Stats & Info: Mariano Rivera

Rivera closes book on legendary career

September, 27, 2013
AP Photo/Kathy WillensMariano Rivera made his final appearance at Yankee Stadium Thursday night.
Mariano Rivera made his final appearance at Yankee Stadium as the future Hall of Famer nears the end of a legendary career with the New York Yankees.

Rivera has 652 saves, the most in major league history. He has 428 more saves than any other player in Yankees history (Dave Righetti), and 136 more than the next three players combined (Dave Righetti, Goose Gossage and Sparky Lyle).

Rivera’s 42 postseason saves are also the most in MLB history. No other player has more than 18 (Brad Lidge). Rivera also holds the records for most 30-save seasons (15) and most consecutive 20-save seasons (15).

Rivera is a 13-time All-Star, five-time Rolaids Relief Award winner, LCS MVP award-winner and World Series champion. Rivera ranks first all-time in Adjusted ERA with an ERA+ of 205 (minimum 1000 IP). ERA+ is ERA adjusted for the league and park, and allows you to compare players from different eras on the same baseline (100 is average, above 100 is above average).

There are only five pitchers in the Hall of Fame who started fewer than 100 games and had at least 50 saves: Bruce Sutter, Rich Gossage, Rollie Fingers and Hoyt Wilhem. Of those, only one started fewer than 20 games, like Rivera: Sutter (300 saves, 0 starts).

Did you know?
• Rivera made his major league debut on May 23, 1995. He lost to the Los Angeles Angels, 10-0, as Chuck Finley pitched a two-hitter with 15 strikeouts. Said Yankees manager Buck Showalter afterward: "One of the things Mariano can learn from tonight is that there's not much margin for error up here. ... Every pitcher goes through growing pains.”

• With Rivera’s retirement, no player will wear the No. 42 on a regular basis again. Major League Baseball retired No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson in 1997, but Rivera was allowed to keep the number under a grandfather clause.

Top stats to know: Rays at Yankees

September, 25, 2013
The final night of "Wednesday Night Baseball" this season features the Tampa Bay Rays against the New York Yankees in a key game in the AL wild-card race (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). Here are five stats our broadcast crew will be talking about today.

1. The Yankees are one loss or one Indians win away from being mathematically eliminated from the postseason as they trail Cleveland by five games with five left to play. If so, it would be just the second time they missed the playoffs in the wild-card era (also 2008).

2. The Rays along with the other top two wild-card contenders, Cleveland and Texas, each won last night to keep pace in the race. They’ve now won five straight and 10 of their last 13 after a 4-13 stretch. Their magic number to clinch a wild-card spot is four, meaning any combination of four Rays wins plus Rangers losses and they’ll be in the postseason for the fourth time in the last six seasons.

3. Mariano Rivera is expected to retire after this season, so he only has two home games remaining. If this really is Rivera’s swan song, he’s already tied the major league record for most saves by a pitcher in his final season in the majors. Jeff Shaw (2001 Dodgers) and Robb Nen (2002 Giants) each registered 43 saves in his last major league season; no other pitcher saved as many as 40, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

4. Rivera’s 64 saves against the Rays are his second-most against any team (he has 79 against the Orioles) and the most by anyone against the Rays. Rivera had a streak of 33 straight save chances converted against the Rays from 1998 to 2005 and then a 27-save streak from 2005-11. He’s only had two blown saves against them: one in 2005 and one on Opening Day 2012.

5. We could very well be seeing Phil Hughes’s last start in Yankee pinstripes. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the season and has had a below-par season pitching at Yankee Stadium. He’s gone 1-9 with a 6.13 ERA, leaving him one loss shy of matching the Yankees' single-season record for home losses (10 by Andy Hawkins in 1989 and Lefty Gomez in 1935).

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.

Top stats to know: Yankees vs Red Sox

September, 15, 2013
The Boston Red Sox go for a three-game sweep of the arch-rival New York Yankees tonight on “Sunday Night Baseball” (8 ET on ESPN and WatchESPN) and move closer toward clinching the AL East title. Boston’s magic number for doing so is six.

Here are five storylines the broadcast crew will be talking about tonight.

1. It’s been a long time since the Red Sox have enjoyed this kind of success against their long-time nemesis. Boston is seeking its 13th win against the Yankees this season in the final game of the season series. The Red Sox haven’t won 13 games against New York in a single season since winning 14 in 1973.

2. The return of Clay Buchholz, who makes his second start tonight since returning from a nearly three-month long stint on the DL, is a big deal for the Red Sox rotation.

When Buchholz went on the disabled list in June, he was 9-0 with a major-league leading 1.71 ERA.

Many credit Buchholz’s return to his All-Star form to the return of his former pitching coach John Farrell, who is now Boston’s manager. His difference in performance is noted in the chart on the right.

Batters have a had a hard time figuring out Buchholz this season as 44 of his 87 strikeouts (51 percent) have been looking this season. That’s the highest percentage of strikeouts looking of any pitcher with at least 10 starts this season.

