Saturday, May 5, 2012
Kernels of Wisdom: Week in review
By Doug Kern, ESPN Stats & Information
Matt Garza surrendered a bloop single to Jimmy Rollins to start Sunday's game in Philadelphia. He then retired 17 straight (and got Rollins trying to advance on a wild pitch) before walking Juan Pierre in the seventh.
It's the first time a Cubs pitcher has allowed a maximum of one hit and gotten at least 10 strikeouts since Carlos Zambrano threw his hurricane-displaced no-hitter at Miller Park on Sept. 14, 2008.
No Cubs starter has allowed a leadoff hit as his only hit of the game (and won the game) since Steve Trachsel threw a complete-game one-hitter against the Astros on May 13, 1996. The lone hit in that game was a leadoff double to Brian Hunter.
Curtis Granderson laid down a sacrifice bunt (in the first inning), drew a bases-loaded walk and then hit a solo home run in his first three plate appearances against the Tigers on Sunday.
The last Yankee to have a homer, a sacrifice, and a walk in one game: Derek Jeter, on July 25, 2000.
Even at 38, the Rockies' Todd Helton showed recently that he still can be clutch in key situations.
No matter what they say about fresh young talent, sometimes it's the old reliable guys who make the difference. On Sunday, the Rockies got a pinch-hit grand slam from 38-year-old Todd Helton to tie the game in the eighth. On Wednesday, they got a three-run pinch-hit homer from 41-year-old Jason Giambi to walk off with an 8-5 win over the Dodgers.
The starter in Sunday's game where Helton hit the slam? Forty-nine-year-old Jamie Moyer.
Wesley Wright entered Monday's game for the Astros, threw one pitch, retired Daniel Murphy, and left the game. On Tuesday he entered the game, threw one pitch, and got Ike Davis to ground out to end the inning.
He's the first pitcher to make appearances in two straight team games, face one batter in each game, and retire each of them on one pitch, since George Sherrill did so for the Mariners on Aug. 1 and 2 of 2006. (Others have done it in two straight appearances, but not in consecutive team games.)
Wilton Lopez, whom Wright replaced, also threw only one pitch on Monday, retiring Ruben Tejada to end the seventh inning. So the Astros had four consecutive pitches thrown by four different hurlers (albeit across an inning break). No team has done that since the White Sox did five straight on Aug. 21, 2007.
The Royals recalled Nate Adcock from Triple-A Omaha on Friday night with the expectation that he would start Saturday's game in Minnesota. Manager Ned Yost commented that his bullpen was worn down and that he needed an innings-eater. "Right now we need depth, we need protection." As it turned out, that Saturday game got rained out.
It worked out. Scheduled starter Bruce Chen got pulled in the third inning on Sunday after giving up six runs, and Adcock was brought in to finish the rest of the game -- all 5 1/3 innings and 93 pitches of it. It's the longest outing by a Royals reliever since Luke Hudson gave up 11 runs to Cleveland in the 1st inning on Aug. 13, 2006. Todd Wellemeyer had to be called in to rescue that inning, and pitched all the way until the seventh.
It's been a big week for pinch-hit homers. The Padres' Mark Kotsay hit a two-run shot in the eighth inning on Tuesday that proved to be not just the game winner, but the only runs of the game for either team. San Diego beat Milwaukee 2-0.
The last game where the only runs scored came on a pinch-hit homer, was on Sept. 6, 2006, also in San Diego. Paul McAnulty hit a two-run walk-off shot in the 11th to give the Padres a 2-0 win over Colorado.
The last time it happened in "regulation" was on Aug. 27, 2005 (Arizona's Alex Cintron with a two-run jack in the seventh against Philadelphia).
Rockies manager Jim Tracy made a controversial decision to intentionally walk Matt Kemp in Wednesday's game with the Dodgers. There were two outs in the ninth inning, a runner already on first base, and Kemp would represent the tying run. The move backfired as the next hitter, Dee Gordon, doubled in both runs and to tie the game, although Colorado later walked off with the win in the bottom of the ninth.
