Stats & Info: Cincinnati Reds

Cardinals celebrate rare walk-off

August, 14, 2013

Walk-off wins have been plentiful for several MLB teams this season, but the St. Louis Cardinals weren't one of them.

The Boston Red Sox lead MLB with 11 walk-off wins. The Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians are next with nine apiece.

The Cardinals? They were last in the majors with just one walk-off win. But thanks to Jon Jay and Adron Chambers, they doubled that walk-off total Tuesday night.

Chambers the hero
The clinching hit was delivered by Adron Chambers, a batter who had only one hit all season before his walk-off. Chambers was 1-for-10 at the plate before coming through in the bottom of the 14th inning.

Chambers has played in 69 career MLB games, but this tied the latest into any game that he recorded a hit. He also recorded a hit in the bottom of the 14th inning in the 2012 season against Jonathan Broxton.

A night of extra innings across MLB
As infrequent as walk-off wins have been for the Cardinals, extra-inning wins have been equally rare. Tuesday's win was just their second extra-inning win of the season, tied with the Texas Rangers for fewest in MLB.

But that only highlighted a night across MLB that featured six games going into extra innings.

The Elias Sports Bureau informs us that the previous day of MLB action that featured six games going into extra innings came more than three years ago.

It happened June 6, 2010. Extra-inning games from that day:

• Orioles beat Red Sox in 11 innings
• Reds beat Nationals in 10
• Padres beat Phillies in 10
• Giants beat Pirates in 10
• Dodgers beat Braves in 11
• Brewers beat Cardinals in 10

So that's a total of 62 innings of baseball over those six games.

Tuesday night raced well past that with 68 innings of baseball over six games. The list:

• Marlins beat Royals in 10 innings
• Red Sox beat Blue Jays in 11
• Reds beat Cubs in 11
• White Sox beat Tigers in 11
• Diamondbacks beat Orioles in 11
• Cardinals beat Pirates in 14

And one final note on Tuesday's action. The first three extra-inning games that finished all were won by the road team. The final three all were won by the home team.

Reds-Pirates was familiar and unfamiliar

June, 20, 2013

Frank Victores/USA TODAY Sports
Brandon Phillips recorded his 5th career walk-off hit on Wednesday.

The Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates played a game Wednesday that featured feats both rare and familiar.

Rare feats

Pirates closer Jason Grilli had been automatic entering Wednesday’s game, converting on all 25 of his save opportunities. He blew his first save since September 29 of last season when he allowed Jay Bruce's ninth-inning home run. That was also a 2-1 loss to the Reds.

Bruce homered off of Grilli’s fastball, which held opponents to a .167 batting average with no homers on the season before Wednesday.

Grilli fell just one save shy of Joel Hanrahan’s franchise record of 26 consecutive saves converted to begin a season set in 2011.

The Reds got a rare good start out of Bronson Arroyo against the Pirates. Over the previous two seasons, Arroyo was 0-3 with an 8.40 ERA in three starts against Pittsburgh. He delivered a quality start this time though, allowing just one unearned run in seven innings.

Familiar feats

Pirates two-time All-Star Andrew McCutchen has experienced a recent power outage. He failed to homer in his 22nd consecutive game, the third-longest streak in his career.

McCutchen is representative of a larger scoring problem with the Pirates. Wednesday marked the 18th game this season that the Pirates scored one run or fewer, the third-highest total in the majors.

The Reds won in dramatic fashion, as has become customary for them. This was their seventh walk-off win this season, tied for the most with the San Francisco Giants.

It has become a frequent occurrence for Jay Bruce to step up for the Reds in the closing moments of ballgames. Including Wednesday, Bruce has 10 career game-tying or go-ahead homers in the ninth inning or later since he entered the major leagues in 2008.

The only player with more such homers in that span? Miguel Cabrera with 14.

Phillies could end drought in Cincinnati

April, 17, 2013

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).