Even worse news for the Yankees is that Buchholz has won both of his starts against New York this season, holding the Yanks to one run in 12 innings. Before this season, he hadn’t fared well against New York, posting a 2-5 record with a 7.19 ERA in 9 starts.

3. Ivan Nova, who will oppose Buchholz, has relied on his curveball this season. He’s thrown by far the highest percentage of curveballs among AL pitchers with at least 15 starts this season at 35 percent overall.

Nova’s curve is generating an eye-popping 48 percent miss per swing rate and opponents are batting only .148 in at-bats ending with his curveball this season. He’s generated 125 outs with the pitch versus 33 total bases allowed. The only pitcher with a higher miss-rate with his curveball is Yu Darvish, 52 percent.

4. The Red Sox are very pleased with the job Koji Uehara has done as their closer.

His 0.56 WHIP would stand up as the lowest single-season total (minimum 60 IP) in major league history if he can maintain similar numbers through the end of the season.

Since became the closer on June 26, Uehara has posted an 0.24 ERA with 18 saves in 35 appearances.

5. This will be Mariano Rivera’s last regular-season game against the Red Sox. His career save percentage against Boston is 78 percent (0including the postseason), his lowest against any AL opponent.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Rivera already tied the major-league record for most saves by a pitcher in his final season in the majors. Jeff Shaw (2001 Dodgers) and Robb Nen (2002 Giants) each registered 43 saves in his last major-league season; no other pitcher saved as many as 40.

Robertson proving a worthy successor

August, 22, 2013
It will soon be David Robertson's job to close games for the New York Yankees and based on what he’s shown, the future of the position looks to be in pretty good shape.

Robertson earned his second save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning to complete a four-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, as the Yankees crept a half-game closer to the AL East and Wild Card leaders.

It continued what has been an amazing run of success for him this season.

Let’s take a closer look at his impressive season.

Mariano-like numbers
Robertson has converted 29 straight holds and a pair of save chances without blowing one since his lone blown opportunity this season on April 20 against the Blue Jays.

Robertson has been almost unhittable in his last 27 appearances. In a stretch that dates back to June 19, he’s allowed one run and one inherited runner to score in 26 innings. He’s averaging just over 10 strikeouts per nine innings and has an 0.92 WHIP.

Like a Magician
Robertson has earned the nickname Houdini for his ability to escape difficult situations.

In that 27-game stretch to which we’re referring, opponents are 2-for-29 against him with runners on base and 1-for-12 with men in scoring position.
That includes three outs with the bases loaded, including a pair of strikeouts in his other save against the Angels on August 12.

Robertson has retired 23 straight hitters with the bases loaded. The last pitcher with a longer streak was Jeff Brantley, with 30 straight from 1989 to 1991.

On Thursday, Robertson didn’t put any men on base, but he did escape three consecutive 3-2 counts unscathed.

The back-against-the-wall approach is what Robertson does best. He’s retired seven of the last nine hitters against whom he’s had a 3-2 count.

Robertson has allowed one hit and seven walks to the 26 hitters he’s faced with a 3-2 count this season. The average major-league pitcher would allow a combo of 12 hits and walks to that number of hitters.

What a combination
Robertson wrapped up Thursday’s game with 18 pitches, of which 16 were fastballs, the other two curveballs.

Robertson will primarily throw fastballs (and cutters, per prior to reaching a two-strike count, but it’s a near 50-50 split between that and the curveball when he’s a strike away from finishing the hitter. Robertson has the same number of strikeouts (32) with his fastball/cutter and his curveball this season.

The curveball in particular has become an almost impossible pitch for opposing hitters. They’ve only put 19 percent of their swings in play against that pitch, the best rate this season for any reliever who has thrown at least 100 curveballs.

Looking Ahead
The Yankees have now won 12 of 13 against the Blue Jays this season, but they’re a sub-.500 team against all other opponents. They’ll head on the road next for a series with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Robertson had a lot of trouble with the Rays last season, losing to them three times, but he’s since recovered. In six appearances in 2013, he’s allowed no runs and three hits in six innings, with 10 strikeouts.

5 stats to know: Yankees at Red Sox

August, 18, 2013

Getty Images
CC Sabathia’s Yankees are one of two teams that Ryan Dempster has never beaten.

With a win, the Boston Red Sox can clinch their fourth straight series against their archrivals as they host the New York Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball (8 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN).

Here are five stats to know going into tonight’s action at Fenway Park.

1. The Yankees are having their worst offensive season since 1990, but the recent addition of Alfonso Soriano and the return of Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson have helped. New York has averaged 5.2 runs per game with all three on the roster, nearly a run and a half better than they averaged in the first 110 games of the season.

2. CC Sabathia is having the worst season of his 13-year MLB career. He is posting career highs in ERA, home runs and hits per nine innings. His fastball is down 1.4 mph from last season and more than 3 mph from his first year with the Yankees in 2009.

3. Ryan Dempster is 0-5 with a 6.98 ERA in seven career starts against the Yankees. That’s his second-highest ERA against any opponent (he has a 7.62 ERA against the Los Angeles Angels), and the Yankees and Detroit Tigers are the only teams he hasn’t won a game against.

