Rounding the Bases: Top 4 MLB Performances Week of 8/1/16

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Welcome to Rounding the Bases, where the LWOS Baseball editorial staff recaps the top four performances or plays for each week of the baseball season. Which players stepped up this past week? Which plays stood out from the rest? Read on to find out!

Top 4 MLB Performances Week of 8/1/16

Steven Wright‘s Complete Game Shutout

By Joshua Greenberg

The Boston Red Sox have been up and down all season. Sometimes they look like a championship-caliber team, and other times they look like a last place team. Lately, the bats, which have mostly been booming this season, have been relatively silent. Conversely, the arms on the mound, which have mostly been mediocre this season, have been much better. Yet somehow the Red Sox couldn’t seem to sync offensive fireworks with a solid start.

Following two tough, four-game series splits against the Los Angeles Angels and the Seattle Mariners, during which they lost four of eight games by a combined total of seven runs, the Red Sox desperately needed a strong, all-around team performance. And they really needed a solid start to back up the offense, which has mostly bailed out the rotation this year.

On Friday, August 5, Steven Wright came through. Facing the Los Angeles Dodgers, Wright went the full nine innings. He struck out nine while allowing three hits and a walk in his fourth complete game of the year. Wright had a tough July, but has been the best, and most consistent, starter for Boston all season. With his first career shutout now under his belt, the knuckleballer sits at 13-5 with a sterling 3.01 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 146.2 innings. Given the turnover and general inconsistency Boston has played through from its pitching staff, it isn’t hard to imagine where the team would be without Wright. He remains in the conversation, at the very least, for team MVP. Friday’s start proved that, and reinserted Wright into the Cy Young conversation.

Manny Machado‘s Three-Homer Game

By Will Cheney

Manny Machado has all but solidified his status as one of the best players in the game of baseball at the young age of 24. Sunday on the south side of Chicago was no different. The Baltimore Orioles entered the rubber game of the series against the Chicago White Sox tied atop the American League East with the Toronto Blue Jays.
James Shields started on the mound for the White Sox, and became the victim of a rude introduction to the Orioles. Machado hit a two-run blast to dead center to give Baltimore an early 2-0 lead. In the top of the second, Machado hooked a three-run homer over the left field wall off Shields to give the O’s a 6-0 lead and secure his eighth career multi-homer game. Two homers in the first two innings, however, wasn’t enough for the young superstar. In the third, Machado gave the birds a 10-0 lead with his third homer in three innings (this time off reliever Matt Albers).
“I mean, it’s awesome. It’s tough to do,” Machado told Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com. “First off, you don’t get at-bats every inning. To go out there and get three homers, it’s pretty cool, pretty awesome. Not going to lie, it’s exciting.”
Machado and the Orioles went on to clinch the three-game series and move into sole possession of first place in the AL East with a Toronto loss.

Ross Stripling Leads Dodgers to Shutout

By Andy Donald

The Los Angeles Dodgers pretty much have no rotation these days. Clayton Kershaw has been moved to the 60-Day DL. Hyun-jin Ryu, who the Dodgers were hoping would be a strong number three guy once he returned, just wasn’t the same and is already back on the DL. Rich Hill, recently acquired from the Oakland A’s, is still healing a lingering blister injury and won’t make his first start until next Friday, and that’s if the blister doesn’t re-aggravate like it has prior to his previous scheduled starts.

The injuries and setbacks in the rotation can be written about at length. By the time you read this, there may be even more setbacks in the Dodgers rotation to write about, and that’s without covering Alex Wood, Bud Norris, and the soon-to-be-returning Brett Anderson.

Ross Stripling hadn’t started in the Majors for the Dodgers since May, and needed to step up and give the Dodgers a much-needed win against one of the best teams in the American League. Stripling did just that this past Saturday, August 6, by leading the Dodgers to a 3-0 shutout of the Boston Red Sox with five strong innings that included four strikeouts.

Despite giving up two hits right away in the beginning of the game, Stripling was able to shutdown fifteen of the last eighteen batters he faced, and was able to hand the bullpen the game to finish it off. Unquestionably, this was best game Stripling pitched since he was pulled from a no-no against the San Francisco Giants earlier in the year.

Hopefully for the Dodgers, Stripling can keep this up, because they will need all they can get from him.

Ichiro’s 3,000th Hit

By Sean Couch

“And it’s off the wall… 3,000 is in right field, and Ichiro is racing for third, and he’s done it!”

With that iconic call, Ichiro Suzuki officially collects hit his 3,000th MLB hit. Suzuki’s iconic hit will go down as his 92nd triple, and he will be remembered as just the 30th player in history to collect 3,000 career hits, and the first ever from Japan to do so.

“More than the number 3,000 itself…”  Suzuki said through his interpreter,  “When I saw the teammates come out and how happy they were and how warm the fans were, it’s not about just the 3,000 and what I did, it’s about my teammates and my fans. That’s powerful today.”

Suzuki’s milestone 3,000th hit came shortly after he (some might say disputably) usurped the former hit king, Pete Rose, when he collected his 4,257th career hit earlier this season.  Suzuki’s overall hit total includes hits from his time in Japan; regardless, his 3,000 MLB hits tie him for 29th all-time with Roberto Clemente, and also make him the second player in history to collect 3,000 hits after turning 27.

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