Stats & Info: Babe Ruth
Mike Napoli's big beard didn't get in the way of his big swing in Game 5.
The Boston Red Sox are one win away from their first World Series appearance since 2007.
In a series in which four of the five games have been decided by one run, the Red Sox got their third one-run victory of the series, edging the Detroit Tigers, 4-3.
Difference-Maker: Mike Napoli
Mike Napoli was 3-for-4 with a home run, coming up a triple shy of the cycle.
He’s the first Red Sox player with a single, double and homer in a postseason game since Jason Bay in 2008.
Napoli’s homer was a monstrous one—calculated at 460 feet to straightaway center.
He has four home runs this season of at least 460 feet. No one else in the majors has more than two.
The last player with that long a home run in a postseason game was Prince Fielder for the 2008 Brewers (also 460 feet). The last player with a longer homer was Manny Ramirez, who hit a 479-footer for the Red Sox in 2007.
Napoli is 6-for-12 with four extra-bases hits in his last three games.
All six of the hits have come against pitches in the upper half of the strike zone or above the top of the zone.
In the six games prior to this hot streak, Napoli saw 51 pitches in that area. They resulted in 10 outs, two walks and no hits.
The Bambino’s name is no longer a curse
Babe Ruth found his way onto a couple of items of note from this game.
Red Sox starter Jon Lester earned his fourth career postseason win. That’s the most by a left-handed pitcher in Red Sox history, surpassing Ruth and Bruce Hurst.
Xander Bogaerts had a hit, a walk and a run scored, and started a key double play. He surpassed Ruth as the youngest player to start a postseason game in Red Sox history (age 21).
Key double plays
The Red Sox turned three double plays, including huge rally killers in the sixth and seventh innings.
Dustin Pedroia made a great pivot on the one in the sixth inning against Austin Jackson, with Tigers catcher Brayan Pena barreling into him.
Baseball Info Solutions, a video-review service for major-league teams and media credited Pedroia with 7 "double plays despite aggressive slide" in the regular season. That was tied for second-most among second basemen in the majors with Brandon Phillips, one behind Mark Ellis.
Over the last 3 seasons, Pedroia has 20 such double-play turns, the most by a second baseman in that span.
Uehara shuts the door again
Red Sox closer Koji Uehara got the final five outs, giving him as many saves of at least five outs in this postseason (one) as he had in the regular season.
It was the first five-out save by a Red Sox pitcher since Jonathan Papelbon got one to close out the 2007 World Series against the Rockies.
Uehara has a 1.13 ERA and four saves this postseason. He has 11 strikeouts and no walks. The postseason record for most strikeouts without a walk is 14 by Kevin Millwood of the 2002 Braves, Mariano Rivera for the 2003 Yankees and David Price for the 2010 Rays.
Elias Sports Bureau: Did you know?
The four one-run games matches the most in a single ALCS series (the LCS expanded to best-of-7 in 1985). In 1997 the Indians and Orioles also played four one-run games in a six-game series
The LCS record for one run games is five by the Mets and Braves in 1999. The postseason record is six by the Athletics and Reds in the 1972 World Series.
Davis hit his 50th home run of the season Friday, joining Babe Ruth (1921) and Albert Belle (1995) as the only players in MLB history with 50 home runs and 40 doubles in a season.
Davis is the first player with 50 homers in a season since Jose Bautista in 2010, and the first left-handed batter to do so since Prince Fielder in 2007.
Only six other lefties have posted 50 homers in a season for an AL team –- Ruth, Ken Griffey Jr., David Ortiz, Jim Thome, Brady Anderson and Roger Maris.
Davis tied Anderson for the Orioles franchise record for homers in a season.
Home runs by Davis have usually led to wins for the Orioles. The Orioles are 30-17 in games in which Davis has a homer this season, including 3-0 when he has multiple home runs. They are 47-52 in all other games.
Similarly, the Orioles are 48-26 when Davis has an RBI, including 21-10 when he has multiple RBIs, but only 29-43 when he fails to drive in a run.