What should he focus on against the Yanks?

When Dempster needs an out, he goes to his Vulcan changeup, which acts like a splitter. This season, opponents are hitting .137 and striking out 35 percent of the time against the pitch.

4. The Red Sox have seen more pitches than any other team this season, nearly 1,000 more than the second-most. Six of the Red Sox starters are in the top 50 in the American League in pitches per plate appearance, and Boston has forced more starting pitchers out before the sixth inning than any team in the majors.

Based on their most common starting lineup, the Red Sox see nearly two more pitches each time through the order than the average American League team – 36.5 to 34.7.

5. Soriano has filled a major void in the Yankees’ lineup. Before his arrival, Yankees’ right-handed hitters hadn’t hit a home run in 26 games. In the 20 games since then, they’ve hit 14, with Soriano accounting for eight.

Odds and Ends

• Ichiro Suzuki is closing in on 4,000 professional hits. He is third among active MLB players with 2,717 hits and had 1,278 hits during his career in Japan.

• Mariano Rivera has blown three straight save opportunities for the first time in his career. According to Elias, since Rivera became the Yankees’ closer in 1997, 33 different pitchers have had at least one streak of three or more blown saves in the ninth inning or later in the same season.

• David Ortiz has 24 home runs this season. It’s his 11th 20-homer season since joining the Red Sox, tied for second most in franchise history behind Ted Williams. His next home run will give him nine 25-homer seasons.

Kernels of wisdom: MLB week in review

August, 12, 2013
The Blue Jays' Brett Lawrie went single-double-triple in Monday's 3-1 win over Seattle, becoming the first Toronto hitter this season to even have a triple and a double in one game. Had he also homered, Lawrie would have recorded the Jays' first cycle since Jeff Frye on August 17, 2001.

In Tuesday's game, the Astros didn't need to steal any bases (although they did have two). The Red Sox-- specifically catcher Ryan Lavarnway-- were giving away bases.

Handling knuckleballer Steven Wright's first career start, Lavarnway was charged with four passed balls in the first inning alone, tying the major league record for one inning. It's happened twice before in the modern era, and also with knuckleballers: On August 22, 1987, the Rangers' Geno Petralli committed four while catching Charlie Hough; and on September 10, 1954, the Giants' Ray Katt did it while trying to catch Hoyt Wilhelm.

AP Photo/ElsaMatt Harvey threw his 1st career shutout on Wednesday against the Rockies.

Matt Harvey, on the other hand, threw his first career shutout (and first complete game) on Wednesday, holding the Rockies to four singles as the Mets won 5-0. He also went through a start without walking a single batter, the eighth time this season he’s done that. Only Bartolo Colon and Hisashi Iwakuma (with 10 each) have more walk-less starts this season, of any length.

Harvey also threw nine scoreless innings with zero walks against the White Sox on May 7, but got neither a decision nor a complete game because the Mets didn't score either and the game went to extras. Clayton Kershaw and Chris Archer are the only other pitchers with multiple such games this season.

He's the first Mets pitcher to have multiple starts of 8+ scoreless, walk-less innings since Jason Isringhausen in 1995; and the first with a pair of NINE-inning games since Craig Swan in 1979.

Thursday's limited slate brought us a matchup between Detroit and Cleveland at Progressive Field. Although the outcome wasn't in much doubt when the Tigers took an 8-0 lead after 3 innings, the notable part of the boxscore was that both cleanup hitters (Prince Fielder and Asdrubal Cabrera) had two doubles and two runs driven in.

Strangely, it's only the second game in the past 20 years where BOTH cleanup hitters have had at least two doubles and two RBI. The other occurred when Fielder "teamed up" with the Rangers' Adrian Beltre to do it on May 19.

On Friday the Tigers had their 12-game winning streak (which matched their longest since 1934) on the line against the Yankees and Mariano Rivera. The Tigers, however, countered with Miguel Cabrera, who launched his 34th home run of the year - but first in the ninth inning or later - to tie the game.

It was only the second homer Rivera allowed to the Tigers in a save situation. Bobby Higginson hit the other way back on July 6, 1999.

In Sunday's finale between the Tigers and Yankees, the visitors from Motown trailed by two runs after eight innings. Enter Rivera. Enter Cabrera.

Same result as Friday as Cabrera hit his 36th home run of the season. By doing so, he became the first player ever to homer off Rivera in consecutive at-bats, and one of just five players to have multiple homers against Rivera.

Later that inning, Victor Martinez hit a solo homer to tie the game, handing Rivera his third consecutive blown save. Something he had never done in his career to that point.

Rivera was still officially the pitcher of record when Brett Gardner hit his first career walk-off home run in the bottom of the inning. This was the 18th time Rivera has won a game after blowing a save, and the first since August 13, 2007.

Tigers finally get to Rivera but can't get win

August, 10, 2013
The Detroit Tigers didn’t go down without a fight, but their 12-game winning streak eventually ended on Friday night with a loss to the New York Yankees.

