How downright illogical was the ever-unpredictable sport of baseball in 2015?
So illogical that one of our favorite pitchers "played" for three teams without ever throwing a pitch. ... So illogical that a National League pitcher found himself DH-ing in an American League park -- and batting against a position player disguised as a pitcher.
So illogical that a 35-year-old pitcher who was still pitching in the Atlantic League in July ended up with more double-figure strikeout games than Felix Hernandez. ... And so illogical that a team had to suspend one of its star players not because of insubordination but because of Instagram.
But frankly, we're as grateful as ever that all of that stuff really happened because it makes it possible for us to present what our pollsters tell us (after no actual polling) is absolutely, positively your favorite column of the year (and ours): The Strange But True Feats of the Year.
Wait. Make that two columns, come to think of it. Because one wouldn't possibly be enough. So first up, it's the Strange But True Regular-Season Feats of 2015. And you know what you'll get Tuesday? The Strange But True Postseason Feats of 2015. Naturally. So here we go. Let the strangeness begin.
Strangest But Truest Man of the Year
Bronson Arroyo threw as many pitches in the big leagues this year as Old Hoss Radbourn. Or Miss Colombia. Or, well, as many as you, for that matter. So how did he win our prestigious Strangest But Truest Man of the Year Award? Glad you asked. Here's how ...
• Has anyone in history managed to "play" for three teams in one year without ever actually playing in a single game, for any team? It's possible, we guess. But we've never heard of it. And Bronson Arroyo had never heard of it, either. Not until it happened to him, anyway. Let's trace his incredible itinerary:
• He started the season, pretty much minding his own business, trying to rehab his previously ultra-durable right elbow after Tommy John surgery. For a couple of months, he did that as a proud member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. But then the Strange But True portion of his year kicked in.
• On June 20, Arizona shipped him (and, in a heavily related development, his $9.5 million salary) to the Atlanta Braves as part of the fascinating Touki Toussaint trade. So off went Arroyo to the Braves' Florida complex at Disney for a month, where he resumed rehabbing in the shadow of Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain. That fun lasted until July 30, when he took a bunch of Braves rookie leaguers to dinner. Suddenly, in the midst of those festivities, Arroyo reported, "One of the young kids said to me, 'Hey, I think you just got traded to the Dodgers.' And I said, 'What?' He said, 'Yeah, I just saw it on Twitter.'"
• Well, you can't believe everything you read on Twitter. So Arroyo immediately called the Braves' president of baseball operations, John Hart, to confirm that yet one more team had traded for him. Hart laughed and said: "Yeah, we had to throw you in the deal." So with that, it was time for Arroyo to head off to those ever-innovative Los Angeles Dodgers, as part of a wild and crazy three-team extravaganza in which eight players, one competitive-balance draft pick and a bunch of money went flying all over the map.
• So, next thing he knew, Arroyo found himself back in Arizona, in the very same house he'd been living in when he was a Diamondback. Only instead of driving every morning to the Diamondbacks' rehab facility in Phoenix, he drove to the Dodgers' rehab facility in Glendale. He never did make it to Chavez Ravine, Hollywood or even to a rerun of "L.A. Law." But on his list of official transactions, it still says he was a Dodger. What a country.
• So did that mean Bronson Arroyo played for three teams in 40 days or no teams? That's the kind of question that keeps us Strange But True aficionados awake at night. So we figured we'd better get Arroyo's take.
"I'll put it this way," he said. "If I retired tomorrow and somebody asked which teams I played for, I'd never mention the Braves or Dodgers. Heck, I never set foot in their locker rooms. I was just kind of on vacation, throwing bullpens."
• Now before we wrap this up, let's put Arroyo's fascinating travels in perspective. Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander and Matt Cain have each been pitching in the major leagues since 2005. They've pitched a combined 33 seasons and made a combined 943 starts -- and never been traded. Not once. But Arroyo somehow got traded twice -- in a season in which there was next to no chance he would ever throw a pitch. Is this a crazy sport, or what?
• Oh, and one more thing. We counted 40 pitchers who spent at least 150 days on the disabled list this year. As best we can tell, Arroyo got traded twice as many times as the other 39 combined. (And if it weren't for Matt Harrison, who got dealt from Texas to Philadelphia in a three-week window between DL stints, that total would have been zero.) So we know Arroyo is the only player of 2015 to land on the 60-day disabled list of three teams. The question is whether he's the only player ever.
