Stats & Info: Jorge Posada

Kernels: Postseason in review

November, 4, 2013
By now you've probably heard that the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. And that a couple of the games had endings (a pickoff, an obstruction call) the likes of which we'd never seen before in the postseason. (We here at Kernels were hoping for Game 5 to end on a pitch getting stuck in the umpire's mask. That's an automatic base, you know.)

To get to the World Series, however, the 10 postseason teams had to play 32 other games first. So let's recap a few of our favorite nuggets from the earlier rounds.

•  The Tigers lost ALDS Game 2 to the Athletics on Stephen Vogt's walk-off single. It was Detroit's first 1-0 postseason loss in team history. The Tigers and Reds had been the only two original franchises without such a loss. Ten days later, the Tigers lost Game 3 of the ALCS on Mike Napoli's solo homer, becoming the first team since the 1991 Braves and 1991 Pirates to drop two 1-0 games in the same postseason.

Napoli's homer was the first in 12 years to be the only run of a postseason game; Jorge Posada's solo shot for the Yankees held up to beat the Athletics in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS (better known for Derek Jeter’s flip relay throw that nailed Jeremy Giambi at the plate).

Justin Verlander allowed Napoli's run and became just the second pitcher to take a loss with one run, one walk, and double-digit strikeouts. Brooklyn's Don Newcombe was the other, as he gave up a walk-off homer to the Yankees' Tommy Henrich in the 1949 World Series (the first walk-off home in the Fall Classic).

•  The Tigers also won a 1-0 game this October; that's the ALCS opener where Daniel Nava's 9th-inning single was Boston's only hit.

Anibal Sanchez walked six in that game, becoming the first pitcher with zero hits, six walks, and a dozen strikeouts in any game since Nolan Ryan's no-hitter for the Angels in 1974. It was just the second game in postseason history where a team's only hit came in the ninth inning; the other was Cookie Lavagetto's pinch-hit walk-off double for the Dodgers against the Yankees in a near no-hitter by Bill Bevens in the 1947 World Series.

Max Scherzer fanned 13 in Game 2, giving the Tigers the second set of teammates with 12-strikeout games in the same postseason series. The other pair was Nolan Ryan and Mike Scott for the 1986 Astros.

Scherzer got a no-decision when David Ortiz hit his grand slam in the eighth. Thanks to Tigers pitching changes, all four runs were charged to different hurlers, just the ninth grand slam ever to have that quirk. Boston's six runs in the game came off six different pitchers, the first time in the live-ball era-- regular or postseason-- that a team had scored six or more runs with every opposing pitcher being charged with exactly one.

•  Shane Victorino also hit a grand slam in the ALCS. Not only did that make the Red Sox the first AL team with two postseason slams since the 1987 Twins (Dan Gladden, Kent Hrbek), but it was the second of Victorino's career. He had one with the Phillies in 2008. Jim Thome is the only other player with two grand slams in postseason play.

Victorino-- who led the AL with 18 hit-by-pitches in the regular season-- got plunked twice more by the Rays in Game 4 of the ALDS. He's the first Red Sox hitter ever to get hit twice in a postseason game.

•  The Dodgers' four homers in NLCS Game 5 were the most ever by a single team in a postseason game at Dodger Stadium. Adrian Gonzalez hit two; he and Carl Crawford (who did it in the Division Series) became the first Dodgers teammates with multi-homer games in the same postseason since Davey Lopes and Steve Garvey in 1978. The Dodgers also had an NLCS game with two triples (including the one that Yasiel Puig initially thought was a homer). They were the only National League team without a multi-triple game in the regular season.

•  Jacoby Ellsbury had two singles, a double, and a triple in ALCS Game 4. The last Red Sox player with a four-hit postseason game as a leadoff hitter was Ellsbury in the 2007 World Series. Only one other player had done it in team history: Wally Moses in 1946.

And only one other major-leaguer has two such games in his career: Mickey Rivers of the Yankees. Ellsbury was also the second Boston hitter to go single-double-triple in the postseason; Mike Stanley did it in the 1999 ALDS.

•  When facing elimination, the old saying is "everybody's available". In Game 4 of the ALDS, the Rays ran nine different pitchers to the mound, the first team in postseason history to use that many in a nine-inning game.

Jeremy Hellickson was pulled after allowing two walks and a single to start the 2nd inning; Jamey Wright got out of it without any damage. Hellickson thus became the second starting pitcher in postseason history to work one inning (or less), allow zero runs, and leave for non-injury reasons.

Curly Ogden of the Senators was used as a decoy in Game 7 of the 1924 World Series so that Giants manager John McGraw would set his lineup for a righty, but after two batters the defense switched to southpaw George Mogridge. It worked; that game gave Washington its only World Series title.

