Stats & Info: Fausto Carmona

The San Francisco Giants go for the sweep of the Cleveland Indians tonight at 8 ET on ESPN. The Giants won the first two games by just one run each, improving to 22-11 in games decided by a single run, which is easily the best mark among NL teams and tied with the Rays for tops in MLB.

Despite being under .500 at the beginning of May, and enduring a recent five-game losing streak which had dropped them out of first place in the NL West, the Giants are 43-34 heading into tonight’s game. That means they are already ahead of last year’s World Series-winning pace, when they were just 40-37 in their first 77 games.

The Indians got off to a blazing start this year, winning 30 of their first 45 games. The team’s success was built on a starting rotation that had a 3.60 ERA during the first 45 contests, combined with an offense that averaged more than five runs per game and hit .321 with runners in scoring position.

However, the Indians have struggled of late, losing 20 of their last 30 games. During this losing stretch, the starters have posted a 5.19 ERA, while the offense is averaging just 3.1 runs per game and hitting .190 with runners in scoring position.

The pitching matchup features two players trying to bounce back from recent struggles. Fausto Carmona is 1-6 with a 9.73 ERA in his past seven starts, and has allowed at least four runs in eight straight starts. His 8.55 ERA in June is the worst among qualified starters.

Carmona has been hit hard over his past seven starts, with more than 25 percent of his balls in play resulting in line drives, compared to only 10 percent in his first nine turns.

Carmona enters the game with a 4-9 record, looking to avoid becoming the fifth Indians pitcher in the past 25 years to have double-digit losses before the All-Star break, and the first since Paul Byrd in 2008.

Madison Bumgarner made history -- in a bad way -- in his last start on June 21 against the Twins, becoming the first pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to allow nine hits and record less than two outs in a game.

Bumgarner, with a 3-9 record, is also trying to avoid his 10th loss this season. He would be the fifth Giants pitcher over the past 25 seasons to have 10 losses before the All-Star break, and the first since Barry Zito in 2008. He’ll have to overcome his struggles in San Francisco, where he is 0-5 this season and has just one home win in 16 career starts.

If the game is close in the late innings again, the Giants might have the edge, but not by much. They lead the majors with 14 wins in their last at-bat, while the Indians have 12 last-at-bat victories, ranking second in the AL. The Giants have the third-best bullpen ERA in the majors (2.96), while the Indians’ relievers are just behind them with a 2.97 ERA.

--Jeremy Lundblad contributed to this post
The Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays lost again Thursday and each fell to 0-6.

This is the second time in the Divisional Era that two teams in the same division started 0-6 or worse; in 1997, both the Cardinals and Cubs did it.

The Rays lost to the White Sox 5-1, and have scored eight runs this season, tied for third-fewest in a team's first six games since divisional play began in 1969. They've scored one run or fewer in five of their first six games (the third team in the Live Ball Era to do that, joining the 1943 Reds and 2002 Padres). And the Rays are the second team since 1900 to never lead in its first six games of a season (1992 Tigers).

The Red Sox lost to the Indians, 1-0, when Asdrubal Cabrera drove in the winning run with a sacrifice bunt (suicide squeeze) in the eighth inning. According to Elias, the last 1-0 game in which the only run scored via either a sacrifice bunt or bunt hit was July 4, 2003, when the Angels beat the Athletics on David Eckstein's sacrifice bunt.

The Sox are off to their worst start since 1945, when they started 0-8. It's tied for the second-worst winless start in franchise history. They’ve lost nine straight road games dating to last season, their worst such stretch since a 10-game streak in 2001.

Despite getting a no-decision, Fausto Carmona pitched seven scoreless innings on Thursday after allowing 10 runs in his first start. According to Elias, the last pitcher to allow 10 or more runs in his first start, and no runs in his second, without a relief appearance in-between, was H. Dick Harley for the 1905 Boston Braves.

The Philadelphia Phillies beat the New York Mets, 11-0, their second-biggest shutout win ever over the Mets. It's the fifth time in Phillies history they've scored 10 or more runs in consecutive games against the Mets (they also did it last season).

The Phillies don’t miss their All-Star closer or second baseman in the early going. The bullpen has two of their five wins with a 2.14 ERA, and only one of their seven relievers has allowed more than one run.

Despite all the preseason talk about the Phillies’ starting rotation and the questions about their lineup, it’s their offense that has carried them (see chart; they are first or second in baseball in all three categories).

