Coastal Carolina won the College World Series in dramatic fashion. The Marlins traded for Fernando Rodney. The Dodgers acquired Bud Norris as Clayton Kershaw went on the DL. The Giants let MadBum hit for himself in an American League park (and he doubled). Our top five:
1. Danny Salazar could start the All-Star Game and he may not be the best starter on the Indians. Here's what Carlos Carrasco did against the Blue Jays as the Indians won their 13th game in a row: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 14 SO. He missed time with a hamstring injury, so he has made just 10 starts this season, but Carrasco is 4-2 with a 2.56 ERA while holding batters to a .225 average. If we go back to July 11 -- yes, cherry-picking that date -- here are the lowest ERAs among AL starters:
Danny Salazar: 2.65
Carlos Carrasco: 2.78
Marco Estrada: 2.79
Carrasco, however, has the highest strikeout rate at 29.1 percent, bettered by only five National League pitchers (Jose Fernandez, Stephen Strasburg, Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Noah Syndergaard). Carrasco has allowed a .271 woBA compared to Salazar's .274 (Estrada is at .261). It's close, but you can make an argument that Carrasco is better than Salazar, or at least at the same level. The one knock against him so far is he has allowed 10 home runs in 63⅓ innings, kind of making him the Scherzer of the AL. Anyway, the major point here: Carrasco is good. Salazar is good. Corey Kluber is good. The Indians are good.
Carlos Carrasco with a 14 K game. The #Indians starters are pitching like Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Mike Garcia and Early Wynn. Google it, kids— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 1, 2016
2. Give the Nationals credit. In the early season, everyone wanted the Nationals to call up shortstop prospect Trea Turner. Because we love shiny new things! Turner is obviously a legit prospect and he was (and is) hitting well in Triple-A. When Espinosa hit .185 in April and then .208 in May, leaving Turner down looked like a mistake. Maybe the Nationals were just saving on service time, or maybe they were worried Turner was averaging a strikeout a game. Or maybe Dusty Baker just likes veterans. Whatever the reason, they stuck with Espinosa, and he produced a monster June, including homers from both sides of the plate Thursday as part of a seven-RBI night as the Nats crushed the Reds. Espinosa hit .309/.418/.704 in June with nine home runs and 21 RBIs, making him a player of the month candidate. Meanwhile, Turner has played a couple games in center field down at Syracuse ... you know, just in case they want to call him up.
Gio on Danny Espinosa: "In Danny we trust. He looks like a stone cold killer up there."— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) July 1, 2016
3. The most exciting save of the year. Fun game between the Cubs and Mets. The Mets scored three runs in the seventh to take a 4-3 lead -- no idea why the Cubs thought signing Joel Peralta was a good idea -- but Jeurys Familia's streak of 42 consecutive regular-season saves was in jeopardy in the ninth inning after Miguel Montero walked and Ben Zobrist doubled pinch-runner Travis Wood to third base. Familia then struck out Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras (around an intentional walk to Anthony Rizzo) with a bunch of darting, diving, 97-mph sinkers that were moving down and in. Unhittable pitches, although some columnist out there will probably suggest that Bryant is overrated and can't hit good pitching. Anyway, Javier Baez then popped out to first base and the Mets won a big one.
Also, Yoenis Cespedes did this, becoming the first player to reach the third deck at Citi Field:
4. Did the Tigers rally or did the Rays blow it? Tampa Bay led 7-2 heading into the ninth. The Tigers scored eight runs and won 10-7. Ouch. I guess that was bigger news than the Tigers selling Brad Ausmus' couch for $1,000. At least Rays infielder Taylor Motter got to see his old school win the NCAA title.
5. Tim Anderson draws a walk! The White Sox's rookie shortstop has displayed his ability, athleticism and some surprising pop since his call-up, but he's also showed his, umm, eagerness at the plate. He entered the day with 27 strikeouts and no walks in 82 plate appearances. So he finally drew a walk Thursday, but here's the play that impressed me.