Craig crushes lefties as Pujols' replacement

August, 27, 2012

Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireAlbert Pujols is gone, but Allen Craig has been producing in his absence.
Remember when Allen Craig came through time-and-time again for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 World Series? He had the game-winning hit in Game 1, a go-ahead hit in Game 2, and notable homers in both Game 6 and Game 7.

Perhaps that was some foreshadowing for life without Albert Pujols.

The Cardinals (who face the Pittsburgh Pirates on ESPN on Wednesday night) have gotten near-Pujols levels of production from their combination of first basemen this season. Craig has been the latest and most significant part of that. After his home run and three RBI in Sunday’s win over the Cincinnati Reds, he’s now batting .318 with 20 home runs and 71 RBI this season.

Craig has homered on 19 percent of the fly balls he’s hit this season, and his rate of home runs to fly balls is better than any season Pujols has had in 2010, 2011 or 2012. In 60 games at first base (the most of anyone on the Cardinals this season), Craig is hitting .326 with 14 home runs and 52 RBI.

Where Does Craig Excel?

Craig has crushed left-handed pitching this season, posting a .386 batting average with eight home runs and 21 RBI in 101 at-bats. His 1.149 OPS against lefties is fifth best in baseball, and he will face a lefty on Wednesday (Wandy Rodriguez). Craig has also been a well above-average hitter against right-handed pitching, with a .288 average and .518 slugging percentage.

His knack for the big hit has not left him in 2012 as well. He’s batting .409 with seven home runs with runners in scoring position this season, and his .409 batting average ranks best among those with 100+ plate appearances with runners in scoring position.

In addition, 10 of his 20 homers have come with men on base.

Craig is one of baseball’s top hitters against fastballs and fastball variants (cutter, sinker, etc). His .369 batting average and 1.090 OPS in at-bats ending in those pitches rank in the top 10 in the majors (minimum 250 PA this season). His .672 slugging percentage ranks third behind David Ortiz and Matt Kemp.

Pittsburgh is a team Craig has enjoyed facing, as he’s batting .388 with a 1.106 OPS against Pittsburgh for his career.

Wainwright gets curve straightened out

July, 13, 2012

Getty ImagesMat Latos and Adam Wainwright start tonight when the Reds and Cardinals renew their rivalry.
Baseball is back as the second half of the major-league season kicks off today with a full slate of games. It’s never too early to start predicting division races, and this weekend provides us with several key divisional matchups that could separate the contenders from the pretenders.

Cardinals at Reds
The St. Louis Cardinals start the second half on a roll, with 11 wins in their last 16 games. The Cincinnati Reds, on the other hand, are just 9-11 since gaining a four-game division lead on June 17, and last week fell into second place in the NL Central.

Tonight’s starter, Adam Wainwright, has a 3.62 ERA over his last 10 starts since starting the season with a 6.16 ERA in his first seven starts. Opponents have a .474 OPS in at-bats ending in his curveballl in his last 10 starts, after posting a .643 mark to start the season.

Mat Latos gets the ball tonight for the home team. One of the hottest pitchers going into the break, he’s allowed just two runs over 25 innings (0.72 ERA) in his last three starts. However, he has been awful against the Cardinals in his career. His 11.37 ERA in four starts is easily his worst versus any team.

Mets at Braves
Only a half game separates these two NL East rivals in the wild card race. The New York Mets have won four of six games versus the Atlanta Braves this year, but the Braves took the last two matchups after dropping the first four. The Mets have won season series just once in the last 15 years (2006).

Chris Young hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his first six starts this season and has walked just eight batters in 37 innings. However, his 7.50 ERA in five career starts versus Atlanta is his highest against any NL team.

Tim Hudson owns a 3.56 ERA this season but his sinker has not been as sharp this year. Opponents are hitting .260 in at-bats ending in the pitch, his worst mark over the last four seasons.

Location seems to be the problem; just 43 percent of his sinkers have been thrown in the lower third of the zone or below this season, compared to 57 percent from 2009-11.

