Stats & Info: Chase Utley

The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies kick off an ESPN doubleheader on Monday night at 7 p.m. ET with Ervin Santana pitching against Roberto Hernandez. Here are some of the statistical storylines we’ll be tracking from that matchup.

Santana coming off a gem
Santana threw eight scoreless innings against the New York Mets in his first game with the Braves, the third pitcher to do that since the team moved to Atlanta in 1966 (Greg Maddux in 1993 and Derek Lowe in 2009).

Santana was able to beat the Mets by pounding the strike zone. His first 20 pitches all went for strikes, and 74 percent of his pitches overall went for strikes, the highest percentage of his career.

Santana may want to bring that rate down against the Phillies though. The Phillies are batting .312 on pitches in the strike zone this season, fifth best in the majors.

Justin Upton is red hot
Justin Upton has four home runs in his last four games after hitting one in his first at-bat on Sunday.

Upton has four straight games with multiple hits and multiple runs scored, matching the Braves modern-era record previously set by Bobby Thomson (1956), Javy Lopez (2003) and Andruw Jones (2003).

There isn’t much you can throw past Upton these days. He has a pair of home runs on fastballs and a pair on changeups in the last four days (one vs Jenrry Mejia and one against Gio Gonzalez). He’s also a combined 9 for 10 against those pitches in that stretch.

Hernandez’s changeup could prove a challenge for Upton. He had eight strikeouts with his changeup in his last start. Only nine other pitchers have eight strikeouts with a changeup on the season.

So is Freddie Freeman
Freddie Freeman has been as hot for the whole season as Upton has been the last four days. Freeman enters this game hitting .443 with four home runs. He has as many home runs as he does strikeouts and enters with a nine-game hitting streak.

The Phillies have been able to keep Freeman in the ballpark for the most part. He has only five home runs and a .388 slugging percentage for his career against them.

And lest we forget Chase Utley
Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is hitting .500 after going 3 for 4 with the go-ahead home run on Sunday afternoon.

Utley’s 15-game hitting streak dating back to last season is the third-longest of his career. He had a 35-gamer in 2006 and a 19-gamer in 2007.

Utley has been hitting the ball hard consistently. Inside Edge, which tracks how often balls are hard-hit, has Utley leading the majors with a .325 hard-hit average (13 of 40 balls classified as hard-hit).

Top stats to know: Phillies at Rangers

April, 2, 2014
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The Texas Rangers will host the Philadelphia Phillies in the rubber game of their season-opening three-game series on ESPN2's "Wednesday Night Baseball" at 8 ET.

Veterans have been key to the first two games -- first Jimmy Rollins in the season opener and then Adrian Beltre with his walk-off hit on Tuesday night.

What are some of the storylines our broadcast crew will be following?

Fielder an upgrade, but still has work to do
Given his recent track record, Prince Fielder figures to be a significant upgrade on the Rangers' recent production at first base.

Fielder and the Rangers will face right-handed pitcher Kyle Kendrick on Wednesday. Fielder saw a significant drop off in performance against righties last season after dominating against them for most of his career.

Fielder posted a .775 OPS against pitches on the outer half from righties, compared to a 1.014 OPS from 2009 to '12. Further, he hit 66 home runs on pitches in that zone from 2009 to '12 (16.5 per season), while hitting just seven last season.

Rangers fill-in of the day: Robbie Ross
Robbie Ross has made 123 career appearances in the majors -- none of which have been starts. He’ll be the second Rangers starter in this series to make his first major league start, joining Tanner Scheppers, who got pounded by the Phillies on Opening Day. Ross did start 68 times in 69 minor league appearances

In his rookie season in 2012, Ross held left-handed batters in check, but in 2013, they hit him hard, batting .344 with a .960 OPS against him.

Ross did a solid job of neutralizing right-handed hitters last season, holding them to a .519 OPS. Among the keys to his success was that he upped his first-pitch strike percentage against righties from 59 percent in 2012 to 69 percent last season. The league average is about 55 percent for lefty pitchers against righty batters.

Chase prone to chase
While he's no longer the MVP-caliber force he was in his prime, the first 11 seasons of Chase Utley's career rank among the best for any second baseman to debut in the live ball era (since 1920).

Utley has remained a very productive player despite health issues cropping up over the years, but he’s not nearly the threat he used to be against left-handed pitching. Utley will face lefty Ross on Wednesday.

