Monday, April 2, 2007
Elias Says ...
By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• Seattle's Felix Hernandez struck out 12 batters in the Mariners' 4-0 win over the A's. He became the majors' first Opening Day pitcher to strike out at least 12 batters without allowing a run since Bob Gibson did it for the Cardinals in 1967. Gibson struck out 13 in a complete-game shutout over the Giants.
Hernandez is the fourth pitcher since 1900 to start and win an Opening Day game before his 21st birthday. The others: Chief Bender in 1905, Bob Feller in 1939 and Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.
• Milwaukee's Ben Sheets threw a two-hit complete game and did not walk a batter. Sheets was the first pitcher since the Braves' Tom Glavine in 1992 to throw an Opening Day complete game while allowing two or fewer hits. The last pitcher to allow two or fewer hits and not issue a walk in an Opening Day complete game was Hall-of-Famer Lefty Grove for the Red Sox in 1940.
• When Johan Santana pitches for the Twins at home, you can bank on a Twins victory. Minnesota has now won 24 straight regular-season home games started by Santana, one shy of the major league record. The only other streaks that long both occurred before 1900: Louisville won 25 straight home games started by Scott Stratton from 1890 to 1891 and Brooklyn won 24 straight home games started by
Tom Lovett in 1890.
• The Yankees have now won 10 straight home openers, tying a major-league record set by the Pirates from 1945 through 1954.
• Carl Pavano, who last pitched in the majors on June 27, 2005, was the Yankees' Opening Day starting pitcher. No pitcher has started on Opening Day with such a long gap since he last played in the majors (one year, 279 days) since 1956, when Vinegar Bend Mizell (after serving in the military) took the mound in the Cardinals' opener more than two years after his previous big-league appearance.
Pavano's mound opponent, Scott Kazmir, was the youngest pitcher (23 years, 68 days) ever to start a season opener at Yankee Stadium, breaking the mark set by Early Wynn (23 years, 106 days) for the 1943 Senators.
• Tony Pena Jr. hit two triples in the Royals' win over the Red Sox to become the first big leaguer to hit two triples on Opening Day since Tommy Henrich did it for the Yankees in 1950.
• The Indians scored 11 runs in the first three innings in Chicago on Monday afternoon. They were the fourth team in major league history to score 11 or more runs in the first three innings on Opening Day. Two other three teams to do it: Buffalo of the Players League in 1890 (12 in the first three innings), the Cubs in 1955 (11) and the Blue Jays in 1995 (12).
• Grady Sizemore hit a home run to lead off the first inning for the Indians. Sizemore was the third player in Indians history to hit a leadoff home run on Opening Day. Charlie Jamieson did it in 1925 and Julio Franco in 1988.
• Jose Contreras allowed eight runs in one inning against the Indians. Contreras was the fourth pitcher since 1900 to allow eight runs while pitching fewer than two innings on Opening Day. The others were Toronto's Tom Underwood in 1979 (1 2/3 IP, nine runs), Minnesota's Brad Havens in 1983 (1 1/3 IP, eight runs) and Oakland's Dave Stewart in 1995 (1 1/3 IP, nine runs).
• Manny Acta and Fredi Gonzalez made their managerial debuts when the Nationals hosted the Marlins. Over the last 20 years, there were only three other games in which both managers debuted: Ken Macha (A's) vs. Bob Melvin (Mariners) in 2003; Bob Boone (Royals) vs.
Phil Regan (Orioles) in 1995; and Buck Showalter (Yankees) vs.
Butch Hobson (Red Sox) in 1992.
• Hanley Ramirez had four hits and scored four runs for the Marlins on Monday afternoon. Ramirez was the fourth player in the last 50 years to have four or more hits and score four or more runs in his team's season opener. Joe Girardi did it in a 14-inning game for Colorado against the Mets in 1995, Jose Valentin for Milwaukee at California in 1996 and Dmitri Young for Detroit vs. Kansas City in 2005.
• Frank Thomas extended his Opening Day hitting streak to 13 games with a sixth-inning single in the Blue Jays' win over the Tigers. The Big Hurt's streak is the longest of its kind since
Will Clark hit in 14 consecutive Opening Day games from 1986 to 2000.
• Arizona and Cleveland entered Monday's action with the longest current Opening Day losing streaks; each team had lost its last four openers. Both teams won, making the Dodgers, Nationals and Rangers (each of whom lost on Monday) the teams with the longest current Opening Day losing streaks (four each).
• Elijah Dukes' first major league hit was a home run on Opening Day. It's the fourth straight season in which a player's first major league hit was an Opening Day home run. Kaz Matsui did it for the Mets in 2004, Jeff Baker for the Rockies in 2005 and
Kenji Johjima for the Mariners in 2006. Prior to Matsui in 2004, you had to go back to 1986 to find a player who did that: the Giants'
• The Gators largest margin of victory in their last five games of the NCAA Tournament was 10 points. Only two other teams in tournament history won each of its last five games, all by 10 points or fewer: North Carolina in 1982 (all five games) and Arizona in 1997 (all six games).
• Florida used the same starting five in the 2007 NCAA Championship game as it employed in last year's title-game win over UCLA: Corey Brewer, Taurean Green, Al Horford, Lee Humphrey, and Joakim Noah.
Over the last 35 years, only one team started the same lineup in the NCAA Finals in consecutive years: Michigan, in a pair of losses to Duke (1992) and North Carolina (1993): Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson, Jimmy King, Jalen Rose, Chris Webber.
• Ohio State shot 4-for-23 from 3-point range in its loss to Florida on Monday night. Since 1987, the first year the 3-point shot was used in college basketball, two other teams missed at least 19 3-point shots in the NCAA Championship game: Kentucky was 10-for-30 in its loss to Arizona in 1997 and Illinois shot 12-for-40 from beyond the arc in its loss to North Carolina in 2005.
• Horford had 12 rebounds against Ohio State on Monday night after grabbing 17 boards against UCLA on Saturday night. Over the last 20 years, only one player had at least 29 rebounds in two Final Four games combined: Nick Collison of Kansas in 2003 (36 rebounds).
• Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello fired coach Claude Julien, even though New Jersey long ago clinched a playoff berth and currently holds first place in the Atlantic Division. Lamoriello will go behind the bench himself for the season's final three games and the playoffs.
In NHL history, the only man to coach a team in the playoffs after taking over with no more than three games remaining in the regular season was Phil Esposito with the Rangers in 1989. Esposito, who was also the team's general manager, fired coach Michel Bergeron with two games to go in the regular season. The Rangers lost both of those games, then got swept by Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs.