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Friday, September 10, 2010
1st Pitch: King Felix making like Johan

By Jeremy Lundblad

Today’s Trivia: Happy 27th Birthday to Joey Votto. Can you name the only two players to win the Triple Crown after turning 30?

Quick Hits: Let’s check in on some eye-popping pitching stats being put up since the All-Star break.
HERNANDEZ
• In his last six starts, Felix Hernandez has a 0.20 ERA (Side note: All 11 of his wins have come in games where he allowed two runs or fewer). Since the break, King Felix has a 1.32 ERA. Over the last 25 years, only two AL pitchers have had a lower post-ASB ERA: Roger Clemens (0.97 in 1990) and Johan Santana (1.21 in 2004).

• Lost amid Chris Nelson’s straight steal of home Thursday was the fact that Cincinnati Reds’ reliever Nick Masset actually gave up an earned run on Troy Tulowitzki’s home run. (Nelson’s run was unearned). It was just the second earned run allowed by Masset in 29 innings since the All-Star break. That 0.62 ERA is best among relievers.

• Barry Zito’s eight losses since the break are the most in the majors. The last San Francisco Giants pitcher with 10 losses after the break is sitting in the opposing dugout tonight. Back in 1992, Bud Black went 3-10 in the second half after starting the season 7-2.

Minnesota Twins starting pitchers are 28-9 with a 3.14 ERA since the break. Oakland Athletics starters are 22-21 with a 3.06 ERA.

• The Chicago Cubs have issued 44 more walks than any other MLB team since the break. Their 4.44 BB per nine would be the worst over the second half by an NL team since the 2000 Pittsburgh Pirates.

• Which team has held opponents to the lowest batting average since the break? Here’s a hint: They are just 20-33 since the All-Star Game. Yes, the Los Angeles Dodgers have held opponents to a .229 average. That would be the lowest in the NL since the 1986 Houston Astros held opponents to a .218 average post-ASB.

• Meanwhile, the New York Mets offense is hitting just .226 since the break. That would be the lowest since the 1974 San Diego Padres hit .212.

Today’s Leaderboard: Hiroki Kuroda takes the hill against the Astros on Friday. No pitcher has held opponents to a lower OPS since the All-Star Break.

Key Matchups: WILSON
• Texas Rangers’ starter C.J. Wilson has been a lefty killer this season, holding them to .132 average and .381 OPS, both best in the majors. To find a starting pitcher who was this effective against lefties, you have to go back 10 years. In 2000, Al Leiter held them to a .119 average while with the Mets. But as he gets ready to face the New York Yankees, it’s a right-handed hitter that he has really dominated. Oh, and it’s not just any righty. Alex Rodriguez is 0-for-12 in his career against Wilson. That’s the most he’s faced any pitcher without a hit.

James Shields would certainly like to forget his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays. On August 8, he tied a modern MLB record by allowing six home runs. Shields has allowed 30 homers on the season, most in the AL. Of the 11 active Blue Jays to face Shields, eight have hit home runs. That includes J.P. Arencibia, who went deep on the first pitch he saw as a major leaguer in that last meeting. Shields is 7-3 when he doesn’t allow a home run this season, compared to 6-9 when he does.

Trivia Answer: Frank Robinson was 31 in 1966 and Lou Gehrig was 31 in 1934 when they won their Triple Crowns.