Not only has Utley shown an increased willingness to chase pitches out of the strike zone against lefties, but he’s also having demonstrably less success against pitches in the strike zone. Utley hit .337 with a 1.022 OPS against pitches in the strike zone from lefties in 2009 and 2010; he’s hit just .240 with a .684 OPS since.

Numbers show Pedroia is among the elite

July, 24, 2013
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Elsa/Getty ImagesDustin Pedroia won the 2008 AL MVP award.
Dustin Pedroia has signed a seven-year extension (beginning in 2015) worth around $100 million with the Boston Red Sox, according to ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes and multiple reports.

If Pedroia’s contract is indeed worth $100 million, it would be the fourth of at least $100 million handed out by the Red Sox organization in the team's history.

None of the previous three –- Manny Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford –- completed their contracts in a Red Sox uniform, although Ramirez came close before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the final year of his deal. Coincidentally, Gonzalez and Crawford were also traded to the Dodgers, so perhaps that means Pedroia will end up in Los Angeles one day.

Not many second basemen have been as productive as Pedroia.

Since Pedroia’s first full season in 2007, he ranks first or second among second basemen in batting average, hits and doubles.

Pedroia leads all second basemen in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) since his MVP season in 2008, narrowly ahead of Chase Utley.

Only four second basemen who debuted since 1980 have more Wins Above Replacement through their age-29 season: Roberto Alomar, Chuck Knoblauch, Ryne Sandberg and Robinson Cano.

Pedroia’s numbers are historically elite for a second baseman. He’s one of five second basemen (players who played at least 50 percent of their games at second base) to hit at least .300 with at least 450 RBIs in their first eight seasons. The first two to do so were Jackie Robinson and Pete Rose. The others were Jose Vidro and Cano.

That’s not the only honor Pedroia shares with Robinson.

Since Major League Baseball first handed out the Rookie of the Year award in 1947, Robinson and Pedroia are the only second basemen (players who played at least 50 percent of their games at second base) in history to win Rookie of the Year, MVP and a World Series title while playing for the same team.

Pedroia isn’t just elite among second basemen. Since his rookie season in 2007, he has the fifth-most Wins Above Replacement among all players.

Based on that list, it seems that a raise was well deserved. The other four players on the list are each earning at least $15 million this season, while Pedroia’s 2013 salary is $10.3 million.

Phillies could end drought in Cincinnati

April, 17, 2013
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Mike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP Images
Ryan Howard will look to the end Phillies offensive slump against the Reds (7 ET, ESPN2 & WatchESPN)


Tonight, ESPN’s Wednesday Night Baseball will feature the Cincinnati Reds hosting the Philadelphia Phillies (7 ET, ESPN2 and WatchESPN). The teams will face off after completing Tuesday’s game, which was suspended in the ninth inning due to rain.

There hasn’t been much offense in this series so far. Through the first nine innings of Tuesday’s game, the Reds have batted .200 (11-55) while the Phillies are batting .119 (7-59).

This series has continued the trend of offensive struggles for the Phillies. Last season, the team averaged 4.2 runs per game, the team’s lowest total since 1997, when they averaged 4.1. This season, Philadelphia is averaging just 3.8 runs per contest.

That offensive downturn last season led to the Phillies finishing 81-81, the first year they didn’t finish over .500 since 2002, and the first time missing the playoffs since 2006.

Despite these struggles, there are reasons to believe that Cincinnati could be a good site for Philadelphia to turn it around.

Although Ryan Howard's numbers have slipped considerably since his 2006 MVP season, he’s always shown excellent power in Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park. Howard has 24 career hits at the park, 19 of which have gone for extra bases, including 11 home runs.

There are four pitchers that Howard has hit at least .500 against (minimum 10 plate appearances), and one of those is Mike Leake, tonight’s starter for the Reds. Howard is 6-12 career vs Leake with a pair of home runs.

Howard’s infield mates, Chase Utley and Michael Young, have shown signs of bounce-back seasons.

Utley, through the ninth inning of last night’s game, already has seven extra-base hits this season. Last season, it took Utley 21 games to reach seven extra-base hits. He already has two triples this season, equaling last season’s output.

Young is coming off the worst season of his career, setting career lows in slugging percentage, OPS, home runs and WAR in 2012. His -2.0 WAR was the third-worst among position players in the majors last season.

