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Thursday, August 24, 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 (81-46 entering the game) were blanked 10-0 by the White Sox on Thursday. In the past 70 years, there were only two other games in which a team at least 35 games over .500 lost by double digits in a shutout. Atlanta beat the Reds 13-0 on the final day of the 1974 season, and the Brooklyn Dodgers prevailed over the New York Giants 10-0 on October 2, 1951 -- a day before Bobby Thomson's pennant-winning home run. (That Oct. 2 game was the Dodgers' only victory in the three-game playoff series against the Giants that decided that year's pennant.)

 Jon Garland
Garland

Jon Garland threw a complete-game shutout for the White Sox, the third time in the last two years he's done that against the Tigers. The only other pitcher in the majors with more than one complete-game shutout against one team over the past two seasons is Chris Capuano, who has blanked the Cubs twice.

• Garland has now won each of his past 10 starts on the road. In the past 10 years, only two other pitchers had streaks as long at that: David Wells (won 13 straight starts away from home, spanning 1999 to 2000) and Chris Carpenter (10 in a row in 2005).

Tomo Ohka took "helping his own cause" to an unusual level Thursday night, driving in a run in each of his first three trips to the plate. Over the past 20 years, only three other pitchers had at least one RBI in each of three separate plate appearances of one game: Bronson Arroyo did it earlier this season, Wade Miller did it in 2003, and Livan Hernandez did it in 1999.

• The first four players in the Twins' batting order -- Luis Castillo, Nick Punto, Joe Mauer and Michael Cuddyer -- combined for 12 hits and drove in eight runs in Minnesota's 11-2 win at Baltimore. The last two times that the Twins' first four starters in the lineup combined for such totals were June 19, 2003, at Kansas City (12 and 12 for the foursome of Jacque Jones, Cristian Guzman, Corey Koskie and Justin Morneau) and May 25, 1977, at Boston (12 hits and eight runs batted in for the quartet of Larry Hisle, Roy Smalley, Rod Carew and Lyman Bostock).

• It was a familiar script for the Astros on Thursday night in Pittsburgh: The team lost and Willy Taveras extended his hitting streak to 27 games. Houston is 12-15 in those 27 games.

Earlier this year, the Phillies were 17-18 in the 35 games of Chase Utley's hitting streak. Prior to this season, the last two National League players to have hitting streaks of at least 27 games, while their team had a losing record in the games of that streak, were Benito Santiago for the 1987 Padres (34 games, 12-22 team record) and Ron Santo for the 1966 Cubs (28 games, 10-18 team record).

Mike Gonzalez earned the save for the Pirates. He has converted each of his past 28 save opportunities (dating to 2004), the longest current streak in the major leagues. No other pitcher has a current streak of at least 20 save opportunities converted.

 Russell Branyan
Branyan

Russell Branyan struck out with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning with the tying and winning runs on base in Tampa Bay's 4-3 loss to Texas. After the game, the Devil Rays traded Branyan to San Diego. In the past 10 seasons, one other player struck out to end a game with the winning run on base in his final plate appearance for a franchise: Charlie Hayes for the Brewers on Sept. 30, 2000.

• Branyan's .201 batting average this season is the lowest in the American League among players with at least 150 at-bats.

Carlos Zambrano continued his season-long role as the Cubs' stopper, pitching seven innings and earning the victory against Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon. It was his 10th win this season that immediately followed a Cubs loss, the most such wins in the majors. It was the fifth time this year that Zambrano won a game to stop a Chicago losing streak of at least three games.

• The Phillies' Cole Hamels allowed nine runs in two innings before being removed from the game. Four of those runs were unearned, courtesy of errors by Jimmy Rollins and David Dellucci. Hamels entered the game having been charged with only one unearned run this season. Only two other NL pitchers had pitched at least 90 innings and not allowed more than one unearned run this season: Jake Peavy (no unearned runs) and Brad Penny (one).

Prince Fielder's three-run homer in the seventh inning was his 23rd round-tripper of this season, but his first with more than one man on base. That leaves Pat Burrell (23) and Miguel Tejada (22) as the major league players with the most homers this season, all either solo shots or with one man on base.

 Paul Lo Duca
Lo Duca

Paul Lo Duca had a triple and an infield hit in the Mets' victory over the Cardinals. In the past two years, the only other catcher to hit that daily double is Ivan Rodriguez, on May 30 of this season.

Golf
• The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational began Thursday with 47 of the current top 50 players in the world rankings competing. The only top-50 players not in attendance are Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke and Shingo Katayama. Based on the current world rankings, the only tournament this year -- PGA Tour event or major -- with more top-50 players participating was the British Open with 48. The U.S. Open and the PGA Championship had 47.

Tiger Woods shot 1 under par on the front nine Thursday. That ties a career low for Woods on the front nine in the opening round of the Bridgestone at Firestone C.C. In 2001, Woods also carded 1 under on holes one through nine, but he rallied to winning that event for the third year in a row.

Adam Scott finished his round with birdies on nine of the last 11 holes he played. It's the first time in his PGA Tour career that he has birdied nine out of 11 consecutive holes.