Kemp is the first batter to be intentionally walked to put the tying run on base in the ninth inning since Miguel Cabrera last August. (In a couple cases, the tying run was already on base and the walk was to the go-ahead run.) And in that case, first base was open and it was sort of a no-brainer.
The last time the tying run was intentionally put on base in the ninth inning, with first base already occupied, was on May 23, 2004. The Phillies' Tim Worrell walked Ryan Klesko to fill the bases, but with the pitcher's spot due up next. (In that case, it worked; the Phillies escaped with a two-run victory.)
In Jered Weaver's no-hitter on Wednesday night, the home plate umpire was 14-year veteran Mark Carlson, who had never before called a no-hitter. However, he was at second base when Ubaldo Jimenez threw his on April 17, 2010.
For the rest of the crew, however, Weaver's gem completed two "umpire no-hit cycles." Ed Hickox, the first-base arbiter, has only umpired four no-no's, but they've come at each of the four different positions: behind the plate for Matt Garza's in 2010; at second when Clay Buchholz threw his in 2007; and at third for Jim Abbott's no-no way back in 1993.
Ed Rapuano was at second base on Wednesday, marking his fifth no-hitter on the field. However, he had twice been at first base, meaning Weaver also completed his cycle.
The Tigers' Austin Jackson recently recorded the eighth four-hit game of his career.
Austin Jackson had yet another four-hit game in the Tigers' win over Kansas City on Tuesday. It's already the third four-hit game for him this season, leading the majors. In fact, last season no leadoff hitter had more than four such games. (Jackson himself had two, and now has a career total of eight.)
Jackson is already halfway to the Tigers' record for four-hit games by a leadoff batter; Harvey Kuenn had six during the 1955 season and 14 for his career in Motown.
Felix Doubront surrendered six hits and five runs to the Athletics on Tuesday as the Red Sox's up-and-down season continued. Lost in Doubront's performance, however, was that he recorded eight of his 12 outs via the strikeout, including striking out the side in the first even though it took him 30 pitches. Cliff Lee lost his memorable 16-strikeout game last season. But Doubront is the first Boston starter to lose a game where he averaged two K's per completed inning since Roger Clemens in 1996. On May 28 that year, Clemens also posted eight strikeouts in four innings in a 6-2 loss to the Athletics."Jesus Montero, Seattle's most-publicized offseason acquisition, went 4-for-4 with a double in Tuesday's game at Tampa Bay. All of his at-bats came with no one on base. After reaching base, Montero was twice erased at second, and twice stranded at second. He's the first player this season to have a four-hit game with no runs scored and none batted in. No Mariner had done it, and included an extra-base hit, since Ichiro Suzuki in 2005. And Montero is the first player in Seattle baseball history (yes, that includes the Pilots) to be a perfect 4-for-4 or better, with at least one extra-base hit, and not score or drive in a single run. Needless to say, the Mariners lost that game, 3-1.
Carlos Beltran hit a pair of three-run homers as part of his four-hit, seven-RBI day against the Pirates on Wednesday. He was the first Cardinal to have four hits and seven RBIs since Mark Whiten's four-homer game in 1993. St. Louis also scored four in the first, three in the second, and five in the third in that game, and then shut it down. They didn't score again the rest of the game and won 12-3. The last team to score 12-plus runs in a game, all coming in the first three innings, was on June 11, 2010, when the Red Sox went 5-4-3 in a 12-2 interleague win over Philadelphia.
Joe Blanton tossed a complete-game shutout over the Braves in just 88 pitches and 2 hours and 2 minutes on Thursday. It was, by eight minutes, the shortest game time-wise so far this season, and the shortest at Turner Field since August 2006. It was also the fewest number of pitches needed for a Phillies pitcher to throw a shutout since Mike Grace did it in 84 pitches against the Yankees in September 1997.
Cardinals pitcher Jake Westbrook stole a base on Thursday. For real. It wasn't a botched hit-and-run or the back end of a double steal or something. Westbrook took off on an 0-2 pitch and made it. It was the first successful steal by a pitcher this season. There were three last year, most recently by Zack Greinke on Aug. 28. The last Cardinals pitcher to steal a base (while in the game as a pitcher, not as a pinch runner) was Joel Pineiro on April 15, 2009.