Wilson Valdez is our hitter of the night after going 4-for-4 (his first career four-hit game) and scoring three runs out of the 8-hole. The last Phillie to do that (four hits, three runs while batting 8th) was Steve Lake (June 30, 1991, against the Mets). The last Phillie to do it while also having three RBI (as Valdez did Thursday) was Larry Bowa (June 22, 1977, against Cincinnati).

His four hits came off pitches in four different zones. He singled on a pitch that was middle/down, doubled on a pitch down and in, doubled again on a pitch middle/away, and singled on a pitch that was down and away.
J.P. Arencibia

The Toronto Blue Jays scored 13 runs in their season opener against the Minnesota Twins thanks to a big game from rookie J.P. Arencibia. The 25-year-old catcher who played in 11 games last season went 3-4 with a triple, two home runs and drove in five runs.

Arencibia is the first rookie to hit two homers on Opening Day since Gary Gaetti did it for the Twins on April 6, 1982. On August 7 of last season, Arencibia blasted two homers in his major-league debut. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last player to start consecutive seasons with multiple-homer games—at any point in his career—was Joe Torre for the Braves in 1965 and 1966.

Jon Lester
Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox dropped their season opener 9-5 to the Texas Rangers. Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester allowed five runs including three home runs and did not record a strikeout. The last Red Sox Opening Day starter to give up three home runs was Hall-of-Famer Dennis Eckersley back in 1980.

It was the second time in Lester's career and the first since April 9, 2008 that he did not record a strikeout. Bob Stanley in 1987 was the last Boston Opening Day starter to not record a strikeout.

Also, the Philadelphia Phillies overcame a four-run deficit to defeat the Houston Astros Friday afternoon in the season-opening game for both teams. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the third time in franchise history that the Phillies overcame a deficit of at least four runs to win on Opening Day; the last such instance came 106 years ago.

On April 14, 1905, the Phillies trailed Brooklyn, 4-0, entering the fifth inning before rallying for a 12-8 win on the strength of a six-run fifth inning. And back on April 18, 1895, the Phillies trailed Baltimore, 6-0, entering the eighth inning, but scored twice in the eighth and five times in the ninth for the win.

Finally, Cleveland Indians starter Fausto Carmona got roughed up in his first start of 2011 allowing 10 runs, all earned, in three innings pitched against the Chicago White Sox on Friday. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us Carmona is the first starting pitcher in major-league history to allow at least 10 runs while throwing no more than three innings in his team’s first game of a season.

Bautista enters McGwire territory

September, 11, 2010
Some notes from around baseball Friday night
Jose Bautista continued his ridiculous 2010 season. Bautista cracked two more home runs and now has 46 on the season, which is one shy of matching George Bell's single-season franchise record set in 1987.

• 30 of his home runs this season have come at home. That ties Carlos Delgado's franchise record for HR at home in a single season.

• Bautista had never hit more than 16 home runs in a season coming into this year and had just 13 last season. He is the fourth player in MLB history to hit at least 45 HR one season after hitting fewer than 15. The others are Carlos Pena, Cecil Fielder and Mark McGwire.

Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the New York Mets in Queens. Halladay picked up his 18th win of the season, becoming the first Phillies pitcher with 18 wins in a season since John Denny in 1983. Denny won the NL Cy Young Award that season and the Phillies advanced to the World Series.

• Four of Halladay's 18 wins this season have come against the Mets. He's the first Phillies pitcher with four wins in a season against the Metropolitans since Vicente Padilla in 2003.

• Halladay also reached 200 strikeouts for the third consecutive season. He's the first Phillies pitcher with 200 K in a season since Brett Myers in 2005.

Chase Utley and Ryan Howard each went deep for the Phillies, which should come as no surprise. They each have five career home runs at Citi Field. That is tied for the most among visiting players at the stadium.

• Howard has now homered in three straight games for the first time this season and for the ninth time in his career. Five of these nine streaks have started in September or later. Howard has 57 home runs in September or later since joining the league in 2004, easily the most in baseball over that span.

• Howard's blast was his 251st career home run, all of them coming with the Phillies. That ties him with former teammate Pat Burrell for the third-most home runs in franchise history.

