- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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A hitter struck out on a 4-and-2 count. A team pulled off a triple switch involving three guys with the same last name. And the best lineup in baseball belongs to ... wait, whooooo?
Yes friends, all of that really happened. In actual life. So here they come -- the latest Strange But True Feats of the Week!
• OK, who's noticed which team is leading the National League in runs scored? Anyone? Nope, it's not the Cardinals. Or the Mets. Or the Rockies. It's -- who else? -- those mashing San Diego Padres. And I'm guessing you never saw that coming.
That might be because last year's Padres weren't just the worst offense in baseball. They were one of the worst offenses of modern times.
They hit .226 as a team, lowest average by an NL team since the '72 Mets. They had a .292 team on-base percentage, worst by an NL team since the '76 Expos. And they scored a whopping 535 runs, the fifth fewest by any NL team in a non-strike-shortened season since the mound was lowered in 1969.
But here they are, approximately 72 A.J. Preller trades later, not merely leading the league but leading by double-digit runs over anyone else. So how many teams in history, you ask, have ever done this worst-to-first -- last in runs one year, first the next? That would be no teams, of course, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
So let's just hand Preller his executive of the year trophy right now. What do you say?
• Then again, it's getting to be a Strange But True kind of season at Petco Park in many ways. On Saturday night, both starting pitchers -- Brandon McCarthy for the Dodgers and Ian Kennedy for the Padres -- served up three home runs in the same game. And how many other times has that happened in the history of Petco? Not a one. Naturally.
• We all knew the Astros were going to strike out a few billion times this year. But nobody warned us they'd occasionally be forced to stay in the batter's box until they did. Well, last Tuesday George Springer should have walked on a 3-2 pitch, but Springer and plate ump C.B. Bucknor both lost track of the count. So Taijuan Walker then completed the whiff -- on a 4-and-2 pitch. Hey, no fair!
• Who says Fredi Gonzalez isn't the most creative manager in baseball? As loyal tweeter Mitch Goldich reported, he just pulled off the fabled three-Johnson triple switch Saturday night.
— Mitch Goldich (@mitchgoldich) April 25, 2015
Kelly Johnson replaced Chris Johnson at third base. Jim Johnson headed for the mound. Sadly, John Hart wasn't able to reacquire Reed Johnson or Elliot Johnson before the start of the next inning or there's no telling how much fun this move would have been.
• The Orioles scored 18 runs in one game Sunday. The Cardinals, Giants, Brewers, Phillies, White Sox, Mariners, Rangers and Twins still haven't scored 18 times in any series. It's a Strange But True sport, isn't it?
• The A's, White Sox and Marlins have combined for six saves all season. Meanwhile, Jeurys Familia -- who didn't even begin this month as the Mets' closer -- saved seven games on one homestand.
Trevor Hoffman never did that. Neither did Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers or Goose Gossage. But that's because only three other relievers ever did it, according to Elias: Mariano Rivera, Bob Wickman and Chad Cordero. Fun group.
• Speaking of great bullpen feats, the Royals continue to be ridiculous. Until they showed up at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday, their bullpen had been scored on in precisely one inning all season. Other than that, their season looked like this:
51.1 relief innings. Zero runs.
They then, naturally, allowed runs in two different innings of Friday's game. But even that took them three days (one inning before the game was suspended by rain Friday night, one after it resumed two days later). There must be an asterisk we can slap on that somewhere then, right?
• But the Royals' Strangest But Truest pitching feat of the week was non-bullpen-related. That's because of the always-entertaining Yordano Ventura -- who managed to get himself ejected from two starts in a row. It's been four years since any starter even got the boot in two starts in the same season, let alone the same week. (David Price was the last to do that, in 2011.)
• We had lots of candidates for the Strangest But Truest game of the week. But our winner had to be Friday's bizarre Astros-A's game in Oakland. Didn't it? Neither team scored for the first 18 half-innings. So then, of course, they scored at least two runs in the top of the 10th, bottom of the 10th, top of the 11th and (yep) bottom of the 11th. How many times in history had that happened in any game? Not a one, according to Elias.
• At least picking the Strange But Truest injury of the week was as easy as reaching for the body wash in the shower -- because that's what the Brewers' Scooter Gennett said he was doing last weekend in Pittsburgh. He cut up his left hand. And hasn't played since. So who says it pays to be clean?
• Finally, I'm very excited about Addison Russell's Wrigley Field debut Monday night for the Cubs -- but not for the reason you'd think. Here's why:
Who's the last player who had the same name as a street his home ballpark was located on?
Awesome Strange But True question, right? Feel free to tweet me your candidates at @jaysonst. But just a warning. All "Pete Rose Way" type answers will be automatically disqualified. If they named the street after the player retroactively, ladies and gentlemen, our judges have already ruled: Not the same thing!
So start thinking. If you find a good one, you gain immediate induction into the Strange But True Hall of Fame. Which probably ought to be erected right there on Addison Street.
Three weeks into this season, the Padres lead the National League in runs scored ... after having one of the worst offenses of modern times in 2014.