Around the Major Leagues: 2013 Week 22

All the news from around the major leagues. Atlanta's Evan Gattis hit the longest homer in MLB this season.

AL East

Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki scored the game-winning run from third base on a wild pitch from Boston's Brandon Workman on Sunday. During his trip around the base paths after a one-out single, he stole second base, giving him 20 for the year. Ichiro became only the third player who debuted in the majors since 1900 to steal 20 or more bases in each of his first 13 seasons. Rickey Henderson did that in the first 23 seasons between 1979 and 2001 of his 25-year career and Ozzie Smith recorded 20 or more stolen bases in each of his first 16 big-league seasons from 1978 to 1993. There's a common thread among these players and it is the Hall of Fame, somewhere Ichiro could (and should) be heading when his career is all said and done.

Few rivalries in sports are as intense as the Yankees and Red Sox, especially in the dog days of the season when playoff spots are on the line. This time around it was Boston's Mike Napoli who was the hero, hitting a seventh-inning grand slam to help erase a five-run deficit and provide the inspiration for what would wind up being a Red Sox victory on Friday. Napoli also made history in the progress. Only two other players hit two grand slams against the Yankees in one season: Philadelphia's Bob Johnson in 1935, both at Yankee Stadium, and Boston's Jimmie Foxx in 1938, one of which was at Fenway Park and the other at Yankee Stadium.

AL Central

The Royals defeated ace Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers 4-3 on Saturday, making Verlander‘s record 0-3 in five starts against them this season. The Royals are also 5-0 against the Twins when Minnesota starter Kevin Correia takes the mound. The Royals had never won five games started by one opposing starting pitcher in any of their 44 previous seasons in the majors, dating back to 1969, and now they have done it twice in the same year.

Cleveland slugger Jason Giambi registered the 2000th hit of his major-league career with a ninth-inning single in the Indians' 2-1 loss to the Mets on Sunday. At age 42, Giambi became the oldest player to enter into the 2000-hit club. Until Sunday, that distinction belonged to Carlton Fisk, who was 41 years old when he recorded his 2000th hit in 1989. Giambi is having one of the worst statistical careers of his long career, which is bound to happen given his age, but his 2000th hit is certainly a reminder of better days... days where he would hit 30-plus homers and drive in 100-plus runs. If I had to guess, with his expiring contract, this would probably be Giambi's final year in the majors.

AL West

Oakland shortstop Jed Lowrie went 2-for-4 with a home run in the Athletics' 2-1 win over the Astros. Lowrie is now 20-for-64 against Houston, the team he played 97 games for in 2012. His 20 hits tie Enos Cabell (1981, Giants) and Cesar Cedeno (1982, Reds) for the most against the Astros by an individual who played for Houston the previous season.

Houston starter Brad Peacock entered Thursday night's game in Oakland with a batting average against of .190 against right-handed hitters and a .298 batting average against lefties. Oakland manager Bob Melvin did the best thing he could to remedy the situation: he stuffed the Athletics lineup with seven left-handed batters or switch-hitters to try to take advantage of the numbers. Peacock really didn't seem to mind the challenge and he limited the lefty batters to only three hits in 20 at-bats and took the victory. Peacock, who pitched at Triple-A for the A's in 2012, now has 21 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings against Oakland this season.

NL East

The Braves had only two hits in their 3-2 loss to the Phillies on Sunday and both were home runs by Evan Gattis. Gattis is the first player to hit two or more home runs that were the only hits by his team in a game since Cleveland's Manny Ramirez did it in a 2-1 win at Kansas City on July 3, 1998. Gattis is also the first player to do that for the Braves since Hank Aaron's two home runs were the only hits for Milwaukee in a 3-2 victory over the Mets at New York's Polo Grounds in 1962. One of Gattis' home runs traveled 486 feet, making it the longest homer of the season in the majors.

Marlins rookie sensation Jose Fernandez hurled another gem on Friday, to the surprise of nobody, allowing one hit and striking out nine batters. Those numbers are identical to the numbers he had in a game at Philadelphia on May 4th of this season. Fernandez is the first pitcher in modern major-league history to have two games in his rookie season in which he pitched at least seven innings, allowed no runs and no more than one hit and struck out at least nine batters. Fernandez has been nothing short of incredible this season. It is unfortunate that he is stuck in Miami as he will not receive as much attention as he deserves there.

NL Central

Cincinnati rookie shortstop Billy Hamilton is off to a quick start with three runs scored and four stolen bases in his first four games. But there is a catch: he has yet to record a plate appearance. He's done all this as a pinch runner in each game and is the first player since 1900 to record a stolen base in each of his first four MLB contests. It is always nice to start your career by etching your name in the major-league record books.

The Cardinals have been enjoying plenty of success this season and Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina are two of the main reasons. Wainwright tossed seven scoreless innings on Saturday while his catcher, Molina, went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles. That marks the 25th time since 2007 that Molina recorded at least two hits in a Wainwright win. That is the highest total by any starting pitcher and his catcher over that span. Atlanta duo Tim Hudson and Brian McCann are right behind with 22 such games.

Cincinnati outfielder Jay Bruce homered off Clayton Kershaw in the second inning on Sunday night. Before that, Kershaw had not allowed a home run since Jayson Werth knocked one out of the park back on July 21st. His streak of 58 homerless innings had been the longest active streak by a starting pitcher in the majors. Bruce was also the first left-handed batter to homer off Kershaw since Adam Dunn did it on June 15, 2012. That spanned 248 at-bats by left-handed hitters, which had been the longest of that streak in the majors as ell. And then what happened during Bruce's next at bat? He hit another home run off Kershaw. Sometimes baseball is crazy like that... and that's why we love it.

NL West

Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was 3-for-4, including a tiebreaking RBI triple in the Diamondbacks' 2-1 win over San Francisco. It was Goldschmidt's fifth game this season with at least three hits and a game-winning RBI, which ties Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, and Torii Hunter for second most in the majors behind, surprisingly enough, Alfonso Soriano, who has six. Goldschmidt is hitting .293/.398/.533 with 31 home runs, 107 RBI and 90 runs scored. The young power hitter has been a serious candidate for National League MVP this season, but looks like a long shot at this point with the Diamondbacks nine games out of a Wild Card spot.

Angel Pagan's single in the bottom of the eleventh inning gave the Giants a 3-2 win against the Diamondbacks. He has now won three games with walkoff RBI this year, the most for any San Francisco player in one season since Andres Torres did it three times in 2010. No player has won four games in one season for the Giants with walkoff hits since Barry Bonds did it in 2003. Three of those game-ending hits from Bonds were home runs.

John Lopiano can be reached at Follow John on Twitter: @johnlopiano.

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