"Three teams, and I never threw an official pitch," Arroyo said, chuckling over the insanity of it all. "And I was coming off Tommy John, so everyone knew I probably wouldn't pitch a game all year. I don't know if anyone else can say they ever did that."
Yeah, good chance. But with all these new "Ivy League grads" now running half the teams in baseball, Arroyo said, "I bet things are going to be done now that have never been done before. It wouldn't surprise me if this becomes more and more normal."
OK, he might be right. But if we're really heading for a world where a season like this stops being Strangest But Truest Man of the Year material to "normal," this column might have to cease operations!
Five Strangest But Truest Injuries of the Year
• On his way to retirement, Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt sealed his first-ballot election to the Strange But True Hall of Fame by getting hurt on (what else?) an off day. Took his kids to a lake. Slipped off an inflatable platform. And kaboom, he was back on the DL with a "patellar subluxation" in his left knee. Which, according to the Giants' surgeon general, Dr. Bruce Bochy, is a medical term for "Jeremy being Jeremy."
• Here's one thing we learned this year: The only thing in baseball that's more dangerous than a beanball is, of course, a beanbag. As our first witness, we call Oakland reliever Fernando Abad. He tried to plop down into a beanbag chair one day. But apparently, he's going to have to work on that move in spring training because he missed his strike zone, also known as "the chair." He also missed the next week and a half with a bruised tailbone -- but a spectacular tale of how he bruised it.
• We found out again this year that White Sox ace Chris Sale is unhittable. We also found out, however, that he isn't unbreakable. You'd think there would be nothing that could stop this man from pitching on Opening Day. But here's what did: his truck. He was unloading it during spring training, neglected to stick the landing and broke a bone in his foot. Next time, he might want to hire a few Teamsters.
• April showers bring, um, let's see now, something or other. Pretty sure our grandmothers once used to warn us about whatever the heck it was. But nobody warned Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett, who was taking an April shower after a game in Pittsburgh -- and cut his hand reaching for the body wash. That was the bad news (for him). But here's the good news (for the rest of us): He was helpful enough to tweet about it!
Can't believe it! Literally trying to grab some body wash in the shower (post game in Pittsburgh) and... https://t.co/TO1j6BRuQH
— Scooter Gennett (@Sgennett2) April 20, 2015
• Finally, we'd love to tell you that some injuries are nothing to sneeze at -- but that's one beloved cliché that sure doesn't apply to this year. First, Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar ah-chooed his way into the news by pulling an oblique this spring -- by sneezing. But that wasn't even the sneezing mishap of the year. That award goes to Nationals outfielder Reed Johnson. He probably thought he'd accumulated enough injuries this summer, when he (A) hurt his foot and (B) got drilled in the ribs while playing on a rehab assignment. But then he completed this trifecta by really aggravating that rib injury -- with a mega-sneeze. So what can we say? Just one thing: Gesundheit!
Five Strangest But Truest Replay Moments of the Year
• You think it's cool to score the winning run? How about scoring it twice in one game? Happened to Ian Kinsler on Sept. 19. The run he thought he'd scored in the ninth got overturned. So he just had to return to the scene of the crime in the 11th and mash a walk-off homer. Overturn that!
• Where Mookie Betts went this year, stuff just kept on happening. And we should have known because, in the very first inning of the Red Sox home opener, he stole second and third base on the same pitch (thanks to the miracle of shifting). And the Nationals were so delighted, they challenged the "safe" calls at both bases -- and got rejected by the replay pooh-bahs on both of them. So that went well.
• Nobody could possibly have gotten more down on modern technology this year than Josh Donaldson. He had two home runs taken away by the replay machines in one game, on Sept. 8. Where are those local blackouts when you need them?
• Khris Davis, on the other hand, might never feel the same again about the human element. On May 25, he launched a first-inning home run, circled the bases, then got called out for (gulp) missing home plate. But wait. Three minutes and 20 technologically efficient seconds later, it turned out he touched that plate after all. So it turned into the longest home run trot of the year. But hey, justice was served.
• Not only did the Red Sox hit for the cycle this year (courtesy of Brock Holt), they also got tangled up in the first replay cycle in history (as far as we know). In their Sept. 19 game against the Rays, they inspired the boys in New York to review plays at first base, second, third and home. And even better, those reviews were initiated by both teams and the umpiring crew. Might be the greatest day in technology since Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone.