The Tigers' bid for their longest winning streak since a 14-gamer in 1934 concluded on Brett Gardner’s walk-off hit in the 10th inning.

Below is a look at some of the statistical highlights from the game, one that snapped the Yankees’ four-game losing streak and handed the Tigers their 10th extra-inning loss. Only the Chicago White Sox have more such defeats.

The home run

Miguel Cabrera stunned Mariano Rivera with a game-tying home run with two out and two strikes in the ninth inning. It came just after Rivera made a nifty play on a Torii Hunter comebacker and after first baseman Lyle Overbay failed to catch Cabrera’s foul popup near the Yankees dugout.

It was the first hit for Cabrera in six at-bats (combining regular season and postseason) against Rivera, who has blown consecutive save chances within a three-day span for the first time since doing so against the Red Sox in 2005.

The Elias Sports Bureau noted it was only the fourth time that Rivera gave up a go-ahead or game-tying home run when he was one strike from a save or win and the first time it happened at Yankee Stadium.

The only previous time that Rivera gave up a game-tying homer with two outs in the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium was against Mo Vaughn of the Angels in 2000.

Rivera had not blown a save chance against the Tigers since 1999. The blown save snapped a streak of 23 consecutive save conversions for him against them. In fact, it was only the second time in 57 regular season and postseason appearances that Rivera had given up multiple runs to the Tigers. The other was that game in 1999.

It marked the second time that Cabrera hit a game-tying homer with his team down to its final strike. He did so previously against the Kansas City Royals in 2010.

Cabrera's home run was calculated at 427 feet, the longest of 14 home runs Rivera has allowed at home over the eight seasons for which we have homer distance data.

It was the second-longest home run allowed by Rivera this season (Evan Longoria -- 432 feet on April 23 at Tropicana Field).

Gardner’s game winner

Gardner’s hit marked the fourth time in his career that he won a game with a walk-off hit, all of which have come in extra innings.

The hit came on a pitch that was off the outside corner of the plate. It was Gardner’s first hit against a pitch located outside the Pitch F/X strike zone since July 24.

Gardner’s 27 swings against pitches thrown out of the strike zone prior to the hit resulted in either misses, foul balls or outs.

Had the Yankees won 3-1 …

Had Rivera gotten the save, the story of the day would have been the fine pitching of Ivan Nova.

Nova allowed one run and scattered eight hits in seven innings, featuring a curveball that netted him six strikeouts. Nova has 23 strikeouts in his lpast three starts, with 21 coming against his hook.

Nova has a 1.60 ERA in six starts since July 5, sixth best in the AL in that span.

5 stats to know: Yankees at Rangers

July, 22, 2013

Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsYu Darvish, who makes his return from the DL, struck out an MLB-leading 157 batters prior to the All-Star break, the most since Curt Schilling (186) and Randy Johnson (171) in 2002.
The New York Yankees and Texas Rangers will meet Monday night in the first game of a four-game series in Texas at 7 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN.

Here are five stats our broadcast crew will likely be talking about during Monday night’s game.

1. The American League’s strikeout leader, Yu Darvish, makes his return from the DL after missing just one start.

He’ll hope to get back on track after failing to complete seven innings in each of his past four starts, a stretch over which he’s posted a 4.50 ERA.

Darvish throws a variety of pitches, but his approach against righties and lefties is completely different. He’s mainly a fastball-slider pitcher against righties while lefties can only guess what could be coming.

2. Alex Rodriguez was expected to make his season debut tonight, but instead will remain out of action due to a grade 1 quad strain. This season, Yankees third basemen have combined to hit .220 with only four home runs and 27 RBI, ranking them next-to-last in the majors in each category. In fact, David Adams (now playing in Triple A) was the last New York third baseman to hit a home run, but that came all the way back on May 22.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees have not had fewer than 10 home runs in a season from the third base position since 1996 (six) and they haven’t had fewer than 50 RBI from that position since 1991 (39).

3. Ichiro Suzuki is 7-for-14 in his career against Darvish, with his .500 batting average being the highest of any batter against him (min. 10 at-bats).

Ichiro is two hits shy of becoming the third active player with 2,700 hits, joining teammates Derek Jeter and Rodriguez.

4. The Yankees trail the division-leading Boston Red Sox by seven games entering tonight. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, New York won a league or division title when trailing by seven or more games at any point after the All-Star break only once. That was in 1978 when the team trailed the Red Sox by 14 games and came back to win the AL East.

5. New York has taken the season series from the Rangers in seven of the last nine seasons (tied 4-4 in 2010, lost 4-3 in 2008).

After dropping two of three in the Bronx earlier this year, the Yankees will have to win three of the four games this week to take the season series.

Quick Hitters
• Since rejoining the Yankees rotation, Ivan Nova is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his last two starts, completing eight innings in both appearances (the first time in his career he’s gone at least eight innings in consecutive appearances).