However, this year, Young is taking a more disciplined approach at the plate. His chase percentage has fallen from 32 percent last season to 26 in 2013, and his overall swing rate has dropped from 51 to 42 percent from last season.

Cincinnati has been a good site for the Phillies since the Great American Ball Park opened in 2003. In that time, the Phillies have the second-best win percentage at the park, with a 22-14 mark.

Cincinnati is also a good site to face Leake. Last season, Leake had a 5.54 ERA at home, the highest home ERA of any NL pitcher to qualify for the ERA title last season. He was one of just two such pitchers to have a home ERA over five last season, joining teammate Homer Bailey (5.16).

Kernels: Favorite quirks from Opening Week

April, 8, 2013
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Dale Zanine/USA TODAY SportsThe Upton brothers did something that none had ever done before.
Astros open AL play in style
The Astros picked up their first American League victory -- and their first March win in franchise history. Justin Maxwell helped the cause with a pair of triples, becoming just the second player in the past 60 years to have a multi-triple game on Opening Day. The other was the Royals' Tony Pena (son of the catcher) in 2007.

By the way, if it felt strange to see the Astros playing in the first game of the season, it was. At most, it was the second time in their history they had done that.

On April 8, 1976, they were the guests at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati while the Yankees opened in Milwaukee. Both games were scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET, so there's no way to know for sure which one started first.

A lot has been made of Astros strikeouts this week. They whiffed 60 times in their first five games, including 13-plus in each of their first four. That's the longest streak of 13-whiff games by any team in at least 90 years.

Five teams didn't have four 13-strikeout games all of last season.

Adding 14 strikeouts on Sunday brought their six-game total to 74, putting them on pace for 2,000 for the season.

Unusual walk-off for Brewers
The Brewers broke a string of four Opening Day losses Monday with a 10-inning "walk-off" sacrifice fly from Jonathan Lucroy.

It was the first game-ending sacrifice fly on Opening Day in 11 years, and there's a "Baseball Tonight" connection to the previous one.

On April 1, 2002, in Cincinnati, Aaron Boone hit one against the Braves, scoring Barry Larkin.

Milwaukee was the only team this season to win its opener via walk-off.

Did "U" Know?
In Monday's opener in Atlanta, Chase Utley of the Phillies went deep. Dan Uggla and Justin Upton of the Braves both went deep. It's the first time in major league history that three U-named players have homered in the same game.

B.J. Upton got in on the act later in the week, hitting a tying homer in the ninth inning on Saturday, two batters before Justin hit a walk-off.

According to Elias, they were just the third set of brothers to homer in the same game (Hank and Tommie Aaron; Cal and Billy Ripken) but the first ever to hit an equalizer and a walk-off.

Star of the Week: Chris Davis homers in first four games
Chris Davis of the Orioles mashed home runs in each of Baltimore's first four games, culminating in a grand slam Friday afternoon.

Only Nelson Cruz (2011), Mark McGwire (1998) and Willie Mays (1971) had homered in each of his team’s first four games, and Davis' 16 RBIs through four games were easily the most in major league history.

Davis also joined Mike Devereaux (1994), Brooks Robinson (1966) and Jack Graham (1949) as the only players in franchise history with at least one RBI in each of the team's first five games.

Game of the Week: Diamondbacks win a marathon
Arizona's walk-off victory on Wednesday capped a five-hour, 32-minute game -- the longest in Chase Field history -- which didn't end until 12:12 a.m. MST.

There hasn't been a walk-off hit after the 16th inning in MLB since Mark Teixeira singled off Tim Byrdak on July 6, 2008, to win a game for the Braves in the bottom of the 17th.

Stanton dominates all aspects of HR-hitting

September, 1, 2012
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Giancarlo Stanton has been almost impossible to pitch to since returning to the Marlins lineup.

This month’s Home Run Tracker monthly awards were dominated by a Miami Marlins player who showed no home-run related issues from missing a month due to injury. Let’s take a look at his accolades and a few others.

Player Power Surge of the Month
July Winner: Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins
August Winner: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

Both Stanton and Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres hit 10 home runs this month, but Stanton gets the tiebreaking nod for this award based on his average home run distance (429.4 feet to Headley’s 398.0).

It is nearly impossible to compete with Stanton here, as six of his 10 home runs went over 430 feet, including three 450-foot home runs on consecutive days.

