Stats & Info: Minnesota Twins

Standing tall for Marlins, Mets, others

June, 4, 2012
6/04/12
12:10
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As we enter the third month of the season, here are some notes on the current major-league baseball standings that struck us as interesting:

• There are 19 teams with a .500 or better record right now. That sounds more impressive than it actually is. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time 19 teams were .500 or better at this point in a season was after games were finished on July 31, 2010.

• There are eight teams with 30 or 31 wins, but only two (Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers) with more than 31 wins.

• There are 14 teams either in the Wild Card lead or within 3 games of a wild card spot (not including the six division leaders).

• There are three teams on pace to lose at least 100 games this season: Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres.

The only time in the last 25 seasons that three-or-more teams finished with at least 100 losses in a season was 2002, when a record four teams had 100-plus losses.

• All of the teams in the AL East and NL East are .500 or better. According to Elias, this is the latest into a season that every team is .500 or better in those divisions.

• It’s not how you start, but how you do after you start. Want proof?
- The Detroit Tigers started 9-3. They have since gone 16-26.
- The Kansas City Royals started 3-14. They have since gone 20-15
- The Boston Red Sox started 12-19. They have since gone 16-7

• The Miami Marlins have more wins since May 1 than Cubs, Padres and Twins do all season. The Marlins also have as many wins since May 1 (23) as Royals, Oakland Athletics, Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies do all season.

• The Pittsburgh Pirates are over .500 at 27-26. Their last winning season was 1992. They were over .500 as late as August 1 last year (54-53).

• The Cleveland Indians, New York Mets, and Pirates are above .500 but are being outscored on the season. Last year, the only team to finish with a winning record and a negative run differential was the San Francisco Giants (86-76, -8).

• The Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and Rangers are the only AL teams over .500 at home and on road. Last year, six AL teams had winning records both at home and on the road.

For more debate on the best divisions in baseball, read our Divisional Rankings from last week

Greinke extends historic home streak

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
6:30
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Zack Greinke
Greinke
No team could use a stretch of favorable pitching matchups more than the Minnesota Twins, who entered Sunday with the worst record in the majors at 14-26. But, as teams far better than the Twins have learned the hard way, facing Zack Greinke at Miller Park is anything but favorable for opposing hitters.

Greinke won again at home Sunday, allowing just one run and striking out six as the Milwaukee Brewers smashed the Twins 16-4. It was Greinke’s 18th straight win in a home decision, with the last 14 coming since he arrived in Milwaukee from Kansas City.

With the win, Greinke became the first pitcher to win 18 straight home decisions since Kenny Rogers won 19 consecutive decisions at home with four different teams from 1997 to 2000.

Greinke and Rogers are two of the six pitchers with a win streak of at least 18 in home decisions in the live-ball era (since 1920). They’re joined by Roy Face, Frank Viola, Ray Kremer and Lefty Grove, who had two separate streaks of at least 18 wins in home decisions (18 from 1932-33, 20 from 1938-40).

Greinke hasn’t lost a home start since July 26, 2010, when he allowed eight runs over four innings in a 19-1 loss to the Twins.

Greinke wasn’t the only Brewer to make history Sunday. Jonathan Lucroy drove in seven runs, tying a franchise record. He joined Carlos Ruiz (May 2, 2012) as the only catchers to have at least seven RBI in a game in the last two seasons.

Elsewhere in the majors Sunday, Max Scherzer had a career-high 15 strikeouts, one shy of a Detroit Tigers franchise record, in a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Scherzer induced 26 swings-and-misses, the most by any pitcher this season and the most since Brandon Morrow had 26 on May 5, 2010 vs the Cleveland Indians.

Scherzer became the second AL pitcher to strike out at least 15 in seven or fewer innings in the last 90 years. Baltimore Orioles starter Mike Mussina struck out 15 in seven innings against the Boston Red Sox on September 24, 2000.

In other MLB action Sunday:

" Stephen Strasburg hit his first career home run and earned the win in the Washington Nationals 9-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Strasburg is now hitting .375 this season and has an extra-base hit in four of his last five games.