Andy Pettitte’s career leaves lasting mark

September, 20, 2013

Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesAndy Pettitte helped lead the Yankees to 5 World Series titles during his career.
New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte announced his retirement today. His last home start is scheduled for Sunday against San Francisco, a day when the Yankees are honoring Mariano Rivera at Yankee Stadium.

His last start of the season will likely come next weekend in Houston against the Astros, near his home.

Here are the top five things to know about Pettitte’s 18-year major league career.

1. Originally selected by the Yankees in the 22nd round of the 1990 First-Year Player Draft, Pettitte is 255-152 (.627) with a 3.86 ERA in 529 appearances (519 starts) with the Yankees (1995-2003, '07-10 and '12-13) and Astros (2004-06).

He is the franchise leader in strikeouts (2,009) and is on pace to finish his career tied with Whitey Ford (438) for the most starts in Yankees history.

His 255 career wins are the most by a left-hander since 1995 (his first season in the majors). Randy Johnson (222), Jamie Moyer (218) and CC Sabathia (204) round out the top four.

2. Pettitte will become the third member of the Yankees "Core Four" to retire in the last three seasons, joining Mariano Rivera after this season and catcher Jorge Posada, who retired following the 2011 season.

That will leave shortstop Derek Jeter as the only active member.

3. Currently 103 games over .500 in his career, Pettitte is the only active pitcher (and one of just 26 pitchers in MLB history) to post a record of 100-or-more games over .500.

Of the 25 other pitchers to accomplish the feat, 18 have been enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

4. Pettitte is the all-time winningest pitcher in postseason history, going 19-11 with a 3.81 ERA in 44 career starts. He also ranks first all-time in postseason starts and innings pitched (276.2) and is second with 183 strikeouts.

His 19 postseason wins are more than that of eight other franchises (Royals-18; Diamondbacks-17, Mariners-15, Brewers-14, Padres-12, Rays-11, Rockies-9 and Expos/Nationals-7).

5. Pettitte has earned the win in a game in which Rivera also earned a save 72 times in his career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the highest win-save combination for any pair of pitchers since saves became an official statistic in 1969.

Valdespin's HR shocks Papelbon, Phillies

May, 7, 2012
Jordany Valdespin's first career hit couldn't have come at a better time. With the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies tied at two in the top of the ninth inning, Valdespin golfed a splitter from Jonathan Papelbon over the fence, snapping a streak of six straight hitless at-bats to begin his MLB career.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Valdespin is the first player whose first career hit was a go-ahead HR in the ninth inning or later since Miguel Cabrera on June 20, 2003. He's the first player to record his first career hit via a pinch-hit go-ahead HR in the ninth inning or later since Steve Sisco for the Atlanta Braves on May 13, 2000 (also against the Phillies). While Cabrera has gone on to hit more than 280 HR in the majors, Sisco's HR was the only one of his short MLB career.

Papelbon earned his first loss as a member of the Phillies and allowed at least three runs in a game for the first time since June 4 of last year. Papelbon had good reason to think that Valdespin wouldn't be able to do much with the splitter that ended up in the bleachers. Entering Monday, opponents were just 2-13 (.154) against Papelbon's split-finger fastball this season.

Roy Halladay's streak of eight straight wins against the Mets came to an end after he allowed two runs on five hits over seven innings. After winning his first three starts of 2012, the Phillies have now lost four straight starts by Halladay for the first time since he came to Philadelphia in 2010. Halladay has a 5.13 ERA in those games after having a 1.17 ERA in his first three starts of the season.

Elsewhere in the majors on Monday:

Philip Humber struggled for a third straight start, allowing eight runs and failing to reach the fourth inning as the Chicago White Sox fell to the Cleveland Indians 8-6. Since throwing the 21st perfect game in MLB history on April 21, Humber is now 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in his last three starts. According to Elias, Humber's 20 runs allowed in that span are the most by any pitcher in his first three starts after a perfect game since 1900.

Brandon Snyder, who entered Monday with five total RBI in 27 career games, drove in a game-high six runs in the Texas Rangers 14-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Snyder became the first player to drive in at least six runs from the eighth spot in the order since Jorge Posada on August 13 last season.

• The Boston Red Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 11-5, improving to 12-16 on the season. Despite their subpar record, Monday was the MLB-leading eighth time the Red Sox scored 10 or more runs in a game this season. tells us Boston is the fourth team to score 10 or more runs eight times in its first 28 games of a season in the live-ball era (since 1920), joining the 1997 Rockies, 1950 Yankees and 1928 Athletics.

Starting pitchers spark Nationals hot start

April, 19, 2012

US Presswire
Edwin Jackson (left and starting tonight) and Gio Gonzalez (right) are part of a pitching staff that leads all starting units in ERA.
The 10-3 Washington Nationals are in first place in the NL East, the latest into a season that this franchise has been in first place since July 2005, the first season in Washington. That team would up finishing last in the NL East.