No Doubter of the Month
July Winner: Cameron Maybin,
San Diego Padres (485 feet)
August Winner: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (494 feet)

Stanton hit not just the longest homer of the month, but the longest home run of the season on Aug. 17, a 494-foot blast off Josh Roenicke.

Stanton, who has seven home runs of 450 feet or more this year, hit the fifth-longest home run since the beginning of ESPN HR Tracker in 2006.

Masher of the Month
July Winner: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
August Winner: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins.

Stanton racks up his third award of the month, averaging 429.4 feet per home run. Stanton hit three home runs of at least 450 feet on consecutive days in August and three others that went over 430 feet.

Next-best on the long-distance list: Justin Ruggiano (averaged 426 feet on his five home runs) and Pedro Alvarez (425 feet on his five homers)

Fast Ball of the Month
July Winner: Garrett Jones, Pittsburgh Pirates (116.6 mph)
August Winner: Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox (119.1 mph)

Dunn hit a 437-foot home run off Brad Lincoln on Aug. 15 that had a speed off bat of 119.1 miles-per-hour, the fastest homer in the majors all month.

Stanton finished second in the month with a 465 foot, 117.0 mph homer three days later, but the May and June winner could not quite pull off the fast-ball hat trick.

“Mother Nature’s HR of the Month”:
July Winner: Michael Cuddyer, Colorado Rockies
August Winner: Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies

Utley hit a 391-foot home run off Trevor Cahill on August 5 that was aided an extra 37 feet by a 15 mph wind at Citizens Bank Park.

Under standard conditions (70 degrees, no wind), it would have been a routine out in all 30 ballparks.

Team Power Surge of the Month
July Winner: New York Yankees
August Winner: Chicago White Sox

The Chicago White Sox hit 45 August home runs totaling 17,967 feet (3.40 miles worth of homers). Dunn hit four 430+-foot home runs, including a 460-footer on August 13, helping the White Sox’s cause.

Lost velocity clue to Halladay injury, decline

May, 29, 2012
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Howard Smith/US PresswireRoy Halladay, who was placed on the disabled list Tuesday, has struggled with his velocity in 2012.
Roy Halladay was placed on the disabled list Tuesday and is expected to miss six to eight weeks before returning to the Philadelphia Phillies' rotation.

That would be his longest absence from the active roster since missing the second half of the season in 2005 with a fractured tibia. It is the sixth time in his career that Halladay has been placed on the disabled list and first since he missed two weeks in 2009 with a strained groin.

This isn’t the first injury to a key player for the Phillies this season. Philadelphia currently has more than $50 million in salary on the disabled list. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were placed on the DL before the season started, and Cliff Lee missed three weeks earlier this season.

Since joining the Phillies in 2010, Halladay has been the most valuable pitcher in baseball according to Baseball Reference’s wins above replacement. He has accumulated one and a half more wins than Justin Verlander, who is second on the list. Before his injury, the Phillies’ rotation included three of the top five pitchers over the past three seasons.

Halladay has tallied 1,487 regular-season innings since the start of the 2006 season, the most in the majors. He is the only pitcher in the majors to throw at least 220 innings in each of the previous six seasons, with Dan Haren and CC Sabathia each reaching that threshold five times.

The injury helps explain why Halladay didn’t have the normal zip on his fastball early in the season. Combining his fastball and cutter, his average and maximum velocities were down noticeably from the previous two seasons. So far this year, his fastball has averaged 89 mph and peaked at 93. In his first two seasons in Philadelphia, the average was 91 and he regularly touched 95.

With his velocity down, Halladay’s signature cutter was less effective this season. Batters swung less frequently, especially at cutters out of the zone, and had better results when putting it in play.

Halladay’s current numbers are his worst since early in his career with the Toronto Blue Jays. In 11 starts before being placed on the DL, he was 4-5 with a 3.98 ERA. That would be his highest ERA in a season since he posted a 4.20 ERA in 2004. The only time he has finished a season with a losing record was 2000, when he went 4-7 while posting a 10.64 ERA.

Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesCarlos Beltran is headed to St. Louis after reportedly agreeing to a two-year deal with the Cardinals.
After spending the past seven seasons on the East and West Coast, Carlos Beltran is headed back to the Midwest. Beltran agreed to a two-year deal with the world champion St. Louis Cardinals Thursday, according to sources. The six-time All-Star batted .300 and hit 22 home runs with 84 RBI last season with the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants.

