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Wednesday, September 1, 2010
1st pitch: the oddities of August

By Jeremy Lundblad

Today’s Trivia: Since September 1, 2009, Jose Bautista has 53 home runs. In the last decade, only three AL players hit 53 HR from one September through the following August. Can you name them?

Quick Hits: With August in the books, let’s take a look back at the statistical oddities of the month.

Miguel Cabrera was intentionally walked 13 times in August. Only the Philadelphia Phillies (17) and San Francisco Giants (14) had more intentional walks as a team. In fact, over the last 50 years, only Barry Bonds’ 15 IBB in August 2004 exceeded Cabrera’s total in that month. Over the previous 50 years, no Detroit Tigers player had more IBB than Bill Freehan’s six in August 1967.

• The Los Angeles Dodgers did not have a triple in August. Their last triple-less month was June 1985.

Eric Young Jr. had 66 at-bats in August and did not record an RBI. That’s the most in a calendar month without an RBI since Willy Taveras had 72 in September 2006.

• Overall, only 808 HR were hit in August, 170 fewer than 2009. In fact, it was the fewest home runs hit over a full August of MLB action since 1993.

• In his first full month in the majors, Houston Astros first baseman Brett Wallace was hit by more pitches (six) than anyone else. Over the last 50 years, Craig Biggio’s 10 HBP in August 1997 are the only greater total by an Astros player.

Felix Hernandez had a 0.82 ERA and 51 strikeouts last month. Over the last 50 years, only Tom Seaver (1973 Mets), J.R. Richard (1979 Astros) and Roger Clemens (1998 Blue Jays) have had 50+ K and an ERA below 1.00 in August. Would you believe King Felix’s two losses were not unprecedented in such a month? Seaver was 3-3 despite a 0.99 ERA.

Fausto Carmona allowed five sacrifice flies in August. Prior to 2010, he’d never allowed more than four over the course of an entire season.

• With 12 HR and 24 RBI, Jose Bautista led the AL in both categories in August. The last AL player to do that in August (without being tied in either category) was Rafael Palmeiro in 1999 (15 HR, 39 RBI).

Aramis Ramirez hit .579 (11-19) with runners in scoring position. He had entered the month hitting just .220 with RISP.

Today’s Leaderboard: From the perspective of opponents’ batting average, August’s top four pitchers come from two teams and one state. Oakland’s duo of Dallas Braden and Gio Gonzalez were tops in baseball, while the Padres’ Mat Latos and Jon Garland were the best in the NL.

Key Matchups: It’s good to be Brian McCann right now. For one, he is 7-for-10 with a pair of HR in his last three games. That figures to continue Wednesday against Mike Pelfrey, the pitcher he has faced the most in his career. McCann is 18-for-37 (.486 BA) against Pelfrey, including a single, two doubles and a home run in his last four at-bats against him. McCann’s eight doubles are twice as many as any other batter against Pelfrey.

Among those glad to see August in the rearview mirror, Tim Lincecum ranks among the happiest. Entering the month at 11-4 with a 3.10 ERA, he went 0-5 with a 7.82 ERA. Will September be kinder? Standing in the way on Thursday is Colorado, a team he’s 0-2 against this season. With a .455 BA, Todd Helton has been a tough out for Lincecum. However, it’s Chris Iannetta who has been the toughest out. In 22 plate appearances, the Rockies catcher has six hits and eight walks against Lincecum. That’s good enough for a .727 on-base percentage.

Trivia Answer: From September 2001 to August 2002, Alex Rodriguez had 60 HR. Through those same months in 2005-06, David Ortiz had 58 HR and Travis Hafner had 53.