• Robinson Cano is hitting .415 with a .519 OBP over a Yankees season-high 12-game hit streak. He’s also driven in 12 runs in that span, including two in each of the last two games.

• Mariano Rivera has 38 career saves against the Rangers, the most against them by any pitcher, a dozen more than Rollie Fingers, who ranks second.

• The Rangers began the season 19-8 at home, but have gone 8-14 since. Fourteen of the team’s first 17 games post-All-Star break are at home. They haven’t started this stretch in a positive manner as the Baltimore Orioles just completed a weekend sweep.

• Adrian Beltre has hit eight home runs this month, tied with Alfonso Soriano for the most in the majors in July.

Pitching riches overwhelm in All-Star Game

July, 17, 2013
Robert Deutsch/USA Today SportsIn Mariano Rivera's final All-Star Game, pitching ruled the day.

Pitching, pitching and more pitching was the dominant statistical storyline in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game.

This year’s contest was, like last year’s, a shutout, marking the first time in All-Star Game history that consecutive games were shutouts.

The three runs scored were the fewest combined by the two teams in an All-Star Game since 1990, when the AL won 2-0. The teams combined to hit .197 with the NL managing only three hits, tied for the second-fewest in an All-Star Game.

With the win, the AL will hold home-field advantage in this year’s World Series.

Let’s run through some of the highlights.

Mariano Rivera the MVP
Mariano Rivera won MVP honors, which wasn’t so much for this game (in which he pitched a scoreless eighth inning), but was more of a lifetime achievement award to commemorate his great career.

Rivera pitched nine innings in his All-Star career and allowed one unearned run. The only pitcher to pitch more All-Star innings without allowing an earned run was Mel Harder, who pitched for the Cleveland Indians in the 1930s and 1940s.

Rivera got a “hold” in this game and not a save. His four All-Star Game saves are the most all-time.

Rivera is the first pitcher who was primarily used by his major league team as a relief pitcher to earn All-Star Game MVP honors. He’s the second to pitch in relief in the game and earn MVP, joining Jon Matlack, a starter on the 1975 New York Mets who shared MVP honors in that year’s All-Star Game.

Rivera is the first pitcher to win All-Star Game MVP since Pedro Martinez in 1999 and the second Yankees player to win it, joining Derek Jeter in 2000.

Elias notes that he’ll join Cal Ripken Jr. as the only players to win All-Star Game MVP in their final seasons.

The young guys were very impressive
NL starter Matt Harvey, the first New York Mets pitcher to start the All-Star Game since Dwight Gooden in 1988, looked sharp after letting the first two hitters reach base. He was the first Mets pitcher to throw two scoreless innings in an All-Star Game since Gooden in 1984.

Harvey continued a run of dominance by Mets pitchers making their All-Star debuts. The 11 pitchers have combined for 12 2/3 scoreless innings, with 20 strikeouts.

White Sox pitcher Chris Sale earned the win. He was the first AL pitcher to throw two perfect innings in an All-Star Game since Roger Clemens in 2001. He’s the first White Sox pitcher to win an All-Star Game since Mark Buehrle in 2005.

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez struck out a pair of hitters in the sixth inning to become the third pitcher age 20 or younger with multiple strikeouts in an All-Star Game, joining Gooden (1984) and Hall of Famer Bob Feller.

The combined line for those three -- five innings pitched, one hit allowed, seven strikeouts. The trio has 93 career starts between them.

The AL benefited from a couple of nifty examples of teamwork en route to the win.

Jhonny Peralta, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera each had at least one hit in the game. It’s the first time that the Detroit Tigers have had three different players get a hit in an All-Star Game.

On the pitching side, Toronto Blue Jays relievers Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar combined for the last two outs of the seventh inning by striking out left-handed hitting Domonic Brown and right-handed hitting Buster Posey.
Cecil has held lefties to a .154 on-base percentage this season, the lowest for anyone in the majors this season.

Delabar has struck out 150 batters in 108 innings over the last two seasons. His rate of 12.5 strikeouts per 9 innings is eighth-best in the majors in that span.

Did You Know?
The NL finished with only four baserunners, the fewest in a game for either team since 1995 and the fewest for the NL in an All-Star Game since 1968.

The AL grounded into an All-Star Game-record four double plays.

Joe Nathan recorded the save. The only other Rangers pitcher to record a save in an All-Star Game was John Wetteland in 1999. You might remember Wetteland as the pitcher who preceded Rivera as Yankees closer.

Top stats to know: 2013 All-Star Game

July, 16, 2013
The National League and American League will meet in the All-Star Game for the 84th time on Tuesday night at 8 ET. Let's run through some of the notable storylines for this game.

Statistical overview
The NL leads the all-time series 43-38-2 and has won the past three games, but the AL won the previous seven. The winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series, which is meaningful when you consider that teams with home-field advantage have won 22 of the past 27 World Series.

The NL has claimed both the All-Star Game and the World Series title in each of the past three years. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, should the NL win both again this year, it would tie the record (the NL also did it from 1979 to 1982).

