Stats & Info: Jim Thome

Beltway Bashers match franchise HR mark

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
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AP Photo, Getty ImagesManny Machado and Jim Thome combined to hit three of the Orioles' seven homers on Wednesday.
The Baltimore Orioles kept pace with the victorious New York Yankees in the AL East race by doing what the team from the Bronx is known for – launching baseballs over fences.

The Orioles matched a franchise record with seven home runs in a 12-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night. Never before had Baltimore fans seen seven home runs hit by their team in a home game.

All 12 of the Orioles runs were scored via homers, the first time they have done that in a game with a dozen runs since May 28, 1996 in a 12-8 win over the Mariners, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Forty-seven percent of their runs have come via the longball this season, a rate that is second in the majors behind the Yankees.

Both the old and the young went deep for the O’s. Jim Thome (42 years, 30 days old) tied the game in the fifth inning and Manny Machado (20, 82) gave the O’s the lead.

Their age disparity is the second-largest for any two teammates homering in the same inning, according to Elias. On June 14, 2005, Julio Franco (46 years, 295 days) and Kelly Johnson (23 years, 112 days) both homered for the Atlanta Braves against the Texas Rangers.

Thome became the oldest player ever to hit a home run for the Orioles franchise. He is 11 days older than Tim Raines, who hit his last home run for Baltimore on October 5, 2001.

His home run came on a chest-high 79-MPH changeup that he drilled over the right-field wall. He is now slugging .636 on pitches in the upper-third of the strike zone or above, the 10th-best mark in the majors among players with at least 150 plate appearances this season.

Machado homered again in the eighth inning for his second career multi-homer game. The last American Leaguer with at least two multi-homer games at the age of 20 or younger was Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989.

Both of his home runs went to left field, continuing his pull-happy approach this season. Five of his six career homers have gone to left field, and his .733 slugging percentage on pulled balls is nearly 300 points better than his mark to center and right field (.446).

Chris Davis was the other Oriole to hit multiple homers. The Blue Jays threw Davis nine sliders, which seemed like a smart strategy going into the game, as he was hitting just .176 in at-bats ending in sliders this year. That includes a 1-for-17 stretch in his previous 45 games.

Davis clubbed two sliders over the fence Wednesday, a career first for him against that pitch.

Hitters making fast work of Santana's heater

July, 21, 2012
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Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesJohan Santana didn't reach the 4th inning against the Dodgers Friday.
Less than two months after he earned a permanent spot in New York Mets lore by throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history, Johan Santana tied a more dubious team mark on Friday.

Santana joined Pedro Astacio in 2002 and Bobby Jones in 1995 as the only Mets pitchers to ever allow at least 6 earned runs in 3 straight outings after giving up 6 runs over 3 innings in a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Since throwing the Mets initial no-hitter on June 1, Santana is now 3-5 with a 6.54 ERA in 8 starts.

Santana’s fastball has let him down over that span. Opposing hitters are batting .323 against Santana’s heater in his last 8 starts, in large part because he’s having serious trouble locating the pitch. 52 percent of Santana’s fastballs have been in the strike zone since his no-hitter, compared to the one-third of Santana’s fastballs that found the zone against the Cardinals on June 1.

If there was an opponent that was likely to snap Santana out of his post-no-hitter struggles, the Dodgers were a good bet. Entering Friday, Santana was 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA in 5 career starts vs the Dodgers, the lowest ERA vs the Dodgers of any pitcher with at least 5 starts against the team in the live ball era (since 1920).

Elsewhere in the majors Friday:

• The Atlanta Braves overcame a 9-0 deficit to beat the Washington Nationals 11-10 in 11 innings. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Atlanta’s 9-run comeback ties a franchise record also accomplished in 1987 vs the San Diego Padres and 1977 vs the St. Louis Cardinals. The Nationals 9-run blown lead is the largest in team history, including the franchise’s years in Montreal.

• Jim Thome’s 4th-inning home run vs the Cleveland Indians was the 610th of his career, breaking a tie with Sammy Sosa for seventh on the all-time HR list. Next up for Thome is Ken Griffey Jr. at 630.

