Watch: Aaron Judge's monster home run, Max Scherzer's historic K lead big day
- Everything you might have missed on Sunday and what you need to know for Monday in MLB.
Follow Connor Grossman on Twitter @connorgrossman.
A full slate of games Sunday provided an eye-popping home run, a historic career milestone and a dramatic win out west. Here’s everything you need to know and see in baseball right now, including a note on Monday’s amateur draft.
What you might’ve missed
1. If it wasn’t already apparent, Aaron Judge's at bats have become appointment television. Just one day after scorching a 121-mile per hour home run—the fastest ever measured by Statcast since its inception in 2015—the Yankees' rookie slugger cranked a slider from Baltimore's Logan Verrett 495 feet to last row of the leftfield bleachers. The monstrous blast was his 20th homer of the season, an MLB-leading total he added onto with an opposite-field, seventh-inning laser that shot into the first few rows of seats.
New York crushed the Orioles 14-3, outscoring Baltimore 38-3 in the three-game sweep, but the final result is only a footnote to Judge’s memorable swing. With Mike Trout shelved several more weeks and Judge continuing to star in baseball’s biggest market, his American League MVP movement is gaining momentum.
2. Nationals ace Max Scherzer etched his name in the record books yet again on Sunday afternoon by picking up his 2,000th career strikeout against the Rangers. The milestone K came against Texas's Nomar Mazara in the fourth inning on a 1-2 slider. Scherzer reached the milestone in fewer innings (1,784) than any pitcher except Hall of Famers Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez. The Rangers, though, won the game, 5-1.
Sunday’s moment was made possible by Scherzer’s strikeout efficiency in his last start, when he punched out 11 Dodgers in the first four innings. Additionally his resume features a 20-strikeout game last year and a 17-strikeout start the season before that. Relative to those games, Scherzer’s afternoon was relatively mortal. He still struck out 10 hitters to reach double digits for the 56th time in his career.
3. The AL East has Judge and the Yankees. The NL Central has the defending world champion Cubs. But as far as potential pennant race drama goes, no division is providing more entertainment than the National League West. In a three-team race between the Rockies, the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers, Sunday’s dramatics fittingly came out of Hollywood. Shortstop Corey Seager launched a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning to catapult Los Angeles to a 9-7 win over the Reds
Seager’s slam came one day after he sliced a walk-off double down the leftfield line to give the Dodgers its third of what is now four straight wins that have helped L.A. get within 1 1/2 games of first-place Colorado; Arizona is two games out. The NL West is baseball’s only division with three teams at least 10 games over .500.
What you shouldn’t miss
4. No team got off to a worse start to the season than the Blue Jays, who slipped 11 games under .500 by April 28. An 18-10 romp through May got them pointed in the right direction, and a 4-0 win over the Mariners Sunday has Toronto one game of the break-even mark. What’s more, the Jays are only 1 1/2 games out of a wild card spot in a race that has six teams all within 2 1/2 games of the second slot.
After two games against the Rays this week Toronto plays 10 straight against sub-.500 teams, illuminating a path to the team’s first winning record of the season.
5. Relief pitching woes have threaded their way through the Nationals' season and it’s once again a hot-button topic for one of baseball’s best, yet imperfectly built teams. After allowing two runs in his second blown save of the season Saturday, closer Koda Glover revealed afterward he injured his back in the shower before the game. That landed him on the 10-day DL Sunday, affording him a different vantage point in yet another bullpen implosion.
After Scherzer exited a 1-1 game in the eighth inning with two runners on, Blake Treinen and Oliver Perez combined to allow four runs (one earned on Scherzer’s record) to come across in an inning that decided the outcome. Washington is in no danger yet of squandering its sizable NL East lead, which is still 9 1/2 games as the week begins, but it’s hard to imagine GM Mike Rizzo not making a move to sure up the relief corps. As the Giants demonstrated in last year’s NLDS against the Cubs, it’s hard to hide a bad bullpen in October.
6. Monday kicks off this year’s MLB amateur draft, featuring a draft class chock full of hard-throwing high school pitchers at the top, as SI's Tom Verducci detailed. He estimated five of the first 15 picks will be high school pitchers despite the fact that 35% of pitchers taken in the first round out of high school from 2001 to '10 never pitched in the majors. Also, check out Jay Jaffe's up-to-the-minute mock draft, which has a new face going No. 1 to the Twins.
What you need to watch
7. Andrew McCutchen tried—and failed—in his Chris Coughlan impression.
8. Paul Goldschmidt absolutely crushed this pitch for a grand slam in the Diamondbacks 11-1 rout of the Brewers.
9. Because you can't see this enough times, here are some more angles of Judge and his magnificent home run.