|ESPN.com: ESPN||[Print without images]|
• Two of the criticisms of Alex Rodriguez in Tom Verducci's current article in Sports Illustrated are Rodriguez's poor clutch hitting and his struggle to hit fastballs. At the intersection of those two charges is this amazing statistic: During his three seasons with the Yankees, A-Rod has batted .105 with runners in scoring position against pitchers who averaged at least one strikeout per inning (in the season in question). That's four hits in 38 at-bats, with one home run and 16 strikeouts.
• David Ortiz hit his 51st and 52nd home runs on Thursday night, breaking the Red Sox's single-season record of 50 by Jimmie Foxx in 1938. Only one major-league franchise currently has a single-season home run record that dates back further than that: The Athletics' record dates back to 1932. And who holds that mark? None other than Foxx himself, who belted 58 homers for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1932.
With Foxx's Boston record broken, the three oldest single-season home run records for current franchises belong to the Athletics (Foxx), the Tigers (58 by Hank Greenberg in 1938) and the Pirates (54 by Ralph Kiner in 1949).
• Johan Santana gave up a first-inning homer to Ryan Garko last Friday night and was taken deep by Ortiz in the opening frame on Thursday night. It's the first time in Santana's major-league career that he threw a gopher ball in the first inning in back-to-back appearances.
Boston's victory was its first in six games against Minnesota this season and it preserved a streak that dates back more than a century. In the 106-year history of the Red Sox-Twins matchup, including 60 years during which the Twins played as the Washington Senators, neither team has swept a season series.
• Lance Berkman hit two home runs in Houston's 6-5 win against St. Louis. This is the sixth straight year in which Berkman has homered on Sept. 21. That's one shy of the major-league record on any date. Lou Gehrig hit a home run on June 8 in seven straight seasons, from 1932 through 1938.
• Pedro Martinez had a no-hitter through four innings on Thursday night. He entered that game having thrown no-hit ball through at least the first four innings of a game 22 times in his major-league career. His record in those games was 20-1. But the Marlins tagged Pedro for four runs in the fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead and Willie Randolph removed Martinez after that half inning. So Pedro is now 20-2 when he takes a no-no into the fifth inning.
• Anibal Sanchez threw seven innings and allowed two runs, earning a win against the Mets. Sanchez's current streak of 10 consecutive starts pitching at least six innings and allowing three or fewer runs is the longest by any rookie in the majors since 2003, when Brandon Webb did that in 13 straight outings.
• The White Sox were blanked 9-0 by Seattle at U.S. Cellular Field. Prior to that defeat, the White Sox had been the only team in the major leagues that had not been shut out at home this season. Chicago lost the chance to become only the second defending World Series champion in the last 60 years to go through an entire regular season without a home shutout loss. The Blue Jays did that in 1993.
The White Sox, who entered Thursday night's game leading the major leagues with a .310 team batting average with runners in scoring position, were hitless in seven at-bats in those situations against Seattle. That tied their worst 0-fer of the season. They were also 0-for-7 with men in scoring position in two different games against Texas earlier this year.
• Jason Kendall was 3-for-5 with four RBI for Oakland in Thursday afternoon's victory against Cleveland. Kendall is a catcher who does not have to be coddled with day-game-after-night-game considerations. Thursday marked the 30th time this season that Kendall started a day game after starting the previous night. He is now batting .347 in those 30 day games.
Rich Harden returned to the Oakland rotation in style, striking out seven batters in three innings of work. Since 1990, only one other major-league pitcher whiffed at least seven batters in the first three innings in his first start after a stint on the disabled list. On June 17, 2004, Florida's Josh Beckett struck out eight in the first three innings against the White Sox. Beckett left that game in the fourth inning with a bad back and went right back on the disabled list.
• San Francisco's pitchers walked six Milwaukee batters in the fifth inning. The Brewers scored five runs in that stanza in their 9-4 victory. It was the third time this season that San Francisco's pitchers issued six walks in an inning. Only one other team has done that even once this year: Baltimore on April 7.
• The Orioles trailed 3-2 against Detroit after seven innings, but rallied to win 4-3. Entering Thursday, Baltimore had only three wins this season in games that it trailed entering the eighth inning, the fewest such victories for any team in the American League.
Detroit loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the fifth inning but did not score, a pivotal failure in their one-run loss to the Orioles. It was the fourth time this season that the Tigers had the bases full with nobody out and did not score in that inning, tying Seattle and Toronto for the highest total in the major leagues.
• The Yankees announced that Jason Giambi has a ligament tear in his wrist and will not play this weekend against the Devil Rays. Giambi has not hit a home run in his last 65 at-bats. He's had only one longer drought in the last seven years: He failed to hit one out of the park in 70 consecutive at-bats during the 2004 season.