• Robinson Cano now owns the longest hit streak in the majors this season after his 7th-inning single vs the Oakland Athletics extended his hit streak to 23 games, one more than Michael Brantley’s streak earlier this year. Cano’s streak is the longest by a Yankee in a single season since Derek Jeter in 2006 (25 games).

• Justin Verlander allowed 2 runs in 8 innings in a win against the Chicago White Sox. Verlander has now pitched at least 6 innings in 62 straight starts, breaking a tie with Catfish Hunter for the third-longest streak in the live ball era. Verlander is 11-1 in 12 starts vs the White Sox since 2009, tied for the highest win percentage (.917) for a pitcher against a single opponent over the last 4 seasons according to the Elias Sports Bureau (minimum 10 decisions).

Everything going Wright for Mets

July, 5, 2012
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Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesDavid Wright is mobbed by his teammates after recording his first walk-off hit since 2008.
The New York Mets scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Philadelphia Phillies. After finishing 7-11 against the Phillies last season, the Mets have won eight of 12 games against Philadelphia this year.

The hero for the Mets on Thursday was David Wright. The third baseman, who drove in four (or more) runs for the third time in his last eight games, won the game with a single to break a ninth-inning tie. It was his seventh career walk-off hit, but first since 2008.

Including a walk-off sacrifice fly in 2006, it was Wright’s eighth career game-ending RBI, tying Kevin McReynolds for the Mets record.

Wright's game-winning single came on an inside fastball out of the strike zone. This season, Wright is 10-for-57 (.175) in at-bats ending with pitches outside the strike zone.

All 10 hits have come against inside fastballs. Wright is 10-for-23 (.435) in at-bats ending with an inside fastball out of the strike zone this season.

With his game-winning hit against Jonathan Papelbon, Elias informs us that Wright is the first player to have walk-off hits against both Papelbon and Mariano Rivera.

Papelbon has three losses this season, with two of those against the Mets.

The Mets were able to win despite a subpar start from R.A. Dickey. After allowing only one earned run in his previous seven starts against National League opponents, Dickey allowed five runs in seven innings against the Phillies.

The run that the Phillies scored in the first inning snapped a streak of 20 consecutive starts for Dickey without allowing a run in the opening frame. The last team to score against Dickey in the first was the Washington Nationals on September 2, 2011.

Around the League
• The Mets weren’t the only NL East team to rally for a ninth-inning win. The Nationals won for the first time in 27 games this season when trailing after eight innings. They beat the San Francisco Giants, who had been 40-0 when leading after eight in 2012.

• The Chicago White Sox finished up a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers. It was the first time this season that the Rangers were swept in a series of at least three games. That leaves the White Sox as the only team that hasn’t been swept this season.

• Jim Thome picked up his first RBI with the Baltimore Orioles, the sixth club for which he has driven in a run. The only player with more career RBI than Thome who drove in runs for more teams was Al Simmons with seven.

• The Pittsburgh Pirates moved 10 games over .500 for the first time since 1992. That bodes well for the Bucs, since 1992 was the last time they finished with a winning record and made the playoffs.

Orioles shouldn't expect much from Thome

June, 30, 2012
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When the Baltimore Orioles saw Jim Thome go 6-for-13 with a home run and four RBI against them in a three-game series earlier this season, it must have been enough to convince them that Thome is still a valuable asset.

Jim Thome
Thome
The problem is that the Orioles are the one team that Thome has been successful against this season. Now that the Philadelphia Phillies traded him to Baltimore, he'll playing for the Orioles, not against them.

Thome is hitting .083 with no home runs and no RBI against National League opponents this season. Against AL East opponents other than the Orioles, he's hitting .143 (2-for-14) with two solo homers. Against all AL opponents other than the Orioles, he's hitting .184 (9-for-49).

After spending 12 seasons with the same team, the Cleveland Indians, Thome has switched teams for the seventh time in the last 10 years.

Thome will likely make his return to designated hitter after playing sparingly, mostly in pinch-hit situations, for the Phillies.

Thome is currently tied with Sammy Sosa for seventh on the all-time home run list (609). Hank Aaron and Willie Mays are the only players in MLB history with more career home runs at the time they were traded.