This will be Beltran's second stint with a team in the state of Missouri. He spent seven seasons with the Kansas City Royals winning Rookie of the Year in 1999.

While he’s no longer a borderline MVP-candidate, Beltran’s track record of productivity can be matched by few in the National League since 2005. Beltran ranks sixth in the NL among position players in Wins Above Replacement over that span.

Besides his offensive and defensive skills, Beltran has a history of excelling in the postseason. No player in MLB history with a minimum 75 plate appearances has a higher OPS in the postseason than Beltran's 1.302.

With Beltran joining the Cardinals, St. Louis now has the two best offensive switch-hitters in the majors from last year. Lance Berkman's OPS was .959 last season while Beltran's was .910.

Meanwhile, the Oakland Athletics traded All-Star pitcher Gio Gonzalez to the Washington Nationals for four prospects according to sources. The Nationals receive pitchers Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole, Tom Milone and catcher Derek Norris. Gonzalez had a career best in wins (16), ERA (3.12) and strikeouts (197) last season, but also led the league in walks (91).

Few pitchers have provided a greater value for the dollar than Gonzalez. Over the last two seasons, 13 pitchers have won at least 30 games. Of those, Gonzalez has been the most cost-effective option, earning $26,613 for every win since 2010.

Gonzalez is under team control through 2015, but he's about to get more expensive. MLBtraderumors.com projects a $4.2 million salary in 2012, the first of Gonzalez's four arbitration-eligible years.

With the acquisition of Gonzalez, the Nationals now have three pitchers (Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann) who will all be age 26 or younger in 2012. They join two other franchises (Braves, Diamondbacks) who have at least three starters – all of whom were 25 or younger in 2011 - who posted a cumulative ERA better than 4.00 since the start of the 2010 season.

US Presswire
For only the third time since the Cy Young Award was introduced in 1956, Cy Young winners – Chris Carpenter (left) and Roy Halladay (right) – are facing off in a winner-take-all playoff game.

The third, and final, winner-take-all game of the 2011 LDS takes place in the City of Brotherly Love as the Philadelphia Phillies host the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals are 8-5 against the Phillies this season, including playoffs, and have won four of the six meetings in Philadelphia.

Divisional Series History
The Cardinals are 10-5 all-time in winner-take-all games. Their most recent was a 3-1 win over the New York Mets in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, won on Yadier Molina ninth-inning home run. St. Louis is 4-4 all-time in winner-take-all games on the road.

The Phillies have only played two winner-take-all games. They beat the Houston Astros 8-7 in Houston in Game 5 of the 1980 NLCS, winning on a hit in the 10th inning by Garry Maddox. They also lost to the Montreal Expos 3-0 at home in Game 5 of the 1981 LDS. Steve Rogers pitched a six-hit shutout to beat them.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Philadelphia's 13 consecutive playoff series that did not go the distance was the longest such streak in major league history. The previous record was held by the Oakland Athletics, who went 12 consecutive series without playing a decisive game, from 1974 to 1992.

On the Mound
Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay lead the Cardinals and Phillies, respectively, in this game. Since the Cy Young Award was introduced in 1956, this is the third winner-take-all playoff game in which previous Cy Young winners faced off. The others were Pedro Martinez against Roger Clemens in the 2003 ALCS and Pedro Martinez against Barry Zito in the 2003 ALDS.

Carpenter went only three innings in his Game 2 start (throwing 64 pitches), his shortest postseason start of his career. The Cardinals won that game, improving Carpenter’s teams to 8-2 in his 10 career postseason starts. In his last four road postseason starts, Carpenter is 0-2 with a 7.11 ERA.

Halladay is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in two career NLDS starts, including his no-hitter in the 2010 NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds. Despite the success in this round, Halladay has allowed seven earned runs in 16.0 innings in his last two starts against the Cardinals.


Players to Watch
Albert Pujols could be playing his final game in a Cardinal uniform, as he becomes a free agent at season’s end. Pujols ranks as the all-time leader in home runs and RBI for players within their first 11 major-league seasons. In Cardinals history, he ranks second or third in just about every major statistical category, trailing either Stan Musial or Mark McGwire.

Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley have been driving the Phillies offensive bus this series. The two have a combined .517 batting average (15-for-29) with a 1.381 OPS while hitting seven of the teams 10 extra-base hits. The rest of the Phillies are hitting .181 with a .474 OPS.