The past five All-Star Games have been relatively low scoring, with the leagues combining for 32 runs. The AL has managed only two runs combined in the past three games, hitting a combined .189.

The NL will try for its longest All-Star Game winning streak since winning 11 straight from 1972 to 1982.

AL lineup: mashers galore
The AL has the advantage on paper in terms of offensive firepower in its starting lineup, with the top two home run hitters in the sport hitting cleanup and third in Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera.

The NL starting lineup features seven batters with .300-or-better batting averages to the AL's six. But the AL has the advantage in home runs, 185-136, featuring six hitters with at least 19 homers this season.

Starting pitching matchup: Scherzer vs. Harvey
The starting pitchers Tuesday night will be Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers and Matt Harvey of the New York Mets.

Harvey, who at 24 will be the youngest pitcher to start the All-Star Game since 23-year-old Dwight Gooden in 1988, will hope to fare better than the last pitcher to start the All-Star Game in his home ballpark. As a member of the Houston Astros, Roger Clemens allowed six runs to the American League in the first inning of the 2004 All-Star Game at Minute Maid Park.

Scherzer has a statistical connection to Clemens as well. He was the first pitcher to start a season 13-0 or better since Clemens did in 1986. Clemens started and won the All-Star Game that year, taking home MVP honors for his three perfect innings en route to a win in the Astrodome.

Harvey (7-2) and Scherzer (13-1) have a combined .870 winning percentage this season. According to Elias, it's the third-highest percentage for opposing starters in an All-Star Game. Randy Johnson and David Wells combined for an .879 winning percentage in 2000, while Johnson and Hideo Nomo had a combined .882 percentage in 1995.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Harvey has 29 career starts on his résumé, the fewest of any All-Star Game starter since Nomo (13) in 1995.

For more on the pitching matchup, check out our post from Monday afternoon.

Rivera’s last All-Star Game
Mariano Rivera was named to his 13th All-Star Game, the second most for any pitcher in major league history, trailing only Warren Spahn’s 17.

Rivera has actually appeared in eight All-Star Games. The only pitcher with more appearances is Clemens with 10.

Rivera has four All-Star Game saves, the most all time (one more than Dennis Eckersley), with his last coming in 2009. Rivera’s All-Star Game ERA is 0.00, with one unearned run allowed in eight innings. The only pitcher with more career All-Star innings and no earned runs allowed is Mel Harder with 13.

Rivera is tied with Derek Jeter and Joe DiMaggio for the third-most selections in Yankees history. Only Mickey Mantle (20) and Yogi Berra (18) have more.

Inside the at-bat: Jones vs  Rivera

July, 7, 2013
The New York Yankees were two outs away from winning their seventh straight game and sweeping the Baltimore Orioles.

But Adam Jones, who has had a penchant for hitting big home runs the last two seasons, hit one of his team's most notable homer in 2013, a two-run game-winner off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.

Let's take a closer look at the home run.

The rarity of the home run
The home run marked the sixth time in his career that Rivera allowed a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning or later with his team winning at the time.

But it’s only the second time that a player hit such a home run in Yankee Stadium. The other was hit by Bengie Molina of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2004.

Rivera had his streak of 41 straight save conversions at Yankee Stadium snapped. That’s an impressive run, though it’s not his longest save-conversion streak at Yankee Stadium.

His longest is tied with Eric Gagne for the longest of all-time, a 51-save streak from 2007 to 2010.

Breaking down the matchup
Jones’ go-ahead HR off Mariano Rivera came on a 93 mph fastball.

It was only the third homer that Rivera has allowed on a pitch of 93 mph or faster over the last five seasons, the first since one by Reed Johnson of the Chicago Cubs on June 18, 2011.

The homer came on an inside pitch, Jones' eighth homer homer this season on a pitch on the inner third of the plate or further inside. Only two AL players have hit more homers on inside pitches: Mark Trumbo (11) and Miguel Cabrera (10).

Right-handed hitters have a .695 OPS against Rivera this season, 168 points higher than what they had against him from 2009 to 2012 (albeit in a much smaller sample).

The other big AB
Right before Jones homered, Nick Markakis reached by singling on an 0-2 pitch.

Rivera tried to freeze Markakis with a fastball on the outside corner of the knees, but got too much plate with it and Markakis whacked it into center field.

Markakis is 7-for-20 (.350 batting average) for his career against Rivera. That's 10th-best among those hitters with at least 15 at-bats against the Yankees' closer (combining regular season and postseason).

Edgar Martinez has the best batting average against Rivera-- .579.

Other notables from the game
There were a couple of other notable things to happen in this game.

Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda returned from injury and allowed no runs in seven innings.

Kuroda is tied with Clayton Kershaw and Justin Masterson for the major-league lead in starts of seven innings or more with no runs allowed with five.

And Orioles third baseman Manny Machado made one of the strongest throws of the season, from way out on the grass in foul territory to throw out Luis Cruz.

It netted Machado his 10th "Baseball Tonight" Web Gem of the season. That's the most in the major leagues, two ahead of Brandon Phillips and Alcides Escobar.