• In the Pittsburgh Pirates loss to the Cincinnati Reds, Andrew McCutchen swiped his 30th base of the season. He's the first Pirate with 30 SB in a season since Tony Womack back in 1998. Even better, he's the third Pirate 23 or younger with 30 steals in a season. Barry Bonds did it twice, in 1986 and 1987 (age 21 and 22), and Hall of Famer Max Carey also did it twice, in 1912 and 1913 (age 22 and 23).

• The Atlanta Braves picked up their first win of the season over the St. Louis Cardinals after St. Louis won the first five meetings. Chris Carpenter hit his second career home run, but allowed a season-high eight runs. Matt Holliday hit his 26th home run for the Cardinals, his most home runs since 2007.

• The Cleveland Indians defeated the Minnesota Twins, 2-0. Fausto Carmona snapped his six-start losing streak with a shutout. He's the first pitcher to snap a losing streak of at least six starts with a shutout since the Oakland Athletics' Rick Langford in 1980.

• The game lasted just one hour and 57 minutes, which makes it the quickest nine-inning game in Cleveland since 2004.
Logan Morrison picked up a hit in the Florida Marlins victory over the Washington Nationals and has now reached base in 30 straight games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last rookie with a longer streak was his teammate Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez reached in 36 straight games as a rookie in 2006.

1st pitch: the oddities of August

September, 1, 2010
Today’s Trivia: Since September 1, 2009, Jose Bautista has 53 home runs. In the last decade, only three AL players hit 53 HR from one September through the following August. Can you name them?

Quick Hits: With August in the books, let’s take a look back at the statistical oddities of the month.

Miguel Cabrera was intentionally walked 13 times in August. Only the Philadelphia Phillies (17) and San Francisco Giants (14) had more intentional walks as a team. In fact, over the last 50 years, only Barry Bonds’ 15 IBB in August 2004 exceeded Cabrera’s total in that month. Over the previous 50 years, no Detroit Tigers player had more IBB than Bill Freehan’s six in August 1967.

• The Los Angeles Dodgers did not have a triple in August. Their last triple-less month was June 1985.

Eric Young Jr. had 66 at-bats in August and did not record an RBI. That’s the most in a calendar month without an RBI since Willy Taveras had 72 in September 2006.

• Overall, only 808 HR were hit in August, 170 fewer than 2009. In fact, it was the fewest home runs hit over a full August of MLB action since 1993.

• In his first full month in the majors, Houston Astros first baseman Brett Wallace was hit by more pitches (six) than anyone else. Over the last 50 years, Craig Biggio’s 10 HBP in August 1997 are the only greater total by an Astros player.

Felix Hernandez had a 0.82 ERA and 51 strikeouts last month. Over the last 50 years, only Tom Seaver (1973 Mets), J.R. Richard (1979 Astros) and Roger Clemens (1998 Blue Jays) have had 50+ K and an ERA below 1.00 in August. Would you believe King Felix’s two losses were not unprecedented in such a month? Seaver was 3-3 despite a 0.99 ERA.

Fausto Carmona allowed five sacrifice flies in August. Prior to 2010, he’d never allowed more than four over the course of an entire season.

• With 12 HR and 24 RBI, Jose Bautista led the AL in both categories in August. The last AL player to do that in August (without being tied in either category) was Rafael Palmeiro in 1999 (15 HR, 39 RBI).

Aramis Ramirez hit .579 (11-19) with runners in scoring position. He had entered the month hitting just .220 with RISP.

Today’s Leaderboard: From the perspective of opponents’ batting average, August’s top four pitchers come from two teams and one state. Oakland’s duo of Dallas Braden and Gio Gonzalez were tops in baseball, while the Padres’ Mat Latos and Jon Garland were the best in the NL.

Key Matchups: It’s good to be Brian McCann right now. For one, he is 7-for-10 with a pair of HR in his last three games. That figures to continue Wednesday against Mike Pelfrey, the pitcher he has faced the most in his career. McCann is 18-for-37 (.486 BA) against Pelfrey, including a single, two doubles and a home run in his last four at-bats against him. McCann’s eight doubles are twice as many as any other batter against Pelfrey.

Among those glad to see August in the rearview mirror, Tim Lincecum ranks among the happiest. Entering the month at 11-4 with a 3.10 ERA, he went 0-5 with a 7.82 ERA. Will September be kinder? Standing in the way on Thursday is Colorado, a team he’s 0-2 against this season. With a .455 BA, Todd Helton has been a tough out for Lincecum. However, it’s Chris Iannetta who has been the toughest out. In 22 plate appearances, the Rockies catcher has six hits and eight walks against Lincecum. That’s good enough for a .727 on-base percentage.

