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Miami's Big Three rises to the occasion
LeBron James scored 33 points, Dwyane Wade 32, and Chris Bosh 20 as the Big Three arose to even the NBA Finals at two wins apiece with a 109-93 win at San Antonio. It was the first time in the Finals that two players scored 30 points and a teammate added 20 since Game Two of the 1995 Finals, when the Rockets defeated the Magic behind Hakeem Olajuwon (34), Sam Cassell (31) and Clyde Drexler (23).
But it wasn't just the accumulation of points for Miami's Big Three; it was the efficiency with which those points were scored. James shot 15-for-25 from the floor; Wade went 14-for-25; and Bosh, 8-for-14. There have been only two other games in NBA Finals history in which two players scored 30 points and a teammate added 20, with each of the three hitting at least half of his field-goal attempts. In Game Two of the 1969 Finals, the Lakers got that kind of contribution from Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Johnny Egan; and in Game Five of the 1985 Finals, the Lakers got similar numbers from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy and Magic Johnson.
Miami's sequence over last 2 rounds: WLWLWLWLWLW
The Heat's victory in Game Four maintained Miami's odd-and-even, on-again-and-off-again, my-turn-your-turn sequence that it has been following for the last three weeks. This was the Heat's 10th consecutive game in which the result was the opposite of the result of its previous game. In other words, starting with the first game of the Conference Finals Series against the Pacers, the Heat's results have been win, lose, win, lose, win, lose, win, lose, win, lose, win. Only one other team in NBA history has followed that kind of pattern for so long in one year's playoffs; the Seattle SuperSonics did that over 10 games in the second and third rounds of the 1993 playoffs.
A's become 2nd team to win 2 home games of 18-plus innings in a season
Nate Freiman's bases-loaded single off Mariano Rivera knocked in the deciding run in the 18th inning of the Athletics' 3-2 victory over the Yankees. It was Oakland's second victory in a game of that length this season; on April 29, the Athletics enjoyed a 10-8 victory over the Angels on a two-run walkoff homer by Brandon Moss. The Athletics became the first major-league team to win a pair of games of 18-or-more innings in one season since the Mets did it back in 1985; even more remarkably, the A's became just the second team in major-league history to have a pair of wins in games of 18-plus inning at home in the same season. The Yankees did that in 1967, winning an 18-inning game and a 20-inning game at Yankee Stadium, both against the team that would go on to win the American League pennant, the Impossible Dream Red Sox.
Freiman became the third Oakland player to produce a walkoff RBI against Rivera, joining Miguel Tejada (a two-run double in 2003) and Marco Scutaro (a three-run homer in 2007). Only one other major-league team has had three walkoff RBIs against Mariano; the Mets did that with Matt Franco in 1999, David Wright in 2006 and Lucas Duda on May 28 of this year.
Yankees hitters go through an historic funk
The fourth-through-seventh hitters in the Yankees lineup went 0-for-28 in Thursday's 18-inning loss at Oakland: Mark Teixeira went 0-for-5 (he drew two walks and was hit by a pitch), Travis Hafner was 0-for-8, Kevin Youkilis 0-for-7 (with a walk) and Vernon Wells 0-for-8. Each of those players also struck out three times.
Here it is: It was the first time in modern major league history (reminder: in baseball, that means "since 1900"), in a game of any length, that four starters batting in consecutive lineup slots went hitless in a combined total of 28-or-more at-bats. It was also the first game in modern history in which a team had three different players each go hitless in at least seven at-bats, with each player striking out at least three times. Finally, it also marked the first game in Yankees history in which they had four different players who struck out at least three times.
Castro scores in 1st and 14th innings as Cubs down Reds
Starlin Castro went 3-for-7 on Thursday afternoon, scoring the Cubs' first run in the opening inning and scoring the game-winning run on Julio Borbon's pinch-hit single in the 14th inning as the Cubs finally defeated the Reds in Chicago, 5-4. That ended Cincinnati's 12-game winning streak at Wrigley Field, the longest by any visiting team in the 100-year history of the park.
The game was the 7,671st regular-season contest hosted by the Cubs at the Friendly Confines, and Castro became the first player in any of those games to score the team's first run of the game in the first inning and then score the game-winning run in the 14th inning or later.
Wainwright reaches double figures in season wins and four figures in career Ks
Adam Wainwright became the majors' first 10-game winner by holding the Mets scoreless over seven innings and earning credit for the Cardinals' 2-1 victory. Wainwright's win came a year to the day after the first major-league pitchers reached 10 wins last season; on June 13 a year ago, the Mets' R. A. Dickey and the Cardinals' Lance Lynn each earned his tenth victory (Dickey finished the season with 20 wins, Lynn with 18). The Cardinals' franchise has been around for more than 120 years, but only one other time were there two straight seasons in which one of their pitchers got to double-digit wins before or on the same day as any other major-leaguer. That happened in 1936 and 1937, when Dizzy Dean did it both years.