10 Strangest But Truest Role Reversals of the Year
• In case we forgot to break into regularly scheduled programming to mention this, a tremendous record was set this year: most games ever pitched by position players in one season (27). But it was tough to top Mystery Pitcher appearance No. 27 -- by the one, the only Ichiro, pitching for the first time since the 1996 Japanese All-Star Game, on the last day of the season. In what we believe was the greatest hits mismatch ever, he headed to the mound with 2,935 hits. The five Phillies hitters he faced had 430 combined.
• And those 27 position-player appearances don't even count another historic moment in Mystery Pitching: Cliff Pennington doing what no position player had ever done -- pitching for the Blue Jays in an actual postseason game. (That would be Game 4 of the ALCS.) On one hand, that wasn't what the Blue Jays had in mind. On the other hand, his fastball averaged 90.7 miles per hour. Which was 7 mph swifter than that of their starter that day (R.A. Dickey).
• So how wacky did that Mystery Pitcher craze get? Three teams -- the Rays, Indians and White Sox -- all ran two position players out there to pitch in the same game at some point. No AL team had done that in a nine-inning game in 37 years before that. ... In just the eight days between June 12 and June 20, eight different position players pitched (and allowed 13 runs, for what it's worth). ... The Yankees faced four position players in the same season. ... One of those Yankees, Chris Young, hit a homer off one position player (Jonny Gomes) but struck out against another (Adam Rosales). ... There hadn't been any day since 1979 in which three position players pitched on the same day. And then, naturally, it happened two days in a row this year (June 16 and 17). ... And four mystery men were allowed to pitch twice this year: Rosales, David Ross, Ike Davis and Jesus Sucre. Not only did Ross go six-up, six-down in his two outings for the Cubs but he also hit a home run after his 1-2-3 inning July 26. So he somehow managed to get through the year as the only catcher in baseball to homer as a pitcher but not as a catcher? You bet he did.
• And let's not forget Wilson Ramos' place in Mystery Pitcher History. In a June 16 game in Tampa Bay, he homered off Jake Elmore in the eighth inning, then homered again off Nick Franklin in the ninth. And you know how many other players who debuted in the expansion era have even hit home runs against two different position players at any point in their whole careers, let alone one game? That answer, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, would be zero. But Wilson Ramos did it on the same night. In back-to-back innings. Because baseball happened.
• That game at Tropicana Field got so mixed up, by the way, that, in the ninth inning, the Nationals sent a pitcher (Joe Ross) out to pinch hit for their DH (Yunel Escobar). Which meant a National League pitcher had just turned into a DH for the first time in history. And Ross then batted against -- what else? -- a position player (Franklin). In a game in an AL park. Perfect. ... But even more incredibly, exactly two months later, an Orioles-A's game turned so upside-down that an AL position player (Ike Davis) wound up pitching to an AL pitcher (Jason Garcia) and -- what else? -- walked him! On four pitches! You can't make this stuff up, friends.
• And here's to Brendan Ryan and Jeff Francoeur. They both did something Craig Kimbrel hasn't done in four years: get the last six outs of a game. Francoeur actually threw 48 pitches -- which was 22 more than his team's starting pitcher (Jerome Williams) threw that night. And Ryan zipped through two shutout innings. Last Yankees position player to get that many outs: Gene Michael, in 1968!
• Meanwhile, there were some great moments in pitchers at the dish, too. Like this: Randy Choate made it to the plate for the first time in 11 years -- and Mets reliever Jack Leathersich promptly walked him.
• And this: Two American League pitchers hit a home run this year. The first (Nathan Karns) accounted for the only run in a 1-0 game. The second (Daniel Norris) didn't even get a win out of it -- because he pulled an oblique three innings later.
• And this: Four Giants pitchers homered in September. Which would have been pretty amazing no matter what. But especially amazing was this: None of them was named Madison Bumgarner, who had hit all 12 of the homers hit by Giants pitchers between Sept. 1, 2012, and Sept. 1, 2015.
• Finally, speaking of MadBum, we'd like to thank him for all of this: (A) He outhomered Matt Holliday this year (5-4). (B) He pinch hit in back-to-back games and homered in back-to-back starts -- in the same week. (C) As our buddy Buster Olney pointed out, he not only was sent up to pinch hit against Aroldis Chapman but was the first player all year to fall behind Chapman, 0 and 2, yet wind up drawing a walk. And (D) he did something that Pablo Sandoval, Albert Pujols and Justin Upton have never done: hit a home run off Clayton Kershaw. But then came this postscript: Guess who had the longest at-bat against Bumgarner all year? Right you are. Clayton Kershaw (13 pitches).