Rollins, specifically, has been killing the ball. His performance against non-fastballs this postseason, although a small sample size, has been solid (5-for-8 with a double). And he’s not wasting any time at the plate – if he gets a pitch to hit, he’s taking his cuts.
David Freese
Freese
David Freese knocked in four runs with a go-ahead two-run double and his first career postseason home run to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Edwin Jackson won his first postseason start and the teams will head to Philadelphia for a winner-take-all Game 5 on Friday night.

Jackson threw his breaking pitches more than in any start since joining the Cardinals -- 33 of his 77 pitches (43 percent) were breaking balls, which accounted for all four of his strikeouts.

The Phillies chased 10 of the 15 slider Jackson threw out of the strike zone, his highest chase percentage (67 percent) with his slider this season. Helped by the Phillies chasing, 85 percent of his sliders were strikes, also his highest this season. Phillies hitters were 2-for-10 with three strikeouts in at-bats ending with a Jackson slider.

After hitting .400 (4-for-10) with runners in scoring position in Game 1, the Cardinals’ batting average in those situations decreased for the third consecutive game (1-for-5 in Game 4), but they left just three runners on base, a day after tying a franchise postseason record by stranding 14 runners.

The Phillies looked like they were ready to put the series away early when their first three batters went double, triple and single on Jackson’s first five pitches. But they recorded just four hits -- all singles -- the rest of the way.

Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley -- who doubled and tripled, respectively, to start the game -- are 15-for-29 with six doubles and 11 runs scored combined in the series.

Utley has really turned it up through four postseason games (.462/.588/.769) compared to his poor September (.205/.295/.337).

Cleanup hitter Ryan Howard went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, the 10th three-strikeout game of his postseason career, easily the most all-time -- only one other player has more than half as many. His career postseason strikeout rate of 40.4 percent is also the highest in MLB history (minimum 100 PA).

Roy Oswalt took his first career loss in a postseason start and the Phillies lost for the first time ever in Game 4 of the Divisional Series (3-1).

The Phillies had won each of their previous six postseason games in which they had a chance to eliminate an opponent, dating to 2008, matching the second-longest such streak in MLB history (according to Elias).

Chris Carpenter
Carpenter
Former Cy Young award winners Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay will square off in Game 5 Friday night. Elias tells us it’s just the third time in major-league history (the Cy Young award was introduced in 1956) that previous award winners will face one another in a winner-take-all postseason game.

Pedro Martinez was involved in each of the first two back in 2003 -- in Game 5 of the ALDS against Barry Zito and in Game 7 of the ALCS against Roger Clemens.
The National League Division Series shifts to St. Louis for a pivotal Game 3 between the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals tonight.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, in a five-game Division Series that is tied after the first two games, the winner of Game 3 has gone on to win the series 19 of the 23 times since 1995, including 11 of the 12 series in the National League.

However, by winning Game 1, the Phillies have history on their side. In the Wild Card Era (since 1995), the Game 1 winner in the Division Series has won 73 percent of the time, including wins in 29 of the 32 NL series.

Inside the Series
Sunday night’s loss snapped a six-game winning streak in the Division Series for the Phillies. That was tied for the third-longest all-time and second-longest among NL teams. Since their World Series run in 2008, the Phillies are 10-3 in Division Series.

Despite their victory on Sunday, the Cardinals are still just 2-5 in their last seven Division Series games. However, the Redbirds have won six of their last eight postseason games at Busch Stadium and are an impressive 11-3 all-time in Division Series games in St. Louis.

On the Mound
Cole Hamels, the 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP, makes his 13th career postseason start. Hamels has had success in this situation before, when he threw a five-hit, nine-strikeout shutout in Game 3 of the NLDS last year against the Reds.

Hamels struggled down the stretch this year, with a 3.79 ERA in September that was his highest in any month. He allowed four runs in two of his final five starts, after doing so in just three of his first 26 starts.

Hamels had trouble with the longball last month, during which he allowed nine of his 19 homers. Luck may not have been on his side, though, as one of every five flyballs hit against him went over the fence in September; in the first five months, he gave up a homer on just one of every 15 flyballs he allowed.

Jaime Garcia gets the nod for the Cardinals, making his first career postseason start. Garcia was much more effective at home this season, with an ERA in St. Louis that was more than two runs better than on the road.

