Thursday, April 8, 2010
Thursday's 1st pitch: Like night and day
By Jeremy Lundblad, ESPN Stats & Info
Today’s Trivia: It was 36 years ago today that Hank Aaron hit his 715th career home run, surpassing Babe Ruth’s career total. Who was the opposing pitcher that gave up the historic home run?
* Bronson Arroyo heads into his today’s start looking for his 14th straight quality start dating back to last July. According to Elias, his streak matches the longest by a Reds pitcher since Jose Rijo recorded 15 consecutive quality starts in 1993. Arroyo has posted only a 5-4 record during his streak.
* Random Fact: The Tigers have only had one player named Woods. Outfielder Ron Woods debuted for the Tigers in 1969, playing 17 games before getting dealt to the Yankees.
* From the Elias Sports Bureau: Garrett Jones and Vernon Wells share the major-league lead (with Placido Polanco) with six RBIs this season. Jones and Wells had three RBIs in each of their team's first two games and each is in position to set a major-league record today. No player has ever had three or more RBIs in each of his team's first three games of a season. (RBIs have been officially recorded in the major leagues since 1920.)
Today’s Leaderboard: Brian Bannister takes the hill today for the Royals, and it’s the fact that it’s a day game that’s key. Bannister holds one of the stranger day/night splits. In his career, he is 17-8 in day games compared to 13-30 at night. Meanwhile, C.J. Wilson, making his first start since 2005 this afternoon, is just 2-8 in day games. Bannister’s 17-8 mark is impressive given his struggles otherwise, but it’s just the 8th best among active pitchers (min. 20 decisions). Jered Weaver is 17-4 in his career in day games. Next on the list is Gavin Floyd at 18-5. Floyd draws a night game tonight. He is just 18-24 in those.
Key Matchups: Joe Mauer is welcoming Joel Pineiro back to the American League with open arms. The reigning AL MVP is 13-for-18 (.722) in his career against the Angels starter. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there is only one active batter-pitcher matchup with at least 15 at-bats that has produced a higher batting average. Magglio Ordonez is 12-for-15 (.800) against Chad Durbin.
Matt Wieters hasn’t been around long enough to say that he owns a pitcher. That said, his limited track record against Jeff Niemann suggests just that. Wieters is 5-7 in his career against Niemann. Throw in a walk, and Wieters has a .750 on-base percentage in 8 plate appearances. Wieters’ 5 hits and 3 RBI against Niemann are tied for his most against any pitcher.
Trivia Answer: Dodgers pitcher Al Downing is probably best known for giving up Aaron’s 715th home run. However, he may prefer you remember his accomplishment on August 11, 1967. Facing the Yankees in the bottom of the 2nd, Downing struck out the side on 9 pitches, something that has only been accomplished 40 times.