The Orioles are tied for the major-league lead in Web Gems with the Kansas City Royals with 24.

Did You Know?
Rivera blew a save against the Orioles for the ninth time in his career, the most by any pitcher against Baltimore. But keep in mind that his 76 saves against the Orioles are 40 more than any other pitcher and his most versus any opponent.

Jones is the third Orioles player to hit a go-ahead homer in the ninth inning or later against the Yankees with his team trailing at the time. The others to do so since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954 are Don Buford (1968) and Brady Anderson (1995).

Jones also leads the majors in go-ahead homers in the ninth inning or later over the last two seasons with five.

Top stats to know: Selection storylines

July, 6, 2013
Let’s take a look at some of the notable storylines from All-Star Selection Saturday as both leagues announced their rosters for the Midsummer Classic.

Youngsters take center stage
Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was elected as an NL starter and will be the youngest player to start for the National League. Harper will be the first position player to play in two All-Star Games before turning 21.

In the American League, Mike Trout will be the youngest player in Angels history to start an All-Star Game.

His AL teammate, Manny Machado, would be the second-youngest infielder to play in an All-Star Game (a mark currently held by Alex Rodriguez) and the youngest third baseman (a distinction currently held by none other than Albert Pujols)

On Saturday, Machado hit his 39th double of the season. He’s one away from becoming the second player to hit at least 40 doubles before the All-Star Break, joining Edgar Martinez, who hit 42 for the Seattle Mariners in 1996.

There will also be a considerable amount of youth (and inexperience) on the pitching staffs. The two rosters have 19 pitchers who were selected to either their first or second All-Star Game.

There are 30 first-time All-Stars with the potential for a few more based on the Final Vote and injury replacements. The most in any season was the 35 in 2011.

Mariano’s final bow
Mariano Rivera was named to his 13th All-Star Game, the second-most of any pitcher in major-league history, trailing only Warren Spahn’s 17.

Rivera is tied with Derek Jeter and Joe DiMaggio for the third-most selections in Yankees history. Only Mickey Mantle (20) and Yogi Berra (18) have more.

Rivera earned his 29th save on Saturday. That’s tied for his second-most before the All-Star Break, his most since he had 32 in 2004.

Puig’s potential appearance
The NL Final Man vote figures to be a major story the next few days, with Yasiel Puig on the ballot.
Yasiel Puig
Though some such as Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon scoff at Puig’s candidacy, it should be noted that entering Saturday he was tied with Freddie Freeman for the second-most Wins Above Replacment (2.3) of the Final Vote candidates. The only one higher was slightly so—Ian Desmond with 2.7.

Who won’t be there
The All-Star Game will have a veteran presence, but among those who won’t be there …

The top five active leaders in home runs- Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Jason Giambi, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko. In fact, the only player in the top 10 among active players in homers who will be at the game is David Ortiz.

Nor will any of the top 10 active players in hits. Carlos Beltran will be the hits leader among current All-Stars. He’ll be the only one there with at least 2,000.

And only one pitcher with more than 135 career wins will be at Citi Field—Bartolo Colon, who entered Saturday with 182, 47 more than the NL’s top winner, Cliff Lee.

Kernels: Friday fun

June, 30, 2013

Steve Mitchell/Getty Images
Mets Pitcher Matt Harvey is one player who had a good day on Friday.

This week's theme is "Friday."

In the 16-game slate from June 28, all of this happened (and more).

The Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox played a rainout-induced doubleheader starting at 4:10 CT.

• The White Sox opened with five runs off Trevor Bauer, who threw 49 pitches and didn't get out of the inning. It was one shy of the season high (Ian Kennedy threw 50 in an inning on June 6). Bauer was the first pitcher to leave a doubleheader in the first inning of the first game since Rolando Arrojo of Boston on Sept. 21, 2000.

• Seven Indians had at least 2 RBIs, the first time they'd done that in exactly 63 years. Larry Doby, Al Rosen and Ray Boone contributed to an 18-2 blowout of the St. Louis Browns on June 28, 1950.

• Brian Omogrosso surrendered nine runs in 2.1 innings and took the loss. No White Sox reliever had allowed nine in a game since Scott Eyre against the Red Sox on June 26, 1999. They hadn't had a reliever do it in less than three innings since George Payne allowed nine to the Yankees on July 17, 1920.

• Final score of Game 1: 19-10. The 29 combined runs were the most in a game this season. The Indians have scored 19 twice this season, the second such time in their history they've scored 19 or more runs twice in a season (1923).

• Turnabout is fair play. On Sept. 2, 2001, also at Comiskey Park, the White Sox beat the Indians 19-10. Catcher Tim Laker played the role of Casper Wells, pitching a scoreless eighth inning.

• Only one other Cleveland team has played a 19-10 game in MLB history. That also was in Chicago, but it was not the Indians. It was the Cleveland Spiders, who lost by that score to the NL's White Stockings (who later became the Cubs) on Sept. 19, 1889.