Garcia shut down the Phillies in his two starts against them this season, allowing just one earned run in 15 innings while holding the Phillies batters to a sub-.200 average. Garcia owns a 1.20 ERA in six career games against Philly, the lowest ERA among active pitchers versus the team (min. four starts).

Matchups to Watch
Albert Pujols hasn’t been able to solve Hamels during his career. He is 4-for-23 (.174) in their matchups, although two of his four hits are homers. That’s his lowest batting average vs. any active pitcher (min. 20 at-bats).

Garcia has been able to neutralize the current Phillies hitters, holding them to a .186 batting average and .547 OPS in his career. Of note, lefties Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are a combined 2-18 (.111) while switch-hitters Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino are a combined 3-20 (.150).
In Game 2 of the NLDS, the Philadelphia Phillies will send former Cy Young winner Cliff Lee to the mound to try to take a 2-0 lead before the series moves west. The St. Louis Cardinals, who have lost four straight postseason games, will counter with their former Cy Young winner, Chris Carpenter.

Carpenter won only 11 games this season, his fewest in a full season since 2001. He’s been one of the best pitchers in the majors lately though after a rough start.

Despite never starting on three days’ rest in his big-league career -- which he’ll do Sunday night -- Carpenter may be the right man for the job. He’s 7-2 with a 4.14 ERA in his career against the Phillies and he’s 5-2 with a 2.93 ERA in nine career postseason starts.

Carpenter will try to neutralize the Phillies’ lefties, something Kyle Lohse couldn’t do in Game 1. Raul Ibanez is just 1-for-11 and Ryan Howard is 2-for-9 with a home run against Carpenter, but Chase Utley is 7-for-15 and has only struck out once against him.

Lee has been one of, if not the best pitcher in the majors the past two months. In 10 starts since the beginning of August he’s allowed eight earned runs, and his 0.93 ERA in the lowest among all major-league starters.

He’s may be an even better choice than Carpenter; he’s 3-1 with a 1.48 ERA in his career against the Cardinals. In 10 career postseason starts he’s 7-2 with a 2.13 ERA, although he has allowed nine earned runs in his past two postseason starts.

Lance Berkman (5-for-13) and Ryan Theriot (5-for-16) have had success against Lee in their careers but Albert Pujols is just 1-for-8 against the Phillies lefty.
The Twins and Athletics entered the weekend looking to snap matching 11-game losing streaks against their opponents, the Tigers and Yankees. Those were the two longest active streaks for any major-league team against an opponent, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

And both emerged as winners on Saturday afternoon, with the A’s slipping past the Yankees, 4-3, and the Twins beating the Tigers, 4-1.

The Athletics losing streak vs the Yankees was their longest against the team since a 14-game streak from 1956-57. The Twins losing streak vs the Tigers was their longest against Detroit in the history of the franchise.

For the A’s, Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui homered to lead the offense. It was Willingham’s first career homer versus the Yankees, and Matsui’s fourth against his former team.

The Twins were led by a strong pitching performance from Scott Baker, who tossed five scoreless innings in his first outing since coming off the disabled list. Baker shut down the Tigers’ left-handed bats, who were 1-for-12 with five strikeouts against him.

Joe Nathan came on for the ninth and notched his seventh save this season and 253rd in his career, which is one shy of the Twins record set by Rick Aguilera.

Around the diamond

• The Philadelphia Phillies beat the San Diego Padres 8-6, extending their win streak over them to nine games, which is now tied for the longest current win streak against an opponent in the majors.

Chase Utley hit two homers for his 19th multi-homer game, matching Rogers Hornsby for the fifth-most by a second baseman in the Live Ball Era (since 1920).

Chad Qualls entered the game in the seventh inning with a 4-3 lead and imploded, allowing five runs and three homers while getting just one out.

Qualls became the seventh reliever in the Live Ball Era to give up three-or-more homers and at least five runs while pitching one-third of an inning or fewer, and the first since Chris Spurling on July 18, 2005 vs. White Sox.

• The Chicago Cubs beat the Houston Astros 5-1, as Houston dropped to an MLB-worst 33-67. Prior to this week, the franchise hadn’t been 34 games under .500 since September 27, 1975, when they were 63-97 following 5-1 loss to the Dodgers.

The Cubs, who won the first two games of the series, will go for their first three-game win streak this season on Sunday. The last Cubs team to go this long into the season without a three-game win streak was the 1966 squad. They didn’t win three in a row until the 108th game, according to Elias.