Despite Thome only having five home runs this season, he's actually hitting homers more often than last season, when he homered once in every 18.5 at-bats. Thome's ratio of one home run every 12.4 at-bats this season is his second-highest frequency in his last five seasons. Of those seasons, only his 2010 campaign was better (11.0).

The Orioles are hoping Thome can add some power to their lineup with more playing time. This season, Orioles designated hitters are hitting .258 with 10 home runs and 32 RBI. Those players are only hitting homers once every 24.4 at-bats, so Thome's power production could be an upgrade.

From 2009-2011, only David Ortiz hit more homers (85) as a designated hitter than Thome (62).

During the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Thome hit just .209 against the AL East, his worst batting average against any AL division, with just four homers in 129 at-bats.

In his career, Thome is a .265 hitter as a DH and a .284 hitter as a starting position player.

Thome is 41 years old and still trying to add to his terrific career numbers. Only one American League player at least 41 years old has ever hit more than 22 home runs in a season, and that was 41-year-old Ted Williams (29) in 1960.

There have only been 13 home runs by a player at least 41 years old in Orioles franchise history. Ten of those homers were by Harold Baines in 2000. No other Oriole that old has hit more than one homer in a season.

Thome's historic blast is a game winner

June, 23, 2012
6/23/12
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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.

NL CENTRAL RACE HEATING UP
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.

Pujols and pitchers have a lot in common

May, 3, 2012
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AP Photo/Chris CarlsonAlbert Pujols is four at-bats shy of the longest homerless drought of his career.
A lot of attention is being paid to Albert Pujols and his homerless streak to start the season (101 at-bats, 107 plate appearances). The focus on Pujols is justified, but it has taken the attention away from another question about the lack of power in major-league baseball:

Why haven’t any pitchers this season hit a home run?

Entering play on Thursday, there have been 881 plate appearances and 750 at-bats by pitchers this season, and none of those led to a round-tripper. This season is the first time since 1994 that there was not a home run hit by a pitcher before the end of April.

It's also the fifth season without a pitcher home run before the end of April since the American League adopted the designated hitter rule in 1973. The latest a pitcher hit a home run in a season during that timeframe was 1983, when reliever Rick Behenna hit one on June 8. Ironically, the opposing starting pitcher, Fernando Valenzuela, hit a home run later in that same game.

2012 is the 40th season since the start of the designated hitter, so you can split that timeframe into four 10-year segments. A prevailing theory is that power numbers for pitchers might fade because they no longer are used to hitting as much as they did before the DH rule.

But the power numbers have increased as the years have worn on. Home runs by pitchers before May 1 since the American League adopted the DH in 1973:

• 2003-2012: 28
• 1993-2002: 32
• 1983-1992: 21
• 1973-1982: 23

Back to Pujols, who remains homerless in 2012. The most consecutive at-bats in a season Pujols has gone without a home run is 105, and that was last season. Before 2011, Pujols had never gone more than 79 at-bats without going deep.

Pujols ranks 37th all-time with 445 home runs, but has gone 130 at-bats dating to last season since his last regular-season HR. The longest homerless drought among players ranked in the top 10 belongs to Babe Ruth, who went without 173 at-bats to end the 1918 season without a home run, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Also according to Elias, only two players in the top 10 all-time in home runs never had drought that reached triple digits: Hank Aaron (92) and Jim Thome (88).

Lowe gets grounded in Cleveland

November, 6, 2011
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The Hot Stove season kicked off last week as free agency officially began when the clock struck midnight on Thursday. Let’s take a look at a few notable transactions from the past few days.

Derek Lowe Traded to Indians
The Indians made the first trade of the 2011-12 offseason, acquiring the sinkerballer Lowe from the Atlanta Braves for minor-leaguer Chris Jones. The Braves also agreed to pay two-thirds of Lowe’s $15 million salary for 2012.

With the addition of Lowe, the Indians continue to build a groundball-heavy staff. Three of the Indians starters from 2011 ranked among the top 20 in the AL among starting pitchers in groundball rate. Lowe, who induced grounders 60 percent of the time, topped them all with the Braves last season.