Trivia Answer: From September 2001 to August 2002, Alex Rodriguez had 60 HR. Through those same months in 2005-06, David Ortiz had 58 HR and Travis Hafner had 53.

1st Pitch: Pujols pursues 400

August, 24, 2010
Today’s Trivia:
After going deep last night in Pittsburgh, Albert Pujols is now one home run away from his 400th career HR. Pujols' first career longball came in April of 2001 off of Armando Reynoso and the Arizona Diamondbacks. What did Pujols do in that game that he ALSO did last night? Hint: it’s something he has now done 26 times in his career. Pujols

Bonus: Obviously, Busch Stadium is the park where Pujols has gone deep the most. But which Busch Stadium – the one that closed in 2005 (Busch II) or the one that opened in 2006 (Busch III)?

Quick Hits:
The Tampa Bay Rays’ Rafael Soriano accomplished a rare baseball feat on Monday (a feat with a cool-sounding moniker to match its impressiveness): the Immaculate Inning. Such an inning requires striking out the side on nine pitches, which Soriano did against Erick Aybar, Mike Napoli and Peter Bourjos. Soriano

So rare is the feat that it has only been done 44 times in MLB history. Let’s take a look at some of the pitchers who have pulled off the Immaculate Inning, according to

• Only three have done the feat twice, and all three are Hall-of-Famers: Lefty Grove, Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan. No one has done it three times.

• An Immaculate Inning has occurred in every inning, though it is most common late in games. It’s happened nine times in the ninth, seven times in the eighth and four times in the seventh.

• There are some pretty solid sluggers who have been on the other end of an Immaculate Inning. Ken Boyer was part of one thrown by Bob Bruce in 1964. Andre Dawson and Rafael Palmeiro were both part of one thrown by Jeff Robinson in 1987. Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio have each been victims, though in different games. Even contact machine Ichiro Suzuki fell prey to one, but in his defense, it was done by Pedro Martinez.

• From Elias: The last closer to get a save while striking out the side on nine pitches in the ninth inning was LaTroy Hawkins in September 2004 for the Chicago Cubs.

• Call it the Rich Harden connection: On the same night Harden was pulled in the middle of a no-hitter, Soriano threw his Immaculate Inning. But Harden has an I.I. of his own, and it came in the first inning. He did it in June 2008 with the Oakland Athletics against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

• Koufax is the only one to throw an Immaculate Inning that turned into an immaculate game. His first Immaculate Inning came in his first no-hitter – on June 30, 1962 - and was also done in the first inning. His immaculaticity (not a word) ended in the second inning when the New York Mets’ Frank Thomas grounded out to short.

• And finally, a Lou Piniella connection. Piniella managed the 1991 Cincinnati Reds to a 74-88 record and fifth place division finish. But that might not have been the worst of it. That team, featuring Barry Larkin, Chris Sabo and Hal Morris, is the only team in MLB history to have two Immaculate Innings thrown against them in the same season. Andy Ashby and David Cone did it to them that year.

Today’s Leaderboard:
It’s becoming one of the classic adages in the sport – if you let the leadoff man get on base in an inning, he’s going to come around to hurt you. Well, don’t pity the leadoff men tonight. Several of the pitchers who are the top culprits in letting the leadoff man get on base are starting for their teams on Tuesday.

Key Matchups:
• Ichiro has been an All-Star every year of his 10-year MLB career and has never batted below .303 in a season. But none of that might be true if he had to face Josh Beckett in every at-bat. Beckett is limiting Ichiro to a career .190 BA (4-21) with more strikeouts (five) than hits. Among pitchers who have faced Ichiro at least 20 times, Beckett is the starter who’s holding him to the lowest average.

• These numbers don’t seem to match up: Adam Wainwright has a perfect 5-0 record at PNC Park, yet a pedestrian 5.56 ERA there. Among parks where Wainwright has pitched more than once, he has a higher era at only Dodger Stadium. Turns out, you can chalk up his sparkling record at PNC to run support. His offense has scored an average of 7.43 runs in games he started there.

