Each Monday we will be bringing you Major League Baseball’s top hitting and pitching performances of the week. You can find them right here, every Monday for the remainder of the season and throughout the postseason. This week in MLB brought us some very, very excellent pitching performances from players you would expect and other’s you might not expect, such as the Tampa Bay Rays’ starter Drew Smyly.
There were also quite a few hitters who had, what they might have called, one of the better days of their career. Yet no one’s performance stands out as much as that of the Colorado Rockies’ outfielder Michael Cuddyer in just his second game off the 15-day disabled list. So that’s where we will begin this week. Last week I began with pitching performances but since it was an offensive performance that was, in my opinion, the highlight of the week that is where we’ll begin. Here are the top performances for the week of Sunday, August 17 – Saturday August 23.
1. Michael Cuddyer, Colorado Rockies vs. Cincinnati Reds, August 17
4/5, 1HR, 3RBI, 3R
Rockies’ outfielder Michael Cuddyer had been on the disabled list most of the season — first with a hamstring injury and soon after again with a fractured left shoulder. After two rehab starts he returned to the Rockies’ Sunday as they hosted the Reds for a double-header. By the week’s end Cuddyer would unfortunately find himself back on the disabled list bothered by his hamstring again but he certainly made the most of the time he had.
In the second game of last Sunday’s double-header, Cuddyer became just the third player in history to hit for the cycle in both the American and National Leagues. He became the 30th player overall to have accomplished the feat more than once in their career and he was the seventh player in Rockies’ franchise history to hit a single, a double, a triple and a home run in the same game.
With his first two hits he got the hardest parts of the cycle out of the way, the triple and the home run. The single came in the seventh and Cuddyer hit a bases loaded double in the Rockies’ five-run eighth inning to complete the cycle. Cuddyer’s first two hits came off of Reds’ starter David Axelrod and his third came off of reliever Jose Contreras.
In an odd coincidence the double came off of reliever Manny Parra who gave up three of Cuddyers’ four hits back on May 22, 2009 when he was pitching for the Brewers. Cuddyer hit for the cycle that day as a member of the A.L.’s Minnesota Twins. Cuddyer joins Bob Watson (Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox) and John Olerud (New York Mets, Seattle Mariners) as the only players in history to hit for the cycle in both leagues.
2. Minnesota Twins, Twins vs. Detroit Tigers, August 22
20/46, 4HR, 18RBI, 20R
The entire Minnesota Twins starting lineup gets the nod here (with the exception of catcher Kurt Suzuki who went 0-6 with three strikeouts). On Friday night the Twins became the first team in 2014 to score 20 runs in a single game. Each member of the Twins ‘ starting lineup, again with the exception of Suzuki, reached base at least twice. The Tigers used eight different pitchers during the game which took just under four hours to complete. The four home runs were given up by two pitchers, starter Robbie Ross and infielder-turned-closer for the night Andrew Romine. Ross allowed Eduardo Escobar and Daniel Santana to go deep, while Romine allowed three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on home runs to Oswaldo Arcia and Trevor Plouffe.
3. Pedro Alvarez, Russell Martin & Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers, August 23
Alvarez: 2/3, 2HR, 4RBI, 2R; Martin: 2/4, HR, 3RBI, 2R; Walker: 3/4, 3RBI, 2R
Three members of the Pittsburgh Pirates combined to lead the Pirates to a 10-2 win over the Brewers at Miller Park on Saturday. Pedro Alvarez, Russell Martin and Neil Walker collected seven of the Pirates’ 12 total hits, scored six of their 10 runs and were responsible for driving across all ten of the Pirates’ runs. Alvarez went deep twice off of Brewers’ starter Wily Peralta and Martin hit a three run bomb also off of Peralta in the fifth inning. The Brewers needed five pitchers in all to finally shut down the three Pirates who were their teams’ heroes helping them get their third win in as many days after finally snapping their seven game losing streak with a win over the Braves on Wednesday.
1. David Price, Detroit Tigers at Tampa Bay Rays, August 21
L (12-9) 8IP, 1H, 1ER, 9K
David Price pitched a complete game one-hitter on Thursday in his first appearance against the Rays since being traded to the Tigers on July 31st and he took the loss. Yes, you read that correctly. The Tigers’ offense couldn’t muster to push even a single run across against Rays’ starter Alex Cobb and the Rays defeated the Tigers by the score of 1-0.
The Rays just happened to get lucky, thanks to on a throwing error by Tigers’ shortstop Eugenio Suarez. The error by Suarez came in the first inning. It allowed Ben Zobrist to reach base. Price then gave up his only hit to the third batter of the game. Rays’ left fielder Brandon Guyer hit a triple to right that scored Zobrist and the rest was, well, a pitcher’s duel of pretty epic proportions.
Price worked quickly and efficiently throwing just 100 pitches, 73 of which were for strikes. He fanned nine batters and didn’t allow a single walk. He also set a new single season career high in strikeouts reaching 219 on the season. Price’s performance earned him the top spot on this list but unfortunately for the left-hander it didn’t earn him what would have been his 13th win of the year.
2. Drew Smyly, Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays, August 22
W (8-10) 9IP, 2H, 0ER, 4K
On Friday Drew Smyly, who was part of the three team trade that sent Price from the Rays to the Tigers, started for the Rays against the Blue Jays in Toronto. It took Smyly just 105 pitches to complete a full nine innings. He allowed just two hits but no walks or runs while he struck out four Blue Jays’ batters. The win, Smyly’s eighth on the year, was his first career complete game and his first complete game shutout. Smyly faced just one batter over the minimum, his two hits coming off of the bats of shortstop Jose Reyes and second baseman Steve Tolleson.
3. Rick Porcello, Detroit Tigers at Tampa Bay Rays, August 20
W (14-8) 9IP, 3H, 0ER, 4K
This week’s pitching came from old and new teams and teammates. Detroit Tiger’s starter Rick Porcello pitched a complete game shut out earlier in the week before his new teammate Price pitched his gem and old teammate Smyly threw his two hit shutout. Porcello gets third on the list for allowing the most hits of the three pitchers with all of three. He allowed hits to Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist, first baseman James Loney and center fielder Desmond Jennings. Porcello faced just 30 batters and threw 104 pitches, 76 of which were for strikes. It was Porcello’s league leading third complete game shutout this season and also the third of his career.