Lowe struggled last year, losing a career-high 17 games and posting a 5.05 ERA, fifth-highest among major-league qualifying pitchers. However, there is reason for Cleveland fans to be optimistic that Lowe may be able to bounce back in 2012.

Lowe last year likely suffered from some bad luck. His .327 batting average on balls in play was well above his career mark of .295, and he stranded fewer than 60 percent of baserunners for just the second time in his career. If those numbers regress to his career norms, Lowe could easily see an improvement in his ERA next season.

Juan Rivera Signs with Dodgers
The Dodgers made the first splash in free agency with their signing of Rivera to a one-year, $4.5 million dollar contract.

It’s somewhat surprising that Rivera received that much money. His OPS of .710 since the start of 2010 is the fourth-lowest among first basemen and corner outfielders over the last two seasons (min. 900 PA).

John McDonald Signs with Diamondbacks
McDonald, who was traded to Arizona in August last year and started 15 games at shortstop with them, signed a two-year, $3 million deal with the Diamondbacks. McDonald brings little to the plate, with a .577 OPS last year that ranked 302nd out of 316 players with at least 240 PA.

McDonald, however, is a skilled defensive player who had nine Defensive Runs Saved at shortstop last year in just 264 innings. Only six shortstops saved more runs with their glove last year, and five of them played over 1,000 innings each.

Jim Thome Signs with Phillies
Thome will be returning to Philadelphia next year after signing a one-year, $1.25 million deal with the Phillies. Thome hit 96 of his 604 career homers in three seasons with the Phillies, and the first two of those seasons were among the most productive of his career. Only one person hit more homers than Thome's 89 dingers in 2003 and 2004: Barry Bonds (90).

With Ryan Howard recovering from an achilles' injury he suffered on the final play of the Phillies season, the team could need an adequate fill-in at first base for part of 2012.

While Thome hasn't played first base since 2007, his bat compares favorably to Howard's. Over the last two seasons, Thome's .939 OPS is seventh-best among players with at least 500 PA, while Howard's .847 ranks 35th.
Justin Verlander didn't waste any time in his quest for 20 wins. In his first start since picking up his 19th win on Monday, Verlander rallied from a rocky outing and picked up his major league-leading 20th win Saturday in a 6-4 win over the Minnesota Twins.
Justin Verlander
Verlander
Verlander threw 120 pitches over six innings and allowed eight hits, four runs (all earned), and three walks.

For the second time this season, Verlander allowed back-to-back home runs. On April 22, Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko did it in the seventh inning for the Chicago White Sox.

Verlander is the first to reach 20 wins before September 1 since Curt Schilling in 2002 and the first AL pitcher to do it since Roger Clemens in 1997. This is the first 20-win season for Verlander.

Verlander has won his last seven road starts. That's the longest road win streak by a Tigers starter since Jack Morris won seven straight road starts in 1981.

A next-level look: Verlander survived a rough day with his fastball. Twins hitters had six hits and three walks in 17 plate appearances ending with Verlander's fastball, the second-most hits Verlander has allowed off his fastball this season.

Verlander threw a season-high 64.5 percent of his fastballs in the strike zone, which resulted in five of the Twins' hits, including Luke Hughes' home run.

Verlander countered his struggles with success with his offspeed pitches. He threw his second-lowest percentage of offspeed pitches in a start this season, but Twins hitters were 2 for 10 in at-bats ending with his curveball, slider and changeup. He threw 32 of his 44 offspeed pitches on the outside part of the plate and the Twins were 1 for 6 with two strikeouts in at-bats ending with offspeed pitches away.

Verlander has now won his last 15 starts in which the Tigers have scored three or more runs.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last pitcher to win at least 15 straight games when his team scores three or more runs was Joaquin Andujar, who won 18 in a row for the Cardinals in 1985.

ELSEWHERE AROUND MLB:

Matt Kemp hit a walk-off home run, his third of the season and fourth of his career to lead the Dodgers to a 7-6 win in 11 innings over the Rockies. Kemp's three walk-off home runs are the most by a player this season. James Loney helped force extra innings with his game-tying home run in the ninth, his eighth home run this season.