And they are 10-3 despite hitting just .249 and averaging 3.8 runs per game. In addition, the Nationals are 3-1 when trailing to start the eighth inning this season. Last year, they were 7-64 under those circumstances.

So what has been one of the main reasons the Nationals are an early-season surprise? The starting pitching staff sports a 1.65 ERA, the lowest by any starting unit in the majors.

In addition, here are some other reasons the Nationals are off to a hot start.

• Opponents are hitting .181 at Nationals Park

• Opponents are hitting .168 with RISP

• Opposing cleanup hitters are hitting .151 with a .367 OPS.

• In 13 games, the Nationals have allowed two HR. By contrast, the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays have allowed 18.

Derek Jeter’s Resurgence
Derek Jeter hit his fourth home run of the season on Wednesday. He hit just six home runs in 2011, and didn’t hit his fourth until July 25 (his 79th game of the season).

It’s been a far different April for Jeter this season, who had a .272 slugging percentage in April 2011. So what changed?

Jeter is also hitting to the opposite field with authority. Already this season, Jeter has 11 hits to the opposite field, the most in the majors (David Ortiz is second with nine).

One more look back at Pudge’s career
On April 23, Ivan Rodriguez will announce his retirement at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He’s the all-time leader at catcher in hits, runs and games played. Let’s take a look at some other Pudge facts.

• Pudge caught Nolan Ryan (born in 1947) and Stephen Strasburg (born in 1988)

• Pudge has more hits (2,844) than the two active hits leaders at catcher COMBINED. A.J. Pierzynski and Ramon Hernandez have 2,829 between the two of them

• All active catchers have combined for nine Gold Gloves. Rodriguez won 13

• Among catchers to debut in 1991, the last other than Rodriguez to appear in a game was Tony Eusebio in 2001

• Pitchers who threw to both Rodriguez and Johnny Bench: Charlie Leibrandt, Jeff Russell, Jay Howell

• His first manager was Bobby Valentine, who was the same age then (40) that Pudge is now

• Ironically, he was closer in age to his first manager (21 years younger than Bobby Valentine) than his last manager (28 years younger than Davey Johnson)

• 2011 will go down as the final season for Pudge, Jason Varitek and Jorge Posada. Those three combined to catch 5,489 games

Matchup of the Day - Joey Votto vs Adam Wainwright
The best hitter in the NL Central will face arguably the division's best pitcher.

Votto is just 1-for-12 with four strikeouts in his career against Wainwright. That includes 0-for-6 with three strikeouts on at-bats ending in Wainwright's curve.
The New York Mets appeared headed for just their third three-game road sweep in Atlanta since 1990 when they entered the bottom of the ninth inning leading 8-6.

However the Atlanta Braves stormed back with two runs in the ninth before scoring the game-winning run in the 10th inning in a rather unconventional way -- on a game-ending balk by D.J. Carrasco.

It was Carrasco's fourth career balk, but first coming since 2005 when he had three. For the Mets it marked just their second loss by a game-ending balk in franchise history. The other came back in 1989 against the Dodgers.

While Carrasco goes home the goat, the biggest blow of the game came in the bottom of the ninth inning when Brooks Conrad hit a pinch-hit two-run home run to tie the game. It was Conrad's fifth game-tying or go-ahead pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning or later since 2009. That leads all players in the majors during that span.

Conrad became the first Braves pinch-hitter since Greg Norton on September 14, 2008 to hit a game-tying or go-ahead home run in the ninth inning or later against the Mets. He was the fourth Braves player to do so since 2000.

Chipper Jones also homered Thursday night, the 47th of his career against the Mets. Elias tells us the only active players with more than 47 career homers against any National League team are Albert Pujols (51 against the Chicago Cubs) and Lance Berkman (50 against the Cincinnati Reds).

Despite the loss, Jose Reyes continued his strong play picking up three hits while surpassing the 100-hit mark for the season. He did so in the Mets 69th game played setting the franchise record for fewest team games needed to reach 100 hits. He broke the record of 72 games previously held by Lance Johnson.

Reyes also picked up his 12th triple of the season in just 66 games played. That matched his total from the last two seasons combined (169 games).

Elsewhere around MLB:

Cliff Lee
• Cliff Lee threw a two-hit shutout Thursday as the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Florida Marlins, the sixth shutout thrown by a pitcher in the past three days. Lee also got it done with the bat pounding out two hits. According to Elias he was the first Phillies pitcher to allow two or fewer hits in a shutout performance while stroking a pair of hits with the bat since Steve Carlton did it against the Cubs in October of 1980.

• The Pittsburgh Pirates improved their season record to 35-33 with a win against the Houston Astros. Elias passes along this gem. Since beginning of its streak of consecutive losing seasons in 1993, Pittsburgh has been two games over .500 this far into a season in only two other years: 1997 (latest: 67-65) and 1999 (latest: 40-38).
Derek Jeter
On May 30, 1995, Derek Jeter got his first major-league hit, a fifth-inning single against Mariners starter Tim Belcher. Many more hits would follow and now Jeter is on the verge of 3,000 hits.