Red Sox at Rays
The Boston Red Sox enter the second half at 43-43, the first time they failed to win 50 games before the break since 2005.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that streak of six straight seasons (2006-11) of at least 50 pre-break wins was the longest current streak in the majors.

The road doesn’t get any easier for Boston, who has the toughest remaining schedule among all teams. Their post-break opponents have a .530 winning percentage.

The Tampa Bay Rays are only a half-game back in the wild card standings but have not been playing well the past month.

They are just 10-16 since improving to 35-25 on June 10. The only AL team with a worse record during that span is the Seattle Mariners (9-16).

Stat of the Day
The Elias Sports Bureau reports that since 2001, only 54 percent of major-league teams in first place at the All-Star break (alone or tied) went on to win their divisions.

Thome's historic blast is a game winner

June, 23, 2012

US PresswireJim Thome hit his MLB-record 13th career walk-off home run on Saturday against the Rays.
The game of the afternoon took place in Philadelphia, where Jim Thome sent Philadelphia Phillies fans home happy when he launched a pinch-hit walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-6.

He now has 13 career walk-off home runs, the most in major league history. It was his first as a pinch hitter and first as a 40-year-old.

The blast came just moments after Jonathan Papelbon blew his first save of the season. Papelbon had converted 17 straight saves before Saturday, which was the second-longest active streak in the majors.

Thome’s homer may have been predictable given his pedigree, but Juan Pierre’s three-run home run in the fourth inning likely caught many people by surprise.

It was just his 17th career home run and first ever with more than one runner on base. In fact, it was his first non-solo homer since Aug. 21, 2004.

Summer may be just a few days old, but the race in the NL Central is already reaching scorching temperatures. The top three teams all won on Saturday afternoon to remain separated by just three games.

Let’s start with the I-70 series, where the third-place St. Louis Cardinals beat the Kansas City Royals 8-2, and have now outscored them 19-6 in the first two games of this series.

Adam Wainwright had another strong outing, allowing two runs in seven solid innings. He has a 2.70 ERA in his past four starts, after starting the season with a 4.98 ERA in his first 11 starts. He has allowed just four hits in 31 at-bats (.129) ending in a curveball over his past four starts.

Against the Royals Wainwright threw just 52 percent first-pitch strikes, but battled back. He retired all five hitters he took to a 2-0 count, including two via strikeout.

Matt Holliday was the offensive spark with his second four-hit game of the season. Holliday is 16-for-29 (.552) with 10 RBIs in his past seven games, and has raised his average from .267 to .297 in a week.

The second-place Pittsburgh Pirates continued their surge in the standings as they beat the Detroit Tigers 4-1 for the second straight day. On Sunday they will go for their first-ever sweep of the Tigers.

The Pirates are really enjoying their games at PNC Park, where they have the majors’ second-best home record (23-12) and the best ERA (2.26). They have won 12 of their past 14 home games, after starting the season 11-10 at home.

The first-place Cincinnati Reds ended their season-high four-game losing streak with a 6-0 blanking of the Minnesota Twins. Their record of 35-23 since April 19 is the second best in the majors during that span behind the New York Yankees.

Johnny Cueto pitched another gem, tossing seven scoreless innings with a season-high nine strikeouts. He worked away from the Twins' hitters, throwing a season-high 63 percent of his pitches in the outer third of the zone or further away.

The Twins had just one hit in 13 at-bats ending in a pitch to that location and fouled off half of their 30 swings against those pitches. Six of Cueto's nine strikeouts came on pitches away, matching his most of that kind in any start since 2009.

Jesse Johnson/US Presswire Dan Haren has lost four straight starts for the second time in his career.
Dan Haren of the Los Angeles Angels will be looking to change his fortunes around when he gets the nod tonight against the Seattle Mariners (10:10 ET). He enters having lost four straight starts for the second time in his career, having previously done it in 2005. While Haren does have a 5.79 ERA in that stretch, the Angels have managed a total of two runs in those four games.

