Finishing off the Yankees in last fall’s American League Championship Series, and mounting a splendid regular season otherwise, made Max Scherzer a feel-good story considering he’d had to shake off his brother’s suicide earlier in the season. This season, winning twelve without a loss at this writing, Scherzer’s more than a feel-good story, he almost is the story for the otherwise Al Central-leading Tigers.
The Atlanta Braves put paid to Chipper Jones’s singular career Friday night. They retired his uniform number, provoking a classically Jonesian reaction. (I played baseball. I haven’t cured cancer or anything.) So far as retired numbers go, Jones is in company very illustrious. His perfect 10 joins such Braves giants as Hank Aaron (44), Warren Spahn (21), Eddie Mathews (41), Phil Niekro (35), Greg Maddux (31), Dale Murphy (3), Tom Glavine (47), John Smoltz (29), and longtime manager Bobby Cox (6).
Yasiel Puig has done a splendid job since of shaking off the pitch that helped ignite a brawl star game at Dodger Stadium a little over two weeks ago. In case you were asleep at the time, Puig was caught on or near the snoot when Arizona’s Ian Kennedy winged one up toward his crown, an inning after Dodger starter Zack Greinke caught Cody Ross by mistake, and Andre Ethier did what Joe Kubel had done to send the best possible message about actual or accidental brushbacks, hitting one into the seats.
There are reasons to worry and wonder in Washington these days. And nobody at this writing is sure which one should come first.
Spring training: only a cynic or maybe an Orioles fan was willing to shy away from printing Nationals World Series tickets. Wasn’t Stephen Strasburg coming back for a full season’s tour?
Didn’t the Nats have one of two Rookies of the Year whose future amounted only to how soon it would be before you could start composing the text on his Hall of fame plaque?
* Don’t look now, but the Toronto Blue Jays are turning the American League East into a potential all-out war to the wire. An eleven-game winning streak approaching the All-Star break does that for you. And don’t discount the morale boost when that streak includes thumping the Texas Rangers 24-4 over four games, the Colorado Rockies 15-5 in three, and the Baltimore Orioles, a division rival, 24-13, in three, including that 13-5 fricaseeing Sunday. And to think Sunday’s carnage only began when Edwin Encarnacion scored with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the first after Freddy Garcia plunked Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia on the first pitch. Encarnacion got his payback an inning later, driving one over the left field fence with Jose Bautista aboard—and two out.
Jump not to any conclusions that not even a collarbone fracture in an earlier brawl this season sent Zack Greinke the message. Let’s run down how went the Tuesday night fights between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks — featuring a few rounds between several 1980s all-stars now among both teams’ brain trusts — for those who needed a scorecard to establish the, ahem, order of battle: