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Saturday, April 28, 2007
Elias Says ...

By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider

A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:

• Cincinnati's Matt Belisle pitched his first career complete game in his 101st career game, an 8-1 win over Pittsburgh. Belisle had never pitched more than six innings in any of his previous 100 appearances. The last pitcher to throw his first complete game after at least 100 outings, all six innings or less, was Kent Mercker, in his 185th career game for the Braves on April 8, 1994 -- a no-hitter at Dodger Stadium.

• You might not guess it by looking at the final score, but both starting pitchers, Belisle and Tom Gorzelanny, were perfect through three innings Saturday night in the Reds' 8-1 win. The last time this happened in a Pirates game was Oct. 2, 1993, when Pittsburgh's Steve Cooke and Montreal's Jeff Fassero pulled the trick.

 Jeff Weaver

Jeff Weaver retired only one batter and allowed six earned runs in the Mariners' 8-3 loss to the Royals. Weaver's ERA ballooned to 18.26 in four starts. That's the highest ERA ever for a Seattle pitcher in his first four starts of a season. The previous "record" was 14.14 by Ken Cloude in 1999. The last major league pitcher with such a poor ERA through four starts was Jaret Wright (20.25) for the 2002 Indians.

Brandon Duckworth pitched the last three innings for the Royals, earning his first career save. Fantasy players looking for a closer might want to look elsewhere, however. Only two pitchers in the past ten seasons who pitched more than two innings in their first major league save went on to save even ten games that season: Jose Jimenez for the 2000 Rockies (24) and Scott Williamson for the 1999 Reds (19).

 Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth inning in the Yankees' 3-1 win over the Red Sox, ending New York's seven-game losing streak. It was the Yankees' first save of the season.

Since the inception of that category in 1969, there's been only one year in which the Yankees went more than a dozen games into a season before one of their pitchers earned a save. In 1975, Dick Tidrow notched the team's first save of the season in its 34th game.

The Yankees are only the second team in the past 19 seasons (since 1989), to go this far into a season (21 games) without recording a save. In 2002, the Tigers notched their first save in their 26th game (9-17 at the time on May 1), on their way to a 106-loss season.

Mark Teixeira hit a home run and two doubles in the Rangers' 9-8, 10-inning win in Toronto. Even though the three extra base hits matched the Teixeira's total from his first 22 games of 2007, he now has nine games of at least three extra base hits in his career. The only player with more such games since Teixeira debuted in 2003 is Mike Lowell (10).

 Dontrelle Willis

Dontrelle Willis allowed five runs in 6 1/3 innings but earned the victory in the Marlins' 11-5 win at Philadelphia. Willis has benefited from an average of 8.2 runs of offense per start in 2007, the second highest run support in the majors (minimum four games starter) behind the Mets' John Maine (9.0). But if anyone is due some good luck, it's probably Willis, who averaged just 3.8 runs of support per start in 2006 despite helping his cause with three home runs and 10 RBIs. That was the third-lowest average in the majors last season (minimum 20 GS), ahead of only Mark Hendrickson (3.0) and Kelvim Escobar (3.7).

Trevor Hoffman pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn the save in the Padres' 3-2 win over the Dodgers. Hoffman had blown his past two save opportunities, but he's never failed three straight times.

• The Pistons won 97-93 in Orlando, sweeping their best-of-seven first-round series. Detroit also swept the Magic 4-0 in the regular season. Only five previous times in NBA history has one team swept another in regular and postseason series of at least four games: The Celtics over the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958-59; the Celtics over the Rockets in 1979-80; the Celtics over the Bucks in 1985-86; the SuperSonics over the Rockets in 1995-96; and the Heat over the Wizards in 2004-05.

• The Jazz evened their series against the Rockets at 2-2 with a 98-85 win, following their 81-67 victory Thursday night. Utah may have the momentum, but the last three NBA teams that tied a best-of-seven series by winning Games 3 and 4 at home, both by double-digit margins, went on to lose the series. The Pistons lost in seven to the Spurs in the 2005 Finals; the Nets lost in seven to the Pistons in the second round in 2004; and the 76ers lost to the Pistons in six in the second round in 2003.

Jamie Langenbrunner's goal less than two minutes into the second overtime gave the Devils a 3-2 Game 2 win over the Senators. Langenbrunner has scored four overtime playoff goals in his career. The only active player with more is Joe Sakic (7).

Martin Brodeur earned the win for New Jersey after allowing five goals in the series-opening loss. Brodeur is now 7-1 with a 1.29 goals-against average and a .951 save percentage in playoff games immediately after allowing at least five goals.

 Jonathan Cheechoo

Jonathan Cheechoo gave San Jose a 1-0 lead 36 seconds into Game 2 of its series with Detroit. It was the fastest goal ever from the start of a playoff game by a Sharks player. The previous record was 46 seconds by Dave Lowry on April 12, 2000, at St. Louis, in a game San Jose lost 5-3.

Cheechoo scored 12 goals in nine games from March 21 through the end of the regular season (which made him the NHL goal leader over the season's final 19 days), including two hat tricks, but he had no goals in six playoff games this year until he scored in the first minute Saturday.

 Joe Thornton

Joe Thornton's goal made the score 2-0 at the 4:17 mark. The Red Wings had not allowed two goals so quickly from the start of a playoff game since April 5, 1984, when the Blues jumped to a 2-0 lead in 4:01 on goals by Gilbert Delorme and Jorgen Pettersson. As they did Saturday, Detroit overcame the early two-goal deficit in that game and won.

The Wings were the first team in 2007 to win a playoff game it trailed by more than one goal. Before Saturday, NHL teams were 0-34 when falling behind by two or more goals.

NFL draft
• The Browns selected tackle Joe Thomas with the third pick and quarterback Brady Quinn with the 22nd selection. Since 1970, only two other teams drafted both an offensive lineman and a quarterback in the first round -- the expansion Panthers in 1995 (Blake Brockermeyer and Kerry Collins) and the 1970 Browns (Bob McKay and Mike Phipps).

• The Chargers drafted wide receiver Craig Davis 30th overall. San Diego had been tied with the Raiders for the longest span (18 years) since drafting a wideout in the first round. In 1988, the Chargers selected Anthony Miller and the Raiders took Tim Brown.

• Green Bay replaced departed Ahman Green with another running back from Nebraska, second-round pick Brandon Jackson. That's the highest the Packers have drafted a running back in the Brett Favre era.

• With a new, offense-minded head coach, Cam Cameron, the Dolphins took offensive players with their first four draft picks -- only the second time in the past 25 years (1999 was the other) that Miami's first four picks were all offensive players.