The Angels are 1-8 in his nine starts, and only Haren and Chris Volstad of the Chicago Cubs have seen their team lose eight of their starts this season. In addition, only teammate Ervin Santana has received worse support in the AL. The Angels have scored more than three runs just once in Haren's nine starts.

Ike Davis Slumping
The New York Mets are four games over .500 despite Ike Davis having one of the worst seasons in the majors. Davis has the second-lowest batting average among qualifying players, including a .065 average at home, and based on WAR, Davis is the least valuable player in the majors.

When he is making contact this year, Davis has seen a very high percentage of his balls in play turn to outs. Among all players this season, Davis' .188 batting average on balls in play is the lowest.

Last year, Davis found considerable success against the fastball, batting .343 with an OPS of 1.100. This year, those numbers have dropped to .157 and .448.

Other Key Notes
- Ichiro Suzuki was just 2-18 vs Dan Haren last season. He's a .227 career batter vs Haren.
- Hunter Pence is 7-12 (.583) in his career vs Jake Westbrook.
- Philip Humber has a 7.86 ERA since his perfect game.
- Albert Pujols has 3 HR, 8 RBI in his last nine games.
- Cincinnati Reds have a season-high five-game win streak.

Leake beats Braves with cutter, homer

May, 22, 2012
Ask the Atlanta Braves whether Mike Leake's arm or bat did more damage to their hopes of winning on Monday night, and they might hesitate to answer.

We'll detail his arm below. What Leake will likely remember the most is that, in his 117th career at-bat, he hit his first major league home run. It was his first RBI this season, though his .333 batting average suggests there might be more on the way.
Mike Leake

On the mound, here's how Leake beat the Braves:

" Leake threw a lot more cutters than he has in most of his starts this year, using the pitch 28 times, getting eight outs and allowing no hits. Leake has only used his cutter more in one start this year. Leake only has 27 strikeouts in 2012, but most of them have come with his cutter (7).

" Leake was efficient, throwing just two pitches in three-ball counts. Leake had thrown 31 pitches in three-ball counts in his previous three starts combined.

" Leake was in the zone all night, throwing 48 pitches in the zone, but surrendering just one hit on a pitch in the zone. Leake also had three strikeouts on pitches in the zone, his most in a start since August 10, 2011.

Elsewhere around MLB:

The Red Sox sent three outfielders onto the field vs the Orioles on Monday who began the season in places other than Boston. Daniel Nava and Che-Hsuan Lin started the season in Pawtucket, and Marlon Byrd was with the Cubs. Of course, each had at least one hit and one run scored in the Red Sox two-run win.

The injury bug finally bit the Texas Rangers, but it had held off for quite a while. With Neftali Feliz being placed on the DL, it's the first move the Rangers have made to their 25-man opening day roster this season. They were the last team to make a move to an opening-day roster. According to the release from the team, it's also the latest date the Rangers had ever gone in a season before making their first roster move.

It had been almost 13 years since the Kansas City Royals shut out the New York Yankees in New York. The last time it happened was August 18, 1999 in a game where Carlos Beltran started in center field for the Royals and Paul O'Neill started in right for the Yankees.

Tyler Greene's game-winning HR for the St. Louis Cardinals came off a 100.5 MPH fastball from Andrew Cashner. That's the fastest pitch anyone has homered on since 2009.

Minor, Leake look to reverse fortunes

May, 20, 2012
Hitters could have their way Monday night in Cincinnati when a pair of struggling starters take the mound for Monday Night Baseball (7 ET on ESPN).

The Atlanta Braves are hoping Mike Minor can avoid making history. Minor has allowed at least six earned runs in four straight starts, the longest streak in the majors since Kenny Rogers in 2008 and tied with Rosy Ryan of the 1925-26 Boston Braves for the longest streak in franchise history.

Minor was 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA through his first four starts of the season, but his ERA has jumped to 7.09 after being roughed up in each of his past four outings.