" Josh Beckett allowed one run on seven hits as the Red Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-1. Beckett has now won consecutive starts for the first time since August 2011 and has allowed one run in his last 14T innings.

" The Phillies fell to 1-5 in Cliff Lee’s starts this season after he allowed five runs, his most since July 2011, to the Red Sox. The Phillies were 22-10 in Lee’s 32 starts last season.

Breaking down Hamilton's homer barrage

May, 12, 2012
5/12/12
10:31
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AP Photo/Tony GutierrezJosh Hamilton tied an MLB record with his 18th homer in the Rangers' 34th game Saturday.
Josh Hamilton homered for the ninth time in his past six games Saturday, sending C.J. Wilson’s 80 mph curveball into the right-field seats in the sixth inning of the Texas Rangers' 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

One key to Hamilton’s power surge has been his ability hit breaking balls out of the yard. After Saturday, Hamilton now has seven home runs on breaking balls this season, already his most in any season since joining the Rangers in 2008.

Hamilton is hitting .420 against breaking balls in 2012, a dramatic increase over his .260 average against such pitches a year ago. And his slugging percentage against curveballs and sliders is .860, dwarfing his 2011 mark of .468.

Hamilton’s sudden ability to smash breaking balls has helped him get off to one of the best starts to a season in major league history.

His 18 homers have tied Cy Williams of the 1923 Phillies for the most all-time through 34 team games. And with nine home runs in his past six games, Hamilton is just one shy of the MLB record for homers in a six-game span set by Frank Howard with 10 in 1968, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Hamilton’s 18 home runs this season are five more than the entire San Diego Padres team and one fewer than the Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Twins.

Hamilton will look to continue his record run Sunday night against Jered Weaver and the Angels on ESPN. Hamilton has 34 career at-bats against Weaver, his second most against any pitcher, but just one home run.

Elsewhere in the majors Saturday:

• 2011 home run champ Jose Bautista hit his 10th career home run at Target Field in just his 10th game at the park. Only four players, all Twins, have more HR at Target Field since it opened in 2010. According to Elias, Bautista is the first player to hit 10 HR in his first 10 games in a ballpark since Shawn Green at Miller Park from 2001 to 2004.

• Roy Halladay took the loss after allowing seven hits and two runs in seven innings as the Philadelphia Phillies lost to the Padres. The Phillies have now lost each of Halladay’s past five starts. That ties the longest losing streak for a team in Roy Halladay starts, matching the Toronto Blue Jays' five-game losing streak in Halladay starts in 1999.

• The Boston Red Sox beat the Cleveland Indians 4-1 for their second straight home win following a six-game losing streak at Fenway Park. It’s the first time the Red Sox have won back-to-back home games since April 13-15.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

1. SPURS FINISH OFF SWEEP: The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Utah Jazz, 87-81, finishing a four-game sweep to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals. This was the Spurs sixth postseason sweep since Tim Duncan was a rookie in the 1997-98 season. According to Elias, that ranks second in the NBA. Only the Los Angeles Lakers, with seven, have more over the last 15 seasons.

2. PAUL & GRIFFIN LEAD CLIPPERS TO VICTORY: The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, 101-97 in overtime, to take a 3-1 series lead. According to Elias, the Clippers became the first NBA team to have a pair of players (Chris Paul, Blake Griffin), with at least 25 points and at least seven assists in a playoff game since they did it themselves back on May 14, 2006 (Elton Brand had 30 and eight and Sam Cassell had 28 and nine in a victory over the Phoenix Suns).

3. RANGERS EARN HISTORIC WIN: The New York Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals, 3-2 in overtime to take a 3-2 series lead. That win would not have been possible if Brad Richards hadn’t tied the game with seven seconds left in regulation. According to Elias, this is the first NHL postseason to have three games feature game-tying goals in the final 15 seconds of regulation. The first-two games in the Phoenix Coyotes - Chicago Blackhawks series also had such goals.

