Stats & Info: Willie McCovey

Cardinals, Giants: Differing streaks on line

October, 21, 2012
The San Francisco Giants will be looking to end a century’s worth of heartbreak in postseason winner-take-all games in a best-of-seven series when they face the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.

Their 0-5 record in best-of-seven deciding games is the worst in major-league history.

The run dates back to their time as the New York Giants.

In 1912, they lost to the Boston Red Sox. The Giants blew a 2-1 10th-inning lead with their ace, Christy Mathewson pitching. The Red Sox scored twice in the 10th, the key play being a muffed fly ball by center fielder Fred Snodgrass to lead off the frame.

In 1924, they blew a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning and lost to the Washington Senators, 4-3 in 12 innings. The winning run scored on Earl McNeely’s double after the Giants made two errors earlier in the inning.

Legend has it that the winning hit took a bad hop over the head of the Giants' third baseman (Fred Lindstrom) because it hit a pebble.

In 1962, they lost Game 7 of the World Series 1-0 to the New York Yankees. The Giants had runners on second and third with two outs in the ninth when Hall-of-Famer Willie McCovey lined to second base to end the series.

In 1987, they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-0. Jose Oquendo, who hit one home run all season, hit a three-run home run in the second inning to put the game away.

In 2002, they blew a 5-0 lead to the Anaheim Angels in Game 6 and then lost Game 7, 4-1. Garret Anderson had the go-ahead hit, a three-run double in the fourth inning.

The Giants got the tying run to the plate in three different innings, but could not get the key hit they needed.

They’ll be trying to win against a Cardinals team that is 11-4 all-time in Game 7s.

The win total and win percentage are the best for any team in major-league history.

The Cardinals have also won six straight winner-take-all games, tied for the longest-ever streak of success.

That streak also belonged to the Cardinals and ended in 1968, when they lost Game 7 of the World Series to the Detroit Tigers, a series in which they blew a 3-games-to-1-lead.

The Cardinals have players familiar with key Game 7 moments on their roster. The last time they played Game 7 of the NLCS, they beat the New York Mets, the go-ahead hit coming on a two-run home run by Yadier Molina.

Adam Wainwright struck out now-teammate Carlos Beltran with a nasty curveball for the final out of the series, stranding the bases loaded.

Molina also had two RBIs in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series against the Texas Rangers, as did teammate David Freese.

Allen Craig added the hit that put the Cardinals ahead for good that day, a third-inning homer versus Matt Harrison.

The day in home runs: Met Killer

August, 2, 2010
Chipper Jones loved hitting in Shea Stadium so much that he named one of his sons Shea. Well, he's also had more than his share of his success against the Mets at Citi Field, Fulton County Stadium and - as he again proved Monday - Turner Field.

Jones hit his 43rd career home run against the Mets, passing Pat Burrell for 5th-most all-time. He trails only Hall of Famers Willie Stargell (60), Mike Schmidt (49), Willie McCovey (48) and Hank Aaron (45).

It was also Jones' 434th career homer, tying Juan Gonzalez for 37th on the all-time list.

Vernon Wells' home run off A.J. Burnett in the second inning of Monday's game at the Yankees was the second-shortest homer in MLB this season (324 feet down the right field line). The only homer that was shorter than Wells' was a 321-foot shot by Mark Teixeira on June 15 off Roy Halladay, also down the right field line at Yankee Stadium. Wells' shot would have been a home run only at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park.

Albert Pujols homered for the third consecutive game, the first time he's accomplished that feat in 2010.

And now the daily Alex Rodriguez update:

A-Rod has gone 43 at-bats since his last home run (No. 599 on July 22). The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that is tied for the 13th-longest drought since Rodriguez joined the Yankees in 2004 and is the 30th-longest drought since the start of his MLB career.

1st pitch: The leadoff hole

April, 14, 2010
Today’s Trivia: Happy Birthday to the 1995 Atlanta Braves. Well, three of them at least. Greg Maddux, David Justice and Steve Avery were all born on April 14. Maddux posted an NL-best 1.63 ERA in 1995. Can you name the two other pitchers on that team that won an ERA title at some point in their career?

Quick Hits: April has not been kind to leadoff hitters thus far, a trend spotted by Baseball Tonight researcher Mark Simon. With the obligatory acknowledgement that we are only 10 days into the season, let’s take a look at the hole at the top spot in the order.

* Apparently, leadoff is the new seventh. Leadoff batters are hitting .249 with an OBP of .316. Meanwhile, the seventh spot is a collective .250 with an OBP of .316

* The No. 1 hitter in the Texas Rangers lineup is 1-28 with no walks. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mike Leake had more hits than that in his MLB debut. The No. 1 hitter for the Braves is 2-29. Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Edwin Jackson had two hits in an inning.

* The primary culprits have been Julio Borbon (1-25), Melky Cabrera (2-26), and a pair of Padres: Everth Cabrera (1-15) and Tony Gwynn, Jr. (1-11).

* In all, ten teams are hitting under .200 from the top spot in the order.

* Thirteen No. 1 hitters have an on-base percentage below .200 (minimum 15 PA)

* Though Carlos Gonzalez has the highest leadoff average (.393), Jimmy Rollins has arguably been the most productive leadoff hitter thus far. He’s hitting .391 with a .516 on-base percentage. The catch? Rollins appears on his way to the disabled list. Shane Victorino, his likely replacement atop the lineup, is a career .227 hitter from the top spot.

Key Matchups: Bobby Abreu has nine career home runs against Javier Vazquez, which is five more than he has against any other pitcher. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Elias Sports Bureau unearthed a fascinating element to their head-to-head history. Abreu has three multi-homer games against Vazquez, making him the first to do that against one pitcher since Willie McCovey against Bob Buhl.

Looking to guide the Astros to their first win, Brett Myers is 4-2 in his career against the Cardinals. However, the current Cardinals lineup might indicate a different story. Six Cardinals regulars have faced Myers before, and they’ve combined to hit .392 with nine home runs in just 79 at-bats. For once Albert Pujols is bringing down the rest of the group. He is a .310 hitter against Myers with “only” two homers in 29 at-bats.

Today’s Leaderboard: Five players that have made at least 20 plate appearances have yet to strikeout this season. The most surprising would have to be Ivan Rodriguez, who fanned 92 times last season. With one strikeout in 34 PA, Chase Utley just missed the list. He had 110 strikeouts last season.

Trivia Answer: If you guessed Tom Glavine and John Smoltz... sorry, they never led the league in ERA. Alejandro Pena (1984) and Jason Schmidt (2003) would be the correct answers.