Minor’s reversal of fortune can be tied to his fastball, which has been ineffective in his past four starts. Over that span, opponents are hitting .339 with six home runs against Minor’s heater after batting .277 with no homers in his first four starts of the season.

But the Cincinnati Reds will send their own slumping starter to the mound Monday.

After going 12-9 with a 3.86 ERA in 2011, Mike Leake has lost his first five decisions in 2012 and brings a 6.21 ERA into Monday’s start. With a loss Monday, Leake would become the fourth Reds pitcher to start a season 0-6 in the last 15 years, joining Dontrelle Willis (2011), Homer Bailey (2008) and Brian Reith (2001).

And while Minor is having major issues with his fastball, it’s the changeup that is giving Leake the most trouble. Opponents have nine hits in 17 at-bats ending in a Leake changeup this season, including five extra-base hits.

Only Luke Hochevar (.600) and Aaron Harang (.556) are allowing hitters a higher batting average among qualifiers than Leake (.529) on changeups this season.

Leake has pitched well against the Braves in limited opportunities, however. He has a 1.50 ERA in two career starts against Atlanta with eight strikeouts and four walks. If Leake can fix his off-speed issues, he could lead the Reds to their eighth win in their last 11 home games in the series.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

1. DARVISH ROUGHED UP, BUT GETS WIN IN DEBUT: Yu Darvish allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings in his MLB Debut, including four in the first inning. However, he got the win as the Texas Rangers won 11-5 against the Seattle Mariners. FROM ELIAS: He was the first pitcher in more than 100 years to win his major-league debut in a start in which he allowed four or more runs in the first inning. That had last been done by Bill Steele of the 1910 St. Louis Cardinals, who surrendered five runs to the Cincinnati Reds in the opening frame of his first big-league game, but was credited with the win when St. Louis rallied for a 14-7 victory.

Barry Zito
2. ZITO THROWS FIRST SHUTOUT IN A WHILE: Barry Zito threw his first shutout since 2003 as the San Francisco Giants beat the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. FROM ELIAS: Zito ended his streak of 274 consecutive starts without a shutout, the third-longest drought in major-league history. Tim Wakefield (353 straight, from 1997 to 2011) and Kirk Rueter (299 in a row, from 1995-2005) had longer spans.

3. SPURS STREAK ENDS: The San Antonio Spurs' 11-game winning streak was snapped after a 91-84 loss to the Utah Jazz. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili didn’t play on Monday. It is the second time this season that Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili didn’t play in a loss that snapped an 11-game win streak. The first time was on February 21 in a 40-point loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

4. THREE TEAMS GET FIRST WIN, TWO STILL LOOKING: The Giants, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees all won Monday, leaving just two winless teams remaining in MLB. The Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins both dropped to 0-4 with losses. It’s the Braves worst start since 1988 when they started 0-10. It’s the Twins worst start since 1981, also an 0-4 start.

5. KNICKS-BULLS ... THE REMATCH: The New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls square off in Chicago on Tuesday. The two teams met two days ago in New York with the Knicks winning 100-99 in overtime. Carmelo Anthony scored a season-high 43 points in that game and became the fifth player in the last five seasons to make a game-tying shot in the last 15 seconds in regulation, then make the game-winning shot in the last 15 seconds in OT.

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Barry Larkin was one of the top shortstops in baseball in virtually every statistical category

After getting 62 percent of the votes last year, 13 percent shy of induction, Barry Larkin became the 24th shortstop elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with a jump to 86 percent of the vote.

Larkin, on the ballot for the third time, was the only player voted in on the ballot, and will join the late Ron Santo, elected last month by the Golden Era Committee getting inducted.

Larkin was a 12-time All-Star, nine-time Silver Slugger award winner, and star for the 1990 Cincinnati Reds team that won the World Series.