4. COYOTES IN UNCHARTED TERRITORY: The Coyotes defeated the Nashville Predators, 2-1, to win the Western Conference Semifinals in five games. The Coyotes advanced to their first Conference Finals since joining the NHL in 1979-80. Prior to joining the NHL, the franchise (then known as the Winnipeg Jets) reached the WHA (Avco Cup) Finals five times in seven seasons.

5. WEAVER PERFECT 5-0: Jered Weaver allowed one earned run in six innings, as the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Minnesota Twins, 8-3. For the third time, Weaver has started a season 5-0. According to Elias, he joined Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Christy Mathewson as the only pitchers to start 5-0 in three seasons.

6. RED HOT ROOKIE: The Boston Red Sox defeated the Kansas City Royals, 11-5 to snap a five-game losing streak. Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks remained hot, going 3 for 5, with two home runs and five RBI. According to Elias, he tied the MLB record for most RBI (nine) in a player’s first four games to start career.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories.


1. SPURS CLINCH TOP SEED: The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, 124-89, and clinched the top seed in the Western Conference. Last season, as a one-seed, the Spurs were eliminated in the first round of their playoff series with the Grizzlies. It was the fourth time since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams that a one-seed lost to an eight-seed.

2. COYOTES FINALLY WIN A SERIES: The Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-0, to win the Western Conference Quarterfinals in six games. It’s the franchise’s first playoff series win since 1987. According to Elias, their streak of 23 consecutive seasons without winning a playoff series (1987-88 through 2010-11) is a NHL record.

3. KREIDER TO THE RESCUE: The New York Rangers defeated the Ottawa Senators, 3-2, to force Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. 20-year old Chris Kreider scored the game-winning goal. According to Elias, Kreider is the third Rangers player to score a playoff goal, before playing in a regular-season game.

Derek Jeter
Jeter
4. JETER HITS HOLLAND: Derek Jeter went 4-5 in the New York Yankees’ 7-4 win over the Texas Rangers. All four of Jeter’s hits came off Derek Holland. According to Elias, that tied Jeter's career high for hits off the same pitcher in one game. He had previously recorded four hits in a game against Greg Maddux and Bob Tewksbury.

5. ROSS SHOWS POWER: Cody Ross hit two home runs in the Boston Red Sox’ 6-5 win over the Minnesota Twins. Ross tied the game in the seventh inning with a two-run blast, then hit a solo shot in the ninth to put the Red Sox ahead. According to Elias, prior to Ross, the last Red Sox player with a game-tying and game-winning home run, each in the seventh inning or later, was Dwight Evans on June 23, 1990 against the Orioles at Fenway Park.

6. PANDA KEEPS HITTING: Pablo Sandoval recorded hits in both games of the Giants-Mets doubleheader on Monday (Giants won both games). Sandoval has hit safely in his first 16 games this season. According to Elias, he tied the second-longest hit streak to start a season by a Giants player since 1900. The record of 18 was set by Johnny Rucker in 1945.

Verlander brings heat, crowns Royals

April, 17, 2012
4/17/12
12:40
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AP Photo/Reed HoffmannJustin Verlander and Alex Avila celebrate following the Tigers 3-2 win over the Royals Monday night.
Justin Verlander found himself in a familiar position after the eighth inning with a two-run lead on Monday night against the Kansas City Royals.

Unlike his two previous starts when he and the Detroit Tigers bullpen blew leads in the ninth inning, Verlander went the distance this time and made sure he got his first win of the season. Verlander threw 131 pitches, one shy of his career high, and now has an MLB-best 33 120-pitch games since 2010.

Verlander this season has allowed one earned run in the first eight innings of his three starts, and five earned runs in the ninth inning. Prior to this year, he had allowed just one earned run in the ninth inning in his first seven seasons combined.

Verlander cranked up the heat in the final frame, averaging 97.5 mph with his fastball. He threw four heaters to Alex Gordon in the last at-bat, and each one hit 100 on the radar gun. Those were the four fastest pitches he threw the entire game.

Since 2009, Justin Verlander has the highest average fastball velocity for any starter in the ninth inning. He is the only starter in that time frame to throw a pitch over 100 mph in the ninth inning.

