Date: May 1, 2013

Elias Says...

By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN.com

NBA

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Randolph

Randolph leads Grizzlies to 3rd straight win

From Elias: Zach Randolph scored 25 points and collected 11 rebounds as the Grizzlies took command of their first-round series with a 103-93 win over the Clippers in Los Angeles. Randolph has just been knocking those games out like clockwork: he had 27 points and 11 rebounds in his team's Game Three victory, and then he produced 24 points and nine rebounds as Memphis took Game Four.

The Grizzlies became the 26th team in NBA history to win three straight games in a playoff series after losing the first two games of that series (including six times in a best-of-five series). But Randolph is only the third player on those 26 teams to average 25-and-10 (points-and-rebounds) over the three successive victories. The others were Patrick Ewing for the Knicks, who had 108 points and 40 rebounds over three straight wins against the Celtics in the first round of the 1990 playoffs; and Charles Barkley, who had 86 points and 36 rebounds for the Suns against the Lakers over three consecutive wins in the first round of the 1993 playoffs.

Memphis Grizzlies

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Iguodala

Iguodala's game evokes LaPhonso's; now, can Nuggets complete '94-type comeback?

From Elias: Andre Iguodala contributed 25 points and 12 rebounds, connecting on 10 of 17 field-goal tries, in the Nuggets' 107-100 stayin'-alive victory over the Warriors. It was the first time in 40 NBA playoff games that Iguodala had produced a game of 25 points and 10 rebounds. The last Nuggets player other than Carmelo Anthony to generate those numbers in a playoff game was LaPhonso Ellis, who had 27 points and 17 rebounds in an extra-period win over Seattle in Game Four of that memorable first-round series in 1994, when the eighth-seeded Nuggets lost the first two games of the best-of-five set before winning three straight to shock the top-seeded Sonics.

Denver Nuggets

MLB

Strikeouts-per-game average in April: 2nd-highest in any month in MLB history

From Elias: The Orioles defeated the Mariners, 7-2, in Seattle, with Brian Matusz coming out of the pen to get the last four outs for Baltimore. Matusz had a pair of strikeouts, and his whiff of Kyle Seager was the 5,992nd and last major-league strikeout during the month of April, the highest April strikeout total in any season in major-league history. And it's not just the total of strikeouts that was noteworthy; the average of 15.29 strikeouts per major-league game during April was the second-highest average in a full month in major-league history. (We're not including the fragmentary baseball months, usually March or October, in which fewer than 60 games were played.) The record was set just last September, when there was an average of 15.47 strikeouts per game. And that brings us to the larger point: Over the 138-year history of Major League Baseball, the top eight months on that list - that is, the list of months with the highest average of strikeouts per game - are the last eight months. You read that correctly. Not eight-of-the-last-12, or eight-of-the-last-10, but eight-of-the-last-eight. There were 14.91 strikeouts in September 2011, 14.63 in April 2012, followed by 14.93 last May, 15.01 last June, 15.07 in July, 14.68 in August, the record 15.47 in September and now 15.29 in April 2013. Those are the eight highest monthly strikeout averages in baseball history. Attention must be paid.

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Hudson

Hudson wins #200, celebrates with HR

From Elias: Tim Hudson earned his 200th major-league victory, 8-1 over the Nationals, and accentuated the occasion with a home run (albeit one in-and-out of the glove of right fielder Bryce Harper). Hudson became the 110th pitcher in big-league history to amass 200 victories, but he became only the second of that group to hit a home run in the game in which he joined the 200-win club, or, subsequently, the 300-, 400- or (if you're Cy Young) 500-win circle. Back on Sept. 11, 1956, Cleveland's Bob Lemon downed the Orioles, 3-1, for his 200th win; he drove in two of his team's three runs with a second-inning homer.

