Saturday, August 4, 2012
Everything's bigger in Texas
By Jayson Stark
Welcome to another edition of Five Astounding Facts:
Ever get the impression that Albert Pujols thinks Arlington, Texas, is kind of a cool place to hit? He erupted for a three-homer game in Arlington in the World Series last fall. Then he fired off a couple of two-homer games there this week.
So who's the only other player in history to have a three-homer postseason game in any road park and have at least two regular-season multihomer games in the same road park?
That would be George H. Bambino Ruth, naturally. (You were expecting maybe Junior Ortiz?)
The Babe bopped three in a game at Sportsman's Park against the Cardinals in two World Series (1926 and '28). He also had five regular-season multihomer games in that very park against the Browns in the '20s.
So ... Albert Pujols and Babe Ruth. Fun couple.
Hisashi Iwakuma joined the Mariners' rotation last month, then proceeded to win a game and lose a game. In the win, he piled up 13 strikeouts (Monday against Toronto). In the loss, he recorded, um, zero strikeouts (in a July 15 start against Texas in which he faced 23 hitters in five innings).
The Elias Sports Bureau tells us he's the first pitcher to make one start (minimum: 5 IP per start) with zero whiffs and another with at least 13 whiffs in the same month since (who else?) Ron Villone, in September 2000.
But how many other pitchers since 1900 have had a 13-strikeout game and a zero-strikeout game (of five or more innings) constitute their first two career decisions as a starter? Not a one -- of course!
Speaking of goofy pitching feats, ESPN Stats & Information guru Mark Simon got a rush out of Jerome Williams' fascinating save Monday in Texas -- since the guy had to throw a mere 83 pitches to nail it down.
Yep, 83. (In case you missed it, Williams pitched the final four innings of a nutty 15-8 game.)
So, how rare is an 83-pitch save? Way rarer than a cycle. We'll tell you that. It was just the second time any pitcher had thrown that many pitches in a save in the two decades since baseball officially started counting pitches. The other was an 87-pitch classic by Joaquin Benoit for Texas on Sept. 3, 2002, in which Rangers starter Aaron Myette got ejected after two pitches -- and Benoit wound up racking up the only seven-inning save in history.
One addendum here: Williams also managed to record a save while giving up eight hits and five runs. No kidding. And, as ESPN Kernel collector Doug Kern reports, only one other pitcher has gotten a save while allowing that many hits and that many runs in the history of the modern save rule: Dave Goltz, for the Twins, on June 6, 1973. Goltz somehow came away with a save after giving up 13 hits and eight runs that day. And here's how ridiculous that save was: Mariano Rivera has gone 13 years without giving up that many hits and runs in the same month.
But who wins our Box Score Line of the Week Award for this week? Nope, not Jerome Williams. And not Hisashi Iwakuma, either. It was Cubs reliever Shawn Camp, for this classic Wednesday against the Pirates:
0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HR
So what's up with that? According to baseball-reference.com's fabulous Play Index, Camp was the first relief pitcher in the live-ball era to enter a game, face seven hitters (or more) and give up a hit to all of them. That's what.
We should note that two starting pitchers have done that: Mike LaCoss, for the Reds, on Sept. 2, 1979, and Bill Bonham, for the Cubs, on Aug. 5, 1975.
And special citation to Bob Kammeyer, who came as close to this feat as any reliever ever. He loped in from the Yankees' bullpen on Sept. 18, 1979, in a game against the Indians -- and compiled an outing of seven hits, no outs. But he didn't quite do what Camp did because, in the middle of that mess, Kammeyer also hit Cliff Johnson with a pitch.
Did you know that those Detroit Tigers have won a game on eight consecutive Sundays? Well, they have -- clearly a sign that their prayers have been answered, right?
So, when, you ask, is the last time the Detroit Lions -- a team that pretty much only works on Sundays -- won a game on eight straight Sundays in the same season? Believe it or not, that hasn't happened since (gulp) 1934, when Potsy Clark led them to wins on nine Sundays in a row (plus one on a Wednesday). Seriously.
Strange But True Addendum of the Week
Ah, but we're not done. In a week like this, couldn't help but add that ...
• The Angels scored 40 runs in one series this week in Texas -- and didn't even win the series. (Split it, two games apiece.)
• The A's struck out 21 times Monday -- and won. (Only three teams have ever whiffed more times in a game than that and still won.)
• As loyal reader Todd Haney reports, the Mets had an inning Thursday in San Francisco in which they got three walks, a hit batter and three stolen bases -- and still didn't score. (The strange-but-true script: walk, steal, walk, HBP, double play, double steal, walk, groundout!)
• Zack Greinke started 25 games in Milwaukee as a Brewer (counting the postseason) and never lost any of them (16-0). So what happened in his first home game as an Angel? He lost that one ... of course.
• In his first 32 appearances as an Angel, Ernesto Frieri faced 127 hitters and gave up one home run. Then he gave up two home runs in a span of five hitters Wednesday, in that crazy 11-10 game in Texas.
• And then, finally, there are those amazing Upton brothers. What were the odds of Justin and B.J. hitting their 100th home runs on the same day, as they did Friday? Well, as ESPN Stats & Info's Kern reports, the Uptons also hit their 99th homer on the same day. And of the other five brother duos in history to hit more than 100 homers apiece, how many times before that do you think both brothers had hit the same career homer on the same day? Never ever ... of course.