Verlander also had success getting ahead and finishing off the Royals batters. He allowed just one hit in 17 at-bats that reached a two-strike count, and this season opponents are now hitting .073 (3-41) with two strikes against Verlander.

Big Game shuts out Red Sox
James “Big Game” Shields lived up to his nickname on Patriots Day in Boston, tossing 8⅓ scoreless innings as the Tampa Bay Rays avoided the sweep against the Boston Red Sox with a 1-0 win this afternoon.

James Shields
Shields
Shields allowed just four hits – all singles – as he shut down a Red Sox offense that had averaged more than 10 runs per game in the first three games of the series. This was just the third 1-0 shutout by the Rays over the Red Sox and all three have come at Fenway Park.

Shields heavily featured his slider against Boston, throwing it 41 times, and using it to get 10 outs. Both of those are his most in any start over the last three seasons. He had thrown just 28 sliders in his first two outings this season and recorded only five outs in nine at-bats with the pitch.

Around the Diamond
• The Minnesota Twins beat the New York Yankees for just the sixth time in 34 regular-season games in the Bronx since Ron Gardenhire’s first season as Twins manager in 2002. Justin Morneau homered and now has five home runs in 11 career games at the new Yankee Stadium. He has five homers in 80 games at Target Field.

• Dillon Gee pitched seven innings of one-run ball as the New York Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 6-1. Gee recorded 11 groundball outs, one shy of his career-best, and induced grounders on 65 percent of balls hit into play, the highest groundball rate in a game in his career.

Nationals walk off with wild win over Reds

April, 12, 2012
4/12/12
8:46
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Most frequent pitch locations for Gio Gonzalez vs Reds on Thursday.
Click here to create your own Gonzalez heat maps
Don’t look now, but the Washington Nationals have zoomed to the top of the NL East following their 3-2, extra-inning win over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday afternoon.

The Nationals improved to 5-2, their best start since moving to Washington, and also win their first home opener since 2008. This is just the second time in the last 15 seasons the franchise has won five of its first seven games. In 2001, the Montreal Expos were 6-1 after seven games.

The Nats took a 2-0 lead into the ninth inning but Brad Lidge blew the save, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks. Lidge had allowed just one run over his previous 16 appearances dating to August of last year.

The Nationals won it in the 10th inning thanks to a wild outing by Reds reliever Alfredo Simon. Simon hit Ryan Zimmerman to lead off the inning and Zimmerman eventually came around to score four batters later on Simon’s wild pitch with Roger Bernadina at the plate.

This was the Nationals’ fifth win on a game-ending wild pitch since moving to Washington in 2005. Entering Thursday, the Nats had lost their last six extra-inning games against the Reds and were 0-5 in one-run games versus Cincinnati over the last two season.

Gio Gonzalez got a no-decision but deserved the win, tossing seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and just two hits allowed.

Gonzalez had success going low as Reds hitters went 0-for-11 in at-bats ending with pitches down in the zone or below. Gonzalez also did a good job finishing off batters, allowing zero hits in 13 at-bats that reached a two-strike count.

Around The Diamond
• The Minnesota Twins came back from a six-run deficit against the Los Angeles Angels thanks to home runs from both Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. It was the first time that Morneau and Mauer homered in the same game since July 6, 2010.

Matt Garza
Garza
• Matt Garza fell one out short of a shutout when he was pulled after 119 pitches in the ninth inning of the Chicago Cubs 8-0 win. Garza had his slider working, throwing 31 of them, as the Milwaukee Brewers were hitless including five strikeouts in nine at-bats ending with the pitch.

• The Detroit Tigers improved to 5-1 this season with a win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Austin Jackson scored a run and has now crossed home plate in all six games this season, the longest streak to start the season by a Tiger since Darrell Evans scored in the first eight games in 1986.

