Sunday, July 21, 2013
Kernels: Astros just can't win
By Doug Kern
It was an eventful return to the diamond from the All-Star Break for major-league teams, though one in particular had a very noteworthy weekend.
Let's take a look at some of the highlights from the weekend that was, with each note sharing the bond of tying back to the Houston Astros.
Weirdest feat of the week
The weirdest team hitting performance of the week-- maybe of the decade-- belongs to the Seattle Mariners and the pitcher who faced them on Saturday, Erik Bedard.
Bedard, who went 6 1/3 innings without allowing a hit, walked five.Jose Cisnero came on in relief and gave up a Michael Saunders double for the Mariners' only hit of the game.
So Bedard's final line: 6 1/3 innings, zero hits, three runs-- but only one earned because of passed balls-- and 10 strikeouts.
Only one pitcher in the last 20 years had lost a game where his outing lasted six or more innings and did not yield a base hit. That was Jered Weaver, who threw the first six frames of the Angels' combined 1-0 no-hit loss to the Dodgers on June 28, 2008.
The last starter to allow three runs without giving up a hit was then-Tiger Dontrelle Willis on June 4, 2009. He walked five Red Sox and hit one before leaving in the 3rd inning.
No Astros starter had ever done it.
Elias confirms that the only two other pitchers in modern history to give up three runs on zero hits, in an outing that lasted at least six innings, are Rube Benton (1914 Reds vs Cardinals) and Andy Hawkins (1990 Yankees at White Sox). Hawkins allowed four runs and no hits in eight innings in a 4-0 loss.
Bedard is the first pitcher in the live-ball era to have an outing (any length) with 10 strikeouts, zero hits, and a loss.
Now about that Saunders double:
That was the Mariners' only hit of the game. They've been held to exactly one hit 17 times in their history, but Saturday was only the third time they had won such a game.
And that means their final linescore (runs-hits-errors) for the contest was 4-1-0, the first such line in major-league history.
There have been 45 teams since 1920 to win a game where they had just one base hit (there are a lot of 1-0 victories in that bunch). Until Saturday, none of them had struck out more than 11 times. The Mariners struck out 15 times on Saturday.
But that wasn’t the only Astros oddity …
Brandon Barnes recorded the season's second cycle on Friday night (joining Mike Trout's on May 21), the eighth in Astros history, and their first since Luke Scott did it on July 28, 2006. He also scored three runs and drove in two.
Barnes got the hardest parts out of the way first, going homer-triple-single-double in his first four plate appearances. Only one other player in the past 17 years has done the cycle in that order: George Kottaras of the Brewers two seasons ago. Before that, it was John Valentin in 1996. He's also the first player named Brandon ever to hit for the cycle.
For good measure, Barnes added an infield single in the 9th inning, giving him the first five-hit game to include a cycle since B.J. Upton against the Yankees in 2009.
But ultimately, despite Barnes' efforts, the Astros lost the game 10-7. And only one player in Astros history had ever had five hits and three runs in a loss-- Joe Morgan in 1965.
The long (and short) of it
On Sunday, Caleb Gindl's first major-league homer was also the only run of the game as the Brewers defeated the Marlins 1-0 in 13 innings. Gindl's was the first "slide-off" (a nod to Bernie Brewer's famous descent) for Milwaukee this season. Nine teams remain without a walk-off homer in 2013.
It was the first 1-0 game to be won via walk-off homer since Brett Lawrie of the Blue Jays hit one in the 11th against Boston on September 5, 2011.
Elias noted that Gindl is the third player in the last 30 years whose first career homer was a walk-off in the 13th inning or later, joining Mark McLemore (1987 Angels) and Bobby Smith (1998 Rays).
And here's our Astros tie-in: Gindl is listed at 5-foot-7. He's the second-shortest player in MLB to hit a home run this season, taller only than Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (5-foot-5).
He’s also the shortest player in Brewers history to homer, supplanting 5-foot-8 Mike Felder, Ron Theobold, Curt Motton and Roberto Pena.
The Brewers swept the Marlins over the weekend, holding them scoreless in all three games. The Marlins’ scoreless streak of 37 innings and the Brewers’ 35 innings of scoreless pitching, are records for both franchises.