Davis has had a spectacular season, but does he deserve the AL MVP award?
His power numbers suggest he does, but consider this: Davis doesn't even have the most Wins Above Replacement on his own team. Entering Friday, Manny Machado (6.6) had a slight edge over Davis (6.5) in WAR. Davis ranked sixth in the AL among hitters, also trailing Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson, Robinson Cano and Miguel Cabrera.
Let's take a look at some of the top things to watch in this contest.
Weaver’s no slouch
Jered Weaver is 13-0 in his last 19 starts in March or April. That’s tied for the third-longest streak of consecutive pre-May starts without a loss in major-league history.
Weaver is 59-26 in his career before the All-Star break. That’s the best mark of any active pitcher.
In fact, among those who began their career in the All-Star era, only Pedro Martinez and Sandy Koufax have a higher winning percentage (min. 100 starts) in the first half of the season than Weaver’s current .694.
One thing to keep an eye on is that Weaver’s recent run of success has come despite a decline in velocity and strikeouts. He averaged 89.8 miles-per-hour on his fastball and averaged 9.4 strikeouts per 9 innings in 2010, numbers that dropped to 87.7 and 6.8 in 2012.
In his first start of 2013, Weaver threw 94 pitches, but never even hit 89 miles per hour with any of them.
What can Darvish accomplish on Sunday
It would be hard for Darvish to be better than he was in his first start of the season.
But a 10-strikeout performance would make him the first pitcher with back-to-back 10-strikeout games to open the season since Kerry Wood in 2002 and the first in the American League since Pedro Martinez in 2000.
It would also give him at least 24 strikeouts, surpassing team president Nolan Ryan’s 23 in 1989 as the most by a Rangers pitcher in his first two starts of the season.
The last four pitchers prior to Darvish to lose a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning (Dave Stieb, Brian Holman, Mike Mussina and Armando Galarraga) combined to pitch 21 1/3 innings in their next start, yielding 12 earned runs.
Mussina had the best next start of that group, allowing one run in six innings against the Boston Red Sox, the same team he nearly perfected.
On the 40th anniversary of the designated hitter, Albert Pujols had the best Saturday of any DH, with his 45th career multi-homer game. He passed both Willie Stargell and Stan Musial into 28th place on the all-time home run list.
Pujols may not pass anyone on the all-time home run list on Sunday, but he can surpass a legendary home-run hitter in one regard.
Pujols enters Sunday with 506 career doubles. That’s tied with Babe Ruth for 51st on the Elias Sports Bureau's all-time doubles list. Ed Delahanty and Rickey Henderson rank tied for 49th with 510.
Matchups to Watch
Mike Trout vs Darvish: Trout is 6-for-17 with two home runs in his career against Darvish. In fact, the last pitch he saw from Darvish last season was one he hit for a home run.
Trout dominated the Rangers last season, with a .338 batting average, 1.140 OPS and 17 RBI in 19 games. He’s the only player ever to have six home runs and seven steals against the Rangers in the same season.
Trout gets better with each time he faces a pitcher in a game. In 2012, he hit .291 in his first turn against a starting pitcher, then .378 and .393 in his second and third turns against them.
Josh Hamilton vs Darvish: No starting pitcher got a higher percentage of swings and misses than Darvish last season (29 percent). No hitter had a higher percentage of misses on his swings last season than Hamilton (36 percent).
Hamilton is 1-for-20 in his first five games with the Angels (remember he went 2-for-17 in his last five games with the Rangers, including the loss in the Wild Card Playoff), with 10 strikeouts in 20 at-bats. Of the 19 outs, 14 have come on pitches on the outer-half of the plate, or off the outside corner.
Mark Simon also contributed to this post
Beltre is the second player in Major League history with a three-home run game and a cycle in a seven-day span. The only other one to do so was Joe DiMaggio in 1948, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
But nobody has done it in a shorter span than Beltre.