Jeter made his debut on May 29 and here’s what his then-manager told the New York media upon his arrival.

"I'm anxious to see the way he handles himself in the clubhouse up here," said Buck Showalter. "That was one of the things that impressed me about Derek when I got to follow him the end of last year. He is very mature for his age. I don't want to get into what Derek has to do to stay up. We want him to relax and do what he's capable of doing. We hope Derek makes us a better club."

What was the baseball world like the day Jeter got his first MLB hit?

• The Yankees were in the midst of a horrible slump. From May 13 to June 10, they lost 19 of 24 games to fall from first place to fifth place in the AL East. One of those losses was on May 30, a game the Yankees led 3-2 heading into the eighth inning, but a trio of pitchers allowed four runs in the bottom of the inning and they lost 7-3 to the Mariners.

• Alex Rodriguez had zero career homers (he hit his first on June 12).

• Mariano Rivera had zero career saves. He did have one career win (on May 28 vs the Athletics).

• Jorge Posada was in his second season at Triple-A Columbus. He would make his major-league debut on September 4, 1995, when he entered as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning (his first major-league at-bat would come in April 1996).

• The Red Sox were in first place in the AL East. Tim Wakefield won his second game of the season and 16th of his career on May 30 (he finished 16-8 and third in AL Cy Young voting in 1995).

• The Phillies had the best record in baseball (23-8). The Indians had the best record in the AL (20-9). Sound familiar?

• There were 28 teams, but only 13 of the current stadiums were used for baseball. Coors Field was in its first season, Jacobs Field its second, Camden Yards its fourth.

• Barry Bonds hit home run number 267 that day at Montréal.

• Cal Ripken played game number 2,039 of his consecutive games played streak and was 3-for-4 with a double (coincidentally, May 30, 1982 was the first game of the streak).

How about some of our current ESPN analysts?

• Barry Larkin won the MVP in '95. The Reds won at Pittsburgh on May 30, but Barry went 0-for-5 (one of just three 0-for-5 days he had that year).

• John Kruk was playing in his final season, with the White Sox. He went 0-for-2 with two walks on May 30, dropping his average to a season-low .231.

• Aaron Boone was playing for the Winston-Salem Warthogs, a High-A Reds affiliate in the Carolina League.

• Chris Singleton was in his second season with the San Jose Giants, a High-A team in the California League.

• Nomar Garciaparra was a member of the double-A Trenton Thunder, which was then the Red Sox affiliate.

Katie Sharp, Doug Kern and Mark Simon contributed to this post
Some notes to know on the Sunday Night Baseball (ESPN, 8 ET) game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

The Red Sox lead the season series, 4-1, but if recent history is any indication, neither team will have an advantage at season’s end.

In EACH season from 2008-10, the teams tied the season series at nine wins apiece.

The Red Sox are 17-10 in their last 27 games after starting the season 2-10. One of Boston’s keys has been its starting pitching. The starters have compiled a 14-6 record since the team’s 2-10 start.

Sunday’s Red Sox starter is Jon Lester, who will be going for a little history on Sunday Night Baseball. Lester held the Yankees scoreless in his last two starts against them, going at least six innings in each. Only two pitchers since 1920 have had longer such streaks – Britt Burns (four straight, 1981-1982) and Schoolboy Rowe (three straight, all shutouts, 1934-1935).

Jon Lester Matchups to Watch
Derek Jeter has 36 at-bats against Lester without an extra-base hit against him. There are only two pitchers against whom he’s had more at-bats without an extra-base hit - Darren Oliver (41) and Chuck Finley (37). Jeter does have 12 hits against Lester - all singles.

Mark Teixeira is 0-for-his-last 10 vs Lester. Nick Swisher is 0-for-his-last 7 against Lester. Jorge Posada is 1-for-his-last 10 against him.

Alex Rodriguez was 1-for-13 against Lester to start his career. He’s 5-for-13 with 3 HR against him since then.

The Yankees enter Sunday having won just three of their last 10 games but one area of the team that can’t be blamed is its power.

The Yankees have hit 58 HR through 37 games (three short of the franchise record for home runs through 37 games: 61 in 2003).

Good thing for those home runs, because the Yankees have not been good with runners in scoring position. For the season, the Yanks are hitting .236 with RISP and lately it’s been worse. Over the last four games, they are 5-39 (.128) with RISP – including 1-17 (.059) in the first two games of the Red Sox series.

Before his eighth-inning single Saturday night, Teixeira was hitless in his last 30 at-bats (with 15 strikeouts) against the Red Sox – dating back to last season.

The Yankees starter Sunday is Freddy Garcia.

Freddy Garcia Matchups to Watch
Carl Crawford was 5-for-10 to start his career against Garcia. He’s 1-for-8 against him since then.