Larkin is one of five players who played at least half their games at shortstop, who finished with at least 2,000 hits and 150 home runs, along with Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr., Robin Yount, Alan Trammell and Joe Cronin (Ernie Banks isn’t listed because he played more games at first base than shortstop).

From 1986 to 2004 (the span of his playing career), Larkin ranked in the top three among shortstops in batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored, hits, stolen bases, and runs batted in. He made nine Silver Slugger teams. The only infielder to make more is Alex Rodriguez.

Larkin was successful on 83 percent of his stolen base attempts, the fifth-best career rate for anyone with at least 200 stolen bases.

Larkin fares very well in advanced metrics, rating as the 10th best shortstop all-time, using both the Fangraphs and versions of Wins Above Replacement. If we include Banks in the discussion, his WAR rates sixth-best among those who debuted since World War II ended (1945).

Larkin’s trademark was that he was one of the toughest players in baseball to strike out. He ranked in the top 10 in his league in that category six times, leading the NL in being toughest to whiff in 1988. He finished his career with 817 strikeouts and 939 walks in 9,057 plate appearances.

Larkin joins the likes of fellow Reds such as Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench as Hall of Fame inductees. He rates among the top three Reds all-time in games, runs, hits, extra-base hits, walks, and stolen bases.

Finishing second on the ballots was Jack Morris, who received 382, or 66.7 percent, of the vote. 430 of 573 votes were needed for induction. Other players receiving more than 50 percent of the votes were Jeff Bagwell (56.0 percent) and Lee Smith (50.6).
There were a number of strong performances on the mound Monday. Here's a look at how some of Monday's pitchers got the job done:

How Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle shut out the Minnesota Twins:
Mark Buehrle

• Buehrle struck out four in 7 2/3 scoreless innings to lead the White Sox to a 3-0 win over the Twins. Buehrle earned his 27th career win against the Twins, the most wins for any active pitcher against a single team. Buehrle is now 27-19 in his career versus the Twins (most wins versus Minnesota since the team moved to Minnesota in 1960).

• In four starts against the Twins this season, Buehrle is 2-1 with a 0.29 ERA (30 2/3 IP, 1 ER). Buehrle is holding the Twins to a .144 average this season, but the numbers are even better against non-fastballs. After a 2 for 17 effort Monday, the Twins are now 5 for 51 (.098) in at-bats ending with Buehrle's non-fastballs.

• Buehrle did walk two hitters, but of the 29 hitters he faced, only one saw a 2-0 count. In addition, he only went to a three-ball count on four hitters (including the two walks).

How Philadelphia Phillies starter Cole Hamels bounced back against Cincinnati:
Cole Hamels

• Hamels may not have gotten the win in his first start back from the disabled list, but he still pitched well enough to help the Phillies beat the Reds, 3-2. In his previous start before hitting the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, Hamels' fastball averaged just 88.6 MPH, almost a full three MPH below his season average of 91.5. On Monday, Hamels' fastball averaged 90.1, a big step up from his last start, but still his second-slowest fastball of the season.

• Despite that, the pitch was effective for him. Reds hitters were just 1 for 11 with two strikeouts on at-bats ending with a Hamels fastball. Only one of the nine fastballs hitters put in play was well hit, according to Inside Edge.

• Hamels' changeup was dominant, as usual. Five of the six outs he recorded on his changeup were strikeouts. Reds hitters missed on eight of their 11 swings (72.7 percent) against the pitch, Hamels' third-highest miss percentage on his changeup in a start this season. No starter in baseball has induced swings and misses on changeups at a higher rate (51.2 percent) this season than Hamels.

How New York Yankees pitcher Freddy Garcia beat the Baltimore Orioles:
Freddy Garcia

• Forty-four percent of pitches taken against him were called strikes, his highest percentage of the season.

• His fastest pitch was clocked at 89.6 mph. It was his fastest pitch since June 28, when he reached 90.9 mph on the gun.

•He recorded four strikeouts on the night – all four at-bats ended with a splitter.

