The defending champion Oakland Athletes highlighted a dominant start to the season with a PGBL record 21-game winning streak.
The record setting win game in a 3-1 home win over Chicago as Sonny Gray outdueled Cardinals ace Justin Verlander. The Athletes then took two from Cleveland by scores of 11-1 and 2-0 with Jorge Soler going 5-for-7 with four RBIs in the series with a homer in each game.
Win No. 21 saw Mike Clevinger improve to 12-0 as he struck out 12 batters over seven innings in combining with Will Harris and Kirby Yates on a one-hitter.
The streak ended with a 3-2 loss at Brooklyn when Miguel Sano hit a tie-breaking walkoff solo homer off Felipe Vazquez. But Oakland bounced right back with a 10-0 win as Stephen Strasburg twirled a two-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts and Brett Gardner smacked a pair of homers.
Ottawa set the PGBL record for consecutive victories at 18 in 2004, with Compton tying the mark 10 years later. The ’04 Senators also had a 17-game win streak which was matched by Memphis in 2011 and Oakland in ’15.
The Athletes are now 51-12 and lead the Cactus Division by 22 1/2 games. They average 6.4 runs per game while giving up just 3.0. Soler leads the South League with 23 homers and ranks third with a 1.037 OPS. Clevinger sports a league-best 1.80 ERA with Gray second in the SL at 2.34.
Oakland’s Mike Clevinger threw the PGBL’s first complete game no-hitter in more than three seasons, leading the Athletes to a 3-0 victory over Las Vegas.
Clevinger struck out 12 and walked three in his 123-performance. Two of the walks came in the ninth inning, allowing the Gamblers to bring the tying run to the plate. But Clevinger got Eddie Rosario to ground into a game-ending force out.
Clevinger retired 22 consecutive batters after a two-out walk to rosario in the first. He struck out the side in the fourth on 13 pitches.
Justin Turner and DJ LeMahieu had RBI doubles for the Athletics, who improved to 5-1 in bouncing back from a 7-5 loss in 11 innings. Clevinger (2-0) rebounded from a mediocre Opening Day start to record the third no-hitter in franchise history, joining Russ Ortiz and Derek Lowe.
It was the league’s 19th recorded no-hitter and the first since Louisville’s Mike Montgomery and Ryan Tepera combined to hold Compton hitless on May 5, 2018. Noah Syndegaard of Memphis threw the last complete game no-no at Dublin on Aug. 6, 2016.
List of PGBL no-hitters
The Oakland Athletes became the first club to clinch its 2018 postseason berth, wrapping up the Cactus Division title on Aug. 29.
Oakland locked up the title after Rhys Hoskins’ three-run first-inning homer led to a 6-5 win over Louisville. Coupled with Twin City’s 10-inning 7-6 loss to Dublin, the win erased the Athletes’ magic number as they improved to 89-41 and extended their lead over the Truckers to 34 games.
With the top record in the PGBL, Oakland is on pace to complete a complete bounce-back after falling from a league-best 123-39 record in 2016 to a league-worst mark of 54-109 a year ago.
The division title is the Athletes’ third in four seasons following a run of three straight last-place finishes. Oakland also posted the league’s best record in 2015 (116-46).
The Louisville Long Rifles struck the first major deal of the 2018 season by acquiring star pitcher Max Scherzer from Toronto.
But the Dublin Guinness responded immediately and acquired Paul Goldschmidt in a blockbuster nine-player trade with Cactus Division leader Oakland.
Dublin, the reigning SL champion on a 10-game win streak that has forged a five-game lead over Louisville and St. Louis, sent Christian Yelich, Rhys Hoskins and Brett Gardner along with three draft picks and two prospects to Oakland.
The Athletes, up seven games in their division and tied with the Guinness for the SL’s best record at the time of the deal, included Michael Brantley, Trevor Rosenthal and Dominic Leone along with Goldschmidt.
Dublin’s response came after the Long Rifles struck their big deal, getting Scherzer along with Felipe Rivero and Chris Ianetta from the Tigers for a package of young talent that included Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani as a player to be named later.
Mark Teixeira’s three-run home run capped a five-run fifth inning and Matt Carpenter added another three-run shot in the eighth as the Chicago Cardinals captured their fifth PGBL championship with an 8-3 win over Oakland in Game 6 of the World Series at The Coliseum.
Garret Cole settled down after the Athletes’ three-run first to finish with seven strikeouts in seven-plus innings. Carlos Villanueva retired all four batters he faced, striking out Francisco Cervelli to finish Chicago’s second title in four seasons.
Chicago won the final four games after Oakland took the first two contests at home. Teixeira hit .412 in the Series with three homers and eight RBIs to earn MVP honors.
The Cardinals won 98 games in the regular season but entered the postseason as the North League’s No. 4 seed after finishing third in the Norris Division’s tight three-team battle. Chicago ousted Ottawa in a four-game Divisional Series meeting and topped Cleveland in a six-game NLCS.
The 123-win Athletes were pushed to the brink by Las Vegas in their Division Series before advancing with a 6-2 win in Game 5. Oakland then got three shutouts in the final four games to claim a 4-2 SLCS win over defending champion St. Louis.