Freddy Garcia vs Red Sox
Garcia is 8-2 career against the Red Sox. There are 23 active pitchers with at least 10 decisions against the Red Sox. Garcia’s .800 win percentage ranks best among them.

-- Mark Simon and David Bearman contributed to this report
Today’s Trivia: Monday is the 50th anniversary of the first game in Los Angeles Angels history. Can you name the two players with the most games played for the Angels who never made an appearance for another franchise?

After beating the New York Yankees Sunday on ESPN, the Boston Red Sox will try and win two in a row for the first time this season when they host the Tampa Bay Rays at 7 ET on ESPN.

Jeremy Hellickson
Jeremy Hellickson will face Daisuke Matsuzaka in tonight's game. Hitters leading off an inning are just 6-for-41 (.146) with a walk against Hellickson, including 0-for-6 in his first start of the season. Compare that to Matsuzaka, who allows leadoff hitters to reach base 36 percent of the time.

Offensively, the Rays are struggling and have received very little production from the position once manned by Carlos Pena. Since the start of last season, Rays first basemen are hitting just .186. They hit .194 in 2009, but at least they drew 109 walks. This year, in nine games, their first basemen have drawn none.

With three straight three-hit games, Dustin Pedroia is one player who's swinging a hot bat for Boston. Only four Red Sox in the last 50 years have had at least three hits in four straight games: 2005 Edgar Renteria; 1992 Jody Reed; 1984 Wade Boggs; and 1974 Carlton Fisk.

Elsewhere around MLB:
• The Florida Marlins' Chris Coghlan didn’t record his first extra-base hit until his 104th at-bat of 2010. Despite hitting just .200 this season, he’s tied for the National League lead with five doubles.

• Prince Fielder is 10-for-16 (.625) in two-strike counts, and 4-for-19 (.211) in all other situations. Last season, Fielder hit .182 in two-strike counts.

• A big reason behind Jorge Posada’s .138 batting average? He has a .059 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Last season the league average was .300.

• Jonny Gomes leads the majors with 12 walks, almost one-third his season total from 2010 (39). He picked up his 12th walk last season on May 28.

• Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera already has four game-winning RBI, two fewer than in 2010.

• The Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki is 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and 6-for-18 in all other situations.

• Opponents are a combined 0-22 against Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum with runners in scoring position.

Trivia Answer: Tim Salmon (1,672) and Gary DiSarcina (1,086) have played the most games for the Angels without appearing for another franchise.

-- Mark Simon contributed to this report
Miguel Cabrera
• Miguel Cabrera homered twice as the Detroit Tigers outmuscled the New York Yankees to salvage the final game of their opening three-game series in the Bronx.

It was Cabrera's 19th career multi-homer game, and second at the new Yankee Stadium. Both of his home runs came against cut fastballs from Phil Hughes.

In the loss, the Yankees Jorge Posada also went deep twice, the 17th time in his career he has done so.

However this was the first time he has done so as a designated hitter. Each of the previous 16 came while he was playing catcher.

• For the third straight game to open the season Mark Teixeira hit a home run.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other Yankees player to hit a home run in each of the first three games of the season was Dave Winfield in 1983.

Ian Kinsler
Nelson Cruz
• Texeira isn't the only player to have homered in each of the first three games of this season.

His former teammates with the Rangers, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz, both homered for the third straight game to kick off the 2011 campaign.

Kinsler and Cruz are the first set of teammates in Major League Baseball history to do so in each of their team's first three games.

Who’s hot and who’s not to start the 2011 season:

• The Texas Rangers hit 11 home runs and scored 26 runs in a season-opening sweep of the Boston Red Sox.

Boston is 0-3 for the first time since they starting the 1996 season 0-5. The only positive sign was Carl Crawford, who after opening the season 0-for-7, had two hits and an RBI today.

• Crawford’s former team the Tampa Bay Rays have struggled to find offense, getting swept by the Baltimore Orioles.

The Rays scored just one run in each of their first three games to start the season.

According to Elias, they are the first team since the 2007 St. Louis Cardinals to score one run or fewer in each of their first three games.

Meanwhile the Orioles are 3-0 for the first time since 1997. That season they won 98 games, the last time they finished over .500.

• The Philadelphia Phillies are 3-0 for the first time since 2001 after finishing off a sweep of the Houston Astros.

Philadelphia hasn’t started 4-0 since 1915, when they started 8-0.

The Phillies starters have been as good as advertised. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Roy Oswalt have combined to go 2-0, with a 2.84 ERA in 19 innings.

Each pitcher didn't allow more than 5 hits, and they have 23 combined strikeouts compared to just one walk.

• After a rocky start to 2011, the New York Mets rebounded nicely to take two of three from the Florida Marlins on the road.

