Sunday, July 30, 2006
Elias Says ...
By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• Bobby Abreu's tenure with the Phillies ended with a streak of 132 consecutive homerless at-bats, the longest home-run drought of his career. Abreu has only 14 home runs in 171 games since the 2005 All-Star break. One hundred fifty-six players have more homers than Abreu during that time, including three who did it in fewer than half the number of games that Abreu played: Marcus Thames, (20 HR in 81 games); Carlos Pena (15 in 38) and Eduardo Perez (15 in 83).
• The Phillies began their post-Abreu era by sweeping a day/night "doubleheader" from the Marlins. While Abreu was with the club (since 1998), Philadelphia posted a .497 winning percentage in the games he played (672-681) and a .419 mark in the 43 games he missed (18-25, not including Sunday).
• Chase Utley hit safely in both games Sunday, extending his hitting streak to 31 games. It's the first time that any team has ever had players with 30-game hitting streaks in consecutive seasons (Jimmy Rollins hit safely in his final 36 games in 2005). Prior to that, the team with shortest span between players posting single-season hitting streaks of at least 30 games was the St. Louis Browns, with streaks by George Sisler in 1922 (41 games) and 1925 (34).
• Jeremy Bonderman took a 3-0 lead into the eighth inning at Minnesota, but allowed six runs in that frame (three unearned) and was tagged with the loss. How often do you see a starting pitcher given enough rope to lose a game that his team led by at least three runs in the eighth inning or later? Not very often. It had been more than three years since the last time that scenario played out in a major-league game, and on that occasion it was also a Detroit starter who suffered the loss (Mike Maroth vs. Baltimore at Comerica Park on May 1, 2003).
The Twins had lost their previous five meetings against Detroit, which was their longest single-season losing streak vs. the Tigers since dropping six in a row in 1983.
• The Cubs completed their sweep of St. Louis with a 6-3 victory, after scoring two runs in the first inning and another three in the second against Chris Carpenter. It was the first time since he joined the Cardinals (in 2003) that Carpenter allowed at least two earned runs in each of the first two innings of a game. Carpenter did that four times while he was with the Blue Jays, including each of his first two starts in the majors (in 1997).
The Cubs have won their last eight games against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field (including all seven this season). That matches Chicago's longest home winning streak in that rivalry since posting 10 straight home victories against St. Louis from 1918 to 1919. Since then, the Cubs had two other eight-game winning streaks against the Cards at Wrigley (1923-1924 and 1995-1996).
• Mike Mussina's victory over the Devil Rays was his 50th win at Yankee Stadium since donning the pinstripes. The last right-handed pitcher to win at least 50 games for the Yankees in The Bronx was Mel Stottlemyre, who had 85 victories there from 1964 to 1973, the team's final season at the "old" stadium. Mussina is the third pitcher to win at least 50 games for New York at the "new" stadium (since 1976), joining Ron Guidry (99 wins) and Andy Pettitte (81).
• Carlos Beltran's second-inning homer in the Mets' 10-6 win at Atlanta was his third grand slam of the season, all during July, tying the major-league record for the most in a calendar month.
Beltran (July 16, 18, 30) became the second player this season to homer in three straight bases-loaded plate appearances; Travis Hafner has gone deep each of the last three times he's come to the plate with the bags full (June 3, July 1, 7). Prior to this year, no player had done that since Mike Piazza in 1998. By the way, unlike Hafner's streak, which is still current, Beltran's streak of home runs in potential grand-slam situations came to an end Sunday, when Jason Shiell struck him out with the bases jammed in the third inning.
• The Orioles scored a pair of ninth-inning runs off Bobby Jenks to pull out an 8-7 victory over the White Sox. It was only the second time in last two seasons that Baltimore rallied to win a game it trailed going to the bottom of the ninth (the other was on May 14 against Kansas City).
Jenks had converted his previous 19 save opportunities, which, at the start of the day, was the longest current streak for any AL pitcher. That distinction is now shared by Todd Jones and Mariano Rivera, each of whom has converted 13 consecutive opportunities.
• The Diamondbacks rallied for a 7-6 victory at Houston after Roger Clemens handed a 5-1 lead to the Astros bullpen. It was the fifth time in his career that relievers blew a win for Clemens in a game in which his team led by at least four runs at the time of his departure.
Clemens, less than a week shy of his 44th birthday, has allowed fewer than three earned runs in each of his eight starts this year. Over the last 50 years (since 1957), only two other pitchers, age 35 or older, began a season with eighth consecutive starts in which they allowed no more than two earned runs. A 35-year-old Hoyt Wilhelm did it for the 1959 Orioles, and a "young" Randy Johnson (age 36) did it for the Diamondbacks in 2000.
• The Athletics defeated Toronto 6-5 when Milton Bradley hit a two-out, three-run, game-ending home run off B.J. Ryan in the ninth. The last Oakland player to hit a walkoff homer with the A's down to their final out and trailing by at least two runs was Frank Fernandez, off Chicago's Wilbur Wood on Sept. 3, 1970.
• The Pirates posted a 2-1, 10-inning victory over the Giants, after tying the game in the bottom of the ninth. Pittsburgh is the only team in the majors to win home games in that fashion (in 10 innings after tying the game in the ninth) in each of the last three seasons (2004-2006). It had been nearly 100 years since the Bucs registered home victories of that nature in each of three straight years (1904 to 1906).
• Kevin Mench had a three-run homer and drove in all four Milwaukee runs in the Brewers' 4-3 victory over the Reds. Mench, playing his second game for Milwaukee, was the third recently acquired player in the last three days to homer for his new club. Shin-Soo Choo (Friday for the Indians) and Ben Broussard (Saturday for the Indians) homered in their debuts for their new teams after being traded for each other on Wednesday.
• Michael Young was 4-for-6 in the Rangers' 15-2 romp over the Royals. It was the third time this year that Young was in the lineup as a designated hitter; he was 5-for-5 as a DH on June 18 and 3-for-5 in that role on July 18 (that's 12-for-16). Young's pair of four (or-more)-hit games as a DH ties him with David Ortiz for the most in the majors this season.
• David Ortiz drove in a pair of runs in a losing effort Sunday night, increasing his season total to 101. Over the last five seasons (2002-2006), only two other players reached the 100-RBI mark by the end of July: Carlos Delgado (Blue Jays) and Preston Wilson (Rockies), both in 2003.
• Corey Pavin posted a 20-under-par 260 at the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee. It was just the second time in Pavin's 564 starts as a professional on the PGA Tour that he has finished a 72-hole tour event 20 or more under par. The other was in his victory at the Texas Open in 1988, when Pavin shot a 21-under-par 259.
• Natasha Kai scored the insurance goal in the 80th minute of the United States' 2-0 victory in a friendly against Canada on Sunday. Kai has now scored four goals in six appearances for the Nats, all as a sub. The only other U.S. player to score at least four goals before making her first international start was Brandi Chastain, who scored seven goals in five games off the bench (including five in 50 minutes in a 12-0 win vs. Mexico on April 18, 1991) before her first start (May 28, 1991).