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Looking back at 10 of August's most memorable MLB moments

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No. No, no, no. I refuse to accept that August is over. Because if August is over, that means there is only one more full month of 15-games-a-day regular season baseball. And sure, there's the playoffs, but what's after that? I have a vague recollection of how I've passed the time during the cold, dark winter months, but it all seems so foreign to me now.

Before we give over to depression at the passage of time, let's look back at the ten best moments from the month that was. 

10. Mass hysteria reigns as Hunter Pence signs grip the nation

In the famous and mysterious Dancing Plague of 1518, the people of Strasbourg, Alsace started dancing and then just couldn't stop until they died of heart attacks or strokes.

That's kind of like what gripped baseball fans in August -- except that instead of dancing until they died, fans came to ballparks carrying signs and then went about their daily lives. 

Though no one knows how they came to be, we do know where the outbreak began: Citi Field when the Giants were in town:

Mets sign

It soon spread throughout the league. You couldn't walk through a stadium without seeing dozens of the things. There may have even been a rule that to get into the park, you had to have one of the signs. 

Pence

Even Hunter Pence himself got in on the action: 

And just like that, the signs disappeared. Perhaps everyone had just danced themselves better (which is what doctors prescribed for the dancing plague, in case you were wondering.) If you thought the meme fun ended when the Pence signs went away, well, you don't know Hunter Pence all that well

Hunter Pence

9. Chris Carter only hits home runs

Chris Carter is a strong individual with massive forearms that, if fully flexed, could create a massive fissure in the center of the planet. In August, Carter used those forearms to hit 12 home runs, the most in the Majors. 

Like this 436-foot shot:

Or when he hit two home runs to the same guy

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Carter also hit two hit game-winners in the month, including this shot off of David Roberston in the top of the 9th: 

And then this three-run shot in the bottom of the 8th off Luke Gregerson:

With power like that, we can only hope that Carter has no desire to become the Supreme Ruler of the Earth. Because I don't know anyone on the planet that can stop him. 

8. Adam Dunn takes the mound

Meanwhile, another slugger got to see what life was like on the other side of the plate. While Adam Dunn and his 460 career home runs were traded to the Athletics at the end of the month, the White Sox fulfilled a long-held dream of mine when they put Dunn on the mound on August 5th. 

It was a site so incongruous that even Dunn had to smile about it: 

Dunn

Oddly enough, for a player that has led the league in strikeouts four times, he didn't set a single Ranger down on strikes. With Dunn suggesting that he'll retire at the end of the season, we can only hope the A's will put him back out there, so he can get the K that's long eluded him. 

7. Your Yasiel Puig for the month

The very mention of Yasiel Puig's name inspires romantic poetry. I'm pretty sure that Lord Byron's "She Walks in Beauty" was originally titled "Puig Walks (and Runs) in Beauty (And his home runs are pretty rad too)."

Whether it's returning to the dugout after a home run and getting showered with bubbles:

Bubbles

Swinging so hard that he snaps his bat

snaps bat

Popping out and then nearly hitting Matt Kemp

Kemp

Or, perhaps best of all, Puig letting loose with some Phil Collins, the point is simple: Never change, Yasiel. 

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6. Javier Baez and Jorge Soler will soon hit a home run into the sun

The Cubs have stocked their farm system like it was a 1950s fallout shed: it's very deep and filled with goods the team could live on comfortably for generations. This is also a good time to remind you that Blast from the Past  is the most underrated film from Brendan Fraser's oeuvre.

With the promotions of Javier Baez and Jorge Soler to the Major Leagues, we're just now seeing the fruits of the Cubs' labors. And so far, all they do is hit dingers.  

First, Baez came up and crushed a game-winning home run in his first game:

Javier Baez

Two days later, he hit two more

Javier Baez

As of August 27th, Baez was on pace for 54 HR and 308 Ks. Sure, those strikeouts are troubling, but as a rookie with that much bat speed and talent, he's expected to make adjustments.

And then the Cubs called up Jorge Soler, who decided to follow suit. Soler homered in his first at-bat:

Soler

Two days later, he hit two more:

Soler

With Kris Bryant's 43 home runs waiting in the wings for 2015 and Addison Russell tearing up Double-A pitching, things are just starting to get exciting in Wrigleyville.  

5. Felix Hernandez ends streak of 7 IP+, 2 ER or less games

Now, I know what you're saying. "Why are we celebrating the end of something great?" And yeah, I hear that.

At the same time, it's important that we remember the insane stretch that Hernandez went on. From May 18th through August 11th, Hernandez averaged  nearly seven-and-two-thirds innings per start while striking out 9.9 batters per nine innings and walking only 1.5. His ERA was 1.41. The OPS against Hernandez was .436. To put that in perspective, 22 pitchers have a higher OPS at the plate this season. 

And if you want your mind blown by more facts of his streak, read these. Including my personal favorite: 

"The most runs King Felix has surrendered in a 2014 start was four in a May 12 loss to the Rays. His shortest outing of the season was a five-inning start against the Astros on May 2. Assuming normal rest, Hernandez will take the hill eight more times in the 2014 regular season. If Hernandez offers the worst of both of those outings, surrendering four runs over five innings in each of those eight remaining starts, he'd still finish the season with a sub-3.00 ERA."

