- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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How strange but true is this? The champs can’t win anymore. The worst road team in baseball can’t lose anymore. And those are just the highlights of the Strange But True Feats of the Week!
• Those San Francisco Giants will not be stripped of their rings just because they’ve now lost seven games in a row, the proper authorities tell us. But it’s still hard to do. They’re only the second defending World Series champions to have an April losing streak this long in the past half-century!
And if they lose again Friday, they’ll be in even more rarefied territory. In only one other year since the 1940s have the defending champs lost more than seven in a row in April. And that was the stripped-down, Huizenga-ized 1998 Marlins, devoid of almost any remnants of their October roster from 1997, who dropped 11 straight.
Last time it happened before that: How about 1947, when the Cardinals lost nine in a row before their season was 14 games old. (One asterisk: Just the first seven losses in that streak technically occurred in April -- but since their streak, just like the Giants’ streak, began in the fifth game of their season, ummm, close enough!)
• Then you have the team that just swept the Giants, those road warriors now disguised as the Colorado Rockies. They’re pretty mixed up, too. They went 6-39 in their final 45 road games of last season. Yep, 6-39. And what’s their road record this season?
Why, it’s 6-0. Hey, of course it is.
• One more on this theme before we move along: This is the first April in history in which one World Series team lost at least seven in a row while the other (that would be the Royals) won at least seven in a row. Strangeness!
• The Strangest But Truest pitcher of the week? Has to be Cleveland’s always-intriguing Trevor Bauer. He just became the only man in the past 100 years to start a season in some team’s rotation, kick off the year with nine consecutive no-hit innings but not pitch a no-hitter. His fun line over those nine hitless innings, courtesy of MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian:
9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 7 BB, 15 K, 157 pitches, 94 strikes. Amazing.
• The good news: Giancarlo Stanton finally hit a home run Thursday. The Strange But True news: We counted 164 different players who homered before he did -- including Elvis Andrus, Billy Hamilton and Jeff Francoeur!
• On Tuesday, the Oakland A's became the first American League team since 1910 to throw shutouts in four of their first nine games of a season. Cool, right? Then the Tigers pulled off the same feat Wednesday -- enabling them to brag that they were “the first team to do it since, uh, yesterday?”
• Always happy to report that a Vargas (Kennys) hit a home run off a Vargas (Jason) on Thursday. Kernel collector Doug Kern reports there was only one namesake-versus-namesake homer all last year (Wilson Ramos off A.J. Ramos). So it’s about time those Smiths, Joneses and Martinezes pick up that pace.
• A’s reliever Jose Alvarez just did something only seven other active pitchers have ever done: drill a batter in three straight relief appearances. But as the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia’s Lee Sinins points out, he hasn’t walked anyone all year. So other than all those black-and-blue marks, his control has been impeccable.
• Start spreading the news. Chase Utley’s two-homer game at Citi Field on Tuesday means he’s officially in the I Love New York Club. Since the start of May 2009, Utley now has more two-homer games in New York (three) than in Philadelphia (two). We had to include his two-homer 2009 World Series game in Yankee Stadium to make that claim, but it works for us if it works for you.
• Kendrys Morales hit no home runs at Target Field as a Twin last year. He then homered at Target Field on Monday in his first game there as a Royal. Of course he did.
• But he still isn’t the Strangest But Truest Royal of 2015. Did you catch the start of rookie triple threat Paulo Orlando's career: three hits, three triples? Just for comparison’s sake, here’s the current state of Victor Martinez's career: 1,674 hits, three triples.
• In case you missed it, that sweet-swinging Bartolo Colon drove in a run Sunday. It was his first RBI in a decade (since June 10, 2005). In between Bartolo RBIs, 1,796 players knocked in at least one run. And four players -- Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols and David Ortiz -- knocked in more than 1,000.
• How un-October-like has the Giants’ season been? They gave up 20 hits last weekend -- in a game started by Madison Bumgarner.
• How un-October-like has the Giants’ season been? They played a game Thursday in which they scored in the seventh, ninth, 10th and 12th innings -- and lost anyhow.
• But no way that was the Strangest But Truest Marathon of the week. We’re awarding that honor to the Red Sox and Yankees, for their 19 innings of sheer insanity last weekend. Our amigo Gordon Edes chronicled much of that madness here. But there’s also this:
The Red Sox blew a lead in the 16th inning. They also blew a lead in the 18th inning. And they won anyway.
So how many teams, you ask, have ever won a game in which they blew multiple leads after the 15th inning? That would be none, of course, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Until the Red Sox did it, that is.
And that’s the sort of thing that keeps the Strange But True division of our trusty Useless Information Department in business. We remain eternally grateful.
The champs can't win. The worst road team can't lose. And those are just the highlights of the Strange But True Feats of the Week.