Last year, the Mets didn't win a road series against a team from the National League until August 20-22 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Opening Day's First Pitch

March, 31, 2011
Today’s Trivia: Former top picks Luke Hochevar and David Price will start on Opening Day for the first time in their respective careers. Who was the last No. 1 overall draft pick to start on Opening Day?

Quick Hits: A quick look at some Opening Day longevity.

* Jorge Posada will start his 12th straight opener in pinstripes. That’s the most by a New York Yankee since Willie Randolph suited up for 14 in a row.

* Derek Jeter will make his 10th straight Opening Day start at shortstop for the Yankees, passing Phil Rizzuto's nine-game streak from 1947 to 1955.

Chipper Jones
* Chipper Jones is making his 15th straight Opening Day start for the Atlanta Braves, the longest current stretch with one team. That’s the longest streak by a Brave since Eddie Mathews also started 15 in a row. Hank Aaron started 20 of 21 openers while with the Braves, but that was divided into streaks of nine and 11.

* Make it 11 straight openers where Albert Pujols will be penciled into the St. Louis Cardinals lineup, the longest streak for the franchise since Lou Brock started 15 in a row.

* Alex Gordon will be the Kansas City Royals 12th consecutive different Opening Day starter in left field. Johnny Damon is the most recent Royal to start back-to-back Opening Days there, in 1999 and 2000.

* The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's Howard Kendrick will start on Opening Day for the fifth straight year. The only Angels second baseman with a longer streak of Opening Day starts is Bobby Knoop, who was in seven straight opening lineups from 1964 to 1969.

* Aaron Harang signed with the San Diego Padres in the offseason, meaning that he will not be the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day starter for the first time since 2005. Edinson Volquez will get the nod, ending Harang's five-season streak, which matches Mario Soto and Pete Donohue for the longest Reds stretch since 1920.

* Ryan Ludwick will be the Padres’ 20th different starter in left in the past 24 years. The last player to start three straight openers in left was Gene Richards (1980-83). Meanwhile, Cameron Maybin will make it nine straight years with a different Opening Day centerfielder.

* For the second straight year, there’s a complete overhaul to the Washington Nationals outfield. The last time the franchise repeated an Opening Day outfield was 1993-94: Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom, Larry Walker.

Trivia Answer: Paul Wilson started the opener for the Reds in 2005, though he lasted only eight more games in the big leagues. Before that, Kris Benson got the Opening Day start for the Pirates in 2003.
Cliff Lee turned in a performance for the ages on Monday, holding the Yankees to just two hits over eight innings while striking out 13 to give the Rangers a 2-1 series lead in the American League Championship Series. While the 8-0 victory was a team affair, the superlatives regarding Lee’s performance are many. Here are our five favorites:

1 -- Lee lowered his postseason ERA to 1.26, the third-lowest mark for anyone with at least five postseason starts, behind only Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson.

2 -- His 13 strikeouts tied his career-high and marked the third-most vs the Yankees in a postseason game.

3 -- He now has six consecutive starts of seven innings and a win, one behind the all-time record (Bob Gibson).

4 -- Lee now has three straight postseason starts with at least 10 strikeouts, tying the all-time record.

5 -- Lee’s five career 10+ strikeout games in the postseason is tied for the all-time record with Randy Johnson and Bob Gibson.

On the other side of the fence, the performance was an all-time low for the Yankees:

The three baserunners for the Yankees is the fewest they've ever had in a postseason game. They had four baserunners in Game 2 of the 2001 World Series and in Game 4 of the 1958 World Series.

The two hits recorded by the Yankees ties the fewest in their postseason history. It happened twice before - the 2001 ALDS Game 3 vs Oakland Athletics and the 1958 World Series, Game 4, vs the Milwaukee Braves.

The 8-0 shutout loss marks the worst shutout loss for the Yankees in their postseason history.

The Rangers have outscored the Yankees 20-8 in this series, including 14-2 before the seventh inning. The Rangers have led 25 innings while the Yankees have led only two.

The Yankees 1-through-6 hitters were 0-20 with 10 strikeouts in Game 3.

How Cliff Lee dominated the Yankees:
Lee relied on his cutter yet again, continuing the trend from Game 5 of the ALDS against the Rays. Lee threw 41 cutters in Game 5 and 37 on Monday against the Yankees, the most he's thrown in any two starts this year.

The Yankees have struggled against Lee's cutter all season. Before Jorge Posada's single broke up Lee's no-hit bid in the fifth, Yankee hitters were 0-for-27 this season against Lee's cutter. They finished with two hits (Posada, Gardner singles), making them 2-for-30 this year, including eight strikeouts.

Relying more on his cutter of late has helped Lee miss more bats. The Yankees swung-and-missed on 17 of their 57 swings (29.8 pct) on Monday, Lee's highest miss percentage in a start this season. He also recorded 17 swings-and-misses in Game 5 against the Rays. Nine of Lee's 13 strikeouts were swinging, tying a career-best.