• Madison Bumgarner took a no-hitter into the sixth inning as the San Francisco Giants beat the Colorado Rockies 4-2. Bumgarner recorded a career-high 14 ground-ball outs (including a double play) with eight of them coming in at-bats ending in sliders.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

1. DARVISH ROUGHED UP, BUT GETS WIN IN DEBUT: Yu Darvish allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings in his MLB Debut, including four in the first inning. However, he got the win as the Texas Rangers won 11-5 against the Seattle Mariners. FROM ELIAS: He was the first pitcher in more than 100 years to win his major-league debut in a start in which he allowed four or more runs in the first inning. That had last been done by Bill Steele of the 1910 St. Louis Cardinals, who surrendered five runs to the Cincinnati Reds in the opening frame of his first big-league game, but was credited with the win when St. Louis rallied for a 14-7 victory.

Barry Zito
Zito
2. ZITO THROWS FIRST SHUTOUT IN A WHILE: Barry Zito threw his first shutout since 2003 as the San Francisco Giants beat the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. FROM ELIAS: Zito ended his streak of 274 consecutive starts without a shutout, the third-longest drought in major-league history. Tim Wakefield (353 straight, from 1997 to 2011) and Kirk Rueter (299 in a row, from 1995-2005) had longer spans.

3. SPURS STREAK ENDS: The San Antonio Spurs' 11-game winning streak was snapped after a 91-84 loss to the Utah Jazz. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili didn’t play on Monday. It is the second time this season that Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili didn’t play in a loss that snapped an 11-game win streak. The first time was on February 21 in a 40-point loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

4. THREE TEAMS GET FIRST WIN, TWO STILL LOOKING: The Giants, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees all won Monday, leaving just two winless teams remaining in MLB. The Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins both dropped to 0-4 with losses. It’s the Braves worst start since 1988 when they started 0-10. It’s the Twins worst start since 1981, also an 0-4 start.

5. KNICKS-BULLS ... THE REMATCH: The New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls square off in Chicago on Tuesday. The two teams met two days ago in New York with the Knicks winning 100-99 in overtime. Carmelo Anthony scored a season-high 43 points in that game and became the fifth player in the last five seasons to make a game-tying shot in the last 15 seconds in regulation, then make the game-winning shot in the last 15 seconds in OT.
There were a number of strong performances on the mound Monday. Here's a look at how some of Monday's pitchers got the job done:

How Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle shut out the Minnesota Twins:
Mark Buehrle
Buehrle

• Buehrle struck out four in 7 2/3 scoreless innings to lead the White Sox to a 3-0 win over the Twins. Buehrle earned his 27th career win against the Twins, the most wins for any active pitcher against a single team. Buehrle is now 27-19 in his career versus the Twins (most wins versus Minnesota since the team moved to Minnesota in 1960).

• In four starts against the Twins this season, Buehrle is 2-1 with a 0.29 ERA (30 2/3 IP, 1 ER). Buehrle is holding the Twins to a .144 average this season, but the numbers are even better against non-fastballs. After a 2 for 17 effort Monday, the Twins are now 5 for 51 (.098) in at-bats ending with Buehrle's non-fastballs.

• Buehrle did walk two hitters, but of the 29 hitters he faced, only one saw a 2-0 count. In addition, he only went to a three-ball count on four hitters (including the two walks).

How Philadelphia Phillies starter Cole Hamels bounced back against Cincinnati:
Cole Hamels
Hamels

• Hamels may not have gotten the win in his first start back from the disabled list, but he still pitched well enough to help the Phillies beat the Reds, 3-2. In his previous start before hitting the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, Hamels' fastball averaged just 88.6 MPH, almost a full three MPH below his season average of 91.5. On Monday, Hamels' fastball averaged 90.1, a big step up from his last start, but still his second-slowest fastball of the season.

• Despite that, the pitch was effective for him. Reds hitters were just 1 for 11 with two strikeouts on at-bats ending with a Hamels fastball. Only one of the nine fastballs hitters put in play was well hit, according to Inside Edge.

• Hamels' changeup was dominant, as usual. Five of the six outs he recorded on his changeup were strikeouts. Reds hitters missed on eight of their 11 swings (72.7 percent) against the pitch, Hamels' third-highest miss percentage on his changeup in a start this season. No starter in baseball has induced swings and misses on changeups at a higher rate (51.2 percent) this season than Hamels.

