Sunday occasioned the final games of the first half of the 2019 season. After Sunday’s slate, play will resume with one game on Thursday and then a full schedule on Friday. Unlike most Sundays, this one had no night game — we’ve got the Futures Game from Cleveland instead — so it was loads of day baseball to carry us into the All-Star break. Let’s jump in.

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Sunday, July 7 scores

Alonso’s 30th spoils Nola no-hit bid

Surging Phillies ace Aaron Nola had been no-hitting the Mets for 5 1/3 innings on Sunday in Queens when rookie cloutsman Pete Alonso and his mighty cudgel came to the plate. Here’s how that went: 

Indeed, Alonso now joins Christian Yelich of the Brewers and Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers as members of the 30-homer club. All, of course, reached that mark in the first half of the season. Just one other time have three hitters in the same league reached 30 home runs before the break in the same season, and that was back in 1998 (Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Greg Vaughn). As for Alonso specifically: 

The 24-year-old is now batting .281/.373/.636, which makes him one of the best hitters in all of baseball, not just among rookies. Look for him to put on a show in Monday’s Home Run Derby. 

As for Nola, Alonso loudly spoiled his no-hit and shutout bids, but he still wound up registering a quality start: 6 2/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 6 SO, 3 BB. Nola of course struggled badly to start the season, as he was lugging around an ERA of 6.84 after his first five starts. Since then, though, he’s been pitching at levels befitting 2018, when he finished third in the NL Cy Young balloting. Over his last 14 starts, Nola has put up an ERA of 2.84 and 96 strikeouts against 30 unintentional walks in 85 2/3 innings. That’s what the Phillies need from Nola the rest of the way, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Jake Arrieta (see Quick Hits below). 

Tatis ends first half in glory

Non-All-Star and Padres rookie shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. had himself a day against the Dodgers on Sunday. First, check out this gem in the field: 

And then there’s his work at the plate: 


With those two blasts, Tatis is now batting .327/.393/.620, which is MVP-grade production on a rate basis. There’s also this: 

The 20-year-old Tatis cracks that list despite missing more than a month with a hamstring strain. Want more? Here’s more: 

It’s not always the case that most exciting players are also some of the best players, but that is indeed the case with Tatis Jr.

Lucroy set for CT scan after scary collision at plate

A scary play unfolded at Houston’s Minute Maid Park during the eighth inning of Sunday’s Angels-Astros game. Pinch-runner Jake Marisnick attempted to tag up from third base, and that led to a play at the plate with Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy attempting to apply the tag. Here’s what happened: 

That’s a brutal collision, and as you can see Marisnick was immediately concerned about Lucroy:

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros
Lucroy suffered a scary injury in the final game before the break. USATSI

Lucroy was carted off the field, but he was able to walk to the cart under his own power. The update: 

As for the controversial nature of the play, Marisnick was called out, and that call was upheld on review. Here’s the rule in question, as it was explained at the time it was adopted prior to the 2014 season: 

A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate). If, in the judgment of the Umpire, a runner attempting to score initiates contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate) in such a manner, the Umpire shall declare the runner out (even if the player covering home plate loses possession of the ball).

Exceptions are made if the catcher, while not in the act of receiving a throw, fails to leave the runner a clear path to the plate. Lucroy in his initial setup appeared to leave Marisnick space on the back side of the plate. Now have a look at this angle: 

In this footage, Marisnick indeed appears to alter his path in order to make contact with Lucroy. But now take a look at this angle: 

In this one, Marisnick appears to begin his veer toward the front of the plate before Lucroy moves toward the throw from Kole Calhoun, which means Lucroy put himself in Marisnick’s direct path. While taking that angle seems quite unwise on Marisnick’s part insofar as touching the plate and scoring a run are concerned, his early veer seen in this footage suggests he wasn’t intentionally trying to deck Lucroy. 

As with any play such as this, perceptions are going to track to rooting interests for the most part. The run came off the board, but the Astros wound up winning anyway. As for Lucroy, the hope is that he’s not seriously injured and that he somehow avoided a concussion.  

Morton, bullpen pitch Rays to split with Yanks

The Rays came into Saturday’s game with a 2-9 record against the Yankees this season. They won that one on a walk-off home run, and on Sunday they secured a split of the four-game series with another one-run victory. Ace Charlie Morton did the heavy lifting in this one: 

Morton for the season now has a sparkling 2.32 ERA with 142 strikeouts in 112 2/3 innings. Those are Cy Young-worthy digits right there at the mid-point. As well, shout-out to the Tampa Bay bullpen for working 3 1/3 perfect, high-leverage innings in this one. The Rays enter the break 6 1/2 games back of the Yankees in the AL East.

Donaldson mashes career homer No. 200

Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson on Sunday reached a career milestone against the Marlins in Atlanta: 

Yes, that’s career home run No. 200 for the 33-year-old slugger. Considering Donaldson didn’t log a qualifying number of plate appearances in a season until he was 28, that’s a notable feat. Since that breakout 2013 season with the Athletics, Donaldson has averaged 35 home runs per 162 games played, and of course he’s got an MVP award mixed in there.

On a one-year contract with Atlanta this season, Donaldson is now batting a productive .248/.360/.490 with 18 home runs in 87 games. He also still grades out as a plus defender at the hot corner. In other words, he’s been vital to the first-place Braves’ success in 2019. 

Highlight(s) of the day: Let’s go to Cincinnati 

Let’s unfurl the highlights of the day from the Indians-Reds state championship showdown in Cincy. First, here’s Indians center fielder Greg Allen making a nigh impossible snare to rob Jose Iglesias of extra bases: 

Mercy. An over-the-shoulder grab in deep center while nearing the wall in an unfamiliar ballpark? That’s a snare, Greg Allen. Enjoy the full privileges that come with Highlight of the Day status. 

As for the other highlight, let’s admire Yasiel Puig making the most of his team’s Sunday fashion choices:

Those particular pythons? You can’t buy them in a pet store. Yes, the Reds — bless them — went sleeveless on Sunday in a throwback to the days of Ted Kluszewski, and we are better people for having glimpsed it. Mr. Puig, you wear it well. 

Quick hits

  • Phillies RHP Jake Arrieta reportedly has a bone spur in his elbow, but he’s hoping to delay surgery until the offseason. Read more here.
  • Francisco Cervelli will reportedly give up catching because of his history of concussions. Get the details here.
  • Athletics 3B Matt Chapman has replaced Brewers OF Christian Yelich in Monday’s Home Run Derby. Yelich pulled out because he’s dealing with a back issue. Read more here.