Monday, September 25, 2006
Elias Says ...
By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• Torii Hunter hit another home run Monday, giving him 15 in his last 36 games since Aug. 18, and 30 on the season, a personal record. Apparently inside the dome, when it rains, it pours. Hunter joins Justin Morneau (who hit his 34th tater Monday) as Twins players with at least 30 homers this year. Before this, the Twins had not had a player with at least 30 home runs since 1987, when Gary Gaetti, Tom Brunansky and Kent Hrbek all did it. The only team that has not had a pair of 30-homer players since the Twins last did it is the Royals, who last did it in 1985 (George Brett and Steve Balboni).
The only major league player with as many home runs as Hunter since Aug. 18 is Ryan Howard, who has 16. No one else has more than 13 over that time.
• With a victory at home over the Royals on Monday, and the White Sox's loss in Cleveland, the Twins clinched a spot in the 2006 postseason. It's Ron Gardenhire's fourth trip to the playoffs in five seasons. The only other managers to reach the playoffs four times in their first five seasons were Cito Gaston (1989-1993 Blue Jays) and Larry Dierker (1997-2001 Astros).
• Jimmy Rollins hit his 25th home run of the season, making the Phillies the first team in National League history and third team in major league history to have a second baseman and a shortstop with at least 25 home runs each. (Chase Utley has hit 31 home runs this year, including one as a designated hitter.) The Red Sox did it in 1948 and 1950 with second baseman Bobby Doerr (27 each season) and shortstop Vern Stephens (29 in 1948 and 30 in 1950).
• Jon Garland, who was 17-6 going into Monday's game vs. the Indians, allowed 12 runs in the White Sox's loss to the Tribe. The last time that a pitcher who had a won-lost record at least 10 games over .500 allowed a dozen runs in a game was over 67 years ago, on Sept. 2, 1939, when the Yankees' Red Ruffing (20-4) gave up 12 runs to the Red Sox -- in a complete-game loss!
• The Reds' win against the Cubs was their eighth this season at Great American Ballpark in which they trailed by at least two runs in the eighth inning or later. That ties the NL record for most wins at home in a season in which the team trailed by at least two runs in the eighth inning or later. The 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers also had eight such wins. Two American League teams have had as many -- the 1996 Orioles (9) and 2003 Devil Rays (8). No other team has more than five such wins at home this year.
• The Diamondbacks defeated the Giants, but the real story was that they beat the Giants with Jason Schmidt starting for the first time since Sept. 5, 2002. The Giants' 16 straight wins over the Diamondbacks with Schmidt starting was the longest winning streak with a particular starting pitcher against the same division opponent (since 1969, the first year of divisional play).
• With their win over the Red Sox on Monday, the Blue Jays leapfrogged Boston into second place in the AL East. The Blue Jays have not been above third place anytime after the midway point of a season since Sept. 27, 2000, when they were 83-75. The Blue Jays finished third in the division that year after the Red Sox passed them in the season's final week.
That leaves the Devil Rays, Brewers and Pirates as the only major league teams that have not spent any days in first or second place in the second half of the season since 2001.
• Hideki Matsui ended a 14-pitch at-bat with a home run off Jae Seo on Monday. It was the most pitches in an at-bat that ended with a home run in over two years, since Terrmel Sledge went deep on the 16th pitch of an at-bat against Antonio Alfonseca.
• The Cardinals have lost six straight games, dropping their record to 80-75. Earlier this season the Cardinals had a pair of eight-game losing streaks. This could be the first season in Cardinals history in which they post a winning record despite three distinct losing streaks of at least six games.
Three teams have made the postseason despite three separate six-game losing streaks -- the 2005 Astros, 2003 Twins and 1983 Phillies.
• The Saints improved to 3-0 under new head coach Sean Payton after going 3-13 last year. Payton is only the third NFL coach in the last 75 years to inherit a team that won three or fewer games the previous season and start 3-0. The others were Vince Lombardi with the 1959 Packers, who had gone 1-10-1 in 1958, and John Fox with the 2002 Panthers, who were 1-15 in 2001.
• The Saints held the Falcons without a touchdown, making Atlanta the first opponent not to score a touchdown against New Orleans since the Bills on Sept. 9, 2001. The Saints had the longest current streak of games allowing at least one touchdown. That distinction now belongs to the 49ers, who have allowed a touchdown in their last 67 games.