How New York Yankees pitcher Freddy Garcia beat the Baltimore Orioles:
Freddy Garcia
Garcia

• Forty-four percent of pitches taken against him were called strikes, his highest percentage of the season.

• His fastest pitch was clocked at 89.6 mph. It was his fastest pitch since June 28, when he reached 90.9 mph on the gun.

•He recorded four strikeouts on the night – all four at-bats ended with a splitter.

• The home run Garcia surrendered to Mark Reynolds was his first allowed since June 7. Garcia went 69 innings between gopher balls – the longest active homerless streak among starting pitchers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Lee Singer and Mike Trainor contributed to this story.
Justin Verlander didn't waste any time in his quest for 20 wins. In his first start since picking up his 19th win on Monday, Verlander rallied from a rocky outing and picked up his major league-leading 20th win Saturday in a 6-4 win over the Minnesota Twins.
Justin Verlander
Verlander
Verlander threw 120 pitches over six innings and allowed eight hits, four runs (all earned), and three walks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ELSEWHERE AROUND MLB:

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

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

Jacob Nitzberg contributed to this story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Thome has the most career home runs among players who have played for five or more franchises (Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins and Philadelphia Phillies).
The linescore from Monday night’s Minnesota Twins-Texas Rangers game might have aroused the interest of any baseball stats junkie. Through five innings, the TEX row looked like this: 3-3-3-5-4.

That’s 18 runs, and at least three of them in each inning. The Twins tried four pitchers by the end of the fifth inning and found themselves down 18-1 as they headed to the top of the sixth.

When was the last time we saw a linescore that crooked so early in the game?

Elias tells us that the last team to score at least three runs in each of the first five innings of a game was the Athletics, who did so Sept. 29, 1991, against (who else?) the Rangers. The A’s line was 3-3-6-3-3. They went on to win by a final score of 19-5.

The Oakland lineup that night featured Rickey Henderson leading off, Jose Canseco batting third and Mark McGwire batting seventh. Henderson went 5-for-5, Canseco went 4-for-4 and McGwire went 2-for-3.

But wait. Elias can take us back even deeper into baseball history. Since 1900, only one other team has posted such numbers. The Phillies did it against the Pirates all the way back on July 13, 1900. Their linescore through five innings in that game was 5-4-4-3-4.

One more tidbit -- when the A’s pulled off their five-inning feat 20 years ago, they tacked on another run in the sixth inning. This time, mercifully for the Twins, the Rangers went scoreless in the sixth.

They did, however, finish the game scoring 20 runs -- the first MLB team to 20 this season.


Always Remembering His First
When Jason Kipnis stepped to the plate for the ninth inning in Cleveland, he was 0-for-3 on the night and 0-for-5 in his very short MLB career.

But one single later, Kipnis not only had his first hit; the Indians had a walk-off win.


The last player to have his first career hit be a walk-off was Scott Cousins last year for the Marlins, according to Elias.

In fact, only five players in the past decade have made their first hit a walk-off, and one of them is already a six-time All-Star. Miguel Cabrera did it on June 20, 2003, smashing a walk-off home run in what was not only his first career hit, but his first career game.
Francisco Liriano
Liriano
Francisco Liriano became the seventh pitcher in Minnesota Twins franchise history (dating to their days as the Washington Senators) to throw a no-hitter. It was the first Twins no-hitter since Eric Milton threw one against the then-Anaheim Angels in September 1999.

It's especially incredible when you consider that in his previous 94 starts, Liriano had never thrown a complete game.

The Elias Sports Bureau went one deeper, finding Liriano's longest no-hit bid prior to Tuesday was 5⅓ innings on May 31, 2006.

Liriano hadn't exactly gotten off to the best start this season. In fact, his 9.13 ERA entering a no-hitter is the second-highest by a pitcher since earned runs became official in 1913. Bill Dietrich had a 10.13 ERA before throwing his no-hitter in 1937.