Atlanta Braves

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Encarnacion

Encarnacion hits 2 more, now has 7 HRs in last 7 games

From Elias: Edwin Encarnacion hit a pair of home runs - the first a memorable upper-deck blast but the second a go-ahead shot in the seventh inning - as the Blue Jays tamped down the Red Sox, 9-7. It was the 10th multiple-homer game of Encarnacion's career, but the first in his 49 games against the Red Sox, against whom he had gone 0-for-13 with six strikeouts in a three-game series earlier in April. Encarnacion has now hit seven home runs in his last seven games, joining four other Blue Jays players who have hit at least seven homers over a seven-game span. Jose Bautista did it last May; Carlos Delgado actually hit eight over a seven-game stretch in August 1999; and Jesse Barfield (1983) and Ernie Whitt (1987) did it back in the eighties.

Toronto Blue Jays

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Ortiz

Papi joins 2 Hall-of-Famers in the Hot-Start-Over-9-Games Society

From Elias: David Ortiz continued to make up for lost time - and then some - as he went 2-for-5 and knocked in four runs on Tuesday at Toronto. That performance lowered his batting average to .500 (that's 18 hits in 36 at-bats) and increased his RBI total to 15 in nine games. Since the major leagues began recording RBIs in 1920, only two other players batted .500 or better while driving in at least 15 runs over their first nine games of a season. Who's in the club with Papi? A couple of Hall-of-Famers: Dave Winfield (17-for-34 with 16 RBIs for the 1988 Yankees) and Willie Mays (17-for-34 with 17 RBIs for the 1964 Giants)!

Boston Red Sox

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Sandoval

Sandoval hits one and Giants win

From Elias: Pablo Sandoval became the latest member of the Giants to provide late-inning lightning as his two-run homer in the ninth inning boosted his team to a 2-1 victory in Phoenix. Sandoval's was the Giants' fourth home run this month, in the ninth inning or later, that tied the score or provided the Giants with a lead; the others were hit by Hunter Pence on April 14, Brandon Belt on April 23 and Brandon Crawford on April 24. Prior to this season, the Giants hadn't had four home runs of that nature in the same month since August 2001, when Barry Bonds had two and J.T. Snow and Andres Galarraga each hit one.

San Francisco Giants

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Garcia

Garcia goes to 7-0 at home vs. Cincinnati, caps great month for Cards' starters

From Elias: Jaime Garcia went eight strong innings, allowing only one run and throwing just 92 pitches, and Matt Holliday supplied a two-run homer as the Cardinals downed the Reds, 2-1. Garcia made it look easy against the slump-ravaged Reds - but, then again, he always does that when the Reds come to town. Garcia is 7-0 with a 2.21 ERA in eight starts against the Reds at Busch Stadium; only two other active major-leaguers are undefeated at home in at least seven decisions for their current teams against a specific opponent: Jorge de la Rosa is 7-0 against the Diamondbacks in Denver, and Jered Weaver is 9-0 against the Rangers in Anaheim.

Cardinals' starters finished April with an ERA of 2.15, their lowest in a month of at least five games since Bob Gibson and Co. fashioned a 2.03 ERA in May of 1968, the year that Bullet Bob finished with a 1.12 ERA. Gibson had a 1.27 ERA during month of May that year, but somehow went 2-4 for the month, as the Cardinals didn't score more than three runs in any of his six starts.

St. Louis Cardinals

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Cabrera

Cabrera and Fielder good for 55 RBIs in April

From Elias: Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder each homered in the Tigers' triumph over the Twins, and they finished April with 55 RBIs between them, the highest total for a pair of major-league teammates during April since Miguel Tejada and Brian Roberts had 57 for the Orioles in 2005. Cabrera's total of 28 RBIs set an April record for the Tigers, eclipsing Tony Clark's 27 in April 1997.

Detroit Tigers

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Verlander

Verlander seems automatic against the Twins

From Elias: Justin Verlander went seven innings and earned the victory in the Tigers' 4-1 win over the Twins, marking his eighth win in his last eight starts against Minnesota. Verlander is the first pitcher to be credited with wins in each of eight straight starts against the Twins since David Wells put together a nine-wins-in-nine-starts stretch from 1996 to 2000. Only one other active major-league pitcher has won his last eight starts against one opponent: CC Sabathia against Seattle.