• The home run Garcia surrendered to Mark Reynolds was his first allowed since June 7. Garcia went 69 innings between gopher balls – the longest active homerless streak among starting pitchers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Lee Singer and Mike Trainor contributed to this story.
Tuesday saw several notable historic achievements around Major League Baseball. Below is a series of notes and tidbits from Tuesday's slate of action.

1. Throwback night for the New York Yankees

In the Yankees' 9-2 win over the Cleveland Indians, both Curtis Granderson and CC Sabathia joined the ranks of history. Granderson hit two home runs, giving him 25 on the season. Not only does that already exceed his total from all of 2010, but it gives both he and Mark Teixeira 25 HR on the season.

The Elias Sports Bureau confirmed that the only other time in which the Yankees had two players with at least 25 HR before the All-Star break came in 1961. That season, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle did so en route to Maris' then-record-setting 61 home run season.

On the pitching side of the ledger, Sabathia became the fifth pitcher in the last 20 seasons to win at least 12 games before the All-Star break in consecutive seasons. Sabathia also firmly established himself in Yankees history, as he and Ron Guidry in 1978 are now the only Yankees pitchers with 2 straight starts of 10 or more strikeouts and zero runs allowed. Some additional details on how Sabathia won on Tuesday:

• Once again, Sabathia had his slider working. He had nine strikeouts with the pitch, his most since July 13, 2008. The Indians swung at 16 Sabathia sliders, missing on 13, the most misses by a team against Sabathia's starter since that start in 2008. The Indians missed on 81.5 percent of their swings against Sabathia's slider, highest by a team against Sabathia since 2006 in a start in which he threw at least 12 sliders.

• Sabathia went to his slider with two strikes more than in any of his starts in the last three seasons. Sixteen of his 27 two-strike pitches were sliders (59.3 percent), his highest percentage of two-strike sliders in the last three seasons. Indians hitters were 0 for 12 in at-bats ending with a slider; all of those at-bats ended in two-strike counts. The 12 outs with his slider are the most in a start by Sabathia since July 13, 2008.

• He had even more success with his slider when he kept it down. Twenty of Sabathia's 28 sliders were down in the zone or below it, and Sabathia got eight of his nine slider strikeouts on those low pitches. Indians hitters missed on 11 of 12 swings against Sabathia's slider when it was low.

• Sabathia had more velocity on his fastball than in any start this season. His fastball Tuesday averaged 95.6 MPH, almost a full mile per hour more than in any previous start this season. Sabathia's fastball has averaged more than 94.1 MPH three times this season, all in the last three starts.

2. The Good and the Bad in Reds-Cardinals

With his 23rd home run of the season, Lance Berkman now has 350 career home runs. That ties him with Chili Davis for fourth all-time among switch hitters. On the flip side, the starter for the Cincinnati Reds -- Edinson Volquez -- once again struggled in the first inning.

He entered Tuesday with a 12.00 first-inning ERA and six first-inning home runs allowed. On Tuesday, Volquez yielded two more first-inning home runs. His road ERA now stands at 6.35 for the season.

3. Pirates Up, Brewers Down in NL Central

The Pittsburgh Pirates won their 45th game this season and, consequently, moved four games above .500. Last season, Pittsburgh did not get win No. 45 until September 3. It's the first time since April 26, 2009 that the Pirates are four games above .500.

The Milwaukee Brewers' loss Tuesday was their second straight home loss. They hadn't lost two straight home games all season. They had been the only team this season not to lose consecutive home games.

4. Another night, more struggles for Adam Dunn

In a season that has seen his OPS drop 282 points from 2010, Adam Dunn once again struggled on Tuesday. Dunn went 0-5 with three strikeouts in the Chicago White Sox loss to the Kansas City Royals. That marks Dunn's 75th game over the last 10 seasons where he went hitless with three or more strikeouts. That is easily the most such games during that span, a full 25 games ahead of second-place Jack Cust. It was Dunn's 12th such game this season.