10 Strangest But Truest Hitting Feats of the Year
• Want proof that actually swinging is overrated? On Sept. 3, Bryce Harper got through an entire game without swinging at a single pitch -- and still scored four runs. Meanwhile in Chicago, Melky Cabrera swung at 23 pitches that day -- and scored no runs.
• Billy Hamilton really did hit a home run this year before Giancarlo Stanton -- but, in an even bigger upset, got out-tripled by Evan Gattis. Then again, so did a lot of people. Gattis' mind-boggling stat line: 11 triples, 0 stolen bases. First man in 75 years to hit that many triples but forget to steal a base. Of course he was!
• But nobody was more convinced that everything happens in threes than Royals rookie Paulo Orlando. He had to wait until age 29 to reach the big leagues. But once he got there, every time he looked up, he was dusting himself off at third base. Here are his first seven career hits, courtesy of loyal tweeter Ed Bartel: triple, triple, triple, single, triple, single, triple. So that's more triples in his first seven hits than Victor Martinez has unfurled in his first 1,776 hits.
• Rockies masher Nolan Arenado homered in six straight games in September. But over the first five, we're betting he did something no one else has ever done: hit a home run in five consecutive games -- but not even hit the most homers on his own team in that span. He can blame Carlos Gonzalez, who ripped off three straight multihomer games. And in answer to your question before you ask it, of course they were playing at Coors Field. You were expecting maybe the Polo Grounds?
• Bet you didn't know that Todd Frazier went through the longest homerless streak of his career this year (63 plate appearances). But you probably don't remember it -- because in the middle of all that, he won the Home Run Derby. Of course he did.
• You definitely can't accuse Gordon Beckham of loving his dad more than his mom. He got a walk-off hit on Mother's Day. Then he got a walk-off hit on Father's Day. And you know how many walk-off hits he got in the other 98 games he played this year? Right. That would be zero.
• And while we're in that holiday spirit, sound those trombones, because what could be more patriotic than a Sousa (OK, so it was a Souza) hitting a tying homer in the ninth inning on the Fourth of July? So what if it was Steven Souza, not John Philip Sousa? Anybody know the tune to "Semper Fidelis"?
• Apparently, Xander Bogaerts is a morning person -- because, on April 10, the Red Sox played a 19-inning game at Yankee Stadium, and he went 0-for-4 before midnight but 4-for-4 after midnight. If the Red Sox were as innovative as they're reputed to be, wouldn't they play a few 12:05 a.m. games, just to see if that was a trend?
• Think it's safe to say the Mariners' catchers were offensively challenged? They hit .159, with a .464 OPS, this year. The Giants' pitchers hit .162, with a .463 OPS. The Mariners used five catchers. They got 86 hits combined. Meanwhile in San Francisco, Buster Posey got 86 hits by the Fourth of July. So, how have the Mariners addressed that this winter? They signed a catcher who hit .188 (Chris Iannetta) -- and that's an upgrade!
• Then there's all this stuff you undoubtedly never saw coming: Ben Revere hit a home run off Max Scherzer. ... J.T. Realmuto drove in five runs in one inning. ... Curt Casali had back-to-back multihomer games. ...The Cardinals used five pinch hitters in the same inning. ... The Pirates played a game in which they walked 10 times, had 16 baserunners and got shut out. ... Jackie Bradley Jr. whomped 11 consecutive extra-base hits. ... Derek Norris struck out four times in a row May 29, then bopped a walk-off grand slam. ... Bartolo Colon got an infield hit -- and "sprinted" to first in a glacial 7.4 seconds. ... And a team that won 100 games (the Cardinals) got shut out three times in a row by a team that lost 95 games (the Braves). No kidding!
Strangest But Truest Pitching Feats of the Year
• You know how people say wins are a meaningless stat? How about losses? Shelby Miller led the National League in losses, with 17 -- and still had a lower ERA (3.02) than seven of the 18 starting pitchers who got Cy Young votes this year.
• Did anyone have a Stranger But Truer September than Rich Hill had in Boston? Did you know Madison Bumgarner, Zack Greinke, Adam Wainwright and Cole Hamels have never spun off three double-digit strikeout games in a row? But guess who did? A 35-year-old left-hander who spent part of his year in the rotation of the Long Island Ducks, hadn't made a big league start in six years and hadn't had a 10-strikeout game in eight years. One of the great Strange But True sagas of modern times.
• The bad news for Colby Lewis was: He was the only pitcher in the American League to give up 10 runs in a game twice this year. The good news for Colby Lewis was: He was literally unbeatable (as in 11-0) over an 18-start stretch from May to August when he didn't give up 10 runs. Here's to the joys of single figures.
