By Andrew Kahn
There is some important off-field news to report, and not all of it is in the spirit of the game. But there was plenty of excitement on the field to remind us why baseball is fun, starting with a rare batting achievement.
Holt hits for cycle
Boston utility man Brock Holt hit for the cycle on Tuesday in a 9-4 win over the Braves at Fenway. He hit a double off the Green Monster in the first, grounded out in the third, hit a single to right in the fifth, homered in the seventh, and in his final at-bat in the eighth smacked a triple to center.
It was the first cycle for a Red Sox player since John Valentin in 1996 and baseball’s first since Michael Cuddyer did it for Colorado last August. Holt has already played every position this season except pitcher and catcher, proving he spreads the wealth with his glove as well as his bat. Speaking on his bat, he decided to keep it as a souvenir as opposed to continuing to use it.
Oh, you sneaky Cardinals. The National League’s premiere franchise—their 11 championships are second only to the Yankees and they’ve been to the World Series four times since 2004, winning twice—is under investigation for hacking into the Houston Astros’ information database. The FBI is trying to figure out who with the Cardinals is responsible for stealing information from the database Astros GM, and former Cardinals employee, Jeff Luhnow helped create. Luhnow has responded, saying, among other things, that the idea that he didn’t change his passwords after moving from St. Louis to Houston is false. The news has led to many jokes, and some people have pointed out that a 1999 Simpsons episode included a plot in which MLB, specifically the Cardinals, engaged in some espionage. The situation is no joke, though, and once the facts come out, how will first-year commissioner Rob Manfred handle it?
State of Pennsylvania
The Pirates are red hot, winners of eight straight and 21 of their last 26. They’ve only allowed seven runs during their current win streak. Three of those wins came against the other team in the state, the Phillies. The Phils (23-45) and their aging roster have the worst record in baseball. They snapped their nine-game losing streak last night, but it got ugly during the stretch. On Tuesday, they lost 19-3 to the Orioles, giving up eight home runs (more on that below). It’s only a matter of time before Cole Hamels is traded, and the lefty recently pranked media members by clearing out his locker.
Position players pitching
Over a two-day stretch earlier this week, six position players took the mound. Two Tampa infielders pitched in a blowout loss to Washington on Tuesday, and each of them gave up a home run to Wilson Ramos. The same night, Philadelphia’s Jeff Francoeur pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, and a nonfunctioning bullpen phone allowed him to stay in for the ninth. It didn’t go so well. He walked three batters, hit another, and allowed a solo homer. The outfielder known for his strong arm threw a total of 48 pitches. Two Cleveland designated hitters pitched on Wednesday. Ryan Raburn started the ninth, with the Cubs leading 10-0, and got two outs before his arm tired. David Murphy replaced him, and while the inning should have ended with the first man he faced, a dropped pop up kept it going. Kris Bryant was the biggest beneficiary of the error, as he hit a grand slam to make it 17-0.
Also on Wednesday, San Diego utility man Alexi Amarista hit a home run and retired the only batter he faced in the eighth inning of a 16-2 loss to Oakland. Fewer complete games and a rash of blowouts made for an entertaining, if not effective, week on the mound.
NL vs. Royals?
There are still a couple of weeks remaining to vote, so there’s no need to panic. But, if the voting did end today, the Royals would have eight starters in the All-Star Game. Kansas City fans are obviously voting early and often (you can vote up to 35 times) for their first-place club. Nobody would have a problem with Lorenzo Cain in the outfield, but Omar Infante and his league-worst .545 OPS at second base? That’s taking it too far. We’ll see how it shakes out, but Mike Trout might be surrounded by Royal blue in Cincinnati.
Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local who also writes for Newsday and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about baseball and other sports at http://andrewjkahn.com. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn
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