Only three other players in the last 25 seasons have had a three-homer game and a cycle in the same season, according to Elias: Jose Reyes in 2006, Miguel Tejada in 2001 and Dave Winfield in 1991.
All four of his hits on Friday and four of his five homers over the last three games came in the lower half of the strike zone. Beltre has 12 hits in his last 15 at-bats against pitches in the lower half of the strike zone.
Beltre’s only other career cycle came in 2008 for the Seattle Mariners against the Rangers. Elias says Beltre is just the second player since 1900 to hit for the cycle for and against the same team. The other is Joe Cronin, who hit a cycle for the Boston Red Sox in 1940 against the Detroit Tigers, and against the Red Sox 11 years earlier in 1929 while with the Washington Senators.
Beltre's triple and home run both came against two-strike breaking pitches. He now has five home runs this season against such pitches, more than his total from 2009 to 2011.
Beltre wasn’t the only player with a hot night at the plate on Friday. Orioles designated hitter Chris Davis homered three times.
Elias tells us the Orioles are the first team in MLB history to be involved in two straight games in which a player has hit at least three home runs. Beltre hit three against them Wednesday and Davis did it for them in their next game.
Earlier this season, Davis earned a win on the mound in a 17-inning game at the Boston Red Sox. He’s just the third player with a three-homer game in a season in which he won a game as a pitcher in the Modern Era (since 1900). The other two to do so are Babe Ruth (1930 Yankees) and Jim Tobin (1942 Braves).
His first homer came on an 86-MPH fastball from Carlos Villanueva. He followed that up with a homer off a curveball Villanueva threw at 75 MPH, the slowest pitch against which Davis has homered this season. Against reliever Steve Delabar, Davis hit the third homer on a 95-MPH fastball, the fastest pitch against which Davis has homered this season.
Davis is the first player this year to homer on a pitch 75 MPH or slower and a pitch 95 MPH or faster in the same game.
Aaron Hill now has hit a cycle twice in 12 days.
He's the first player with two cycles in the same season since Babe Herman in 1931.
Hill is the fourth player in Major League Baseball history with two cycles in the same season, joining Herman (1931 Brooklyn Robins), Tip O'Neill (1887 St. Louis Browns) and John Reilly (1883 Cincinnati Red Stockings).
Hill, whose previous cycle was June 18, is the second player in MLB history with two cycles in the same calendar month and the first since Reilly in September 1883.
The concept that Reilly accomplished this feat in 1883 and nobody else did for almost 129 years is incredible. It’s a rare gap between feats.
Let’s consider what was happening in the United States back in 1883:
• The president was Chester A. Arthur and there was no vice president.
• There were only 38 states.
• Basketball hadn’t been invented yet.
• The Brooklyn Bridge opened to traffic in May.
• The first Metropolitan Opera House opened in October.
• The past 12 presidents weren’t even born yet, including Harry S. Truman, who was born in 1884.
• Airplanes had not yet been invented.
Hill now has as many cycles in the past 12 days as the entire Toronto Blue Jays franchise (his former team). He has more cycles in the past 12 days than the Tampa Bay Rays (1), San Diego Padres (0) and Miami Marlins (0) franchises combined.
How did Hill hit for the cycle Friday?
• In the first inning, he hit a ground-rule double off a fastball, his eighth double against a fastball this season.
• In the third inning, he singled to center off a slider. He was hitting .267 against sliders going into the game.
• In the fourth inning, he homered to left field off a curveball, his first home run off a curveball since June 19, 2011.
• In the sixth inning, he tripled to center field off a slider.
Hill is hitting .465 in his past 10 games with four home runs, 11 RBIs and a .953 slugging percentage. Eleven of his 20 hits are extra-base hits during that span.
No player in MLB history has had three cycles in the same season. The Arizona Diamondbacks still have 86 games left, so Hill has a chance to be the first to do so.
Ruth had one other game with three home runs and they were the last three homers of his career.
