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Friday, July 28, 2006
Elias Says ...

By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider

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

MLB
• The Tigers defeated the Twins, 3-2, in 10 innings. It was only Minnesota's third loss in its last 27 games at the Metrodome -- and the Twins haven't had a lead in any of those three losses.

 Francisco Liriano
Liriano
Francisco Liriano struck out 12 in an eight-inning performance, his fourth double-digit strikeout game this season. That's already the most double-digit strikeout games by an American League rookie since Freddy Garcia had four for Seattle in 1999.

• It was a classic Chien-Ming Wang performance at Yankee Stadium on Friday night -- if you can use that term for a second-year player -- as the right-hander tossed the first complete-game victory of his major-league career, a 6-0 win over the Devil Rays.

Wang not only tossed a two-hit shutout, but got 18 outs on ground balls and struck out only one. Wang, 26, became the youngest Yankees pitcher to throw a shutout at Yankee Stadium during Joe Torre's 11 years as the team's manager; the last Yankees pitcher as young as Wang to throw a shutout in the Bronx was Sterling Hitchcock, at age 24 against the Orioles in 1995, Buck Showalter's final season in the New York dugout.

Wang, 12-4, has averaged only 2.7 strikeouts per nine innings. No major league starting pitcher has finished a season with 12-or-more wins while striking out fewer than three batters per nine innings since Detroit's Bill Gullickson went 14-13 with 2.6 strikeouts per nine innings in 1992.

• Juan Pierre's bases-loaded triple keyed a six-run fourth inning in the Cubs' 6-5 win over the Cardinals. Three-run triples seem to be in Pierre's DNA: It's the third straight season in which he has had one. (The only other active player who has hit bases-loaded triples in each of three successive seasons is Johnny Damon, who did it from 2002 to 2004.)

Pierre's career batting average with the bases full is now .429 (21-for-49), the second-highest among active big-leaguers who have had 20 or more hits in those situations. Ichiro Suzuki is a .466 career hitter with the sacks full (27-for-58).

 Jacque Jones
Jones
• Jacque Jones' long nightmare is over: In the seventh inning at Wrigley Field on Friday, Jones fell behind in the count, no balls and two strikes, took two called balls, and then lashed a single to left off Braden Looper.

That seemingly ordinary single was the first hit that Jones has had this season on any plate appearance in which he fell behind, 0-2, in the count. He had previously been 0-for-63 in such at-bats this season, and including going hitless in his last 10 at-bats of that type with the Twins last year, he had actually been hitless in his last 73 at-bats in which he fell behind 0-2 in the count.

It figured that the streak would end against the Cardinals. Jones owns a .424 career batting average against the Redbirds (25-for-59), and has had two-or-more hits in each of his last five games vs. St. Louis.

• Well, how about that? Cleveland rookie Jeremy Sowers threw his second complete-game shutout within a seven-day span and he did it in style: a 1-0 decision over the Mariners. Regular "Elias Says" readers know how rare it is that a rookie is permitted to complete a shutout victory when a save situation exists. As we noted when Sowers blanked the Twins last Saturday, you have to go back to Dontrelle Willis in 2003 to find the last rookie to toss a nine-inning, complete-game shutout and win by either 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0.

Now, more on Sowers: He's the first rookie since Willis to throw consecutive complete-game shutouts -- but one of Dontrelle's came in a game reduced to five innings by rain. The last rookie to throw consecutive shutouts, each going at least nine innings, was Rolando Arrojo of the Devil Rays early in the 1998 season. No Cleveland pitcher had thrown back-to-back shutouts since Bud Black in 1989, and no Indians rookie had done it since Dick Tidrow in 1972.

• Shin-Soo Choo's home run, the first of his major-league career, provided the only run in Cleveland's 1-0 win over Seattle. Even in baseball's "home-run era" -- which it says here started when Tuffy Rhodes homered three times off Dwight Gooden in the 1994 season opener -- only two other players have seen their first big-league homer account for the only run of a game.

Odalis Perez won his own game with a home run for the Dodgers against the Diamondbacks in 2002, and Ryan Langerhans connected for the only run in a Braves' win at Houston last year.

Choo actually became the third player in Indians history whose first major-league homer resulted in a 1-0 win. Jim Fridley did it in 1952, against the White Sox in Chicago, and Jack Kubiszyn did it in 1962, hitting what was his first and only big-league homer against the Kansas City A's.

• Marlins rookie Ricky Nolasco took a no-hitter into the seventh inning at Philadelphia, the 12th time this season that a major-league team has been held hitless through six innings. Nolasco, like eight pitchers before him, lost his potential no-no in the seventh; only Chris Young, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Cain have taken things into the eighth, where each allowed a hit.

 Chase Utley
Utley
• Chase Utley's eighth-inning single extended his hitting streak to 28 consecutive games, as he became the 36th player to get halfway to Joe DiMaggio's record of 56 within a single season since The Yankee Clipper established his mark in 1941.

• Kip Wells defeated Jason Schmidt on Friday in a battle of pitchers whose names are all over the Internet in trade rumors. Of note is that Barry Bonds went 0-for-4 with no walks; it was the first time since 1997 that Bonds has played a game in Pittsburgh in which he didn't reach base on a hit or a walk.

• Pedro Martinez allowed four runs in the first inning in his first start in a month, at Atlanta on Friday night. That's exactly the same way he started his last start, at Boston on June 28, before visiting the disabled list.

The difference was the result: unlike his eight-runs-in-three-innings return to Fenway in June, which ended in a 10-2 loss, Pedro righted himself and allowed no runs over the next five innings in the Mets' 6-4 victory over the Braves. In addition, he started a two-run rally with his first extra-base hit since 1997, a second-inning double.

• His name is Carlos Quentin, and he homered again on Friday night for the Diamondbacks in their 8-7 win in 10 innings at Houston. Quentin, who made his big-league debut on July 20, had already homered in each of his first three starts for Arizona. Friday, he connected for the first pinch-hit homer of his big-league career, off the Astros' Chad Qualls.

Quentin became just the eighth player in major-league history to hit four-or-more home runs within a span of nine calendar days, starting with his big-league debut. Mike Jacobs, now with Florida, was the last to do that, with the Mets last year. (Dino Restelli of the 1949 Pirates and Mark Quinn of the 1999 Royals lead the list; each had five homers in his first nine days in the bigs.)

And, yes, if you're wondering, it was the first time in major-league history that a hitter whose last name begins with 'Q' homered off a pitcher whose last name begins with 'Q.'

PGA
• During the rain-delayed opening round of the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen recorded six consecutive birdies for the first time in his PGA Tour career. Starting on the back nine, Janzen birdied holes 15 through 2 and posted a four under-par 66 for the round.