Sports | April 27, 2021 9:47 am

Jacob deGrom, Fernando Tatís Jr. and the Oakland A’s: Around the Diamond in MLB Week 4

Madison Bumgarner also did something historic — even if it didn't count

Jacob deGrom of the Mets
Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets in action against the Nationals at Citi Field.
Mike Stobe/Getty

Leading San Diego 7-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning on Sunday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers had a win probability of 98.8%, according to Baseball Savant.

But the plucky Padres were able to chip away at the lead by scoring twice in the seventh, eighth and ninth to force the game into extra innings. After splitting their previous six meetings with LA this season, San Diego was able to prevail in extras on Sunday and eventually won 8-7 in 11 innings.

The victory wasn’t enough to help the Padres (13-11) move out of third place in the NL West, but it was an important win nevertheless as San Diego looks to keep pace in the division with the first-place Dodgers (15-7) and surprising San Francisco Giants (14-8).

The rivalry between the Dodgers and Padres continuing to grow thanks to a compelling weekend series is a great story, and an intriguing subplot is the play of star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. More on him below as we examine five storylines you should be aware of that emerged in MLB’s fourth week of play.

Madison Bumgarner

Although it wasn’t enough to officially land him in the MLB record book, Madison Bumgarner of the Arizona Diamondbacks had no-hit stuff on Sunday when he kept the Atlanta Braves off the bases and the scoreboard during a 7-0 win in the second game of a doubleheader.

Since Bumgarner’s no-hit outing took place over seven innings as part of MLB’s new format for doubleheaders, it doesn’t count as a no-no as baseball’s committee on statistical accuracy decided in 1991 a no-hitter is defined as a game of nine or more innings that ended with no hits.

So Bumgarner’s seven-inning effort, which came after his teammate Zac Gallen tossed a one-hitter to win the opener 5-0, doesn’t count for anything more than a “W” in the win column.

“It feels good. I just want to say two things before I go celebrate with the guys,” Bumgarner said on a TV interview after the game. “I want to thank these shadows in Atlanta. They helped me out a good bit. That was awesome. And I want to thank [MLB commissioner] Rob Manfred for making these seven-inning games.”

Officially credited with shutouts, Bumgarner and Gallen are the first pair of teammates to throw a pair of complete-game shutouts in a doubleheader since Boston’s Reggie Cleveland and Don Aase did it at Toronto in September of 1977. Atlanta’s only hit on the day, a single, came off the bat of reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman

The 2014 World Series MVP with San Francisco, 31-year-old Bumgarner has won his last two starts with a 0.75 ERA after posting an 11.19 ERA in his first three starts of the year.

Fernando Tatis Jr.

After going 1-for-4 in the series opener against the Dodgers on Thursday, Fernando Tatis Jr. went ballistic during San Diego’s final three games with L.A., culminating in Sunday’s 8-7 win when he went 2-for-4 with a solo home run, four runs scored, two stolen bases and two walks.

It hasn’t all been pretty for Tatis, who is the first player to have nine errors in his first 15 games of a season since infielder Scott Fletcher did it in 1983, but he shined in the spotlight during the weekend series with the Dodgers and homered five times in the final three games.

During that stretch, Tatis hit .500 with six RBIs eight runs scored and a pair of stolen bases. He also did some great trolling of a worthy recipient, Dodgers ace Trevor Bauer, after taking him deep twice on Satuday.

The pair of homers Tatis hit Friday off Clayton Kershaw were also notable as they came 22 years to the day after his father, Fernando Tatis Sr., hit two grand slams at Dodger Stadium in the same inning. Thanks to the bombs on Friday, the Tatises became the first father-son duo in MLB history to each record a multi-home run game at the same venue on the same calendar date. 

“Oh, I definitely knew this was the day,” Tatis told reporters. “I told myself, ‘If I could just hit two home runs today, that would be so crazy.’ I think the baseball gods were in my favor.”

Oakland A’s

Losers of six in a row to start the season, the Oakland A’s put a 13-game winning streak on the line on Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.

During the streak, the third-longest in Oakland history, the A’s outscored opponents 83-36 and were able to move from the cellar of the AL West all the way to first place.

Even though Oakland was unable to push the streak to 14 and fell 8-1 to Baltimore on Sunday, the A’s may have saved their season with the run of wins, the longest winning streak in the majors since Cleveland reeled off 22 straight in 2017.

“You do want to win the series, but you also want to get greedy,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said after losing to Baltimore. “We’ve been greedy here recently. It’s about winning every game that you go out there and play. At the end of the day, if you leave and you win a series, it’s a good thing. But we wanted to win bad today. We just didn’t do enough offensively to give ourselves a chance.”

That might have been true for the individual game on Sunday, but what the A’s have done over the past two weeks has been enough to give their season some hope — for now.

Jacob deGrom

During a masterpiece against the Nationals on Friday, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom continued his excellent start to the season with a 15-strikeout, two-hit shutout of Washington.

In 29 innings this season spread across four starts, the two-time Cy Young winner has compiled a 0.31 ERA and 0.55 WHIP with 50 strikeouts and just three walks. DeGrom, whose 50 strikeouts are the most ever through a pitcher’s first four starts, is also helping out from the batter’s box as he is hitting .545 (6-for-11) to start the season.

A former college shortstop, deGrom, has an average fastball speed of 98.9 MPH to lead the majors.

“It goes down to just one pitch at a time,” deGrom said after blanking the Nats. “That’s how I concentrate on a game. Hit my spot. If you end up missing it, so what. You’ve got to make the next pitch. But it’s that focus on that pitch that you’re about to throw that you can control. The previous games, those are over with.”

DeGrom, who has more RBIs this season (2) than earned runs allowed (1), now has a 2.00 ERA since the start of 2018 in 518 innings but somehow still has a record of just 27-20.

The 32-year-old will get a good test his next time out as he’s scheduled to start Wednesday against the AL East-leading Red Sox.

Jeff Bridich

After joining the Rockies in 2004 and rising through the ranks all the way to general manager by 2014, Jeff Bridich is out in Colorado.

The team announced Monday that the Harvard-educated exec was stepping down from his role after presiding over two playoff appearances in 2017 and ’18 as well as public falling out with star third baseman Nolan Arenado that ultimately led to one of the offseason’s worst trades.

Bridich, who dealt Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals for peanuts in a deal that also required Colorado to continue to pay a portion of their former star’s salary, would have had to handle negotiations with All-Star shortstop Trevor Story, who is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, had he kept his role with the team.

Likely fearful of losing Story for nothing in a similar situation to what happened with Arenado, the Rockies were able to reach a mutual agreement with Bridich for him to step down from his post.

“I want Bridich to keep his job,” a rival MLB executive told The Athletic, tongue in cheek, last month.

It won’t make much difference this year as the Rockies (8-13) project to be one of baseball’s worst teams for the rest of the season, but parting ways with Bridich now could be important for the future it helps Colorado re-sign Story down the line.