This performance came seemingly out of nowhere for Giambi, who entered the day batting .115 and had just three hits the entire season. He was hitless in his previous 18 at-bats before he homered in his first three at-bats Thursday. Even after striking out in his final two appearances of the night, he had raised his season slugging percentage 350 points.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Giambi, at 40 years and 131 days old, is the second-oldest player in major league history with a three-home run game.
Stan Musial was a year and 98 days older when he went deep three times in a game in July of 1962. Only four players have ever had such a game over the age of 40.
Giambi is the first Rockie with a three-home run game since Larry Walker on June 25, 2004. It’s the 12th such game in Colorado Rockies history, and the third in the major leagues this season. All three of those have come since last Thursday, and all were on the road.
In addition, Giambi drove in all seven runs for the Rockies, tying his career-high for RBIs in a game. According to Elias, the previous player to drive in seven or more runs and account for all of his team’s runs was St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, who did so on Aug. 22, 2006 in an 8-7 loss to the New York Mets.
Coincidentally, Giambi entered the day with one home run more than Pujols (416-415) and has opened up that lead with Pujols in the midst of the longest homerless streak of his career.
• Lee won his sixth straight decision as a starter to begin his postseason career, tied for third-most all-time with Lefty Gomez. The record is eight by Orlando Hernandez.
• Lee had the fourth CG win on the road in a winner-takes-all game in the last 40 years, and the first since John Smoltz for the 1991 Atlanta Braves.
• Lee became the sixth starting pitcher to win two road games in a single postseason series, allowing one run or fewer in each. The last was Roy Oswalt for the 2005 Houston Astros in the NLCS.
• Lee's 21 strikeouts are the third-most in a single series for an AL pitcher since 1920.
• Lee threw his fifth postseason game with seven or more IP and no walks, which ties Christy Mathewson for the second-most ever. Greg Maddux has the record with seven such games.
• Lee's Game Score of 82 made it the fifth game this postseason of 80 or better. That ties an all-time record for a single postseason, set in 1967 (when there were five in a seven-game World Series) and tied in 1997.
• That Game Score is tied for fourth-best by a starting pitcher in a winner-takes-all postseason game. Sandy Koufax (1965 Los Angeles Dodgers), Jack Morris (1991 Minnesota Twins) and Ralph Terry (1962 New York Yankees) were the only three with a higher Game Score and they all did it in Game 7 of the World Series.
• There were four complete games in the LDS in which the pitcher allowed one run or fewer, the most since the 1986 LCS also had four.
FROM THE ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU:
• The Rangers became the first team in MLB history to score twice from second base on infield outs in a postseason game. The last teams to do it even once was the Baltimore Orioles in Game 5 of the 1970 World Series in the Cincinnati Reds. Before Tuesday, the Rays had never allowed it to happen once in any game, regular season or postseason.
• During the regular season there were three instances of a runner scoring from second base on an infield out.
• Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz both hit three home runs in the series, becoming the second pair of teammates in major league history to hit three HR apiece in a postseason series of five-or-fewer-games. The other pair was Babe Ruth (three HR, all in one game) and Lou Gehrig (four HR) in the Yankees four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1928 World Series.
Saturday night in Colorado, Troy Tulowitzki continued his September to remember with a home run and five RBI. And, oh yeah, his fifth RBI also just happened to come on a walk-off double in the 10th inning. It's Tulo's fifth career walk-off hit
The Colorado Rockies' shortstop now has 15 home runs and 40 RBI this month as he continues one of the finest Septembers in baseball history. He is two home runs shy of matching the MLB record for September home runs, which is currently shared by Albert Belle (1995) and Babe Ruth (1927).
His 40 RBI are the second most any player has had in September since RBI became an official stat in 1920. Ruth's 43 September RBI in 1927 are the most, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Tulowitzki is the first player with 40 RBI in any month since Ryan Howard's 41 RBI in August 2006. He is just the fifth player in the last 50 years to drive in at least 40 runs in a calendar month. Ryan Klesko did this in 2001, Sammy Sosa in 1998, and Frank Howard in 1962.
