Welcome back. Another week has passed. You're another week closer to Mike Trout being 40, fat, and a hindrance to his team. But we're not there yet. Still, there was a lot of baseball that happened over the weekend, and you couldn't possibly have watched it all. Unless you're Ozymandias. In which case, please, hold off on the squid until Mike Trout gets fat. I'm morbidly curious.
There were events, doings, and transpirings. Let's catch up on some of the more relevant/interesting/other:
Tim Lincecum threw a no-hitter
Lincecum averaged six hits (and three walks) for every inning he pitched from April 2012 through June of this year. We were juuuuust at the stage where it was okay to accept him as a pitcher you would talk about in the past tense. If not Dontrelle Willis, then something pretty close.
Since the start of June: 51 innings, 17 walks, 57 strikeouts, three homers, 3.16 ERA.
The no-hitter was written up by Rob here, by Bryan Murphy here, and by me here. So if you want more on it, there you go. But one of the more fascinating parts of the no-hitter was that Lincecum threw 148 pitches. If you want to see how the game has changed, check out this list of pitchers who've thrown over 140 pitches since 2000, and this list of pitchers who did the same in the '90s. Different times.
Here's what I took away from it, though: There wasn't a lot of grumbling. The Internet kind of shrugged its collective shoulders and said, "Yeah, it was a no-hitter. What was Bruce Bochy supposed to do?" Which is to say, the pendulum is swinging back. At the turn of the millennium, anything over 100 pitches was criminal and abusive. That's just barely hyperbole -- the attention to pitch counts was crazy.
This was kind of a perfect storm, in a way. Lincecum's best years are probably behind him anyway. He's almost 30. He's a pending free agent. The Giants are kinda sorta dead in the water. Lincecum has already accomplished more in his career than 99 percent of prospects will ever accomplish, but he didn't have a no-hitter. Of course the Giants were going to let him keep going. What up there screams that caution is required?
We'll see what Lincecum does in his next few starts, but whatever he does, there will be a ton of causation/correlation attached. In the meantime, he'll be comfortable with the decision. At the University of Washington, he called 148 pitches "Friday night."
Good job, effort, Royals
And on July 14, 2013, the Royals died on their way back to their home planet. Good job, effort.
When the Royals started their series against the Indians, they were six games back in the Central. That's not good, but it's not insurmountable, either. Maybe they get hot, the Tigers get cold, who knows?
Except the Indians swept the Royals over the weekend, pushing the Royals eight games out in the Central. That's pretty close to insurmountable territory. Can you see the Royals making up eight games on the Tigers between now and October? No. No, you can't. And for the 28th straight year, it's pretty likely that the Royals will be doing something else during the playoffs.
The worst part: The offseason plan worked. The Royals needed pitching. They made a huge trade for a stable pitcher, a small trade for a mercurial pitcher, and a substantial financial commitment to a competent pitcher. It all worked out. As much as anyone could have hoped.
The hitting turned into a powder and blew away in the wind. Good job, effort, Royals. Can't blame you for trying, and it almost worked.
In which the Astros receive good news
The Houston Astros are busy screwing something up right now. Don't stare. They know. They know.
But the franchise is going in the right direction. They're focusing on development, and they're identifying the players at the major-league level who will be around for the next good Astros team. And over the weekend, two big things happened for the Astros:
1. Jarred Cosart made a transcendent major-league debut:
Cosart didn't allow a hit until the bottom of the seventh, throwing eight innings of shutout ball for the win. Pitchers who have gone eight innings without allowing a run in their debut include Juan Marichal and Luis Tiant. But the last three to do it were Scott Lewis, Chris Waters, and Ryan O'Malley. That was in the past six seasons, too, in case you figured those were guys from the '70s. So it's not like Cosart is guaranteed success.
But it's better than failing, you know. And Cosart has a minor-league and scouting pedigree. This was nothing but good news.
2. Jose Altuve signed a four-year extension
He wasn't a free agent until after the 2017 season in the first place, and he's not exactly building on his success from last year. But when you think of players who will be around for the next good Astros team, Altuve is obviously the first one that comes to mind.
The Astros could have entertained trade offers. They decided to keep Altuve around for the short term and the long term. And, yeah, that was a bad joke. But the important part is that the Astros had a good weekend. When bad teams have good weekends, this is what it looks like.
The Braves had a bad weekend
This is a headline that exists:
Uptons leave game with injuries; Constanza called up
Uptons? I don't know a player named … oh, right. There was actually a reason to use the plural of Upton in a headline detailing injuries. But if there's anything worse than the headline, it's the lede:
One night after Jason Heyward left with a strained right hamstring, the Braves lost the rest of their Opening Day outfield to a pair of muscle strains that have pushed the Braves' depth to its outer limits.
The Braves made some bold moves in the offseason, a year after not making a single danged move at all. The goal was admirable. They had a young, young outfield, but one that had already accomplished quite a bit collectively.
On Sunday, they started Joey Terdoslavich, Reed Johnson, and Jose Constanza. That's … less than optimal, especially because Joey Terdoslavich is a create-a-player from whatever video game you were playing in junior high. The best laid plans of mice and Wren, I'll tell you …
Chris Davis is coming for you and your children
That opposite-field swing … goodness.
Turn up your speakers (if you work in a liberal environment)
Because let's marvel at the technology that allows us to hear how the game is really played.