• Exactly once in the history of the Royals had they ever pulled a pitcher working on a no-hitter in the sixth inning or later. Then, naturally, Ned Yost did it twice this year -- to the same guy (Chris Young). So Chris, about pitch counts: Your thoughts?
• The Phillies were a Strange But True phenomenon unto themselves. But since they were creative enough to become the first team since 1900 to get through a whole season without a seven-game winner, they inspired loyal tweeter Christopher Long's favorite tidbit of the year: Cole Hamels managed to tie for their team lead in wins -- while actually winning more games for another team. (He went 7-1 with the Rangers.)
• OK, one more on the Phillies: They got within one game of tying the modern National League record for most games in a row without a win by a starter, but picked a great time to break that streak (at 25) -- thanks to a win by a pitcher who was 0-6 in the minor leagues (Adam Morgan).
• You know which pitcher retired 32 hitters in a row this year? No, not Max Scherzer, Jake Arrieta or Zack Greinke. It was Wandy Rodriguez, of course. For the Rangers. Who released him three months later.
• Strange But True Drill Sergeant Dept.: Remember Pat Misch? In a May 4 start for those New Orleans Zephyrs, he drilled the first four hitters he faced (including the final three on three pitches in a row). And what makes this extra Strange But True? In his six seasons in the big leagues, he never hit four batters in one year.
• Strange But True Drill Sergeant Dept., Part 2: Mark Buehrle managed to plunk Rays HBP magnet Brandon Guyer with four pitches this year. Which would be one more time than Mark Buehrle hit the other 195 hitters he faced put together.
Wait! One bonus Strange But True Buehrle note: He finally figured out a way to win a game against the Yankees this year -- for the first time in 11 years. It took him so long, he won 148 games in between against teams not named the Yankees.
• And guess what? We saved the best for last in this section because Jake Arrieta's second half was one giant Strange But True compendium. But rather than devote the next 48,000 words to this dude, we're going to restrain ourselves and present our three most astounding SBT Arrieta-isms: (1) Over his last 18 starts of the season, the Cubs went 17-1 -- and in the only loss, they got no-hit (of course they did) by Cole Hamels. (2) Over his last 20 starts, he hit as many homers as he allowed (two). And (3) if you'd started your clicker on Aug. 1, you'd have counted 269 pitchers who allowed at least four earned runs in an inning. And while all that was going on, Arrieta was also allowing four earned runs -- in two months. So get the picture? He was pretty good.
10 Strangest But Truest Box Score Lines of the Year
• When I asked all you Strange But True fans in the Twitterverse to nominate your SBT favorite of the year, about 50 of you reminded me of this: Andrew Cashner got only 14 outs in his June 1 start against the Mets -- but he still managed to cram 12 strikeouts and 11 hits into his box score line. That means he faced 25 hitters -- and 23 of them either got a hit or struck out. Which can be rough on a guy's BABIP.
• But here's the best part: That was the first game in the history of baseball in which a pitcher piled up at least 10 whiffs and 10 hits without making it through the fifth inning. So it took 140 seasons for it to happen once -- and exactly one day for it to happen again. Because Noah Syndergaard did it the next night. In the same ballpark. Because of course he did.
• While we're on this strikeout roll, human SBT note machine Corey Kluber made a May 13 start against the Cardinals in which he faced 26 hitters -- and struck out 18 of them. That was in one night. Meanwhile, Chad Billingsley faced 165 hitters this year -- that was in seven starts -- and struck out 15 of them.
• It's safe to say Jeremy Guthrie isn't as big a fan of Yankee Stadium as, say, Babe Ruth. In his May 25 visit to the Bronx, he gave up 11 earned runs. And four homers. And allowed 13 baserunners. And got three outs. So who else has ever done that, you ask? Nobody has ever done that, we answer.
• But now let's make Jeremy Guthrie feel at least slightly better. Before he got to the mound, exactly one starting pitcher in the live-ball era had found a way to give up 11 earned runs without making it through at least the second inning. It then happened three times just this year. David Buchanan and Chris Rusin were such big fans of Guthrie's work, they also did it, within a week and a half of each other, in August.
• Have we ever mentioned that not all blown saves are created equal? Cody Allen took the mound April 20 with a 3-0 lead over the White Sox, then faced eight hitters in the ninth -- and got one of them out. His outing went: Strikeout, double, walk, wild pitch, double, single, single, single, single, drive home safely.