Lee didn't pound the strike zone as well as usual -- an impossible standard he's set -- instead relying on Yankee hitters to expand their strike zone and chase. He threw just 62 of his 122 pitches in the strike zone (50.8 pct), his second lowest percentage in a start this year and well below his regular season average of 60.6 pct, which led all starters. He recorded eight outs on pitches out of the strike zone, second most in a start this year. All of those eight outs came with two strikes, and seven came via the strikeout.

Lee also mixed in more changeups than usual to keep the Yankees off balance. With hitters likely looking for the lefty to pitch off his fastball, Lee threw 10 of his 15 changeups in early in the count (first three pitches). The 15 changeups were the third most for Lee this season. Yankee hitters put just one of their nine swings against the pitch in play (A-Rod groundout).
Today’s Trivia: If David Price wins, he will join Jon Lester and CC Sabathia with 18 wins. All lefties, all in the AL East. The last time three AL East left-handers won 18 games was 1979. Can you name the three lefties?

Quick Hits: Just 10 days after their epic matchup, Sabathia and Price are at it again. Both pitchers went eight scoreless innings in the first one, so what are some fun things to look for this time around?

Sabathia" Sabathia is 11-1 at home this season. He could become the first New York Yankees pitcher to finish 12-1 at home since Ron Guidry in 1978. The last AL pitcher to go 12-1 at home was Curt Schilling for the 2004 Boston Red Sox.

• Sabathia is 19-1 when receiving at least three runs of support.

• Sabathia tied for the AL lead with 19 wins last season, and is on his way to a solo title in 2010. The last Yankee to lead the league in wins in back-to-back seasons? Sorry, it’s never happened before!

• A win would give Sabathia 40 over the past two years. The last Yankees pitcher with 40 wins over two seasons was Tommy John, who won 43 in 1979 and 1980.

Price" Price has faced 183 left-handed hitters this season without allowing a home run. That’s the most for an AL pitcher since Kevin Brown faced 184 for the 2005 Yankees. Before that, you have to go back to Scott Schoeneweis (217 in 2001).

• Price is 8-2 with a 2.16 ERA against AL East opponents this season. Those numbers are unprecedented in the wild-card era. The last pitcher with eight wins and an ERA below 2.20 against the AL East? Kansas City Royals pitcher Kevin Appier, who was 11-2 with a 1.60 ERA against the AL East in 1992. Oddly, he was just 4-5 with a 3.74 ERA against his own division.

• Only Fausto Carmona (1.52) has a lower ERA than Price (1.55). But more amazing is the fact that Price is holding opposing hitters to a .133 batting average this month. The last AL starter to do that in September was Ken Hill in 1997, when he held opponents to a .126 average.

Today’s Leaderboard: Bad news for leadoff hitters. Hitters in the one-spot are batting .160 against Sabathia and .174 against Price, who rank second and fifth, respectively, in that category.

Key Matchups:
Carlos Pena is 0-for-6 with 5 K’s against Sabathia this season. In fact, he’s fanned 19 times in 35 at-bats against the big lefty, so it’s no surprise that he’s not expected to be in the lineup Thursday. His likely replacement is Dan Johnson, who is 5-for-9 against Sabathia in his career, though the two haven’t faced each other since 2007.

Derek Jeter entered this season with just one hit in 10 career AB against Price, but is 4-for-10 this year. Other Yankees haven’t had the same success in changing their luck. Jorge Posada is now 1-for-15 lifetime, though that one hit did come this year. Curtis Granderson is 1-for-8 with 5 K’s this season, and is now a .154 career hitter against Price.

Trivia Answer: In 1979, Mike Flanagan went 23-9 on his way to the Cy Young. The other two AL East southpaws were both Yankees: Tommy John (21-9) and Ron Guidry (18-8).

1st Pitch: AL Cy Young race

September, 13, 2010
Today’s Trivia:
Felix Hernandez is 11-7 in 27 quality starts this season after going 19-1 in them last season. Who is the only pitcher this season with at least 15 quality starts and a losing record in those games?
Quick Hits:
With David Price and CC Sabathia set to face each other on Monday, what better time to dive into the numbers of American League Cy Young contenders?

• With four starts likely remaining, Felix Hernandez has a fair shot at 250 strikeouts (he needs 36). Yet, he’s still just 11-11. The fewest wins for a pitcher with 250 strikeouts and an ERA below 2.40 is 15 by Sam McDowell in 1968. He went 15-14 for the Indians despite a 1.81 ERA and 283 strikeouts. That was 16 fewer wins than Cy Young winner Denny McLain.

• King Felix is 5-0 against AL East teams with a 0.55 ERA. That includes two wins apiece against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, three coming on the road. However, he plays in the AL West, a division against which he is 1-6 with a 4.42 ERA. Amazingly, if you take away his divisional games, Hernandez is 10-5 with a 1.33 ERA.

