MLB Weekly Report: Josh Hamilton Is A Triple Crown Threat [VIDEO]
Two divisional leaders - one in each league - began to pull away from the pack, while several big name hitters had huge weeks. Here's what's happening in Major League Baseball:
Josh Hamilton's Incredible Week
Texas Rangers' slugger Josh Hamilton has been unstoppable. Hamilton hit nine homers and drove in 18 runs during the past week, including a four-homer, eight-RBI night against the Orioles on Tuesday. With 18 home runs, 41 runs batted in and a .402 batting average on the season, Hamilton has large leads in all three American League statistical categories. If Hamilton maintains those leads, he would become the first MLB player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the Triple Crown. Better still, his team leads the American League West by five games.
John Axford Blows A Save
After converting 49 consecutive save opportunities, Milwaukee Brewers' closer John Axford blew a save against the Chicago Cubs on Friday night. However, Axford didn't have much time to mull over his poor performance. His pregnant wife, Nicole, had gone into contractions, and he left to be by her side. In the process, the colorful Brewers' closer with the funky facial hair left a note behind for the media:
"I put my wife into contractions with my performance tonight! The streak is over so now you can talk about it. The luck I've had in the past didn't show up tonight! All I can do is start another streak and keep my head up! Cliché... cliché... cliché... another cliché. Gotta go! Love, Ax."
Axford's wife and baby to-be are fine; it was just a scare. By the way, Milwaukee rallied for an 8-7 victory in the game thanks to Corey Hart's RBI single in the 13th inning.
Andy Pettitte Loses His First Major League Start Since 2010
Making his first start since 2010, New York Yankees' starting pitcher Andy Pettitte suffered the loss in his team's 6-2 defeat to Seattle on Sunday. Pettite, who has 240 career wins, was not especially sharp, yielding four runs in 6.1 innings, including two home runs.
Play of the Week: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
After previously hitting two home runs in the game, Cincinnati Reds' first baseman Joey Votto hit a walk-off grand slam to give his team a 9-6 win over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.
Upcoming Series To Watch: St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers
This three-game series between National League division leaders begins Friday at Dodger Stadium. With Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier each having MVP-level years thus far, the Dodgers have complied MLB's best record (23-11). The defending world champion Cardinals (20-14) are getting exceptional starting pitching from Lance Lynn, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook. These teams could certainly be poised to be National League Championship Series opponents come October.
Fantasy Player To Add: Will Middlebrooks, Boston Red Sox
After cranking his fourth home run on Sunday, Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks is now hitting .310, with 13 runs batted in and an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.070 in 10 games since being called up from the minor leagues. While Kevin Youkilis will retain the job as the starting third baseman when he is healthy, there's no way Boston won't keep Middlebrooks in the lineup. Pick him up.
Fantasy Player To Drop: Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay Rays
Rays' first baseman Carlos Pena swatted two doubles on Sunday in Tampa's 9-8 win over Baltimore. Despite the productive day, Pena is 5 for 41 with 15 strikeouts in May. It's time to find corner power somewhere else.
Other MLB news: Josh Beckett, Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos
Red Sox starting pitcher Josh Beckett came under fire this week for playing golf the day after it was announced his next start would be skipped because of tightness in his lat muscle… Washington Nationals' catcher Wilson Ramos tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Saturday night. He may miss the remainder of the 2012 season. Backup Jesus Flores will replace him in the Washington lineup…Washington Nationals rookie phenom Bryce Harper decided to take out his frustration for making an out on Friday by hitting a clubhouse tunnel wall. Harper sustained a gash to his face when his bat ricocheted off the wall and hit him above his left eye. He isn't expected to miss any time.