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Sunday, May 21, 2006
Elias Says ...

By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider

A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:

Placido Polanco
Polanco

MLB
• Placido Polanco's eighth-inning, pinch-hit single drove in the only run of the game as the Tigers defeated the Reds on Sunday at Comerica Park. Only three other current major league players have ever had a pinch-hit RBI in a 1-0 game. Craig Biggio did it in 1997 (Astros at Mets), Bobby Kielty in 2003 (Blue Jays vs. Tigers) and Travis Lee in 2005 (Devil Rays at Indians).

Sunday's game was the Tigers' second 1-0 win of the year at Comerica, their most such wins at home in any season since 1999, when they won a pair of them in their final year at Tiger Stadium. Detroit hasn't treated its home fans to three 1-0 wins in one season since 1973.

• Todd Jones notched his 155th save for the Tigers, surpassing Mike Henneman as the all-time franchise leader in that category. Henneman had held that distinction since 1993. But the pitcher with the longest current tenure as the career saves leader for any franchise is Bob Stanley, who achieved sole possession of that spot for the Red Sox on June 14, 1983 (when he passed Sparky Lyle), and has held it ever since (Stanley finished his career with 132 saves for Boston).

Albert Pujols
Pujols

• The Cardinals completed a sweep of the Royals with Albert Pujols homering in all three games. In Kauffman Stadium's history, only five other visiting players homered in every game of a series of three-or-more games: Greg Luzinski (1983 White Sox), Kent Hrbek (1992 Twins), Jason Giambi (1995 A's), Darin Erstad (2000 Angels) and Paul Konerko (2003 White Sox). Only Pujols and Konerko did it in a series sweep of the Royals.

• Ichiro extended his hitting streak to 15 games during the Mariners' eight-run second inning in their 10-8 victory over the Padres. It's Ichiro's 10th hitting streak of at least 15 games during his major league career, the most for any current player, surpassing Nomar Garciaparra's total of nine (with his 30-game streak in 1997 counted as separate 15-game streaks). The only other active player with more than six 15-game streaks during his career is Johnny Damon (seven).

Scott Kazmir
Kazmir

• Scott Kazmir topped Dontrelle Willis to complete the Devil Rays' sweep of the Marlins. You could make a strong case that Kazmir, not Willis, is now the "best young left-hander" not just in Florida, but in the majors. At the time of last year's All-Star break, Willis was 13-4 with a 2.39 ERA while Kazmir was 3-7 with a 4.59 ERA. But since then, Willis is 10-11 with a 3.72 ERA and Kazmir is 14-4 with a 2.61 ERA.

Kazmir earned his seventh victory of the year in the Devil Rays' 44th game. That's the earliest in a season that a Tampa Bay pitcher has ever reached that mark; Kazmir did it in six fewer games than it took Rolando Arrojo during the Rays' inaugural season (game No. 50 in 1998).

Kazmir is tied for the major league lead in wins. Over the eight previous years of Tampa Bay's brief history (1998-2005) no Devil Rays pitcher finished a season ranked among the top 30 winners in the majors. Only two ranked among the top 50: Arrojo in 1998 (14 wins tied him for the 32nd spot among the leaders) and Tanyon Sturtze in 2001 (tied for 50th with 11 wins).

• Matt Cain hurled a one-hit shutout in the Giants' 6-0 victory at Oakland. At age 21, Cain became the youngest pitcher to throw a one-hitter (or no-hitter) since Dontrelle Willis shut out the Mets on one hit on June 16, 2003, at age 21 (77 days younger than Cain).

Bob Wickman
Wickman

• Bob Wickman earned his first victory since 2002 in the Indians' 10-inning win over the Pirates. Until Sunday, Wickman's streak of 105 consecutive games without a win was the longest current streak of its kind among active pitchers. That distinction now belongs to Colorado's Tom Martin, who has pitched in 100 games since last recording a victory (on Sept. 23, 2003 for the Dodgers).

• Paul Byrd didn't figure in Sunday's decision, but he allowed only two runs in seven innings for Cleveland while throwing 73 of 94 pitches for strikes (78 percent), the highest percentage for a starting pitcher in any major league game this season. The last starter to throw a higher percentage of strikes in a game than Byrd was Tim Wakefield, who did it in Boston's next-to-last regular-season game last year (81 percent, 65 of 80 pitches for strikes).

• The Rockies completed a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays; it was Colorado's fourth series sweep this season and second at home. Colorado swept only three series of at least three games during the entire 2005 season (against the Reds, Royals and Dodgers, all at Coors Field).

• The Brewers erased a two-run deficit with a four-run seventh inning en route to a 5-3 win over the Twins. It was Milwaukee's 15th come-from-behind victory at Miller Park this season; no other NL team has won more than eight home games in that fashion. The most comeback victories at home for an AL team this season is 10, by the Orioles.

• The Dodgers' 7-0 win over the Angels was the fifth game in the rivalry's history that resulted in a shutout victory by a margin of at least seven runs. The other four games were won by the Angels (7-0 in 2002, 13-0 in 2004, 9-0 and 7-0 in 2005).

• Andre Ethier was 7-for-13 with a pair of homers during the three-game series against the Angels. Ethier has 15 hits and three homers in 49 at-bats since making his big-league debut on May 2. Over the past 20 years (1986-2005), the only Dodger player with at least 15 hits and three homers over his first 50 major league at-bats was David Ross in 2002 (15-for-his-first-50, 5 HR).

LeBron James
James

NBA
• LeBron James scored 27 of the Cavaliers' 61 points (44.3 percent) in their elimination loss at Detroit. That's the highest percentage of a team's points in the seventh game of a playoff series for any player in NBA history. The previous high was 43.4 percent by Yao Ming, who scored 33 points in the Rockets' 116-76 Game 7 loss at Dallas in the first round of last year's playoffs.

LeBron had the only two assists credited to a Cleveland starter Sunday. That matched the fewest assists for a team's starting-five in any NBA playoff game in the past 35 years. Indiana did it in 2003 (at Boston), as did Dallas (at San Antonio) in the first game of its current series.

Arena Football League
• The Georgia Force defeated New York Dragons 72-69 in the second-highest scoring playoff game in the history of the Arena Football League (141 points). The only one of the AFL's 131 postseason games that produced more points than Sunday's contest was an 83-70 victory for Grand Rapids over Indiana on Aug. 12, 2001 (153 points).