Jim Thome homered on his 41st birthday to lead the Indians to an 8-7 win over the Royals. According to Elias he is the third Indians player to hit a home run at the age of 41 or older (Dave Winfield and Sam Rice). The only other player in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) to homer on their 41st birthday was the Tigers' Darrell Evans (May 26, 1988 versus the Brewers).

Jacob Nitzberg contributed to this story.

Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
Jim Thome becomes the eighth player in MLB history to hit 600 home runs.

Jim Thome became the eighth player in MLB history to hit 600 home runs, with a home run off of Detroit Tigers reliever Daniel Schlereth on Monday night. Here are some other facts about Thome's entry into this exclusive club:

• Thome joins Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr and Sammy Sosa in this exclusive club.

• Only three players reached 600 home runs from 1876 to 1971 but five have now done so since 2002.

• Thome is the first member of the club to hit 599 and 600 in the same game, including consecutive and non-consecutive at-bats.

• For what it's worth, nobody (including Thome) hit 499 and 500 in the same game. Frank Robinson hit them on the same day, but in a doubleheader.

• Thome is the oldest player to reach the 600-HR milestone, but he did so in the second-fewest number of at-bats.

• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is now the first to hit his 600th home run with more than one runner on base.

• Thome has four multihomer games in his career as a Twin. The first one was July 3, 2010, against the Rays. Those two homers tied and passed Harmon Killebrew for 10th place on the all-time career homer list.

• When Babe Ruth became the first member of the 600 club, it took 13,911 days for the second member, Willie Mays, to join him. Just 15,174 days later, Thome makes it eight. It was one year and 11 days ago that Alex Rodriguez became the seventh member of the 600-homer club, as he hit his 600th on Aug. 4 last year.

• Thome becomes the fourth member of the club to hit his 600th in the month of August.

• Thome averages one home run in every 13.6 at-bats, fourth on the all-time list (Mark McGwire, 10.6).

• Thome has the most career home runs among players who have played for five or more franchises (Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins and Philadelphia Phillies).
The Red Sox and Twins begin a three-game set in Minnesota at 7 ET on Monday Night Baseball on ESPN.

The Boston Red Sox, fresh off taking two of three games from the New York Yankees this weekend, travel to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Twins. The Red Sox have already won three of four against the Twins this season.

On the Mound

Tim Wakefield makes his third attempt at winning his 200th career game. The 45-year-old is 14-7 in his career against the Twins, but only 3-5 against them since 2006. Should he earn his 200th career win tonight, his 456 games started are 11th-most all-time to reach the milestone. According to Elias, Wakefield could be the second Red Sox pitcher to earn the career milestone victory on August 8th. Lefty Grove earned his 200th win 77 years ago today -- on August 8, 1934 against the Philadelphia Athletics (the team for which Grove won his first 195 games).

Opponents are hitting an identical .261 against Wakefield in at-bats ending with his fastball (6-23) or knuckleball (99-379), but just .143 (1-7) in at-bats ending with his curveball. After throwing his 75th pitch of the game, opponents are batting .328 (22-67) against him.

After allowing nine earned runs in his first two starts of the year at home, Scott Baker is 5-0 in his last six home starts, allowing only one earned run. In addition, since 2009, Baker is a perfect 7-0 with a 3.24 ERA in the month of August.

Baker has buckled down with runners in scoring position this season, holding hitters to a .187 average, which ranks fourth in the AL among pitchers who have faced a minimum of 90 batters in that situation.

Matchups to Watch

After coming over to Boston as a free agent from Minnesota, David Ortiz hit .363 with nine doubles and nine HR while slugging .758. However, since 2008, Ortiz is hitting .233 with seven extra-base hits while slugging .383.

Jim Thome has some rough matchups against Red Sox pitchers in this series. He’s 10-for-58 (.172 BA) career against Tim Wakefield in the regular season. But he has four hits in his last nine at-bats against him, including a HR on August 31, 2008. That HR snapped a 19 at-bat hitless streak by Thome against Wakefield.

