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Monday, May 29, 2006
Elias Says ...

By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider

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

MLB

 Jim Thome
Thome

Jim Thome hit his 19th and 20th homers of the season in the White Sox's 11-0 win at Cleveland. The home runs came in Chicago's 50th game. It's the 21st time in major league history that a player hit at least 20 homers over his team's first 50 games, but Thome is the first to do it in his first season with a club. Before Thome, the earliest that a player had slammed his 20th home run of the season in his first year with a team was at the club's 53-game mark. That was done three times: by Wally Berger (as a rookie with the 1930 Boston Braves), Jose Canseco (1999 Devil Rays) and Carl Everett (2000 Red Sox).

Albert Pujols' seventh-inning homer accounted for all of the Cardinals' runs in their 3-1 victory over the Astros. Roy Oswalt pitched six innings and handed a 1-0 lead to the bullpen, but for the second time this season, relievers relinquished the lead in a game in which Oswalt was in line to pick up the win. Houston's bullpen has a 9.39 ERA in Oswalt's starts this season, the highest for any team's relievers in support of any pitcher who's started at least five games.

 Albert Pujols
Pujols

Trever Miller almost escaped the seventh inning, but with two outs and a runner on base, John Rodriguez drew a full-count walk to bring Pujols to the plate (and Chad Qualls to the mound). That's not exactly a formula for success. It had been more than a year since a batter finagled a two-out walk with Pujols on deck and the Cardinals trailing by one run that late in a game. On that occasion (April 28, 2005), Derrick Turnbow retired Pujols to save a 5-4 Brewers victory, after issuing a two-out pass to Mark Grudzielanek.

Pujols' homer was his 25th of the season, and it came in the Cardinals' 51st game. The only players to reach the 25-homer mark earlier in a season than Pujols (in terms of his team's games) were Barry Bonds in 2001 (47 games) and Mark McGwire in 1998 (49 games).

Pujols increased his major league-leading totals of homers, runs (50) and RBI (64). No player has ended a year with a share of the major league lead in each of those categories since 1961, when Roger Maris topped the majors with 61 home runs and finished tied for the lead in both runs (with Mickey Mantle, 132) and RBI (Orlando Cepeda, 142). The last player to lead the majors in each of those categories, outright, was Mickey Mantle in 1956 (52 HR, 132 runs, 130 RBI).

• The Tigers still have the best record in the majors despite dropping consecutive games at Comerica Park to the Indians (9-0 on Sunday) and Yankees (4-0 on Monday). No team that owned the majors' highest winning percentage had been shut out in consecutive games since 1997, when the Orioles followed a 1-0 loss to the Expos (June 18 at Baltimore) with a 3-0 defeat at Toronto (June 20). The last time the "best team in the majors" suffered two straight shutouts, both at home, was in June 1988, when the A's dropped a pair of games to the Twins by scores of 11-0 and 5-0.

 Randy Johnson
Johnson

• The Yankees' Randy Johnson didn't allow a hit until Ivan Rodriguez singled with two outs in the sixth inning. Over the past seven seasons, the only game in which Johnson took a no-hitter further than 5 2/3 innings was his perfect game at Atlanta (May 18, 2004). Monday's game was the third over that span (2000-06) in which the first hit that Johnson allowed came at that precise spot -- with two outs in the sixth inning.

Jeremy Bonderman took the loss for Detroit in the 100th start of his major-league career. Bonderman (age 23 years, 213 days) was the youngest pitcher to reach that milestone since Steve Avery in 1993, who did it 39 days after his 23rd birthday (almost six months younger than Bonderman). The last Tigers pitcher as young as Bonderman at the time of his 100th start in the majors was Denny McLain (23 years, 75 days on June 13, 1967).

Edgar Renteria went 3-for-5 in Atlanta's loss to the Dodgers, extending his hitting streak at Turner Field to 21 games. Renteria has hit safely in all 18 home games he's played for the Braves this season, and he had a hit in each of his previous three games at Atlanta while playing for the Cardinals (in 2004). Only two other players have a current hitting streak of at least 20 games at any ballpark. Luis Castillo has a 32-game streak at Shea Stadium and Vladimir Guerrero has hit safely in all 22 games he's played at Ameriquest Field in Arlington. Castillo fashioned his streak at Shea (since 2001) for the Marlins. Unfortunately for Luis, the Twins aren't on the Mets' 2006 home schedule.

John Rheinecker earned a victory in his second major league start in the Rangers' 2-0 win over the Mariners. Rheinecker came within two outs of pitching a shutout, before Rick Bauer notched the save. Four current pitchers (active or disabled) threw a shutout in their first start in the majors (Pedro Astacio, Jason Jennings, Mike Remlinger and Doug Waechter); two others did it in their second start (Ervin Santana and Scott Schoeneweis).

Michael Young snapped a 0-for-14 streak with a first-inning single for Texas; he hasn't had a longer streak of consecutive at-bats without a hit since May 2002 (0-for-19). Young has a total of 2,655 at-bats since then, the third-most for any current player since last suffering through a hitless streak of at least 15 at-bats. Mike Sweeney has accumulated 4,196 at-bats since last going 0-for-15 (in 1996); Placido Polanco has 3,169 at-bats since his last "0-for-15" (in 1999).

• After blowing a 6-0 lead, the Blue Jays got up off the canvas and defeated the Red Sox 7-6. It was the second time this season that Toronto won a game in which it relinquished a lead of at least 6-0 (the other was also at Rogers Centre, a 9-7 victory against the A's on May 10). Toronto has won only two other home games in that fashion in franchise history, both at Exhibition Stadium (9-8 vs. the Angels, June 13, 1979; 9-8 vs. the Indians, May 4, 1980).

• Three of the six AL games played Monday resulted in shutouts. It was only the second time in the past four seasons (2003-06) that there were as many as three AL shutouts on a day on which fewer than seven AL games were played. (The other time was Sept. 5, 2005, when three of five AL games were shutouts.)

• The Mets' 8-7 victory over Arizona improved New York's record to 10-0 this season in series openers at Shea Stadium, with the past six each coming in walkoff fashion! That's a major league record for consecutive walkoff wins in home series openers, breaking a mark the Mets shared with the 1966 White Sox.

 David Wright
Wright

David Wright's ninth-inning single was his third game-ending hit this year. Wright had a 14th-inning walkoff double against Jorge Sosa on May 5 and a ninth-inning single off Mariano Rivera on May 19. That's the most game-ending hits for any player this season. Three players have two: Nomar Garciaparra, Albert Pujols and Javier Valentin.