In the same game in which Wainwright reached double-digit wins for the season, he reached quadruple-digit strikeouts for his career. The first of his six strikeouts on Thursday was the 1,000th of his major-league career, and he joined Bob Gibson (3,117), Dean (1,095), Chris Carpenter (1,085) and Bob Forsch (1,079) as the only Cardinals with 1K Ks. The Cardinals are the only major-league franchise whose all-time leader in strikeouts has a lead of more than 2,000 strikeouts over the second-place pitcher.
Zimmerman and Desmond play to form at Coors
Every hitter worth his salt enjoys a trip to Denver to hit in Coors Field, where the composite batting average over 19 years of major-league play hovers less than a one ten-thousandth of a point below the .300 mark. (For precision-lovers among us: the "average batting average" over 1,487 games at Coors is .299902.) Include Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman in that cohort.
Zimmerman belted a two-run, go-ahead homer in the third inning and a go-ahead RBI double in the eighth and Desmond went 4-for-4 in the Nationals' 5-4 road win over the Rockies. By game's end, Desmond owned a .390 career batting average at Coors (23-for-59) while Zimmerman had boosted his mark to .368 (43-for-117). No other major-league team has two active players with more than 20 career hits and such high career batting averages at Coors.
Phillies turn 16 hits into 3 runs, but beat the Twins
The Phillies can laugh about it now, after their 3-2 victory over the Twins at Minneapolis on Thursday night, but they somehow managed to score only three runs while accumulating 16 hits in that game. It was just the 10th time since 1900 that in a nine-inning major-league game, a team scored three-or-fewer runs while collecting at least 16 hits - and only the second of those game in which the wasteful team actually won the game. The other profligate winner? The Phillies themselves, who, on July 6, 1954, blanked the Pirates, 3-0, behind a Curt Simmons complete-game shutout, in a game in which they stroked 17 hits (in only eight innings at bat).
Encarnacion's 2-run double propels Jays past Rangers
Edwin Encarnacion stroked a two-out, two-run double to snap a 1-1 tie in the top of the eighth and the Blue Jays finished off a 3-1 road victory over the Rangers. Encarnacion has made the most of his opportunities this season, batting .349 with runners in scoring position and batting an even more impressive .405 (17-for-42) in at-bats with two-or-more runners on base. His total of 17 hits with at least two runners on base is tied for the fourth-highest in the majors this season; the leaders in that department: Allen Craig, 20-for-45 (.444); Brandon Phillips, 19-for-41 (.463); Miguel Cabrera, 18-for-41 (.439); David Ortiz, 17-for-39 (.436); and Encarnacion.
Davis downs Red Sox in extra innings, with his bat this time
Chris Davis, who beat the Red Sox in extra innings last year as an emergency relief pitcher, took the more conventional route with a walkoff hit in the 13th inning of the Orioles' 5-4 triumph over the Sox on Thursday night. The last player to beat the same team with an extra-inning relief victory in one season and a walkoff RBI in the next season was Les Lancaster of the Cubs against the Giants in 1988 and 1989.
But the real heroes of the game were the Orioles' relievers, the last five of whom threw six and one-third innings allowing no runs, no hits and no walks. Over the previous month (May 13 through June 12), the Orioles' bullpen had a 6.15 ERA, second-highest in the majors for any bullpen over that stretch to the Indians' 6.21.
Blanco steps in, and steps up
The Giants' two leading hitters this season with runners in scoring position - Angel Pagan (.381) and Pablo Sandoval (.377) - are both on the disabled list. Under the "next man up" mentality, Gregor Blanco, whose .357 batting average in those situations is third-best on the team, is playing center field and leading off in Pagan's absence; he came through royally in the Giants' 10-0 win at Pittsburgh, getting two hits in three at-bats in those runners-in-scoring-position situations. It was the Giants' first double-digit shutout against the Pirates since Juan Marichal blanked the Bucs, 12-0, in San Francisco in 1973, in what was the 52nd and final shutout in the Dominican Dandy's Hall-of-Fame career.
Royals break game open with 8-run 6th inning
The Royals and Rays were scoreless through five innings on Thursday night, when Kansas City erupted for eight runs off Jeremy Hellickson in the sixth inning and cruised to a 10-1 victory. It was only the fifth major-league game in the last 30 seasons in which a team scored eight-or-more runs in the sixth inning or later to rupture a previously scoreless game. Last July 21, the Cardinals set the major-league record in that regard, scoring 12 runs in the last of the seventh and rolling to a 12-0 victory over the Cubs.