Detroit Tigers

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Smith

Seth Smith's specialty: the 3-run double

From Elias: Seth Smith stroked a three-run double, turning a 6-3 lead into a 9-3 lead as the Athletics made it five straight wins over the Angels this season by winning, 10-6, on Tuesday night. It was the third time since last year's All-Star Break that Smith has hit a three-run double, the most by any major-leaguer over that stretch. Which do you think you see more of in the majors: three-run doubles or grand-slam homers? Last year, there were 104 grand-slam homers, as opposed to 72 three-run doubles. But through the end of April this season, there had been 13 of each.

Oakland Athletics

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Reynolds

Reynolds hits 8th April HR to lead bombardment of Halladay

From Elias: Carlos Santana and Mark Reynolds hit first-inning home runs off Roy Halladay - the first time that Halladay has ever yielded two round-trippers in a first inning - and the Indians would add five more homers in a 14-2 victory over the Phillies. It was the eighth home run of the season for Reynolds; he tied the record for the most homers by a player in his first month with the Indians. Juan Gonzalez hit eight home runs for the Tribe in April 2001, and finished that season with 35.

In all, there were nine home runs hit in the Phillies-Indians contest, the most hit in any major-league game since the Braves and the Yankees combined for nine in a game last June 20. And the total of 50 home runs hit in the 15 big-league games on Tuesday night was the highest on one day in the majors in more than five years, since 51 homers were hit in the 16 games played on Sept. 11, 2007.

Cleveland Indians

Girardi goes against type, but writes out a winning lineup

From Elias: Anyone following Joe Girardi's managerial career knows the pains that he generally takes to "split the lefties" - that is, whenever possible, not to use left-handed batters back-to-back in his lineup, thereby making it more difficult for the opposing manager to get a platoon advantage on consecutive batters by using just one lefty relief pitcher. At times it seemed that had Joe managed the '27 Yankees, Gehrig would have batted fifth, not fourth. Yes, the Yankees usually have had a stock of switch-hitters to make splitting lefties easier; but with Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher gone, and Mark Teixeira (as well as right-handed Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Youkilis) injured, well, Girardi went with something new.

The Yankees defeated the Astros on Tuesday night, 7-4, using a starting lineup in which batters one-through-five were all lefties: Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, Robinson Cano, Travis Hafner and Brennan Boesch. It was the first time in the Yankees' last 2,839 regular-season games that they had used left-handed batters in each of the top five lineup slots. The last such Yankees lineup was written on July 28, 1995 - that's right, 1995, not only pre-dating Girardi's managerial tenure with the Yankees but also Joe Torre's; on that long-ago night, the Yankees' 39-year-old manager, Buck Showalter, batted Luis Polonia, Wade Boggs, Dion James, Paul O'Neill and Don Mattingly one-through-five in a game at the Metrodome.

New York Yankees

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Humber

Humber, with 4 wild pitches, now 0-6... just like Stewart, J.R. and the Express

From Elias: Philip Humber, who threw a perfect game last April, finished this April 0-6 in six starts after being tagged with a loss at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night in a game in which he threw four wild pitches. Only one other pitcher in major-league history suffered six losses in April, and only two other pitchers in Astros history have endured at least four wild pitches in one game. But get a load of these names: The guy with the six April losses was Dave Stewart, who still had four 20-win seasons in his future when he went 0-6 for the Rangers in 1984; and the Astros pitchers with four wild ones in a game were none other than J. R. Richard (six in a game in 1979) and Nolan Ryan (four in 1982).

Houston Astros

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Darvish

Darvish has majors' top April strikeout total in 10 years

From Elias: Yu Darvish struck out nine batters and the Rangers' bats came to life in the middle innings as Texas defeated the White Sox, 10-6. Darvish finished April with 58 strikeouts, the highest total by any major-league pitcher in The Cruelest Month since Javier Vazquez fanned 58 batters for the Montreal Expos in April 2003. Darvish's strikeout total was the highest for a Rangers pitcher in any month since Nolan Ryan accumulated 58 punchouts in September 1989.

