Three Strikes: Robbie Ray makes statement with shutout; Pujols now one step from history

Wednesday May 31st, 2017

Here’s what you may have missed from Tuesday in baseball:

Robbie Ray’s scoreless innings streak continues with the best start of his career

A little more than two weeks ago Ray slogged through another start, a pattern that had become all too familiar for the lefty. He allowed four runs on six hits in four innings that day, and would take a no-decision in what was eventually a 6–4 Arizona loss to Pittsburgh. It was the third time in five outings that Ray surrendered at least four runs in 5 1/3 innings or fewer, raising his season-long ERA to 4.57 and his WHIP to 1.43. At that point, it hardly seemed a dramatic turnaround was on the horizon.

Since then, Ray has been nearly perfect. He hasn’t allowed a run in any of his last three starts, capped off with his domination of those same Pirates on Tuesday. He tossed a four-hit shutout, striking out 10 while issuing zero free passes in a 3–0 Diamondbacks win. In those three spotless outings, Ray has pitched 23 2/3 innings, allowing a total of 11 baserunners with 25 strikeouts. Going back to the end of that poor start against the Pirates more than two weeks ago, Ray hasn’t surrendered a run in his last 24 2/3 frames.

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Ray has lowered his ERA more than a run and a half to an even 3.00 during his scoreless-innings streak, and his WHIP is down to a strong 1.10. With 84 strikeouts in 69 innings, Ray is developing into one of the finest strikeout artists in the league.

Trevor Bauer strikes out 14 in a win over Oakland

Bauer has had an uneven season, taking a 6.30 ERA and 1.42 WHIP into his start on Tuesday against the A’s. The one thing he has done consistently this year is miss bats. That was on display on Tuesday.

Bauer racked up 14 strikeouts, a league-high this season, in a 9–4 Indians win over the A’s. The 26-year-old righty had everything working, as this 14-second video from the Indians Twitter account shows.

By my count, that’s eight strikeouts with the curveball, three with the changeup, and three with the fastball. From the fourth through the seventh inning, Bauer fanned 10 of the 12 batters he faced. He was pretty excited about it.

Bauer is now up to 73 strikeouts in 57 innings this season.

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Marlins slugger Marcell Ozuna appears on his way to a career season

Albert Pujols one homer away from the 600 Club

The baseball world will be on milestone watch for every Pujols plate appearance until he hits his next home run. The Angels first baseman belted the 599th homer of his career on Tuesday, a three-run shot to kick off a nine-run third inning for the Angels in a win over the Braves.

Pujols hit dinger No. 599 off Bartolo Colon, which means there were 81 years and 37 total major league seasons involved in the homer. There are only 24 active players that are in their age-37 or older season, and two of them are Pujols and Colon. It was an old home run.

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When Pujols next leaves the yard, he will become the ninth player in MLB history with 600 career home runs. The last player to do it was Jim Thome, who joined the club on August 15, 2011, the same game in which he hit his 599th homer. The seven others are Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Alex Rodriguez (696), Willie Mays (660), Ken Griffey Jr. (630) and Sammy Sosa (609). 

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