In other action:
• With their victory over the Oakland Athletics, the Texas Rangers clinched their first postseason berth since 1999. The Rangers have lost in the ALDS in each of their previous three postseason appearances and are the only active MLB franchise that has never won a postseason series.
• The New York Mets topped the Philadelphia Phillies, snapping the Phillies' 11-game win streak. Kyle Kendrick took the loss for the Phillies, meaning that a pair of Kendrick losses to the Mets sandwiched both ends of the Phillies' win streak. In fact, Kendrick has taken three of the Phillies' last four losses.
• Jon Lester tossed seven scoreless innings as the Boston Red Sox knocked off the New York Yankees. Lester has won six straight starts, making him the first Red Sox lefty to win six straight starts since Bob Ojeda in 1983. Furthermore, Lester's 19 wins this season are the most by a Red Sox southpaw since Mel Parnell's 21 in 1953.
• Chris Denorfia's second career walk-off hit gave the San Diego Padres a win over the Cincinnati Reds. Denorfia's other walk-off hit came back in 2006.
• The Detroit Tigers defeated the Minnesota Twins, 11-10, on Brandon Inge's walk-off single in the 13th inning. It was Inge's seventh career walk-off hit. Three of those have come in extra-innings.
• The New York Yankees hit six home runs against their rival, the Boston Red Sox -- and LOST! Since 1920 (the dawn of the Live Ball Era) this is the third time the Yankees have hit at least six home runs and lost, but it is the first time it has happened in a home game. It's the fourth time in the Live Ball Era that the Yankees have hit at least six home runs against the Red Sox. It's the first of the four games that the Yanks have lost.
• Alex Rodriguez cracked two of the Yankees' homers and now has 610 career HR. The pair of dingers moved him past Sammy Sosa (609 career HR) for sole possession of sixth-place on MLB's all-time HR list.
• Yankees' starter Andy Pettitte was shelled for seven runs and 10 hits in 3 1/3 IP. CC Sabathia also allowed seven runs and 10 hits in the Yankees' last game. This marks just the second time in the last 65 years that the Yankees had a starting pitcher allow seven or more runs and 10 or more hits on consecutive days.
• Jed Lowrie became the first Red Sox player in history to record four hits, three RBI and three runs scored in a road game against the Yankees.
Some quick hits on other action:
• The San Francisco Giants defeated the Colorado Rockies, 2-1, thanks to a two-run HR by Pat Burrell and eight innings of two-hit, one-run ball from Tim Lincecum. The Giants have now allowed 3 runs or fewer in 18 straight games, which is two games shy of matching the 1917 White Sox' Modern Era record (since 1900). Over this 18-game span, the Giants sport a 1.18 team ERA. However, they own a rather modest 12-6 record thanks to an anemic offense that has offered just 3.6 runs per game of support over this stretch (four of the six losses have come via shutout).
• The Philadelphia Phillies extended their win streak to 11 games with a 3-2 win over the New York Mets. The Phillies' win streak is the longest an MLB team has had in the month of September since the 2007 Rockies also won 11 straight. The win streak is the longest by the Phillies since they had a 13-game streak in 1991 (a Phillies team that won just 78 games). The win gives Philadelphia 93 wins this season, matching their total from last season. If the team wins out, it can match the franchise record for single-season wins (101) set in 1976 and 1977.
• The Tampa Bay Rays picked up their third straight win with a 5-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners. Rafael Soriano picked up his 44th save of the season, setting a franchise record. Jason Vargas took the loss for the Mariners and has now lost seven straight starts. That is one shy of tying the franchise record shared by Randy Johnson, Mike Parrott and Rick Honeycutt.
• And Toronto Blue Jays' slugger Jose Bautista just keeps on mashing. He hit two more HR to push his MLB-leading season total to 52. He has eight multi-HR games this season after having just two in his career entering the season. His 52 home runs this season are identical to his total in 1,471 minor league at-bats. His 52 HR are 15 more than the next highest total in the American League (37 by Paul Konerko). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only three players in American League history have posted a larger advantage over the second-place HR hitter in that particular year: Babe Ruth (six times), Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Mantle.
