Saturday, May 12, 2012
Kernels of Wisdom: Week in review
By Doug Kern, ESPN Stats & Information
Some inspiration and statistical support for this column is provided by ESPN Stats & Information, Baseball-Reference.com, YouCantPredictBaseball.com, Baseball-Almanac.com and the Elias Sports Bureau.
Obviously the story of the week was Josh Hamilton's historic four-homer game in Baltimore on Tuesday, the 16th in major league history. As one of the 11,263 who happened to be at Camden Yards for that game, a cap-tip to the fans behind me in section 336 who inspired a couple more tidbits on that game.
It's a safe bet to pencil in Texas' Josh Hamilton as an All-Star starter in July.
Hamilton is the first of the 16 whose four homers have all been two-run shots.
Elvis Andrus, who batted in front of Hamilton, was the runner on base for all four of them. He's the third player who can say that. Mark Whiten's four homers in 1993 all scored Gerald Perry, and Carl Furillo scored on all four of Gil Hodges' homers in 1950. Even more bizarre, the one time Andrus made an out (fifth inning), Hamilton did not homer.
Of the 14 players who had four-homer games from 1900 onward, only Joe Adcock (1954) also had a home run in the game prior to the four-homer outburst. Only Shawn Green (2002) and Mike Schmidt (1976) hit one in the game after. (Game logs are not available for the two players who had four-homer games in the 1890s.)
A close second in Game of the Week honors has to go to the 17-inning game between the Orioles and Red Sox on Sunday. Not only was it the longest game at Fenway Park (by innings) in 11 years, and the second-longest game (by time) in Orioles history, but both teams turned a position player into the pitcher late in the game.
Baltimore's Chris Davis went 0-for-8 at the plate, with five strikeouts, and got the win after Adam Jones homered in the top of the 17th. Elias tells us that the last instance of that accomplishment predates the designated hitter rule and even Fenway Park. Hall of Famer Rube Waddell won a 20-inning game on July 4, 1905 (against the Red Sox, oddly) where he went 0-for-8.
Davis also had the only five-strikeout game in the majors last season. It came in 11 innings against the Yankees on Sept. 7.
Combined with Cody Ross' five strikeouts for Boston, it was just the third time since 1920 that two different players had five-plus strikeouts in the same game -- and the first time it was one player from each side.
Boston outfielder Darnell McDonald became the losing pitcher by giving up Jones' homer. That made it the first major league game where both position players got decisions since Sept. 28, 1902.
Brandon Morrow struck out 10 on Wednesday; and Stephen Strasburg fanned 13 on Thursday. That doubled the number of such outings so far this season. In Latos' case, he was the first Cincinnati pitcher to get a victory in such an outing since Dave Burba earned one in April 1997.
Texas' Brandon Snyder drove in six runs on Monday with a three-run homer and two singles. He's the second player this year (joining Carlos Gonzalez two weeks ago) to have six RBIs and only one extra-base hit. And it's only the sixth time in Rangers history a player has done that, most recently Laynce Nix in 2005. Two of the other five had a grand slam as their extra-base hit.
Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard managed to get called for two balks on Tuesday -- during the same plate appearance (by Chris Getz in the second). The phenomenon has happened exactly once in each of the past three seasons: Pedro Strop of the Orioles in April 2011, and Yunesky Maya of the Nationals got called for two in September 2010. (Before that, it hadn't happened since 2005.) Bard was the first Red Sox pitcher to get called for two balks in a game since John Dopson tallied four such games in the 1989 season. And no Bostonian had committed two in the same plate appearance since Mel Parnell did it on May 5, 1948.
While Hamilton was driving in his eight runs on Tuesday, Carlos Beltran hit a grand slam and a two-run homer to account for all six runs in the Cardinals' win at Arizona. Only one player last season had six-plus RBIs and accounted for all his team's runs in a game -- Jason Giambi's three-homer game (seven RBIs) on May 19 where the Rockies beat Philadelphia 7-1. Adam Dunn of the Nationals was the only player to do it in 2010. And only two other Cardinals in their history have had six-plus RBIs and driven in every run for their team: Albert Pujols (Aug. 22, 2006) and Mark McGwire (May 18, 2000).
Brandon Inge hit a walk-off grand slam for Oakland on Tuesday, and then proceeded to hit another slam in the eighth inning on Thursday against his former team, the Tigers. That quickly made him the first player this season to hit two grand slams, and the first to hit two in three days since Jorge Posada hit them in back-to-back games on June 12-13, 2010.