Or, to put it another way: Felix Hernandez is so dominant, batters can't even hold onto their bats. 

Felix

4. Mo'ne Davis!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Little League World Series is that magical yearly event that lets us vicariously live through 12- and 13-year-olds while hopefully forgetting our own terrible Little League performances. (Or is that just me?) While this year's tournament was another great one, nobody captured our hearts quite like the Taney Dragons' Mo'ne Davis. 

After becoming the first girl to throw a shutout in the qualifying round, Davis followed that up by becoming the first girl to pitch a shutout in the actual Little League World Series. Lauded for her 70 mph fastball and her darting curve, Davis was ready for the media. 

After challenging Clayton Kershaw to a pitch-off, the Cy Young winner responded. I want to see this more than Ghostbusters 3 and a Smiths reunion put together:

Though the Little League World Series is now over, Davis' accomplishments will be long remembered. Hopefully this will be an inspiration for young girls who want to play baseball so it won't be that unexpected the next time a girl twirls a shutout. 

3. Orbit will steal your heart

There are months every fan remembers for a mascot: The San Diego Chicken's June of 1986. The Phillie Phanatic's September '89. Youppi's April of '93. Orbit topped them all in August.

In the span of one-month, Orbit and Jose Bautista played with dolls

dolls

Was rebuffed in his attempts to play Twister

Orbit Twister

Got in on the whole Adrian Beltre headtouching thing

Orbit

And even had time for an old fashioned feud with J.P. Arencibia. 

After Arencibia started it by nudging Orbit with his bat, the furry alien responded with (what else?) but a Hunter Pence-esque sign

Hunter Pence

The war wasn't over, though. Arencibia fought back with a shot at Orbit's Houston loyalty:

So Orbit responded in kind: 

Finally though, on the last day of the month, there was peace:  

Peace

Though Baseball-Reference doesn't yet award Mascot WAR, we can only assume that this is the greatest single-month performance for a mascot of all-time.

2. The Kansas City Royals are hot. Like Kansas City in summertime hot.

Though plenty of skilled players like Bo Jackson, Mike Sweeney and Carlos Beltran played in front of the Kaufmann Stadium fountains, none were able to lead the Royals to a postseason berth since their 1985 World Series victory. 

But thanks to a 19-10 run in August, the Royals are on the cusp of playing October baseball. A four-game deficit in the Central on August 1st turned into a tie for the division lead when September started. 

Plenty of players are responsible for the Royals hot stretch. In the month of August alone:

- Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson both swiped nine bases. While Cain hit a respectable .305, Dyson was blisteringly hot at .354. 

- New acquisition Josh Willingham slugged .489 with 3 HR. 

- Backup catcher Erik Kratz came in for an injured Salvador Perez and knocked out two home runs in one game

- No Royals starter had an ERA above 3.54. Danny Duffy led the way with a 2.41 mark. 

- Wade Davis not only didn't allow an earned run in the month of August, he hasn't allowed an earned run since June 25th and has allowed only one over his last 50 innings. 

Even with all of that, no one could touch Alex Gordon. In the month of August, Gordon hit .292/.356/.585 with 9 HR. That included a walk-off shot when the Royals were down 1-0 to the Twins: 

Gordon was perhaps even more impressive in the field. Always known as a strong fielder, Gordon has been worth nearly two wins this season thanks to defense (according to Fangraphs' advanced defensive metrics). Which includes spectacular plays like this:

Alex Gordon

But what was the cause of this hot streak? That answer's the simplest of them all: Royals superfan SungWoo Lee. A Royals fan from South Korea, Lee got the red carpet treatment when he was in Kansas City. Even better, he got to lift plenty of W's. 

SungWoo Lee

1. The Washington Nationals never give up

While the Royals were good in August, the Nationals matched them with an identical 19-10 record, growing their division lead to six games as September began. Among them were ten sweet days when the team was unbeatable -- snatching wins away from the clutches of defeat five different times. 

On August 16th, the Nationals had a walk-off win against the Pirates thanks to a ground-rule double from Wilson Ramos. 

The next day, the Nats did it again. This time an Asdrubal Cabrera single in the bottom of the ninth sent the game to extras so Scott Hairston could hit the game-winning sacrifice fly. 

The day after that, the Nationals did it against the Diamondbacks when Adam LaRoche launched one into the night: 

After letting their fans relax for an evening with an 8-1 victory, the Nats were back at it the next night. This time Anthony Rendon got to play hero: 

The Nationals did it one more time the next game. An error may have pushed in the winning run, but this one was all thanks to Denard Span's alter-ego, "Span," swiping a bag.  

In case you lost count from all of the insane, heart-pounding, as-tense-as-an-episode-of-Homeland end-of-game heroics, that's five walk-off victories in six games. I wouldn't be shocked if DC-area prescriptions for high blood pressure were on the upswing. 

The only problem? Matt Williams hasn't done an updated version of his Babe Ruth home run trot. After promising to re-do the trot if the team won 10 games in April, Williams has backed off from that oath saying:

"It's not appropriate. You talk to folks and you say, 'Sure, we would love to win 10 in a row.' At some point, it will be fun and appropriate, but not right now."

 With only one month left in the season, we can only cross our fingers and hope.

Hope


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