• He hit No. 400 in his 5,615th career at-bat. According to Elias, that is the fifth-fewest at-bats to 400 home runs all-time. Mark McGwire and Babe Ruth are the only two players to hit No. 400 within their first 5,000 career at-bats.
• Pujols now has a career batting average of .333, 400 home runs and 1,205 RBI. He is one of just five players in major league history with at least 400 home runs, 1,200 RBI and a career batting average of at least .330. Obviously, each of the other four players are enshrined in Cooperstown: Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth.
Will it also end his career? The 38-year-old third baseman had mentioned retirement earlier this season.
Let's take a look at some things Chipper:
Among active players, Jones ranks 9th in hits (2,490), 7th in runs (1,505), 6th in home runs (436), 6th in extra-base hits (966) and 7th in OBP (.405, minimum 3,000 plate appearances).
With this being Bobby Cox's last season, it looks as if Tuesday was the last game for the Chipper-Cox combo. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that the player/manager duo has logged 2,261 games together, the second-most of any such tandem in MLB history. Only Honus Wagner under Fred Clarke for Louisville (1897-1899) and Pittsburgh (1900-1915) had more.
Chipper Jones ranks in the top 30 all-time with a .941 OPS, matching that of the legendary Willie Mays.
A team of nine players with career numbers of Chipper Jones would win nearly 72 percent of the time, by way of Bill James Offensive Winning Percentage metric. By comparison, a team comprised of nine Alex Rodriguez's would win 70 percent of the time.
Griffey's power hitting is what helped burst him onto the national scene early in his career. In the summer of 1993 as a 23-year old, he tied Don Mattingly and Dale Long's MLB record for most consecutive games with a HR at 8. He hit 398 HR before turning 30 years old, breaking a record that Jimmie Foxx had held since 1937. The 13-time All-Star finishes in fifth place on the all-time HR list with 630. He was the active leader with 1,836 RBI. He finished in the top five of MVP balloting five times, but walked away with the award just once, in 1997.
Right or wrong, Griffey's monster HR total is often seen as a more pure number than some of his contemporaries'. Only one other player hit more HR than Griffey since he made his MLB debut on April 3, 1989 and it was Barry Bonds. The only player to hit more HR than Griffey in the 1990s was Mark McGwire.
Overlooked because of those power numbers is the fact the Griffey will go down as one of the best defensive centerfielders of all time. He was a 10-time Gold Glove winner. Only Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays had more as an outfielder.
Still some people will be hard on Griffey because he never consistently dominated in the postseason. He has the most HR of a player to never appear in the World Series. He appeared in the postseason three times for a total of 18 games. After he clinched the franchise-saving, series-winning run in the 1995 ALDS for the Seattle Mariners, Griffey's teams went 4-9 in postseason games and Griffey himself had just three extra-base hits in that stretch.
But in the end, Griffey was more than just a compiler. He often had a flare for the dramatic. On September 14, 1990, Griffey and his father become first father-son combo to hit back-to-back HR. In 1997, his 56th HR of the season at the time set the record for the most in the AL since Roger Maris in 1961. On June 24, 2007, he hit his 583rd and 584th career HR in his return to Seattle against the Mariners.
Statisically speaking, he will go down as one of the all-time greats. But in the eyes of Mariners fans, he will be remembered as so much more than that.
This time around, the Red Sox were victimized by Jason Kubel in Target Field’s debut. The result was the same: a three-run loss.
* Albert Pujols, through seven games, has outslugged the Astros lineup by himself. He has more home runs and RBI than all the Astros hitters combined.
* And speaking of the Astros, let’s show them some pity. Of the starting pitchers they’ve faced so far, three got Cy Young votes as recently as last year. That trio of Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay and Adam Wainwright, have combined for 24 innings pitched without allowing an earned run.