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The MLB Good, Bad & the Ugly for Weeks 17 & 18 of the 2015 MLB Season. Thanks to ESPN.com & MLB.com for stats that are included in this article.
The Good#1: Toronto Blue Jays on a roll, sweeping the NY Yankees over the weekend– Everyone already knew the Toronto Blue Jays could really hit. Turns out, it was a trio of splendid pitching performances that closed the gap in the AL East. Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista launched long home runs, and the Blue Jays earned their eighth straight victory by beating the New York Yankees 2-0 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep that tightened the division race. “Everything seems more in reach,” Bautista said. “It seems more attainable.” Marco Estrada tossed three-hit ball into the seventh inning against the suddenly slumping Yankees, outpitching Masahiro Tanaka during Toronto’s second consecutive shutout. Boosted by some big acquisitions before the July 31 trade deadline, the streaking Blue Jays have won 11 of 12 to pull within 1½ games of the first-place Yankees. In a series that featured the top two offenses in the majors, New York mustered only one run and went scoreless over the final 26 innings. Not since May 1999 against the Angels had the Yankees been blanked in two straight — that stretch of 2,665 games between consecutive shutouts was the longest in major league history, the team said in citing research by the Elias Sports Bureau. It was the first time since May 2003 that Toronto swept New York in a series of at least three games. A week ago, New York was up by six. The Jays are now a real threat in the AL East.
The Good#2: Chicago Cubs sweep of the SF Giants– Jake Arrieta has been pitching well for a while now. This time, he also contributed with his bat. Arrieta tripled and scored in the second, and then pitched four-hit ball into the eighth inning as the Chicago Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 2-0 on Sunday for a four-game sweep of the defending world champions. Rookies Kris Bryant and Addison Russell each drove in a run, helping the Cubs to their 10th win in 11 games. Chicago’s first four-game sweep of San Francisco since June 1977 increased its lead for the second NL wild card to 3 1/2 games over the reeling Giants. Arrieta (13-6) struck out six and walked two in 7 2/3 innings. The right-hander is 7-1 with a 1.23 ERA in his last 10 starts dating to a four-hit shutout at Minnesota on June 21. While the crowd of 39,939 cheered wildly — the Cubs (62-48) moved a season-high 14 games over .500.
The Bad: The Minnesota Twins Bad Turn– The Twins went from being hot to being one game under .500 at 55-56. Since after the All Star break, the Twins are just 6-16 & in that run the Twins has only less than 3 runs 10 times. Over the last 7 days the Twins rank 26 in hitting with a .192 team batting average & MLB Worse over the last 7 days in Pitching with a 8.47 Team ERA with Opponents batting average at .327, just bad for the Twins as they are on the outside looking in on the AL Wild Card race.
The Ugly: A Yankees fan throwback turns Ugly– A fan threw Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista’s home run ball back Sunday — and ended up hitting New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner in the back of the head. Gardner sustained a minor bump on his head, but did not come out of the game and said he was fine afterward. “It’s unfortunate it hit me where it did, but it is what it is,” Gardner said. “I got a hard head, so it’s all good.” After Bautista connected against Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and launched his 26th homer of the season off the facade of the second deck in left field to give the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead, a fan sitting in the stands fired the ball back on the field and struck Gardner directly in the back of his head. Later in the game, Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira nearly injured his left arm while trying to make a catch in foul territory in the ninth inning. Teixeira lunged into the stands, but was unable to make the play. Before he could get up, a fan looking to grab the foul ball got tangled up with Teixeira, who became very angry. The fan quickly backed away and appeared to apologize. “We need to tell the fans, ‘You can insult, but you cannot assault,'” Teixeira said. “We know you’re upset. We lost three in a row. We’re sorry. But just keep it to insults, not assaults.”