Ethier brings long hit streak to New York

May, 6, 2011
5/06/11
11:20
AM ET
Andre Ethier
Ethier
The last time a Dodger brought as long a hitting streak as Andre Ethier is into a meeting with the New York Mets, an ESPN baseball analyst named Bobby Valentine was making his big league debut.

Willie Davis was able to extend his hitting streak to a club-record 30 games in a meeting with the Mets on Sept. 2, 1969. But later in the game, after a call of “In comes Valentine!” from Los Angeles Dodgers radio voice Vin Scully on a two-run single by Andy Kosco, Mets reliever Tug McGraw struck Davis out with the tying run on third base to end a 5-4 Mets victory, one of many amazing wins for the eventual champs. Davis upped his streak to 31 the next day, a number that still stands as the Dodgers' top mark.

Ethier will get a chance to better Davis at Citi Field, with Jonathon Niese the first moundsman in his way.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ethier will be the fifth hitter to bring a hit streak of 29 or more games into a meeting with the Mets, along with Davis, Pete Rose, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. Rose was able to set the NL record for a hitting streak by hitting in his 37th, 38th and 39th straight games against the Mets in 1978. (The streak would stretch to 44 games before ending.)

Rollins reached 33 games with hits in three straight games against the Mets late in 2005. The one hitter the Mets stymied was his teammate, Utley, who had his 35-gamer snuffed on Aug. 4, 2006 by Orlando Hernandez, Darren Oliver and Pedro Feliciano.

Ethier will have to defy his history against the Mets. His. 147 batting average is the third-worst of any position player with 100 at-bats against them, trailing Jerry Turner (.129) and Clint Barmes (.140).

To see how Ethier and his streak could fare against the Mets starters that are lined up for their weekend series, check this out.

Ethier's chase of DiMaggio at halfway point

May, 3, 2011
5/03/11
2:02
PM ET
Today’s Trivia: Andre Ethier has hit in 28 consecutive games, halfway to Joe DiMaggio’s record 56-game streak. Who holds the all-time "professional" baseball hit streak record?

A closer look at Andre Ethier’s 28-game hit streak:
He’s hitting .393 with 10 multi-hit games since the streak started on April 2.

He hasn’t waited long to continue the streak, extending it in the first inning eight times and the fourth inning (usually his second at-bat) seven times.
Andre Ethier
Ethier

Since Joe DiMaggio’s streak in 1941, Ethier is the 40th different player to make it halfway to 56 in a single season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, 23 made it to 30 straight games, and only six made it to 35.

Assuming he plays each game and there aren't any rainouts, Ethier would tie DiMaggio’s hit streak on June 1 against the Colorado Rockies. Game No. 57 would be on June 3 at the Cincinnati Reds.

Prior to his current streak, Ethier’s longest hitting streak was 16 games, from July 26-Aug. 12 of 2006. That’s his only other double-digit hit streak.

Looking Ahead to Tuesday night:
• Evan Longoria -- out since April 2 with a strained left oblique -- is expected to return to the Tampa Bay Rays. There are two ways to illustrate Longoria's value to the Rays.

In terms of basic statistics, Rays’ third basemen in Longoria’s absence hit less than .200 (.188) with 11 RBI and 32 strikeouts.

Using more advanced measures, Longoria led American League position players from 2008-10 in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which measures a player's offensive and defensive value compared to a player who would be used to replace him. He ranked third in all of baseball in WAR from 2008-10, behind Albert Pujols and Chase Utley.

• After hitting three grand slams in 2010, the Florida Marlins already have a major-league leading three following Gaby Sanchez’s first career slam Monday at St. Louis.

• Raul Ibanez is hitless in his last 34 at-bats. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only three other position players since 2005 had droughts of 0-for-34 or worse within one season: Brad Ausmus was 0-for-40 in 2006; Josh Wilson 0-for-35 in 2007; and Akinori Iwamura was 0-for-34 in 2010.

• The San Diego Padres Mat Latos will take the mound tonight against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Dating to last season, Latos has lost nine consecutive starts, tied with Andy Benes (1993-94) Dennis Rasmussen (1991)for the longest losing streak in franchise history.

Trivia Answer: Joe Wilhoit holds the all-time "professional" baseball hit streak record. He hit in 69 consecutive games for the 1919 Wichita Jobbers, who played in the Western League (minor leagues).

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