• There’s a new Cincinnati Reds rookie starter in town, and he’s not named Mike Leake. Travis Wood takes the mound in San Francisco tonight, making his 10th career start. No Giant has seen him before, but they might want to know these numbers. Wood is allowing a .135 BA his first time through the lineup, but that jumps to .184 his second time through and .222 his third time through.

Trivia Answer: In both games, Pujols finished a triple shy of the cycle. In fact, Pujols has never hit for the cycle in his career despite coming a triple shy of it on 26 occasions. He has finished a home run shy of the cycle twice and finished a double shy of the cycle once.

The bonus question was a trick question. Sort of. Pujols has the exact same number of home runs at both Busch Stadiums – 94 at each.

1st Pitch: Grounds for Discussion

August, 16, 2010
Today’s Trivia: We’ve got a tremendous lefty showdown tonight in Tampa – Cliff Lee against David Price. Both will likely find their names on some Cy Young ballots at the end of the season. When was the last time that two left-handed pitchers finished 1st and 2nd in Cy voting in a season? When was the last time it happened in the AL?

Quick Hits: Pitchers love getting ground ball outs and pitching coaches love preaching to play to your defense. Let’s take a look at which hitters and pitchers have ratios at either end of the spectrum:

Derek Jeter has been beating the ball into the turf more than any other AL hitter. He has a 3.30 groundout-to-flyout ratio, which blows away second place on the list (Juan Pierre, at 2.28).

Meanwhile, the man who frequently bats behind Jeter in the order is a polar opposite. Nick Swisher’s 0.66 ratio is second-lowest on the list, narrowly behind Jhonny Peralta’s 0.65

Chalk up the Cleveland Indians as a team that pitches to the ground ball. Justin Masterson is the leader in groundout-to-flyout ratio among pitchers, and two other Indians (or former Indians) ranked in the top eight in that category – Fausto Carmona and the departed Jake Westbrook.

In the NL, a pair of Central division batters – Michael Bourn and Skip Schumaker – are the groundout-to-flyout frequenters. Maybe the biggest surprise comes at third on the list – Jason Heyward, with a 1.92 ratio.

Roger McDowell and Dave Duncan seem to be kindred spirits, with their pitching staffs following in tow. Of the top four groundout-to-flyout pitchers in the NL, two are Braves (Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe) and the other two are Cardinals (Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright).

On the other end of things, the San Francisco Giants have three starters in the top five of pitchers who get flyouts most frequently. Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Barry Zito are all among the league leaders in that category.

Today’s Leaderboard: How would you like to be Jon Rauch on Sunday – entering the game trying to continue the dominance after Kevin Slowey pitches seven no-hit innings? It didn’t end well for Rauch, who allowed a double to the second batter he faced, ending the no-hitter and eventually the shutout.

Lucky for Rauch, it was a relatively low-leverage situation, at least numbers-wise: his team was up 4-0 with only nine outs needed to polish off the A’s. But which guys have entered games in high-leverage situations the most this season? Interesting to see two Boston Red Sox pitchers on this list:

High leverage is defined here as the first PA of a pitcher’s appearance having a leverage index of 1.5 or higher. A leverage index of 1.0 is considered average, with the greater index indicating the higher pressure. By the way, Rauch has 21 high leverage appearances this season.

Key Matchups: Max Scherzer has only faced four active New York Yankees batters in his career, but he’s made them look silly. Lance Berkman, Curtis Granderson, Austin Kearns and Mark Teixeira are a combined 3-16 (.188 BA) against Scherzer. Those batters have eight strikeouts in 18 AB.

You could see why Kevin Correia might not be thrilled about taking the mound at Wrigley Field tonight – Correia has a 17.47 ERA in five games there, including one start. That’s his worst ERA of any ballpark where he’s made a start. In his last outing, a start with the Giants, Correia didn’t make it out of the fourth inning and allowed seven earned runs.

More on the potentially epic lefty matchup tonight in Tampa. Let’s breakdown their Opp BA numbers, tale-of-the-tape style:

Moral of the story? It’s better to go lefty-lefty against Lee rather than Price. And while Lee excels in keeping runners off base in the first place, Price thrives once they do get on.

Trivia Answer: Randy Johnson and Tom Glavine finished 1-2 in 2000. The NL hasn’t seen a lefty Cy winner since the Big Unit won his last in 2002. To find two leftys that finished 1-2 in the AL, you have to go all the way back to 1979, when Mike Flanagan won and Tommy John took second.

