MLB Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Royals’ Duffy better than record shows

(Clockwise from top left) Kansas City's Danny Duffy, Philadelphia's Cole Hamels, Milwaukee's Aramis Ramirez and Tampa Bay's James Loney are this week's hottest pitchers and hitters.

Some have slumped, while others have simmered. Here’s our weekly review of who’s running hot and cold around Major League Baseball.

Stats through Aug. 7

HOT PITCHERS

AL — Danny Duffy, Kansas City Royals

Duffy went 1-2 with a 1.19 ERA in five starts from July 11-Aug. 5. The left-hander allowed six runs (four earned) and 20 hits in 30 1/3 innings the span, and he had 26 strikeouts to 12 walks. He has allowed more than two earned runs in a start just twice since June 2, when he surrendered three in a no-decision against the New York Yankees on June 7 and four in a loss to the Cleveland Indians on July 6. Overall, he’s 6-10 with a 2.39 ERA and 87 strikeouts this season.

NL — Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies

Hamels went 3-1 with a 1.22 ERA in five starts from July 12-Aug. 3. The left-hander allowed six runs (five earned) and 24 hits in 37 innings in the span. He also struck out 38 and walked just five. He allowed no more than three earned runs in each of the appearances, and he held opponents to one run or fewer four times. Overall, he’s 6-6 with a 2.42 ERA and 139 strikeouts this season.

HOT HITTERS

AL — James Loney, Tampa Bay Rays

Loney hit .480 (12 for 25) with two RBI in six games from Aug. 1-6. He had four multi-hit games in the span, including two with three hits each against the Los Angeles Angels from Aug. 2-3. He has hit .292 with five home runs and 51 RBI this season.

NL — Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers

Ramirez hit .500 (13 for 26) with one home run and six RBI in six games from Aug. 1-7. He had five multi-hit games in the span, including two with three hits each against the St. Louis Cardinals from Aug. 1-2. So far, he has lived a fine recovery from July, when he closed hitting .233 for the month with one home run, eight RBI and 16 strikeouts. He has hit .293 with 13 home runs and 54 RBI this season.

HOT TEAMS

AL — Kansas City Royals

The Royals won five of six games from Aug. 1-7. The run included success on the West Coast, where they claimed two of three games against the Oakland Athletics before earning a three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Royals held opponents to three runs or fewer in each of the victories, the lone loss in the span coming in an 8-3 defeat to Oakland on Aug. 2. At 60-53, they trail the Detroit Tigers by 2 1/2 games in the American League Central, but they lead the race for the second AL wild-card spot by a half game over the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays.

NL — Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers went 4-3 in games from Aug. 1-7. They won four of six contests from Aug. 2-7 and three consecutive from Aug. 5-7. After losing two of three to the Chicago Cubs last weekend, they won three of four against the Los Angeles Angels. At 66-50, they own the National League’s best record and hold a 3 1/2-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the National League West.

(Clockwise from top left) Chicago White Sox’s Scott Carroll, New York Mets’ Jon Niese, Colorado’s DJ LeMahieu and Chicago White Sox’s Adam Dunn are this week’s slumping pitchers and hitters.

COLD PITCHERS

AL — Scott Carroll, Chicago White Sox

Carroll went 0-1 with an 8.25 ERA in starts against the Minnesota Twins on Aug. 2 and Seattle Mariners on Aug. 7. The right-hander allowed 11 runs and 14 hits in 12 innings during the span. The seven runs surrendered to the Mariners matched a season-worst total (also happened in a six-inning outing during a loss to the Los Angeles Angels on July 1). Overall, he’s 4-7 with a 4.81 ERA and 48 strikeouts this season.

NL — Jon Niese, New York Mets

Niese went 0-2 with a 5.79 ERA in starts against the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 1 and Washington Nationals on Aug. 6. The left-hander allowed 11 runs (nine earned) and 17 hits in 14 innings in the appearances. The six runs surrendered in a loss to the Washington Nationals on Aug. 6 were the most he allowed this year. He lost four consecutive starts from July 21-Aug. 6. Overall, he’s 5-8 with a 3.51 ERA and 90 strikeouts this season.

COLD HITTERS

AL — Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox

Dunn went hitless in 15 at-bats in four games from Aug. 2-6. He struck out four times in the stretch, continuing his cold ways from the plate after hitting just .208 with 25 strikeouts in July. He last had two hits in a game when he went 2 for 5 with one strikeout in a victory over the Minnesota Twins on July 25. He has hit .219 with 17 home runs and 44 RBI this season.

NL — DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies

LeMahieu hit .056 (1 for 18) with five strikeouts in five games from Aug. 1-7. He was held without a hit four times in the span, a change from his hot July when he hit .306 with one home run and four RBI. He was held without a hit in six straight games from July 29-Aug. 5, a slump that dropped his batting average from .291 to .271. He has hit .269 with three home runs and 28 RBI this season.

COLD TEAMS

AL — Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox lost four of six games from Aug. 1-7. The stretch included two losses in three games to the New York Yankees and two losses in three contests to the St. Louis Cardinals. They have failed to win consecutive games since claiming five straight victories from July 13-21. From July 22-Aug. 7, they went 3-12. They’re in last place in the American League East with a 50-64 record.

NL — Atlanta Braves

The Braves went 0-5 in games from Aug. 1-6. The slide is part of a larger eight-game losing streak from July 29-Aug. 7 that stands as the worst active skid in the majors. They lost three consecutive games to the San Diego Padres from Aug. 1-3 and two straight to the Seattle Mariners from Aug. 5-6 to extend their season-worst slump. They’re second in the National League East with a 58-56 record, 4 1/2 games behind the Washington Nationals.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Call it a streaker of a different kind. Monday night, during the Oakland Athletics’ 3-2 victory in 10 innings over the Tampa Bay Rays, an opossum found a way to grab some face time by wandering into left field at O.co Coliseum. Welcome to the big time, curious one. It’s about time we etch another entry in baseball’s lexicon of famous furry creatures. The rally monkey? That’s history. The rally squirrel? Been there, done that. The O.co opossum? Billy Beane’s sprout? Whatever the name, Oakland should embrace the weirdness of it all.

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.