The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
A Look Back at 2019: Ten Memorable MLB Games

Reflecting on the 2019 baseball season, there was no shortage of unforgettable games.  It was a record season for home runs, both at the team and individual levels.  Pitchers continued to pile up dominating performances.  MLB took games overseas on two occasions.  Players with family legacies in baseball made their big-league debuts.  Numerous career milestones were reached.  Four teams won 100 or more games.  A whacky World Series saw neither team win at home.

 

Putting the historic post-season aside, here are ten of the most memorable games during the regular season.

 

March 28: Dodgers set the tone on Opening Day

The Dodgers set the tone for the entire major-league season by hitting eight home runs on Opening Day of 2019, as the Dodgers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks, 12-5.  Ultimately, a new record for most home runs in a major-league season (6,776) was established.  The Twins set the single-season record for most home runs by a team (307).  14 teams set franchise home run records.  The New York Yankees hit home runs in 31 consecutive games.

 

May 17: Kris Bryant puts up late-game surge with homers in three successive innings

For the second time in his career, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant hit three home runs in the game against the Washington Nationals.  However, this time his “hat trick” came in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings of the game.  The Cubs wound up winning, 14-6, and Bryant accounted for five RBIs.  He was only the 12th player in history to hit homers in three consecutive innings and only the second to accomplish it in the final three innings of a game.

 

May 19: “Prince Albert” posts 2,000th career RBI

Albert Pujols has been on the downside of his historic career for several years and is sometimes forgotten in terms of how impactful he has been over the course of his 19 seasons.  However, it was hard to overlook his 2,000th career RBI on his 639th career home run in the game against Detroit.  He is only the third player in history to reach this milestone, surpassed by only Hank Aaron and Alex Rodriguez.  During the preceding month, he had passed Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Barry Bonds on the all-time RBI list.  That’s some legendary company.

 

June 18: Max Kepler delivers three dramatic hits in 17-inning game

Kepler produced three clutch hits for the Minnesota Twins during a marathon game against the Boston Red Sox, in which he wasn’t in the starting lineup.  He first entered the game in the sixth inning as a pinch-hitter and then stayed in to play left field.  He tied the game in the bottom of the eighth inning on an RBI single.  Then in the 13th, his solo home run evened the score again.  He hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 17th to win the game, 4-3.  The victory gave the Twins the best record in both leagues at the time.  They would go on to capture the AL Central Division title, winning 23 games more games than in 2018.

 

June 29: Major League Baseball goes to England

In its continuing effort to expand the international interest in U.S. baseball, Major League Baseball took the game to London for a two-game series between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.  MLB had previously hosted regular-season games in Japan, Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.  The game in London Stadium with almost 60,000 fans in attendance was the first regular-season contest in Europe.  The Europeans saw a good sampling of the offensive shows that have become commonplace in the majors, as the Yankees won 17-13.  DJ LeMahieu was the hitting star for the Bronx Bombers, getting four hits and five RBIs.  Boston’s Michael Chavis hit two homers and knocked in six runs.

 

July 9: Shane Bieber strikes out the side in All-Star Game before home crowd

In only his second major-league season, Cleveland Indians pitcher Shane Bieber was named to the all-star team as a late addition replacing Mike Minor.  He was the fifth pitcher for the American League, entering the game in the fifth inning with his team leading 2-0.  Pitching in his home-town ballpark, he proceeded to strike out Wilson Contreras, Ketel Marte, and Ronald Acuna Jr. in succession.  His shut-down performance earned him the MVP Award for the game.  Bieber went on to win 15 games and finished fourth in the AL Cy Young Award voting.

 

July 12: Angels hurlers combine for no-hitter on night honoring former teammate Tyler Skaggs

Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room on July 1.  The popular player’s tragic death was devastating to the team and its players.  On July 12 in their first home appearance since his death, the Angels dedicated the game against the Seattle Mariners to Skaggs.  Taylor Cole and Felix Pena combined to throw the 11th no-hitter in Angels history.   Mike Trout, who was in the same draft class with Skaggs in 2009, went 3-for-4 with a homer and six RBIs.  All the Angels players honored their teammate by wearing his Number 45 jersey.  (It was later determined Skaggs’s death was drug related.)

 

September 1: Justin Verlander hurls third career no-hitter

36-year-old Verlander seems to get better with age. He struck out 14 in a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays.  It was the third no-no of his career, with his first two coming with Detroit.  He is one of only eight pitchers in history to throw no-hitters for multiple teams.  Verlander wound up winning the AL Cy Young Award, as he led the league in wins (21), games started (34), and WHIP (0.803).  He also struck out 300 batters for the first time in his 15-year career.

 

September 17: Mike Yastrzemski hits home run at Fenway with HOF grandfather in attendance

With his Hall of Fame grandfather at the game, San Francisco Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski hit a nostalgic home run in Fenway Park, where grandad Carl hit a bunch of home runs and became one of the all-time greats in Boston Red Sox history.  The younger “Yaz” had made his major-league debut on May 25, and his home run was his 18th of the season.

 

September 28: Pete Alonso smashes rookie record for home runs

It wasn’t a certainty New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso would stick with the team after breaking spring training camp this year.  Yet all he did was set a new single-season record for home runs (53) by a rookie.  He passed Aaron Judge who previously set the record with 52 in 2017.  Alonso was voted the NL Rookie of the Year and selected to the first-ever All-MLB first team.

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