cincinnati Reds (.516)

3. Houston Astros (.469)

4. Milwaukee Brewers (.438)

5. Pittsburgh Pirates (.438)

6. Chicago Cubs (.406)

West:

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (.656)

2. San Francisco Giants (.469)

3. Arizona Diamondbacks (.455)

4. Colorado Rockies (.419)

5. San Diego Padres (.333)

 

Key Scores:

Washington Nationals 7 – 1 Philadelphia Phillies

– The Nationals continue to be lights out this season as they beat the Cubbies behind the arm of offseason addition Gio Gonzalez who went 7 innings striking out 7 and only allowing one run to keep the Nationals on top of their division

 

Los Angeles Angels 4 – 3 Toronto Blue Jays

– Albert Pujols has struggled since signing the biggest deal in MLB history and has had an effect on the struggling offence but all of that changed, at least for one game, as Pujols hit his first HR of the season to lead the Angels against the Jays

 

Texas Rangers 10 – 3 Baltimore Orioles

– Texas continued their strong start to the season behind the league’s top offence and that offence was on the display as Josh Hamilton became the 21st person in MLB history to hit 4 home runs in a single game as he led the rangers to a win against the Orioles

 

Washington Nationals 7 – 3 Cincinnati Reds

– The Nationals continued to get out ahead of most of the MLB but the bigger story was that Bryce Harper went 0-for-5 on the day and injured himself after throwing a bat in the dressing room and opening up a cut on his head

 

Next Week:

San Francisco Giants vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (May 12th; 8:10 pm ET)

– Both of these teams have battled for the NL West in the past years with the D-Backs taking the title last year and the Giants taking it the year before they face off again as they send two great pitchers in Cain and Cahill to the mound to face off

 

Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers (May 13th; 8:05 pm ET)

– The Rangers are where the Angels want to be with both teams on the opposite of the spectrum but both will send their aces to the mound as Jered Weaver and Neftali Feliz face off in what could be a pitchers battle

 

St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants (May 16th; 10:15 pm ET)

– The last two World Series Champions face-off as both teams look to get back to the top at the end of this year with the Cards playing the defending champion roles and the Giants looking to return to their 2010 form

 

Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox (May 18th; 2:20 pm ET)

– Interleague play starts on the weekend as the rivalries are renewed for another year including a classic inter-city matchup that pits the White Sox against their cross-town rivals the Cubs in the Windy City Showdown

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