Breaking down Friday's pitching gems

July, 2, 2011
There were a number of strong performances on the mound Friday. Here’s an in-depth look at how some of Friday’s pitchers got the job done:

Jair Jurrjens
How Atlanta Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens shut out Baltimore:
• Jurrjens kept the ball down, with 63 of his 112 pitches (56.3 percent) tracked down in the zone or below it. Jurrjens got 15 of his outs and six of his eight strikeouts on low pitches. For the season, Jurrjens is 5-0 with a 1.00 ERA in five starts this season when more than 50 percent of his pitches are low.

• Jurrjens took advantage of a generous strike zone. He got 11 called strikes on pitches out of the strike zone, tying his most in a start in the last three seasons. Six of Jurrjens' eight strikeouts came on pitches out of the zone, tying his most in a start in the past three seasons. Five of those strikeouts were on pitches the Orioles chased out of the zone.

Justin Masterson
How Cleveland Indians pitcher Justin Masterson beat Cincinnati:
• Masterson benefited from a Reds lineup that included just three left-handed hitters, matching the fewest against Masterson this season. Entering Friday, left-handers were hitting .313 against Masterson, while righties were hitting just .189 this season. But Friday, lefties were 1-for-9 with two double plays against Masterson.

• Including double plays, Masterson got 13 outs on groundballs, his most in a start since his first start of the season, on April 3.

Alexi Ogando
How Texas Rangers starter Alexi Ogando rebounded against Florida:
• Ogando's slider was an important pitch for him Friday. Thirty-five of his 102 pitches (34.3 percent) were sliders, his second-highest percentage of the season. With two strikes, 57.6 percent of Ogando's pitches were sliders, the first start of his career where more than half of his two-strike pitches were sliders.

• Six of Ogando's strikeouts were with his slider, three more than in any of his previous starts this season. Marlins hitters were 2-for15 in
at-bats ending with an Ogando slider.

• He started 20 of 27 hitters with a first-pitch strike (74.1 percent), the highest percentage of his career. He went to just one 2-0 count, matching the low of any of his previous starts.

Reds' rally highlights Opening Day action

March, 31, 2011
Back-to-back home runs by Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez in the top of the first inning were only the start of the action at the Great American Ball Park on Opening Day. Even after Weeks and Gomez made the Milwaukee Brewers the first team to start a season with consecutive home runs since the 1969 Cincinnati Reds, there was still plenty of history to be made Thursday.

Trailing 6-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, Ramon Hernandez’s third career walk-off home run capped the Reds four-run rally and gave Cincinnati its third straight win over the Brewers. The Elias Sports Bureau says Hernandez is the first catcher with a walk-off homer in his team’s first game of the season since Gary Carter’s solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning gave the New York Mets a 6-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on April 9, 1985.

Late rallies are nothing new to the Reds, who finished third in the majors with 45 come-from-behind wins in 2010. But even the biggest Reds fan couldn’t have been confident entering the bottom of the ninth facing a three-run deficit. Historical data shows that teams trailing by three runs entering the bottom of the ninth inning win only 5.4% of the time. Don’t tell that to the Reds, who are now 1-0 for the first time since 2007.

Elsewhere in the majors Thursday:

• Albert Pujols’ 2011 season got off to the worst start possible as he went 0-5 and grounded into a career-high three double plays against the San Diego Padres. Pujols is the first player in MLB history to ground into three double plays on Opening Day, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He’s also the first player to go 0-5 with three or more GIDP in any game since Miguel Tejada on September 10, 2009.

• The New York Yankees won their 11th straight Opening Day game when playing at home, a streak that dates back to 1986. That ties an MLB record also held by the New York Mets, who won 11 straight Opening Day games at home from 1971-89.

• Jason Heyward became the second player ever to homer on Opening Day in each of his first two seasons as the Atlanta Braves blanked the Washington Nationals 2-0. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us Heyward joined Kaz Matsui, who did it in 2004 and 2005.