As is the case pretty much every Sunday, we had a full slate and plenty of day baseball. Also, the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is fast approaching, so you’ll want to pop in our daily rumor roundup and see what you’ve missed with our updated trade tracker.

Now for the on-field action:

Sunday’s scores

Newcomb almost no-hits Dodgers

Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb came within one pitch of twirling a no-hitter against the Dodgers on Sunday in Atlanta. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, however, Dodgers shortstop Chris Taylor with two outs and a 2-2 count singled to left to break it up. 

At that point, Newcomb was lifted with a pitch count of 134. Before recording the final out, reliever Dan Winkler allowed a hit to score Taylor, and the Braves won 4-1 (box score). In doing so, they snapped a four-game losing streak and picked up just their eighth win of July. 

Here’s Newcomb’s work for the day:

That, of course, is the kind of effort that will get you a hero’s send-off from the hometown crowd:

And there’s this:

Newcomb came close to completing the fourth no-hitter of the 2018 season and the first by a Braves pitcher since Kent Mercker no-hit those same Dodgers in April of 1994. As for the Dodgers, they were last no-hit in September of 2015 by Jake Arrieta, then of the Cubs

As for Newcomb, he’s been huge for the Braves this season. He’s now pitched to a 3.23 ERA with 110 strikeouts in 119 2/3 innings. His gem on Sunday, it should be noted, came against what was perhaps the NL’s best offense even before Manny Machado was added to the lineup. 

Rockies sweep A’s

The Oakland A’s showed up in Coors Field riding a mile high. They had previously won 27 of their last 34 games and were easily the hottest team in MLB for that extended period. They were on a six-game winning streak and staged some ridiculous comebacks in Texas. 

The torch for the hottest team in baseball has now been passed. The Rockies entered the series having won 16 of their last 21 and now we can make that 19 of their last 24. They are now a season-high 10 games over .500 and just one game back in the NL West. In fact, they are tied with the Dodgers in the loss column. 

Sunday, the work on the hill by German Marquez deserved the spotlight. He worked 7 2/3 innings and allowed just two earned runs while striking out eight. 

Mariners finally gain ground

For weeks upon weeks, the Mariners’ lead over the A’s for the second AL wild-card spot has been dwindling. It got all the way down to one game before Friday and though the A’s lost the first two games to the Rockies, the Mariners also dropped two and failed to take advantage. Sunday, they finally did gain a game back and move the lead back up to two. 

Despite being spotted an 8-0 lead, the Mariners had to stave off a furious Angels’ rally to hold on in this one, too. In fact, if not for this Denard Span catch, the Angels might have come back: 

A home run there would’ve made it 8-7 with one out in the seventh. Big play by Span.

Eovaldi, Happ with strong debuts

The AL East titans debuted their shiny new toys on Sunday and both were impressive. 

The Red Sox rolled out Nathan Eovaldi for his first start since acquiring him via trade from the Rays. He went seven scoreless, allowing only four hits while striking out five and didn’t walk a single batter. That’s a pretty nice first impression in front of the Fenway Park faithful. 

J.A. Happ also made a pretty nice impression in Yankee Stadium. He allowed just one run on three hits over the course of six strong innings. 

Both pitchers picked up the win in their respective games. 

The Washington (g)Nats

After a modest three-game winning streak, the Nationals lost Saturday and then were embarrassed by the Marlins on Sunday. They managed only two hits when the opposing starter came into the game allowing essentially one hit per inning while sporting a 4.63 ERA. 

The Nationals are now again under .500. The trade deadline is now less than two days away and it seems pretty apparent that things just aren’t going to turn around with this group. They’ve played mediocre baseball for 105 games, so why would the last 57 be so much different? 

Gio Gonzalez, Daniel Murphy, Ryan Madson, Kelvin Herrera, Matt Adams and Jeremy Hellickson are all free agents after this season. 

Oh, and so is Bryce Harper

We aren’t saying … we’re just saying … 

Rangers complete unlikely sweep

The Rangers showed up in Houston to deal with their in-state rivals on Friday on a four-game losing streak. They were actually a pitiful 4-16 in July when the series started and trailed the Astros by 25 games in the AL West. 

And then, baseball happened. One of the things that makes the game so great is the unpredictability, right? 

With Sunday’s win, that’s a three-game sweep for the Rangers in enemy territory. 

Wheeler dominates amid trade whispers

Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler is one of the hottest names in the trade rumor mill at the moment and his last start before the deadline couldn’t have gone much better. Dealing with the very-hot Pirates offense, Wheeler worked six scoreless innings, allowing only five hits and a walk while striking out seven. He didn’t have any room for error, either, as the Mets only provided him with a run of support and that didn’t come until the fifth inning. 

Kluber bounces back

Indians ace Corey Kluber entered Sunday coming off two pretty bad outings. On July 12, he gave up six runs on eight hits in 7 1/3 innings. Things got worse last week, as the Pirates dinged him for seven runs (three earned) on nine hits in four innings. He only struck out two in that uncharacteristically awful outing. 

Sunday, he was back to the ol’ Klubot. He earned the win, going 7 1/3 strong innings, giving up just one run on five hits while striking out five. 

In the process, the Indians moved their lead in the AL Central to nine games, the highest lead in the bigs. 

Bradley makes catch of the year nominee

Righty Nathan Eovaldi made his Red Sox debut on Sunday, and Boston fly-catcher Jackie Bradley Jr. was there to support him in a big way. Check out his third-inning robbery of a humpback liner off the bat of Bobby Wilson

Mercy. Bradley of course knows Fenway well, and when he lunged with a foot on the warning track, he probably knew he was going to collide with the wall, which did quite violently. Per Statcast, he had to cover 78 feet in order to make that snare. 

Bradley isn’t doing much with the bat this season, but he can go and get the ball. Given the spacious and quirky dimensions of center field in Fenway, those defensive chops of his are quite valuable. Like the headline says, consider this to be a catch of the year nominee. 

Quick hits

  • As expected, the Astros have placed 2B Jose Altuve on the DL with right knee soreness.
  • The Red Sox have placed 3B Rafael Devers on the DL with a strained left hamstring. It’s not yet certain how long he’ll be sidelined.
  • The Braves have acquired reliever Brad Brach from the Orioles for international bonus pool spending money.
  • The Athletics have placed OF Chad Pinder on the DL with a left elbow laceration. 
  • The White Sox have acquired LHP Cale Frare from the Yankees in exchange for international signing bonus pool money.

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