Stat of the Game

The Twins ranked tied for third in MLB with 54 Defensive Runs Saved last season. This season, they rank 21st with -14 Defensive Runs Saved (in other words, the defense has cost the Twins 14 runs). Nearly the entire gap can be found at SS and 3B.
The Texas Rangers extended their win streak to 11 games Sunday, the most consecutive wins by any team since the Phillies won 11 in a row last September. With a win Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels, Texas will have the longest win streak by a team since the 2006 Boston Red Sox won 12 in a row. The Rangers would also pull within two games of the longest win streak in franchise history, 14 straight wins back in 1991.

For every winner there's a loser, and that was the Seattle Mariners on Sunday. The Mariners 3-1 loss to the Rangers was the team's ninth defeat in a row. That's their longest losing streak since 12 straight losses back in September 2008.

The Mariners were set down in order by Neftali Feliz in the ninth inning. Feliz might be young, but one would guess the Mariners have already seen more than enough of the reigning AL Rookie of the Year. Mariners hitters are now 0-33 all-time vs Feliz with 13 strikeouts.

Elsewhere are the majors on Sunday:

• Jim Thome moved within four HR of becoming the eighth member of the 600-HR club, launching a 464-foot blast against the Kansas City Royals. Thome's bomb was the longest HR in the short history of Target Field. It was also his 500th career HR in the American League, making him the 11th player in AL history to reach the 500-HR mark.

• Freddie Freeman's walk-off single, his first career walk-off hit, gave the Atlanta Braves their seventh win in 10 games. Atlanta is now 17-6 since June 19 and hasn't lost consecutive games during that span.

• The Oakland Athletics jumped all over Joel Pineiro, scoring a season-high eight runs in the first inning and forcing Pineiro from the game after just ⅓ IP. Pineiro becomes the second pitcher in Angels history to allow eight or more runs in while not recording more than one out in a game. He joins Mark Langston, who allowed eight runs to the Yankees in the first inning on June 4, 1995.
Coming off consecutive starts in which he allowed five earned runs, David Price bounced back in a big way striking out a career-high 12 batters as the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Cleveland Indians.

David Price
Price
Price overpowered the Indians hitters as they swung and missed on 17 pitches against Price, the most for Price in his past 18 starts. He had great command of his fastball as 15 of the 17 swings and misses were against the heater, including seven which resulted in strikeouts.

The Rays ace displayed great control working the corners of the plate. Of Price's 110 pitches, 81 were either on the inside or outside corner of the plate. The Indians went 1-for-13 with eight strikeouts in at-bats ending with a pitch inside or outside.

Price also mixed in his slider well, throwing 14, his second highest total in any game this season. Cleveland went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in at-bats ending with the slider.

While Price was brilliant, he did receive some help with poor plate awareness from the Indians batters. Cleveland missed on 46 percent and chased 39 percent of balls outside of the strikezone (both season highs for Price).

Ugly swings were a theme throughout the night in this game for both teams. Matt LaPorta of the Indians and B.J. Upton of the Rays each struck out four times in Friday's game.

The only other game this season to feature two "Golden Sombreros" was on May 12, when Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth both recorded four strikeouts for the Nationals against Atlanta.

Elsewhere around the majors:

• While LaPorta and Upton had rough nights, perhaps no one had a more forgettable Friday than Drew Stubbs. Batting out of the leadoff spot, Stubbs was the only Cincinnati Reds hitter to have six plate appearances against the Atlanta Braves. He went 0-for-6 with four strikeouts.

The only other Reds player to do this in a nine-inning game in the live-ball era was Art Shamsky against the Giants on Oct. 1, 1965.

Out of the leadoff spot, Baseball-Reference.com shows us that only two other players have done it in a nine-inning game in the live-ball era. Oddly, all three of their teams won the game in spite of their dismal line.

• While former Red and current Chicago White Sox player Adam Dunn suffered a four-strikeout game on Thursday, he rebounded Friday drawing four walks in a loss against the Toronto Blue Jays.

According to Elias, the last time a player struck out four or more times and then walked four or more times the next game was Jim Thome in 2000.
Josh Beckett
Beckett

With the way the 2011 season has begun, Sunday night had all the makings of a disaster for the Red Sox.

Boston, looking for its first series victory of the season, put the ball in the hands of Josh Beckett, the same pitcher who had a 10.04 ERA in five starts against the Yankees last season.

To make matters worse, the Yankees were turning to their ace CC Sabathia, who had not lost in his past seven starts against the Red Sox.