• Then again, not all saves are created equal, either. Adam Warren, for instance, saved one game this year. On July 28. In a 21-5 game. If you're scoring at home, that ranks him No. 3 on the Cheapest Saves of the 21st Century list, behind Wes Littleton (saved the fabled 30-3 game in 2007) and Willie Banks (saved a 22-4 game in 2002).
• But we're still not sure that was any crazier than this: In an actual June 12 game in Houston, Felix Hernandez allowed more home runs (two) than he got outs (one). His catcher, Jesus Sucre, wound up pitching a scoreless inning that day. Felix gave up eight runs. Yeah, really.
• So what did Didi Gregorius do this year that Derek Jeter never did? Drive in six runs in one game, that's what. On Aug. 28. You can look it up. Jeter played 2,505 games for the Yankees, by the way, counting the postseason. This was Gregorius' 120th. Baseball is awesome.
• But that still wasn't the Strangest But Truest box score line by a player in New York this year. Because who could top Kirk Nieuwenhuis' epic 4-3-3-4 show July 12, in which he became the first player in the history of the Mets to hit three homers in a game in New York? So which is more incredible? That Mike Piazza, David Wright and Howard Johnson never hit three home runs in a game for the Mets -- or that Nieuwenhuis almost made it through the whole season without hitting any other homers. Alas, he messed up that note with a Sept. 8 game winner off Jonathan Papelbon. Why was he celebrating?
10 More Strange But True Classics
• How did this happen? The Indians lost the first seven games started this year by the incumbent Cy Young Award winner, Corey Kluber.
• And how did this happen? The Red Sox played an April 10 game in New York in which they blew leads in the 16th and 18th innings -- and still won. But the Giants played a game six days later in which they scored in the seventh, ninth, 10th and 12th innings -- and still lost.
• And how did this happen? The Red Sox also played a game on July 5 in which their first basemen somehow made it through all nine innings without recording a single putout. It was the 17,867th game in Red Sox history. It was the first in which their first baseman didn't record at least one out. So want to guess what happened in their very next game? The first ball put in play was (what else?) a 3-unassisted. What else?
• And how did this happen? The Braves and Phillies played a three-game series in which the score of every game was Braves 2, Phillies 1. Which was almost as insane as the Mets winning two straight games in Denver by the score of 14-9. So how random was that? There were no other games played all year, by anybody, that ended 14-9.
• And how did this happen? From Opening Day through Sept. 12, there wasn't a single game in which a team found itself down by at least three runs with two out and nobody on in the ninth and then won. Then the Mets and Astros both did it -- on the same day (Sept. 13). Because of course they did.
• And how did this happen? The Twins got a triple from three hitters in the same inning of their June 14 game in Texas -- but scored only one run. (So how did that happen? Shane Robinson got picked off third by Robinson Chirinos after triple No. 2. That's how.)
• Strangest But Truest Great Moments in Managing: The Padres lost three games in 48 hours -- with three different managers. ... And the Brewers went through the entire month of April without winning a series, then won their first series in May -- and (naturally) fired their manager (Ron Roenicke) after the game.
• Strangest But Truest No-Hitter Epidemic: Chase Utley played 13 seasons in Philadelphia and got no-hit only once. Then he became a Dodger -- and got no-hit twice in his first nine games in L.A. But what really made this a Strange But True all-timer was this: The same three Dodgers made the last three outs in both no-hitters (Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Justin Turner).
• Strangest But Truest Social Media Debacle: The Red Sox waited all year for Pablo Sandoval to get hot. Instead, he got suspended in June -- because of "hotties." During a midgame bathroom break, he made sure to focus on what really mattered. By "liking" photos of a bunch of attractive females on Instagram. And this just in: All Instagram "likes" are accessible only to a small group consisting of ... the entire rest of the planet.
• Strangest But Truest Delays of the Year: Why was a June 15 Tigers game delayed? Because they couldn't start the third inning until Yoenis Cespedes came out of the bathroom. ... A Florida State League game in Tampa was called on account of a circus (seriously) -- because a bunch of blinking lights on a tent across the street were messing with the hitters' vision. ... An Angels-Royals spring training game was delayed on account of bees. ... And finally, the very first rain delay of 2015 occurred in Miami, in a ballpark that had never had a rain delay before. Then again, there's a good reason for that. It has a roof on it. The Marlins just couldn't get it closed in time. Because, if they had, they'd be putting us Strange But True Feats of the Year aficionados out of business. And that would be just plain wrong.