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Friday, September 3, 2010
First pitch: 2010's worst oh-fers

By Jeremy Lundblad

Today’s Trivia: It was 20 years ago today that Bobby Thigpen broke the single-season saves record by picking up number 47 (he finished with 57). Who held the record before Thigpen?

SPANQuick Hits: The Minnesota Twins had 15 hits on Thursday (all singles, by the way), but Denard Span went 0-for-6. It’s not the first time Span has watched a hit parade from the sidewalk. On May 22, the Twins had 13 hits, but Span went 0-for-7. Then on August 4, he was hitless in six at-bats despite 10 hits for the Twins. Span is the only player in the majors with three games of no hits in at least six at-bats this season. In that spirit, let’s take a look at the most improbable oh-fers this season.

• The Oakland Athletics Chris Carter had a forgettable 0-for-19 start to his career before being sent down in August. Now on the minor-league disabled list, that oh-fer might stick. It’s not all bad news though. The last AL player to finish a season hitless in 19 or more at-bats was David Ortiz in 1999. A September call-up, Big Papi went 0-for-20 for the Twins, striking out 12 times.

• Carter’s 0-for-August was the worst in that month since Jason LaRue went 0-for-24 in 2007. According to STATS LLC, the worst oh-fer in any month over the last 35 years belongs to Mark Smith. In 1998 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Smith went 0-for-27 in April and didn’t collect his first hit until May 19.

UPTONB.J. Upton is hitless in 12 at-bats with the bases loaded. Over the last 30 years, the worst oh-fer with the bases loaded was Jose Cruz Jr. (0-15) in 2003.

Mark Kotsay is 0-for-24 against left-handed pitchers this season. This from a player who hit .336 against lefties in 2004 with Oakland. Over the last 35 years, only one position player had a bigger oh-fer against lefties. In 2000, John Mabry was 0-for-25 while splitting the season between Seattle and San Diego.

Mark Reynolds leads the majors with 55 starts in which he didn’t pick up a hit. However, the strikeout king will avoid another mark of infamy. Over the last 90 years, the most oh-fer starts belongs to Bob Meacham, who was hitless in 84 starts for the Yankees in 1985 (though he did have a pair of four-hit games).

• In 13 appearances, Cleveland Indians reliever Justin Germano has yet to allow a hit to the first batter that he’s faced (though he did walk one). In 2005, the first batter facing the Mets Juan Padilla went 0-for-22.

Today’s Leaderboard: Josh Hamilton has 51 games with two or more hits this season, third in the majors behind Ichiro Suzuki and Martin Prado. However, Hamilton’s 24 three-plus hit games are six more than any other player. Interestingly, Ichiro only has 12 three-hit games. His career-low is 17.

LONEYKey Matchups: James Loney is hitting just .207 with a .605 OPS since the All-Star break. That includes a .192 average against lefties and a .195 average at home. All that spells trouble for Loney with Barry Zito coming to town. In 26 career plate appearances against the San Francisco Giants lefty, Loney has just 2 hits and no walks. That’s a batting average of .077, his lowest against anyone he’s faced at least 20 times.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Brandon Morrow has a chance at history on Friday. In his four previous starts against the New York Yankees, Morrow has 36 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings, a rate of 13.3 K per 9. Elias says that the highest single-season rate against the Yankees (min. 20 IP) is 12.6 by Pedro Martinez in 2001. Curtis Granderson has been Morrow’s primary victim with seven strikeouts in nine at-bats this season.

Trivia Answer: Dave Righetti’s 46 saves in 1986 broke Bruce Sutter’s mark set two seasons before. Thigpen’s record stood for 18 years before Francisco Rodriguez picked up 62 saves in 2008.