Yet as Red Sox fans might be learning early on this season, 2011 might be a year for Boston to expect the unexpected.

Beckett channeled his inner Yankee-killer -- best known from his dominating complete-game shutout performance in the 2003 World Series-clinching Game six, while with the Marlins -- which many didn't believe existed anymore.

He struck out 10 batters in eight scoreless innings of work, and allowed just two hits as the Red Sox shut out the Yankees.

Beckett became just the third Red Sox pitcher to allow two hits or fewer and strike out at least 10 batters against the Yankees in the live ball era (since 1920).

So how exactly did the Red Sox righty blank the Yankees?

Beckett baffled the Yankees batters with strong off-speed pitching. He threw 42 off-speed pitches (25 curveballs, 17 changeups) and the Yankees went 0-for-11 with six strikeouts in at-bats ending with an off-speed pitch.

For the season, opposing batters are 0-for-19 with nine strikeouts in at-bats ending with an off-speed pitch against Beckett.

He also did a good job keeping the ball down in the strike-zone. The Yankees went 1-for-17 with seven strikeouts in at-bats ending with a pitch down in the zone.

Perhaps most encouraging though was Beckett being able to give the Boston bullpen some relief.

Beckett’s start marked just the third time in nine games that a Red Sox starter was able to get through six innings.

Elsewhere around the Diamond:

Jered Weaver struck out a career-high 15 batters in the Los Angeles Angels’ of Anaheim victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. It was the most strikeouts by an Angels pitcher since Chuck Finley had 15 against the Yankees on May 23, 1995. Weaver is the first Angels pitcher to finish with 15 strikeouts in a game in which he pitched fewer than eight innings.

• The Rangers improved to 8-1 for the second time in team history (also 8-1 in 1989) as they defeated the Baltimore Orioles. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us the Rangers are the first defending league champion to begin a season with eight or more wins in their first nine games since the 2004 Marlins (8–1) and they’re the first defending American League champ to do so since the 1998 Indians (8–1).

Jim Thome hit his first home run of the season and now has homered in 21 straight seasons, the longest active streak in the major leagues. His first home run came back on October 4, 1991. The pitcher he hit Sunday’s home run off of, Jerry Blevins, was only eight years old then.

Twins-Yankees matchups to watch

April, 6, 2011
4/06/11
3:41
PM ET
Tonight is the third game of a four-game set between the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees (7 ET on ESPN2). Since 2002, the Twins are 17-46 against the Yankees, their worst record against any opponent over that span. Did you know? In the last 20 seasons, the Twins have only won a season series from the Yankees only 3 times — 1991, 1992 and 2001.

Carl Pavano
Pavano
Pavano’s Matchups to Watch
Nick Swisher is 1-for-6 against Carl Pavano in the regular season with 5 strikeouts. Pavano also struck him out twice in two at-bats in the 2009 ALDS (Swisher did go 1-3 against him last year’s ALDS).

Mark Teixeira’s lone HR against Pavano came in his last regular season AB against him - May 31, 2009.

On Carl Pavano’s Yankees tenure (and why wins don’t tell the whole story for a pitcher)
There are a number of pitchers who have been the subject of Yankees fans derision, among them Ed Whitson, Javier Vazquez, Kenny Rogers, Jeff Weaver, and Pavano. Yet those names all share a common thread. All finished with ERA’s of 5 or higher in their Yankees tenure … and they all finished their Yankees career with winning records!!

Freddy Garcia
Garcia
Garcia’s Matchups to Watch
Joe Mauer’s .419 BA vs Freddy Garcia includes a 6-for-10 in 2010. He homered in his last AB against Garcia on August 10, 2010.

Jason Kubel was 6-for-8 against Garcia last season with 3 BB. He’s reached base in 4 straight PA vs Garcia. One other note on Kubel: He went 7-for-15 with 3 HR against the Yankees in the regular season last year.

Jim Thome has walked 9 times against Garcia in 28 regular season plate appearance, and twice more in six postseason PA. His last 2 AB vs Garcia are a HR and a 2B.

