With the first half of the MLB season completed, it's time to take a look back at some of the key moments from the first few months of action. There have been plenty of memorable moments, ranging from impressive feats to scary moments. After the All Star break, the 30 MLB teams will resume play and make their pushes for the postseason. Here's a look at some of the top moments of the season:
Kris Bryant debut
After Kris Bryant dominated spring training and looked destined to begin the season in the Major League, the Cubs utilized a sneaky clause in his contract. By sending him to the minors for 12 days, the Cubs are now able to control him for an extra year. The move, seen as strategic and sleazy, was deemed “a bad day in baseball” by the MLB Players Association. It prevents Bryant some of the freedoms he would have had, and it will certainly be discussed in a possible rule change in the offseason going forward.
Bryce Harper three home run game
On May 6th, everything changed for Bryce Harper. In a game against the Miami Marlins, he set the precedent for the rest of his season and perhaps the rest of his career. With his first three at bats, he belted three straight home runs and electrified the home crowd. At the time, the Nationals had been vastly underperforming, but it’s been much different since then. Harper then followed that performance with three home runs in the next two games.
Chris Sale streak
For eight straight games, Chris Sale struck out at least 10 batters, matching a feat done just once before done in Pedro Martinez’s historic 1999 season. As he lowered his ERA from 4.36 to 2.87 during this streak, he only managed a 3-3 record, due much in part to a lack of run support. Yet, this incredible accomplishment catapulted him to the top pitcher discussion, as he hits the halfway point at 8-4 with a 2.72 ERA.
Woman hit at Fenway
As a woman watched the Red Sox host the Athletics along the third base stands, Brett Lawrie came to hit and grounded out as his bat broke. However, pieces of that bat flew into the seats, hitting that woman in the crowd. The scene became traumatic, as the game stopped and everybody grew silent in shock of what had just happened. Fans in attendance are always told to beware of balls and bats, but this was simply an unavoidable event. Yet, perhaps some added safety measures will be added in the near future, such as an extended net. An Athletics' fan just recently filed a lawsuit against the MLB over the issue.
Max Scherzer back to back starts, highlighted by hit by pitch
Having signed Max Scherzer to a massive seven year, $210 million contract, it seems that the Nationals are getting plenty of value from him. Scherzer has been dominant all year, but he really grabbed the spotlight on his June 14th and June 20th starts. In the first start, he allowed just one hit in a 16 strikeout shutout. To top that, he pitched a 10 strikeout no-hitter, which was a perfect game until he hit Jose Tabata with two outs in the 9th inning. However, much controversy arose from whether or not he leaned into the pitch or not.
A-rod’s 3000th hit
In arguably the season’s most impressive milestone, Alex Rodriguez homered for his 3000th hit, becoming just the 29th member of this club. But maybe more publicized was A-rod’s desire for the ball. Zack Hample, who has written books about snagging baseballs at games, naturally caught the home run ball. For an extended period of time, the Yankees tried to negotiate with him for the ball, but to no avail. Eventually, Hample traded the ball to the team in exchange for a $150,000 donation to charity and other Yankees’ goodies.
Pete Rose bet as a player
On the eve of what looked to be a possible reinstatement or increased role with the MLB, news broke that Pete Rose had indeed allegedly bet on baseball as a player. After having denied that accusation for many years, a damning report seems to prove otherwise. Now it’s believed that he won’t get that chance, as new commissioner Rob Manfred had been willing to meet with him before. The debate may never end.
Josh Donaldson catch
As Marco Estrada toyed with a perfect game on June 24th, Josh Donaldson did all he could to help out his pitcher. In the top of the 8th, David DeJesus popped a ball up into the stands by the third baseline. However, that didn’t stop Donaldson from leaping three rows deep into the crowd to record a crucial out. The power hitting third baseman showed off his impressive defensive range, as he has established himself as one of the league’s best players this year. The play certainly helped push him into an All Star game starting spot, leading as the AL's highest vote-getter.
Pirates last two games
The Cardinals have maintained the league’s best record for some time now, but their last two games of the first half of the season may provide a glimpse into a great division race. The Pirates hold the third best record in the MLB and sit just 2.5 games back in the NL Central after two impressive wins. In their last two games, the Pirates were down in extra innings, only to come back in both and walk off with victories. In the first, fan favorite Andrew McCutchen hit a two run homerun in the 14th inning. In the next game (and last MLB game before the break), Gregory Polanco singled in the winning run as part of a three run 10th.
Todd Frazier becomes Hometown Hero in new Derby format
After years of a disappointing Home Run Derby, the MLB revamped the format in hopes to bolster the event's excitement. And it worked perfectly. Moving it to a timed event sped it up and allowed for more swings per batter. The head to head matchups and bonus time created better drama. There was a strong balance of veteran experience and young players. Then Todd Frazier took the title in front of his home crowd. The MLB helped make a perfect ending to a much better Derby.