Stats & Info: Scott Erickson

Rapid reaction: Dallas Braden perfect

May, 9, 2010
* Dallas Braden's perfect game was the 19th in MLB history.

* With a 22-8 record entering the game, the Tampa Bay Rays had the highest winning percentage of a team that fell victim to a perfect game.

* The last Athletics no-hitter was thrown by Dave Stewart on June 29, 1990, at the Blue Jays. (Fernando Valenzuela threw one on the same day.)

* The only previous perfect game in Athletics history was thrown by Catfish Hunter on May 8, 1968 (42 years ago yesterday).

*The last time the Rays were no-hit was on July 23, 2009, by Mark Buehrle (perfect game).

* It was the first no-hitter thrown on May 9.

* The only previous no-hitters thrown on the second Sunday of May (Mother's Day) were by Hod Eller of the Reds on May 11, 1919, and Charlie Lea of the Expos on May 10, 1981.

* Braden is the seventh left-hander to throw a perfect game in MLB history:

2010 Dallas Braden
2009 Mark Buehrle
2004 Randy Johnson
1998 David Wells
1994 Kenny Rogers
1988 Tom Browning
1965 Sandy Koufax

* The last time there were two no-hitters thrown in the majors before May 9 was 1994 (Kent Mercker and Scott Erickson).

* The Tampa Bay Rays are now just the second victim of consecutive perfect games of the 19 thrown in major league history. The Rays were on the losing end of Buehrle's perfect game in July 2009. The Los Angeles Dodgers were on the losing side of Tom Browning's perfect game for Cincinnati in 1988 and stumbled again in 1991 to Dennis Martinez of the Montreal Expos.

Monday's first pitch

April, 5, 2010
Today’s Trivia: As Bobby Cox readies himself for his final Opening Day, let’s look back on his first. In Cox’s first game as manager (April 7, 1978), a pair of future Hall of Famers dueled on the mound, as the Braves started Phil Niekro against the Dodgers’ Don Sutton. But perhaps more interesting than that? Which two current managers played in that game? (Hint: both are now over 60!)

* Over the last 50 years, there have been four instances of a pitcher getting the start on Opening Day after missing all of the previous season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. On Monday, three pitchers will do just that. Jake Westbrook, Ben Sheets and Shaun Marcum are all starting the opener for their respective teams after missing all of the last year. The last pitcher to do that was Carl Pavano for the Yankees in 2007. Prior to that: Scott Erickson (’02 Orioles), Alex Fernandez (’99 Marlins), Diego Segui (’77 Mariners). And because you don’t get to type this name enough – the last pitcher to do it prior to 1960 was Vinegar Bend Mizell for the 1956 Cardinals after serving in Korea.

* With the NCAA title game tonight, you're probably wondering what baseball history has to say about tonight's outcome. When was the last time a Butler faced a Duke in the MLB? On July 26, 1970, Indians catcher Duke Sims went 0-2 against Bill Butler of the Royals. Score one for Butler there. However, if home run hitting is any indicator, this one could be all Duke. There have been 19 players with the last name Butler in MLB history. Led by Billy and Brett, those Butlers hit a combined 118 home runs. Duke Snider alone had 407 homers. What about the actual schools, you ask? Well, Butler has only produced four MLB players to Duke's 31. But the last time we saw a Duke-Butler meeting at the plate? On April 6, 1998, Butler's Doug Jones (then on the Brewers) got Duke's Ryan Jackson (Marlins) to fly out to center.

* President Obama will throw out the first pitch this afternoon in Washington, continuing a now 100-year tradition started by William Howard Taft. This will be the 63rd time that a sitting President has thrown out the first pitch on Opening Day, with only Jimmy Carter never doing so since Taft. An interesting trend has emerged though. Including Obama, three of our last four Presidents have been real lefties – that is, with their throwing arm. Only the A’s, Blue Jays, Mets and Phillies feature three lefties in their Opening Day rotation. Interestingly, our last five presidents only had 24 fewer wins last season than Toronto’s current rotation.

* Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt will be starting their 8th straight openers, the longest active streak followed by Carlos Zambrano at six. Chipper Jones will be making his 14th straight Opening Day start for the Braves, the longest active streak with one team. Next on that list are Todd Helton (13) and Paul Konerko (12). No Derek Jeter? He missed the first four games on 2001. Otherwise, he’d be one spot ahead of Jones.

* Today’s Leaderboard: If you are going to get Xavier Nady in the lineup, you might as well make it on Opening Day. The Cubs outfielder is a career .481 hitter in the first game of the season, highest among active players with 15 at-bats. Nady also has five home runs on Opening Day. Only Ken Griffey Jr. (8) and Adam Dunn (6) have more among active players.

Matchup(s) of the Day:
Mark DeRosa is 13-27 lifetime against Roy Oswalt. That .481 batting average is the highest for any hitter that has faced Oswalt at least 20 times.

Matt Holliday is just 1-16 in his career against Aaron Harang. That .063 average is his lowest against any pitcher he’s faced 15 times.

Trivia Answer: Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston (who is now 66) appeared as a pinch hitter for the Braves and made the final out the game. Dusty Baker (who is now 60) started in LF for the Dodgers.