Texas Rangers

Brewers get homers from 2B-3B-SS

From Elias: The Brewers, who started the month by losing eight of their first 10 games, will go into May with a 14-11 record after their 12-8 victory over the Pirates. Rickie Weeks, Yuniesky Betancourt and Jean Segura all homered for the Brew Crew, marking the first time this season that any major-league team has gotten home runs from its second baseman, third baseman and shortstop in the same game. The last major league team to lose at least eight of its first 10 games but go into May with a winning record was Tampa Bay, just two years ago (2-8, then 15-12), but before that, you have to go back to the Twins in 1985 (2-8, then 11-9).

Milwaukee Brewers

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Shields

Shields bests Rays; Royals head into May at 14-10

From Elias: James Shields, who racked up a franchise-record 87 wins for Tampa Bay, earned a victory in his first start against the Rays, picking up a 8-2 decision on Tuesday night that lifted the Royals' record to 14-10. Since 1990, there has been only one other season in which Kansas City headed into May at least four games above the .500 mark; that happened in 2003, when they took a 17-7 mark into May and finished at 83-79.

Kansas City Royals

Marlins get 2nd straight walkoff win without getting a walkoff hit

From Elias: Brandon Lyon's bases-loaded wild pitch permitted the winning run to score in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Marlins took a 2-1 decision from the Mets. The game lasted only two hours, 25 minutes - or less than half of the five hours, 31 minutes consumed in Miami's 4-3 victory over the Mets in 15 innings the previous night. That game concluded on Nick Green's sacrifice fly. The Marlins became the first major-league team in nearly five years to enjoy consecutive walkoff victories without winning either game by means of a hit; the last such team was the Giants in 2008, and they did it by victimizing the Marlins. On August 20, Bengie Molina's sacrifice fly provided the game winning; the next day, the winning run came in on Kevin Gregg's wild pitch.

Miami Marlins

NHL

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Selanne

42-year-old Selanne gets the game-winner

From Elias: Teemu Selanne broke a 1-1 tie with a power play goal early in the third period and the Ducks went on to take a 3-1 victory over the Red Wings in Game One. The 42-year-old Selanne became the second-oldest player ever to score a game-winning goal in the NHL playoffs; Mark Recchi was 43 when he was credited with the game-winning goal in the Bruins' 8-1 victory over the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final two years ago. (Recchi scored early in the second period of that game, making the score 2-0, and was credited with the game-winning goal in a game in which Boston had a 5-0 lead at the time that Vancouver scored in the third period.)

Anaheim Ducks

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Steen

Steen wins it with an overtime shortie

From Elias: Alexander Steen's shorthanded goal at the 13:26 mark of overtime gave the Blues a 2-1 win over the Kings in the opener of their playoff series. The last shorthanded overtime goals in the NHL playoffs came in 2006, one by Jason Pominville in the Sabres' second-round series-clinching Game Five win at Ottawa, and one by the Oilers' Fernando Pisani in Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final at Carolina. Prior to those two, there hadn't been a shorthanded overtime goal in the NHL playoffs since Tony Granato won a game for the Kings over the Flames in that manner in 1990.

St. Louis Blues

The experienced coach takes Game One

From Elias: The Blackhawks defeated the Wild, 2-1, in their playoff opener, when Bryan Bickell scored 16:35 into overtime. Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville was behind the bench in a Stanley Cup game for the 140th time in his career, while Minnesota's Mike Yeo was coaching in his first NHL postseason game. The 139-game difference in playoff experience between the two head coaches is the largest in an NHL postseason series since the 2002 Stanley Cup Final, when Detroit's Scotty Bowman (348 games of playoff experience entering the series) faced Carolina's Paul Maurice (30 games); Bowman and the Red Wings won that series in five games.

Chicago Blackhawks


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