Most of Liriano's starts this season actually began with a hit. In three of his four starts entering Tuesday, Liriano allowed a hit to the first batter he faced.

On Tuesday, he wasn't overpowering anyone -- his two strikeouts were tied for the third-fewest in a no-hitter since divisional play began in 1969. Jerry Reuss (two strikeouts) of the Los Angeles Dodgers was the last pitcher to throw a no-hitter while striking out two or fewer.

In the past 20 seasons, there have been five 1-0 no-hitters, including Liriano's on Tuesday. The previous pitcher to throw a no-hitter in a 1-0 win was none other than Liriano's opposing pitcher Tuesday, Edwin Jackson, who pitched his no-hitter in a 1-0 win last season against the Tampa Bay Rays.

According to Elias, 2007 was the last time a pitcher threw a no-hitter against a pitcher who previously threw a no-hitter. In 2007, Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle threw the first of his two no-hitters against the Texas Rangers. Buehrle was pitching opposite Kevin Millwood that day, also an owner of a no-hitter.

As far as the White Sox go, their streak of 18 seasons without allowing a no-hitter came to an end. They had owned the third-longest streak entering Tuesday, having not been no-hit since Bret Saberhagen completed the feat back in August 1991 for the Kansas City Royals.

No-hitters like Tuesday's are particularly rare for White Sox fans to witness. The last time the White Sox were on the losing end of the 1-0 no-hitter was on May 5, 1917 thanks to the St. Louis Browns’ Ernie Koob.

Metrics shed light on Jeter, Gold Gloves

November, 9, 2010
11/09/10
7:33
PM ET
Derek Jeter
Jeter

Below is a look at some notable winners from the 2010 Rawlings American League Gold Glove voting. While analysis of fielding remains behind similar evaluations of pitching and hitting, there can be no disputing that some of the voting results and advanced fielding metrics are at odds.

Perhaps the most interesting result was that, whether you look at Baseball Info Solutions plus-minus or Fangraphs.com’s Ultimate Zone Rating, not a single player who ranked first in his respective position finished first in the Gold Glove voting. That’s not to say that several high-quality performers weren’t recognized, but that the elite defenders at each position by advanced metrics were shut out across the board.

SS Derek Jeter

The yearly debate continues. The New York Yankees Derek Jeter received his fifth career Gold Glove award this season, and, according to Baseball Info Solutions, it’s nearly indefensible. According BIS, Jeter’s plus-minus was -13 in 2010, the second worst among all shortstops. In the same vein, Jeter had 33 defensive misplays, second most among AL shortstops to the Los Angeles Angels Erick Aybar. By another metric, UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 defensive games), Jeter also failed to hold up, coming in as the third-worst at the position, ahead of only Kansas City Royals Yuniesky Betancourt and the Tampa Bay Rays Jason Bartlett.

What’s equally interesting is that Jeter ranked first among shortstops in fielding percentage at .989 (among those with at least 500 innings), thanks to only six errors. This suggests that the voters are looking at only one aspect of fielding (errors), while ignoring equally important aspects such as range. As the advanced metrics suggest, it’s not Jeter’s ability to field balls he gets to that’s the issue, but rather his ability to get to balls in general.

OF Carl Crawford and 3B Evan Longoria

The two winners from the Tampa Bay Rays represent arguably the strongest choices in the AL. Crawford has long been one of the best left fielders in the game and was rewarded in 2010. He ranked second among all AL left fielders in plus-minus at +12, while also ranking second among outfielders in UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 defensive games). Longoria also holds up well under these metrics, ranking third among AL third basemen in plus-minus at +13, first in Good Fielding Plays with 60 and, in terms of spectacular plays, ranked first among third basemen in Web Gems points this season.