• When allowing two or three runs, Hernandez is 2-6. Meanwhile, Sabathia is 8-3, while Price is 8-5.

• The poor defense behind Hernandez has resulted in 17 unearned runs, which is the most in the AL. Price and Sabathia have seen just eight unearned runs scored against them.

• Since June 1, Sabathia is 15-3 with a 2.62 ERA. No other pitcher has even 13 wins in that span.

• With 19 wins, Sabathia could be looking at 22 or 23 wins if all goes to plan. The last AL pitcher with 22 wins to lose out on the Cy Young was Dave Stewart in 1990, but he had to contend with teammate Bob Welch (27 wins). The last player to lead the AL with at least 22 wins and not take home the award? Ron Guidry, a fellow Yankee, went 22-6 in 1985, but Bret Saberhagen (20-6) won.

• Sabathia may be getting better support than Hernandez, but 18 of his 19 wins have come in quality starts. He is 1-4 in non-quality starts.

• But what if Price has something that Sabathia and Hernandez don’t? Namely 20+ wins and an ERA below 3.00. Over the last 30 years, only once has an AL pitcher with both of those lost the Cy Young to an AL starter who did not. In 2003, Esteban Loaiza (21-9, 2.90) lost out to Roy Halladay (22-7, 3.25).

• Meanwhile, opponents are slugging .303 against C.J. Wilson, the lowest for an AL starter since 2002 (Derek Lowe). The .590 OPS against Trevor Cahill is the lowest since Johan Santana (.565) in 2004.

Today’s Leaderboard:
Not only does he lead the league with 27 quality starts, but Hernandez has 20 starts of at least seven innings and allowing two ER or fewer. Jered Weaver (16) is the only AL pitcher with more than 15. Sabathia has 13, while Price has 9. Over the last two seasons, Hernandez has 41 such games, which is 13 more than the next AL pitcher (Sabathia).

Key Matchups:
A pair of the top AL Cy Young contenders square off on Monday, as CC Sabathia tries to wake up the Yankees against David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays. According to Elias, it’s the first time in seven years that two AL pitchers with at least 17 wins and 150 strikeouts have faced each other.

Sabathia is looking to become the first 20-game winner in the majors. The last Yankees pitcher to do that was Ron Guidry in 1978. Sabathia is 8-4 with a 3.08 ERA in his career against the Rays. However, since joining the Yankees, he’s just 1-3 with a 4.23 ERA. Let’s see how he stacks up against some of the Rays’ top bats:

Carl Crawford has a hit in four of his last six at-bats against Sabathia after hitting .238 against him before that.
• Over the last two seasons, Carlos Pena is 0-for-11 against Sabathia with nine strikeouts.
• Of Evan Longoria’s five career hits off Sabathia, two are doubles and two are home runs.

Price is 1-1 with a 7.11 ERA against the Yankees this season. Against everyone else he is 16-5 with a 2.55 ERA. In his first start after the break, he allowed seven earned runs against New York. However, it should also be pointed out that Price has won both career starts at home against the Yankees. Let’s take a look at some key matchups:

Derek Jeter has hits in three of his last four at-bats against Price. He was just 1-for-13 prior to that.
Jorge Posada is just 1-for-13 against Price with six strikeouts.
Mark Teixeira is just 2-for-13, but Price has never struck him out.

Trivia Answer:
Hiroki Kuroda is just 6-8 in his 19 quality starts this season. Overall, the Los Angeles Dodgers are 10-9 in those games.

TMI Power Poll: top 10 switch hitters

April, 27, 2010
This week in the TMI Power Poll we focus on switch hitters. No easy task to be able to rake from both sides at the major-league level.

Despite his slow start to 2010, we have Mark Teixeira firmly in the top spot thanks to his track record. Teixeira received 8 of 9 first-place votes. Here's a look at the rest of the list:
Others receiving votes: Chone Figgins, Brian Roberts, Nick Swisher, Rafael Furcal, Carlos Guillen, Shane Victorino, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jorge Posada, Erick Aybar.

TMI Power Poll: top 10 catchers

April, 12, 2010
Week 2 of the baseball season means poll number 2 for the TMI panel. This week we ranked which bearers of the “tools of ignorance” are hardest to ignore.

Catcher is the most demanding position in baseball. Taking hits from balls, bats, players - these human backstops have to also manage the game, keep their pitcher sane and at the same time be competent with a bat in their hands.

Who does it best? If you’ve watched any baseball the last few years you know it’s not really close. Joe Mauer hit .365 last season and through Sunday was hitting .381 this season. Oh, and he’s the 2-time reigning AL Gold Glover. He received all 8 first-place votes from our panel.

Here’s the rest of our top 10:

Others receiving votes: Miguel Olivo, Gerald Laird, Miguel Montero, Mike Napoli, Ryan Hanigan, Chris Iannetta, Ivan Rodriguez