1st Pitch: Hitters sad to see May go

May, 31, 2010
Quick Hits: We’re all well aware of David Ortiz’s May resurgence. But here are a few other hitters who will be sad to see the calendar turn to June.
  • Mike Fontenot is batting .378 in May, over 100 points higher than his career BA of .274
  • Travis Hafner regained his old form this month, batting .333 with a .457 OBP.
  • Jose Bautista has hit 12 home runs in May, tying a team record for most homers in a month.
  • Mike Sweeney has revived his career, batting .333 with a .704 slugging percentage in May.
  • Troy Glaus hit .323 with a team-leading 25 RBI.
Today’s Trivia: Happy 43rd birthday to Kenny Lofton. In the 1990s, no one had a higher batting average as a leadoff hitter than Lofton’s .309 mark. In fact, only three others with at least 1,500 plate appearances were above .300. Can you name them?

Today’s Leaderboard: Typically, a pitcher loses effectiveness as his pitch count climbs. But that doesn’t hold true for everyone. Among those that have excelled in high pitch count situation is today’s starter for the Rays, Matt Garza, who has a .100 opponent’s batting average when his pitch count climbs above 90.

Key Matchups: Not many players in Cleveland’s young lineup have faced Andy Pettitte, but Pettitte has struggled against those that he has faced. The seven players on the Indians active roster who have faced Pettitte have combined to hit .338, led by Austin Kearns’ .462 (6-13) performance.

You can count Todd Helton among the few players who have figured out Tim Lincecum. In his career against Lincecum, Helton is batting .474 (9-19) with a 1.284 OPS.

Trivia Answer: Wade Boggs (.307), ESPN’s own Doug Glanville (.305) and Bip Roberts (.301).

1st Pitch: Who's hot?

May, 28, 2010
Quick Hits: Here’s a look at some hitters who have been hot in certain situations over the past two weeks:
  • Chipper Jones has a .632 OBP and a 1.232 OPS with RISP.
  • Billy Butler is batting .522 (12-23) in at bats ending in fastballs.
  • Mike Napoli is batting .438 (7-16) against off-speed pitches.
  • Casey Blake is batting .375 (9-24) in two-strike counts.
  • Brennan Boesch is batting .500 (8-16) on balls up in the zone.
  • Adrian Beltre is batting .429 (6-14) on balls out of the strike zone.
Today’s Trivia: Kirk Gibson, who turns 53 today, won the MVP in 1988 with just 25 home runs. Since that year, only two players have won the NL MVP with fewer home runs. Can you name them?

Today’s Leaderboard: The Yankees have struggled against sinkers this year, which is bad news for them tonight as they face sinkerballer Fausto Carmona.

Key Matchups: The Yankees have struggled against the sinker as a team, but no one has struggled quite like Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod is 0-7 against sinkers this year. He’s 2-8 in his career against Carmona.

Chris Carpenter is no stranger to facing the Chicago Cubs, especially their three sluggers Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano, facing them a combined 103 times since joining the Cardinals in 2004. Carpenter has had mixed results against them depending on the pitch type, as they are a combined 21-for-50 (.420) against his fastball, but have managed just 1 hit in 22 ABs (.045) against his curve.

Trivia Answer: Terry Pendleton (22 HR) in 1991 and Barry Larkin (15 HR) in 1995.

1st Pitch: Good/bad leadoff hitters

May, 17, 2010
Quick Hits: Here’s a look at the good, the bad and the ugly statistics from leadoff hitters this season.

* Elvis Andrus leads all leadoff hitters with a .417 OBP. That’s nearly a 100-point increase from his .329 OBP in 2009.

* Adam Jones and Everth Cabrera are tied for the lowest OBP by a leadoff hitter at .224.

* Nate McLouth has been the most patient leadoff hitter, seeing 4.6 pitches per plate appearance.

* Carlos Gonzalez has been the least patient, seeing only 3.1 pitchers per plate appearance.

* Juan Pierre has been the toughest leadoff hitter to strikeout, just once every 15.2 at-bats.

* Drew Stubbs has been the easiest, striking out once every 2.9 at-bats.

Today’s Trivia: Today is the 12-year anniversary of David Wells’ perfect game. It was the first perfect game since Kenny Rogers’ in 1994. Which member of the Yankees starting lineup that day was also in the Angels’ lineup when Rogers threw his perfect game against them?

