Sunday, August 13, 2006
Elias Says ...
By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• Jered Weaver improved his career record to 8-0 in the Angels' victory at Yankee Stadium. Weaver became only the third pitcher in the last 100 years to go undefeated in his first 11 starts in the majors while winning at least eight of those games; Whitey Ford (1950) and Livan Hernandez (1997) were both 8-0 at that juncture of their careers. No pitcher has posted a better mark in his first 11 big-league starts since Hooks Wiltse, who won each of his first 12 for the 1904 Giants.
Chone Figgins led off the game with a home run off Chien-Ming Wang that sparked a three-run, six-hit rally. Over Wang's previous 18 starts (May 7-Aug. 8), he allowed only one run and 12 hits during the first inning.
• Bob Wickman notched his seventh save in as many opportunities for the Braves in their 7-4 win against the Brewers. What did you expect from John Schuerholz? In 1991, Alejandro Pena posted 11 saves in 11 chances for the Braves after he was acquired from the Mets. Last season, Atlanta traded for Kyle Farnsworth, who proceeded to convert all ten of his regular-season save opportunities for the Braves.
• Travis Hafner's sixth grand slam of the season capped an 11-run first inning in the Indians' 13-0 romp over the Royals. Hafner, who tied Don Mattingly's single-season record for grand slams, has five home runs in his last eight at-bats with the bases loaded. When Mattingly set the record in 1987, he didn't hit more than four homers over any span of eight bases-loaded at-bats.
Luke Hudson started for Kansas City and had an inning to forget. Hudson allowed seven runs before he retired a batter and surrendered 11 runs in 1/3 inning before being removed from the game. No pitcher had allowed as many as 11 runs in the first inning of a game since Sept. 21, 1897, when Brooklyn scored 12 off Boston's Kid Nichols in the opening frame of the first game of a doubleheader. Cleveland was the second team in the last three seasons (since 2004) to score seven first-inning runs before making an out; the Dodgers did it at Cincinnati on May 6, 2005.
• The Pirates put an exclamation point on their three-game sweep of the Cardinals with a 7-0 triumph in the series finale. No last-place team had shut out a first-place team to complete a series sweep of at least three games since 1999, when the Angels did it twice (against the Yankees in May and against the Rangers in October).
Jason Bay and Joe Randa gave the Pirates a 2-0 lead with back-to-back homers in the second inning. It was the fifth time this season that Pirates hit consecutive home runs (with Jason Bay involved in four of them). Last year, Pittsburgh was the only team in the majors without a pair of back-to-back homers.
• Jason Tyner had a double, triple and two RBI for the Twins in their 5-0 victory over the Blue Jays. Tyner's career average of one extra-base hit every 29.6 at-bats is the worst among current non-pitchers with at least 500 at-bats.
• Woody Williams recorded his ninth career victory at Minute Maid Park, the most for any visiting pitcher in the ballpark's seven-year history; the only other pitcher with more than five wins there as a visitor is Matt Morris (six). In 35 years at The Astrodome, only two opposing pitchers won more than 10 games there: Steve Carlton (17) and Bob Gibson (11).
• The White Sox completed a three-game sweep of the Tigers, handing Detroit its fifth straight defeat. The Tigers were 76-36 prior to their losing streak, which is now the second-longest in the last 30 years (since 1977) by a team that was at least 40 games above .500 at the beginning of the slide. The 1993 Giants were 89-48 before losing their next eight games (turning a 3½-game lead in the NL West into a 3½-game deficit).
• Alfonso Soriano's 200th career home run accounted for the Nationals' only run in a 3-1 loss to the Mets. Soriano joined Frank Howard as the only players to reach that milestone at what is now known as RFK Stadium. Howard hit the 200th homer of his career there on April 14, 1968. (No player has ever hit career home run No. 300, 400, 500, 600 or 700 at RFK.).
The first 19 batters were retired in Sunday's game (ten Mets and nine Nationals), before Endy Chavez singled with one out in the top of the fourth inning. Prior to that, the last game in the majors in which the first 19 batters were retired was on Sept. 25, 2004, when Scott Elarton and Brad Radke combined to retire 22 straight batters to begin a 5-3 Indians win over the Twins.
• Jonathan Papelbon notched his 31st save of the season, but thanks to a pair of walks and an error by Alex Cora, it took the Boston rookie 31 pitches to nail down the final two outs of the game.
In 43 innings this season with Jason Varitek as his batterymate, Papelbon has a 0.42 ERA while limiting opponents to a .148 batting average and 1.3 walks per nine innings. In 17 innings throwing to four other catchers this year, Papelbon has a 2.12 ERA, .183 opponents BA and an average of 3.2 walks per nine innings.
• Ken Griffey Jr. drove in an insurance run in the 11th inning of the Reds' 7-5 win at Philadelphia. It was the 18th extra-inning RBI of Junior's career, surpassing his father's career total of 17.
Ryan Howard homered off Eric Milton in a losing cause. It was Milton's eighth straight game at Citizens Bank Park in which he allowed a home run; only two pitchers have longer current streaks of consecutive games allowing home runs at a particular ballpark. Runelvys Hernandez has done it in his last 11 games at Kauffman Stadium and Brad Radke has an 11-game streak at U.S. Cellular Field.
• The Athletics completed a three-game sweep of the Devil Rays with Huston Street earning a save in each game. It was the second time this season that Street saved each game of a series of at least three games; he did it against the Yankees in June. Two other pitchers have saved every game in a pair of three-game series this season: Jonathan Papelbon (vs. the Braves and Royals) and Derrick Turnbow (against the Pirates and Braves).
• The Cubs prevailed in an 8-7 decision over the Rockies despite issuing 10 walks. It was the third time this season that a team won a nine-inning game in which its pitchers walked at least ten batters; the Orioles did it against the Royals on May 14 and the Cubs did in their season opener (April 3 at Cincinnati). Prior to this year, the Cubs had not won a nine-inning game in that fashion since Sept. 22, 2000 (vs. St. Louis).
• Russell Martin's 10th-inning game-ending home run gave the Dodgers a 1-0 win over the Giants. It was the first extra-inning walk-off homer in a 1-0 game for any major leaguer since Paul Lo Duca did it for the Dodgers in a 10-inning victory over the Padres on Sept. 27, 2002.
The last three catchers to hit extra-inning home runs in 1-0 games all happened to do it for the Dodgers, and none were named Piazza. The last to do it prior to Martin and Lo Duca was Rick Dempsey, whose homer (not a walk-off) produced the only run in the Dodgers' 22-inning victory at Montreal on Aug. 23, 1989.