• With a brief rain delay between games, the second game, which the Indians won 9-8, didn't end until 1:06 a.m. According to Elias, the combined game times of 7 hours, 53 minutes set a record for the longest 18-inning doubleheader in major-league history.

• The Indians hadn't scored 28 runs in a day since June 18, 1950, when they swept a pair from the Philadelphia Athletics, 7-0 and 21-2.

Elsewhere around the Majors on Friday

The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 16-1, their most runs ever at Dodger Stadium. They did win 19-10 – there’s that score again! — in the L.A. Coliseum in 1961.It was their second-largest margin of victory against the Dodgers franchise. The Phillies beat the then-Brooklyn Bridegrooms 22-5 at Eastern Park on April 24, 1894.

Phillies right fielder Delmon Young drove in six runs on two singles, a double and a groundout. Since RBI became an official stat in 1920, only one other Phillies hitter has driven in six runs in a game without a homer: shortstop Granny Hamner, who had two doubles and a single with seven RBI against the Cardinals on July 17, 1948.

A few hours after Bauer’s 49-pitch inning for Cleveland, St. Louis Cardinals starter Trevor Miller threw 51 pitches in the second inning against Oakland -- also only getting two outs before being relieved. Miller’s high-water mark would stand for only one day before Wade Davis of the Royals threw 53 pitches in a five-run first inning against Minnesota on Saturday.

The New York Mets' Matt Harvey struck out 11 Nationals and walked zero. It was his third game this season going seven innings with no walks and double-digit strikeouts. That leads the majors. Harvey hasn’t won any of them. He was in line on Friday until the bullpen gave up five runs. The last pitcher to have three such games in a season without a win was Vida Blue, who had two 11-inning no-decisions and a 1-0 complete-game loss for Oakland in 1971.

Inside the matchup: Pujols vs Rivera

June, 16, 2013

Mariano Rivera had a specific plan for his pitch sequence to Albert Pujols.

Sometimes a baseball game will produce the ultimate matchup and Sunday’s Yankees-Angels series finale gave us that-— bases loaded, two outs in a one-run game in the ninth inning with a pair of legends going head-to-head: Albert Pujols versus Mariano Rivera.

Let’s go inside the matchup:

The setup
The Yankees had nearly completely frittered away a 6-0 ninth-inning lead after a terrific start by CC Sabathia. Rivera had allowed three hits and a walk in one-third of an inning prior to Pujols' turn.

Entering the at-bat, Rivera had faced a hitter with the bases loaded, two outs and a one-run lead one out from a win on 10 previous occasions. He’d gotten the batter out eight times, including five straight over the last 10 seasons.

Pujols had only been in this situation once before in the regular season and popped out. He also was 0-for-1 with a hit by pitch in two regular-season turns against Rivera.

First pitch
Rivera’s first pitch was a strike called, one deemed on the inside corner, though the Pitch F/X pitch-tracking system disagreed (as you can see above).

A lot of pitchers have high batting averages allowed on the first pitch of an at-bat, but Rivera does not.

Over the last four seasons, Rivera has thrown a first pitch to 316 right-handed hitters. Batters who swung made 24 outs (three of which became double plays) and netted only four hits.

Rivera also has among the highest first-pitch strike rates over the last four seasons when the pitch is thrown outside of the Pitch F/X strike zone (36 percent), attributable to getting hitters to chase bad pitches and to getting a lot of borderline pitches called strikes.

Pujols is one of those hitters who hits well in the first pitch of an at-bat (.373 batting average since 2010, about 30 points above major-league average), but he’s very discerning.

Pujols typically swings at a rate of about one of every six first-pitches. The average major league hitter swings at about one of every four.

Second pitch
The advantage that comes for Mariano Rivera when he gets up 0-1 in the count is this: If he throws an inside pitch, the hitter becomes very eager.

When Rivera is in that situation and throws a pitch out of the strike zone, but “inside” (defined as: over the inner-third, or off the inside corner), hitters swing more than half of the time.

His 54 percent chase rate on those pitches (dating back to 2010) is nearly 20 percentage points above what an average pitcher would get.

With regards to chasing, Pujols has been an aggressive hitter in the first 60-plus games of the season when he has one strike against him. He swings at nearly half the pitches out of the strike zone in those instances. The typical hitter swings at about a 28 percent rate.

Rivera came inside again and Pujols dinked the ball foul. Now he’s behind 0-2.

Third pitch
Earlier in the inning, Rivera had given up a hit on an 0-2 pitch to Peter Bourjos. The pitch was off the inside corner, but Bourjos was able to bloop it to left center.

Bourjos was the first batter all season to get a hit against Rivera after falling behind 0-2. The first 22 hitters Rivera faced in that situation this season, he retired. Bourjos got him, but no one else would.

Since joining the Angels last season, Pujols has not fared well in a situation in which a pitcher comes inside with an 0-2 pitch.

He’d seen 56 such pitches, managed one hit, and made 18 outs.

This 0-2 would again come spinning inside and Pujols could do nothing but try to check his swing.

No luck, strike three. Rivera and the Yankees were winners this time.