Today’s Leaderboard: A few Orioles pitchers seem to have developed an unlikely skill: working their way out of a 2-0 hole. Brad Bergesen, Jeremy Guthrie and Kevin Millwood each rank among the league leaders in lowest opponent batting average allowed after a 2-0 count. Perhaps it’s because they’ve had so much practice. Millwood and Guthrie are tied with Tim Lincecum for the most 2-0 counts this season with 32.

Key Matchups: The Rays current roster is collectively batting .138 (8-58) in their careers against Fausto Carmona. The worst of the group are Jason Bartlett (0-15) and Hank Blalock (0-11). Carl Crawford (2-6) is the only member of the Rays with more than one hit against Carmona.

David Wright, who is batting just .176 over his last five games, could break out of his mini-slump tonight. Wright is a career .438 hitter (7-16) against Derek Lowe.

Trivia Answer: Chad Curtis was on the wrong end of Rogers’ perfect game in ’94, and then started for the Yankees in Wells’ perfect game in ’98. If you guessed Chili Davis, you weren’t far off. Davis was in the lineup for the Angels and for David Cone’s perfect game in 1999.

Monday's 1st Pitch: Early oddities on the mound

April, 12, 2010
Today’s Trivia: With Target Field opening, name the only three remaining teams whose ballpark also is the home for a professional football team (question courtesy of Jeff Bennett)?

Quick Hits: Some fun with early pitching oddities and irregularities.

* Tim Lincecum has retired the first batter in all 14 innings he has pitched this season, including six by way of strikeouts.

* CC Sabathia has held the leadoff hitter to a .100 batting average, but he has walked an MLB-high four leadoff hitters.

* Opponents have a BABIP (batting average on balls in play) of .000 against Fausto Carmona, yet a batting average of .059. Confused? The lone hit was a home run, and thus was not in-play.

* Consider this the tale of two closers: Opposing hitters have taken 19 swings against Franklin Morales, but have yet to swing and miss. They’ve swung at 15 Carlos Marmol pitches and missed 10 times.

* Eight of the nine batters that Darren O’Day has faced have swung at the first pitch. The ninth was a called strike. That means O’Day has a 100.0 first-pitch strike percentage and has yet to see a 1-0 count.

* Not one of the 20 batters that Rick Porcello faced last week swung at the first pitch (12 of which were balls).

* Charlie Haeger had two batters reach on a strikeout on Sunday. That would have been tied for the second most in the majors all of last season! Felix Hernandez had four hitters reach on a strikeout in 2009, while no one else had more than two.

* Jake Westbrook already has four wild pitches and four hit batsmen. Last season, Fausto Carmona was the only Indians pitcher with four of each over the entire season.

Today’s Leaderboard: As the Minnesota Twins usher in a new era at Target Field, there are some who might be sad to see the Metrodome go. Among them? Kevin Slowey, who was 17-4 in the Twins’ old home. That was the fourth best win percentage of anyone with ten decisions. Slowey will pitch the second ever game at Target Field on Wednesday, while Carl Pavano gets the ball today. Jack Morris and Juan Berenguer were both 23-5 at the Metrodome, tied for the best record there. Berenguer is particularly interesting given that he was just 44-57 everywhere else.

Key Matchups: Both starting pitchers in today’s Astros-Cardinals game have traditionally fared well against the biggest bat in the opposing lineup. Albert Pujols is just 5-31 in his career against Wandy Rodriguez, though interestingly he has only struck out once. That .161 average is easily Pujols’ worst against any pitcher he has faced at least 25 times. However, after starting out 3-25, Pujols has a pair of doubles in his last six at-bats against Rodriguez.

In the other dugout, Carlos Lee probably didn’t circle this game to break out of his 3-23 start to the season. Lee has hit just .050 (1-20) in his career against Adam Wainwright, his worst average against any pitcher that he’s faced at least 15 times. That hit came back in 2007, and Lee is hitless in 15 plate appearances since.

Trivia Answer: With the opening of Target Field only three MLB teams share their home park with a pro football team - the Blue Jays, Athletics, and Marlins. That continues a downward trend from multi-purpose stadiums. In 1970, 17 of 24 MLB teams shared stadiums including the Yankees, Tigers, and Cubs.