Stats & Info: Lefty Grove

Troy Tulowitzki chasing Babe Ruth

September, 26, 2010
Saturday night in Colorado, Troy Tulowitzki continued his September to remember with a home run and five RBI. And, oh yeah, his fifth RBI also just happened to come on a walk-off double in the 10th inning. It's Tulo's fifth career walk-off hit

The Colorado Rockies' shortstop now has 15 home runs and 40 RBI this month as he continues one of the finest Septembers in baseball history. He is two home runs shy of matching the MLB record for September home runs, which is currently shared by Albert Belle (1995) and Babe Ruth (1927).

His 40 RBI are the second most any player has had in September since RBI became an official stat in 1920. Ruth's 43 September RBI in 1927 are the most, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Tulowitzki is the first player with 40 RBI in any month since Ryan Howard's 41 RBI in August 2006. He is just the fifth player in the last 50 years to drive in at least 40 runs in a calendar month. Ryan Klesko did this in 2001, Sammy Sosa in 1998, and Frank Howard in 1962.

In other action:

• With their victory over the Oakland Athletics, the Texas Rangers clinched their first postseason berth since 1999. The Rangers have lost in the ALDS in each of their previous three postseason appearances and are the only active MLB franchise that has never won a postseason series.

• The New York Mets topped the Philadelphia Phillies, snapping the Phillies' 11-game win streak. Kyle Kendrick took the loss for the Phillies, meaning that a pair of Kendrick losses to the Mets sandwiched both ends of the Phillies' win streak. In fact, Kendrick has taken three of the Phillies' last four losses.

Jon Lester tossed seven scoreless innings as the Boston Red Sox knocked off the New York Yankees. Lester has won six straight starts, making him the first Red Sox lefty to win six straight starts since Bob Ojeda in 1983. Furthermore, Lester's 19 wins this season are the most by a Red Sox southpaw since Mel Parnell's 21 in 1953.

Chris Denorfia's second career walk-off hit gave the San Diego Padres a win over the Cincinnati Reds. Denorfia's other walk-off hit came back in 2006.

• The Detroit Tigers defeated the Minnesota Twins, 11-10, on Brandon Inge's walk-off single in the 13th inning. It was Inge's seventh career walk-off hit. Three of those have come in extra-innings.

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.
A couple AL West starters totally befuddled their AL East opponents Friday night.You wouldn't have turned too many heads if you had predicted that Felix Hernandez was going to pitch a gem earlier today; He's been one of the most dominating pitchers around since the All Star break. Yet, his 1.93 post-break ERA over seven starts has only delivered a 1-5 record. The Seattle Mariners offense had scored two-or-fewer runs in each of those games (1.1 runs of support per game), which the Elias Sports Bureau tells us was the lowest run support for any pitcher in the bigs with at least five starts since the All-Star Game.Putz

So Hernandez just went out and shut out baseball's winningest team, the New York Yankees, 6-0. He is the just third pitcher in the live-ball era (since 1920) with THREE games of 8 innings, 9 strikeouts and 1 ER or fewer vs the Yankees in a single season. The others are Lefty Grove in 1926 and Bob Feller in 1941.

He fell just one inning short of becoming the first pitcher to have four straight complete game wins over the Yankees since Mike Cuellar in 1974 and 1975.

PutzBut was King Felix's performance even the best start by an AL West pitcher tonight? C.J. Wilson was pulled from the game just one out away from his first career shutout while striking out 12 Baltimore Orioles in the process. The last Texas Rangers pitcher to strike out that many while throwing at least eight scoreless innings was Nolan Ryan almost two decades ago.

Buck Showalter had his issues with home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson and was ejected along with Nick Markakis in the game, as the strike zone was a hot topic throughout the game for both teams. For Markakis, the ejection was the first of his career and it came after arguing a called strikeout. All four pitches in that at bat were OUT of the strike zone according to PitchFX cameras, and all were nearly in the same spot. Only the first one got called a ball.

Nevertheless, Wilson was dealing. He challenged hitters all night, throwing 57% of his pitches in the strike zone which was his second-best mark of the year.

And he did so with impeccable control. Despite that huge number, only two pitches were right down the heart of the plate, and only 10 were over the middle third horizontally. The Orioles didn't get hits on any of those. Wilson went to only one 2-0 count and just three 3-ball counts the entire night.

PutzThose performances are even more jarring when compared to another young AL ace: Jon Lester. He was pulled after the shortest start of his career (2 IP) after giving up a career-high 9 runs to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Lester had allowed two HR in 150 AB vs lefties this season. He allowed two HR to Lyle Overbay alone on Friday.

His last four starts at Fenway Park have resulted in losses and he's given up five long balls in the process - that's as many as he allowed in his first NINE home starts combined this season.