OF Franklin Gutierrez
Franklin Gutierrez

Gutierrez


Gutierrez’s selection is noteworthy because it arguably comes a year too late. Gutierrez was the most dynamic defender in baseball last season according to UZR/150, leading all of baseball with a +28.9 mark. In 2010, however, that fell back to +6.8, still quite good but just seventh overall among outfielders. Gutierrez and Seattle Mariners teammate Ichiro Suzuki (also a winner) tied for the MLB lead with three home run-saving catches, while Gutierrez also had the most Web Gem points among AL outfielders. So while Gutierrez was not the best outfielder this season, or even one of the top three, the voters probably took a year to catch up to his fielding excellence.

First pitch: 2010's worst oh-fers

September, 3, 2010
9/03/10
2:13
PM ET
Today’s Trivia: It was 20 years ago today that Bobby Thigpen broke the single-season saves record by picking up number 47 (he finished with 57). Who held the record before Thigpen?

SPANQuick Hits: The Minnesota Twins had 15 hits on Thursday (all singles, by the way), but Denard Span went 0-for-6. It’s not the first time Span has watched a hit parade from the sidewalk. On May 22, the Twins had 13 hits, but Span went 0-for-7. Then on August 4, he was hitless in six at-bats despite 10 hits for the Twins. Span is the only player in the majors with three games of no hits in at least six at-bats this season. In that spirit, let’s take a look at the most improbable oh-fers this season.

• The Oakland Athletics Chris Carter had a forgettable 0-for-19 start to his career before being sent down in August. Now on the minor-league disabled list, that oh-fer might stick. It’s not all bad news though. The last AL player to finish a season hitless in 19 or more at-bats was David Ortiz in 1999. A September call-up, Big Papi went 0-for-20 for the Twins, striking out 12 times.

• Carter’s 0-for-August was the worst in that month since Jason LaRue went 0-for-24 in 2007. According to STATS LLC, the worst oh-fer in any month over the last 35 years belongs to Mark Smith. In 1998 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Smith went 0-for-27 in April and didn’t collect his first hit until May 19.

UPTONB.J. Upton is hitless in 12 at-bats with the bases loaded. Over the last 30 years, the worst oh-fer with the bases loaded was Jose Cruz Jr. (0-15) in 2003.

Mark Kotsay is 0-for-24 against left-handed pitchers this season. This from a player who hit .336 against lefties in 2004 with Oakland. Over the last 35 years, only one position player had a bigger oh-fer against lefties. In 2000, John Mabry was 0-for-25 while splitting the season between Seattle and San Diego.

Mark Reynolds leads the majors with 55 starts in which he didn’t pick up a hit. However, the strikeout king will avoid another mark of infamy. Over the last 90 years, the most oh-fer starts belongs to Bob Meacham, who was hitless in 84 starts for the Yankees in 1985 (though he did have a pair of four-hit games).

• In 13 appearances, Cleveland Indians reliever Justin Germano has yet to allow a hit to the first batter that he’s faced (though he did walk one). In 2005, the first batter facing the Mets Juan Padilla went 0-for-22.

Today’s Leaderboard: Josh Hamilton has 51 games with two or more hits this season, third in the majors behind Ichiro Suzuki and Martin Prado. However, Hamilton’s 24 three-plus hit games are six more than any other player. Interestingly, Ichiro only has 12 three-hit games. His career-low is 17.

LONEYKey Matchups: James Loney is hitting just .207 with a .605 OPS since the All-Star break. That includes a .192 average against lefties and a .195 average at home. All that spells trouble for Loney with Barry Zito coming to town. In 26 career plate appearances against the San Francisco Giants lefty, Loney has just 2 hits and no walks. That’s a batting average of .077, his lowest against anyone he’s faced at least 20 times.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Brandon Morrow has a chance at history on Friday. In his four previous starts against the New York Yankees, Morrow has 36 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings, a rate of 13.3 K per 9. Elias says that the highest single-season rate against the Yankees (min. 20 IP) is 12.6 by Pedro Martinez in 2001. Curtis Granderson has been Morrow’s primary victim with seven strikeouts in nine at-bats this season.

Trivia Answer: Dave Righetti’s 46 saves in 1986 broke Bruce Sutter’s mark set two seasons before. Thigpen’s record stood for 18 years before Francisco Rodriguez picked up 62 saves in 2008.

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