Twins hitters hit .337 against Garcia last season (he made 4 starts vs MIN)

Jeter Watch
Derek Jeter is hitting .167 through the Yankees first 5 games of the season. The only season in which he hit worse within the Yankees first 5 games of a season was in 1998 when he was hitting .150 (3-for-20). Jeter rebounded to hit .324 and the Yankees ended up winning 114 games.

Mark Teixeira
Teixeira
Teixeira Watch
Mark Teixeira is hitting .373 in the regular season against the Twins. But if you just go back to 2007, it’s even more ridiculous. Since 2007, he’s hitting .453 against them in the regular season (39-for-86) and has a walk-off HR against them in the postseason.

Teixeira is glad to have Freddy Garcia on his team. Teixeira is 0-for-16 in his career against Garcia!

Twins righty struggles
The Twins are hitting .174 against right-handed pitching this season. Mauer’s game-winning hit last night made him 1-for-7 against right-handers this season.

Lastly, from the Elias Sports Bureau
The Twins came back from 4 down to beat the Yankees last night, the first time they've rallied from 4+ down to beat the Yankees since May 5, 1997 (the Yankees catcher that day was Joe Girardi), when they beat the Yankees, 9-8 at Yankee Stadium.
Our weekly statistical take on some recent moves by major league teams

How good of a hitter is Jim Thome against right-handed pitching?
Jim Thome
Thome

Historically he’s among the best of the best, and statistically speaking, he’s a needed fit for the Minnesota Twins, who re-signed him earlier this week.

Last year, Thome proved he still had his magic touch against right-handers, batting .302, with a 1.154 OPS against them. The only hitter in the American League who was better was Josh Hamilton (1.163).

Rank the top 50 seasons of OPS against right-handed pitching since 1974 and two names show up more frequently than any others. One is Barry Bonds (seven times). The other is Thome (six).

Of the top 15 seasons in the American League in that span, Thome has five of them.

Amazingly, last season was one of the best in Thome’s career by that measure. Baseball-Reference.com has a means to compare a player’s performance in a split-stat (such as versus right-handers) to the rest of his league, adjusting for ballpark.

Thome’s OPS+ against right-handers was 204. The only season in which he rated higher was in 2002, when he hit 40 home runs against righties.

Last season, with Thome’s help, the Twins rated fourth in the American League in OPS against right-handed pitching. They jumped seven points (from .768 in 2009 to .775 in 2010) despite a) moving into a less-hitter-friendly home ballpark and b) it was a season in which most offensive performance declined.

It was their highest AL rank in OPS against right-handers since being third-best in 1992. The last time the Twins were even in the top five in the AL in that stat was in 2003, when they rated fifth.
-- Mark Simon

Balfour not so bad
Newest Oakland Athletics reliever Grant Balfour finished the season in the Tampa Bay Rays’ bullpen with the seventh-lowest FIP (an ERA estimate based on strikeouts, walks, and home runs allowed) of any American League reliever at 2.68, even lower than former teammate and now New York Yankees reliever Rafael Soriano.

Grant Balfour
Balfour
That’s due primarily to his better strikeout rate (9.1 per 9 innings, compared to Soriano’s 8.2) and a lower rate of home runs allowed per nine innings.

Left-handed hitters may have hit .267 against Balfour last season, but his ability in those three FIP stats, was a match for his performance against right-handers (who hit .174 against him). Of note: Of the 100 lefties he faced in 2010, he yielded only one home run.

Balfour rated at 1.2 Wins Above Replacement in 2010, according to Fangraphs.com, a match for both Jonathan Papelbon and Scott Downs, both of whom will make considerably more than the $4 million Balfour will be paid in 2011.
-- Ben Duronio

Farnsworth's unusual 2010 skill
Kyle Farnsworth may not be the most obvious choice as a shutdown reliever for the Tampa Bay Rays, but last season Farnsworth was able to raise his game when facing the toughest lineups.

Against the teams that finished with a .500 or better record, Farnsworth finished with a 2.09 ERA, .611 opponents OPS, and a 5.3 strikeout-to-walk rate.

Against teams with sub-.500 marks, he had a 5.19 ERA, .670 opponents OPS, and 2.23 strikeout-to-walk rate.
-- Katie Sharp

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