Sunday, August 27, 2006
Elias Says ...
By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• Gary Bennett's walk-off grand slam on Sunday night was the second in as many seasons for the Cardinals. Last year, David Eckstein became the first player to treat St. Louis fans to such an ending since Tommy Herr in 1987.
Bennett, who had a game-ending single on Saturday, joined Nomar Garciaparra and David Ortiz as the only players to win consecutive games with walk-off hits this season. The last player to do that for the Cardinals was Craig Paquette (June 22-23, 2000).
• The Tigers avoided a series sweep at Cleveland by posting their 82nd victory of the year, which clinched the club's first winning season since 1993. Only Milwaukee and Pittsburgh entered 2006 with longer streaks of consecutive non-winning seasons than Detroit; the Brewers and Pirates last posted winning records in 1992.
Detroit's streak of 12 consecutive seasons at-or-below .500 (1994-2005) was the longest in franchise history and the longest for any American League club since the Mariners had a 14-year below-water streak beginning with their inaugural season (1977-1990).
• Kenny Rogers has been a stabilizing force for the Tigers' rotation, and never more so than this month. Rogers has started five of the Tigers' last 25 games, posting a 3-1 record with a 1.64 ERA over that span (since Aug. 2) while Detroit's other starters have a combined 4-11 mark with a 5.55 ERA.
• Willy Taveras extended his hitting streak to 30 games with a first-inning leadoff single in the Astros' 13-1 win at Pittsburgh. Taveras began his streak on July 27; on the same day, Chase Utley extended his eventual 35-game streak to 27 games.
The last instance of players whose eventual single-season hitting streaks of at least 30 games overlapped at some point happened in 1987, when Paul Molitor hit safely in the final game of his 39-game streak on the same day that Benito Santiago began a 34-game streak (August 25). Prior to that, it hadn't happened since 1922.
• The Braves routed the Nationals with 10-1 and 13-6 victories in the final two games of their weekend series. Atlanta has won 12 games by margins of at least seven runs this season, the most such victories for any NL team (one more than the Dodgers).
• The Marlins (4-3 over the Brewers) and Orioles (5-4 over the Devil Rays) had similar victories on Sunday; both teams celebrated a walk-off, one-run win in which they scored in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Prior to Sunday, there had been only six major-league games this season that were won in that fashion; eight different teams now have one such victory apiece.
• Baltimore's walk-off win on Sunday was its third of the season against Tampa Bay, matching the most for any team against a particular opponent this season. The Indians have three walk-off victories over the Royals. The Orioles hadn't won three games in walk-off style against the same team in one season since 1989 (vs. California).
• Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter each had a pair of homers for New York on Sunday. The last pair of AL teammates each to homer twice in the same game did it against the Yankees -- Travis Hafner and Jhonny Peralta in the Indians' 19-1 win on July 4.
• The Giants' 8-0 victory over the Reds capped a two-week stretch during which San Francisco posted the best record in the major leagues (11-3 since Aug. 14). Who saw that coming? The Giants were 3-15 over the previous three weeks (July 24 to Aug. 13), the worst mark in the majors over that span.
• The Phillies acquired Jeff Conine, a veteran of the Marlins' championships in 1997 and 2003 (the only years in which Conine played in the postseason). Conine's two World Series rings equal the number worn by all of his new Phillies teammates combined (one apiece for David Dellucci and the injured Aaron Rowand).
Conine has never tasted playoff elimination. Since the inception of the wild card in 1995, he's one of three players to appear in as many as six postseason series and play for the winning team in each. The others are Craig Counsell (1997 Marlins and 2001 Diamondbacks) and Chili Davis (1998-1999 Yankees). Davis played for the winner in eight of nine postseason series during his career, including two years prior to 1995 (1987 Giants and 1991 Twins).
• After playing in a world-record 310 international matches, there's not much that Kristine Lilly can do for the first time. But she came close on Sunday, scoring in the 87th and 88th minutes of the U.S. victory. Lilly scored goals one minute apart just once previously, in the first two minutes of a 3-0 win against Germany in 1993.
• Matt Reis saved a penalty shot by Eddie Gaven in the 88th minute of the Revolution's 1-0 victory over the Crew. Reis was the fourth MLS keeper to save a PK in the 85th minute or later while protecting a one-goal lead. The others were Kevin Hartman (2003), Jon Busch (2004), and Jeff Cassar (2004), all in stoppage time.
• Cat Whitehill scored the United States' first goal in Sunday's 4-1 victory in a friendly vs. China. It was Whitehill's fourth goal in her last four matches for the National Team, one more than she scored in her previous 50 matches combined.
• Tiger Woods won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational this week with a workmanlike effort, as he struggled both off the tee and approaching the green. Woods hit only 57 percent of the fairways in regulation and 68 percent of the greens; Tiger posted percentages that low in both categories in only two of his 52 previous tournament victories. Ironically, both were at WGC events last year (the 2005 WGC-NEC Invitational and WGC-American Express Championships).