Discussion

Aroldis Chapman lights up the radar gun

Updated: September 3, 2010, 7:24 PM ET
By Jayson Stark
One thing you can always count on when those holiday weekends arrive is there will be sandwiches. So it's time once again to serve up a sizzling portion of the eagerly awaited Generic Sandwich Awards, still unsponsored by a sandwich emporium near you. But first, make room for the …

Munchies of the week

• A question about Nyjer Morgan: Has anybody else ever gotten suspended while he already was suspended? While Morgan was in the middle of appealing his seven-game suspension for throwing a ball at a fan, he got suspended again Friday for eight more games for all his assorted misdemeanors in Florida this week. Does that mean he's in a state of suspended animation?

Nyjer Morgan
Morgan

• Meanwhile, I don't have a copy of that unwritten rule book. But I do know that what Morgan did in Florida on Wednesday -- stealing second and third with his team down 11 -- never happens.

Loyal reader Trent McCotter reports that only one other player since the 2000 season has stolen a base in any other game in which his team was that far behind -- and that was at Coors Field (Clint Barmes, on July 21, 2008). And no one has stolen second and third while down that many runs.

Of course, in part that's because those "steals" often are scored as defensive indifference. But there was nothing indifferent about what Morgan did.

• The Giants just had possibly the most bizarre five-game stretch by any offense ever. The good news was, from Aug. 23 through 25, they scored in double figures three games in a row. But the bad news was, guess what they did on either side of those three games? They got shut out, naturally (by St. Louis and Arizona). So how many other teams have bookended three consecutive double-figure scoring games with shutouts? That would be none, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

• CC Sabathia's 16 straight wins at home and 21 consecutive home starts without a loss, both tied for the longest streaks of their kind in Yankees history, represent a fantastic feat. Except a funny thing happened to CC in the middle of that streak: He did lose a game at home. It just came in Game 1 of the World Series, so it doesn't screw up the streak. Gotta love baseball.

• A few months ago, Chris Sale was hanging out at the student union at Florida Gulf Coast. On Wednesday, he saved a game for the White Sox. He was just the fourth pitcher in the history of the draft to save a game in the big leagues in the same year he was drafted. The others: Chad Cordero (2003 Expos), Mike Loynd (1986 Rangers) and Eddie Bane (1973 Twins).

Ryan Church
Church

• Loyal reader Daniel Rathman watched Ryan Church reach first on a strikeout/wild pitch, move to second on a wild pitch and move to third on yet another wild pitch -- all by Matt Cain -- this past Sunday and thought: Has that ever happened before? Great question. And the answer, according to Elias, is that Church was the first player in the past 40 years to make it to first, second and third on three different wild pitches.

• Loyal reader Felix Tanker keeps looking at Felix Hernandez's stats and thinking it's just not possible to be having a season this good (2.38 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 200 strikeouts) and have a record this pedestrian (10-10). Well, he's right. In the live-ball era, there has been only one other starting pitcher who had an ERA, WHIP and strikeout total that good and a record this close to .500: Sam McDowell, who went 15-14 for the 1968 Indians, despite a 1.81 ERA, 283 whiffs and an even better WHIP (1.08). Maybe Felix should give Sam a call.

• We now have a tie in the stolen-base race -- among pitchers. Milwaukee's Randy Wolf swiped a base Monday, pulling even with Pittsburgh's Daniel McCutchen at one steal apiece. Even more historic is this: It was the first steal by a pitcher in Brewers history.

• In Brad Hawpe's first game as a Ray, he did something Pat Burrell did only once as a Ray -- go 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. You should know that only three other men since 1900 have had an 0-for-4, four-whiff Gold Sombrero in a debut with a new team: Willie Taveras with the 2007 Rockies, Ernie Whitt with the 1991 Orioles and Harmon Killebrew with the 1975 Royals.

• Box-score classic of the week (bullpen dept.): Gotta love that Carlos Marmol. Check out his line in his save Wednesday against the Pirates: 1 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.

Carlos Marmol
Marmol

In the history of the modern save rule, there have been only six saves in which a closer crammed at least three walks and at least three whiffs into an outing of four outs or shorter. Marmol has been responsible for two of them. The others came from Francisco Cordero (2006), Bob Wickman (1999), Dave Freisleben (1979) and Terry Forster (1974).

• Box-score classic of the week (zero hero dept.): Loyal reader Eli Rosenswaike caught this gem from Cardinals magician Jaime Garcia last Friday in Washington: 5 1/3 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 1 HBP.

So what's the big deal about that line? It was just the second time since 1920 that a starting pitcher allowed 13 baserunners or more in an outing of 16 outs or shorter but put nothing but zeroes on the board. The only other pitcher to do it: Vida Blue, on Sept. 15, 1973.

• One more from Eli Rosenswaike: Zack Greinke at home this year has 91 innings pitched, 21 walks and 76 strikeouts. Greinke on the road this year has 91 innings pitched, 21 walks, 76 strikeouts. Isn't symmetry a beautiful thing?

• Finally, here's my favorite Name Game note of the week: We had the first win in history Wednesday by a pitcher named Diamond, with the Cubs' Thomas Diamond doing the honors. For what it's worth, there have been five wins in history from a Field (Nate and Jim), 145 from a Park (courtesy of Chan Ho Park, Jim Park and Park Swartzel) and three from a Parks (Slicker). Still waiting for a win from a Mound, but we've had 236 from a bunch of different Hills. And with that, let's get out those Sandwich Award envelopes, please …

The fast-food award

You know, the Sandwich Awards Committee doesn't mean to get this mesmerized by Aroldis Chapman. But how can you not?

Aroldis Chapman
Chapman

I've seen a lot of baseball games. I've never seen a 104 get posted on any radar-gun board in a ballpark I've been hanging out in. Not in real life, anyhow.

But the Reds' smokeballer did that twice Wednesday night. Twice. In the same at-bat. We later learned, thanks to those decimal-point freaks at pitch f/x, that one pitch was actually traveling a mere 103.9 miles per hour and the other was "just" 103.8. But what the heck. Close enough!

So where does that rank among the fastest pitches ever thrown? We'll never know, because we have pitch f/x data only back to the 2006 postseason and, in the regular season, only since the middle of 2007. But loyal reader Trent McCotter combed through that data and passed along the six fastest pitches recorded by pitch f/x:

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