Monday, June 12, 2006
Elias Says ...
By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
Stanley Cup finals
• Carolina set an NHL record with its 2-1 victory in Game 4: It was the Hurricanes' 15th game in the 2006 playoffs decided by a single goal, breaking the mark of 14 such games previously shared by the Stars in 1999 and 2000, the Devils in 2000, and the Flames in 2004.
• The Hurricanes beat the Oilers 2-1 in Game 4 on Monday to take a 3-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup finals. Since 1939, when the finals first used a best-of-seven format, 26 of the 27 previous teams to hold a 3-1 lead went on to win the Stanley Cup (16 times in five games, six times in six games, four times in seven games). The only team to hold a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven finals and not win the Cup was Detroit in 1942; the Red Wings won the first three games of the series against Toronto, but the Maple Leafs rallied to win the last four games.
• Carolina won Game 4 after Edmonton's Sergei Samsonov opened the scoring. But that's nothing new: The Canes are 8-5 when their opponent scores first. No other team during the 2006 playoffs owns a winning record in games which its opponent opens the scoring.
Carolina's total of eight such wins matches an NHL record for one playoff year. The Hurricanes join the 1971 Canadiens (8-5), 1980 Islanders (8-3) and 1999 Stars (8-3). Each of those teams won the Stanley Cup in those seasons.
• Now that Albert Pujols' potential pursuit of Barry Bonds' single-season home run record has been stymied by a trip to the disabled list, maybe Carlos Lee will challenge the mark.
No, we don't mean the overall single-season record of 73 home runs. We're talking about Bonds' record, also set in 2001, of 36 home runs on the road. Lee's home run at Cincinnati on Monday night was his 21st of the season, and his 15th in the Brewers' 29 road games this year. Just this once, we'll do the math for you: That's an unreal pace of 42 road homers for the season!
The home/road breakdown of Lee's production of round-trippers stands in direct contrast to that of his Milwaukee teammates.
In 36 home games:
AB HR AB/HR
Carlos Lee 125 6 20.8
Other Brewers 1,042 45 23.2
In 29 road games:
AB HR AB/HR
Carlos Lee 116 15 7.7
Other Brewers 907 23 39.4
• Prince Fielder tied Monday's game with an eighth-inning home run off Reds left-hander Kent Mercker, and that's nothing new for the left-handed-hitting rookie. That was Fielder's seventh home run against a southpaw this season, which ties David Ortiz for the third-highest lefty-against-lefty homer total. Travis Hafner is the leader, with nine such homers, followed by Adam Dunn, with eight.
Remarkably, with that homer, Fielder matched the total of home runs off lefties that the most renowned lefty swinger in team history, Hall-of-Famer Eddie Mathews, hit as a rookie with the Boston Braves in 1952. Moreover, Fielder is already within shouting distance of the National League rookie record for lefty-against-lefty homers. That mark is 10, shared by Del Bissonette, a first baseman with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1928, and David Justice with the Braves in 1990.
• Jose Contreras won his 15th consecutive decision (last eight in 2005, first seven in 2006) with a dominating 8-3 victory over the Rangers. He tied the White Sox's record for consecutive wins, shared by LaMarr Hoyt (1983-84) and Wilson Alvarez (1993-94). (An oddity: Of the last 10 pitchers to win 15 straight decisions -- dating back more than 30 years -- only one was a National Leaguer: Rick Sutcliffe, then of the Cubs and the broadcaster for Contreras' 15th win on ESPN Monday, won 16 straight decisions in 1984-85.
Contreras had a career-high 11 strikeouts and walked none. He's the first White Sox pitcher in nearly 10 years with so many strikeouts in a walkless performance, since Wilson Alvarez had 11 strikeouts and no walks, also in an eight-inning performance against the Rangers, on July 26, 1996.
• The Tigers trailed the Devil Rays by two runs going to the last of the ninth inning, but they scored two in the ninth and then one in the 13th to win 4-3. It was the fourth time this season that Detroit has won a game in which it trailed going to the ninth, tying Atlanta for the most wins of that type in the majors.
• Curtis Granderson had an RBI single in the ninth inning to pull the Tigers within one run of the Devil Rays, and then his 13th-inning single drove in the game-winner. Granderson is batting .372 (16-for-43) with runners in scoring position this season, with nine hits in his last 16 at-bats in those situations.
Besides Cahill and Morientes, only four subs have scored twice in a World Cup match, regardless of the score at the time: Laszlo Kiss of Hungary, who had a hat trick (1982), Roger Milla of Cameroon (twice in 1990), Kiko of Spain (1998), and Nelson Cuevas of Paraguay (2002).
• Australia was the first team to score three goals in a regulation-length World Cup match after being held scoreless for the first 80 minutes. (For the record, it was done twice in games in which 30-minute overtimes were played).
In fact, only one other team has scored three times after the 80th minute in a regulation-length match regardless of how many goals they had scored earlier in the match. That was Spain against Bulgaria in 1998.
• The irony of Australia's late fireworks is that prior to Cahill's first goal, the Socceroos had played 353 minutes without scoring in World Cup competition. That span before scoring a goal was the second longest in World Cup history. Bolivia played 516 minutes (five-plus games) before Erwin Sanchez scored its first goal (1994 vs. Spain).
• The United States' 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic equaled the largest shutout loss the team has suffered in 129 games under Bruce Arena. The U.S. lost 3-0 in Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier on Oct. 8, 2005 -- a meaningless game in that the team had already qualified for a trip to the Finals.
• Kasey Keller now has only one win in his last 14 appearances against European teams. Since May 1998, Keller has a record of 1-8-3 with a 1.68 goals-allowed average vs. teams from Europe. His record against other teams during that time is 33-9-9 with a 0.53 GAA.
• A controversial moment in Italy's 2-0 victory was a no-call in the box against Asamoah Gyan of Ghana in the 79th minute with the score 1-0. Irrespective of Ghanaian calls for a penalty kick, there hasn't been a PK called in the first 11 games of the 2006 World Cup. There was only one other World Cup in the last 50 years in which no goals were scored on penalty kicks this far into the tournament (1974).
• Monday's match against Ghana was Italy's 71st in World Cup competition, the highest total by any team facing an opponent making its World Cup debut.
• Tim Cahill scored the tying goal in the 84th minute of Australia's 3-1 win over Japan on Monday, and he scored the winner in the 89th minute. Only one other player came off the bench to score the tying and winning goals in a World Cup match: Fernando Morientes in Spain's 3-1 victory over Paraguay in 2002 (Morientes scored in the 53rd and 69th minutes).