Sunday, May 20, 2007
Elias Says ...
By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• The Tigers completed a three-game sweep of the Cardinals behind Justin Verlander, who became just the second pitcher to earn a regular-season victory against a team that had beaten him twice during the previous year's World Series. In 1998, the Giants' Orel Hershiser avenged a pair of losses for the Indians in the 1997 World Series by defeating the Marlins on August 18.
• Randy Johnson struck out ten batters despite lasting only 5 2/3 innings in the Diamondbacks' 5-2 victory at Pittsburgh. It was the first double-digit strikeout game of Johnson's career in which he pitched fewer than six innings. The only other pitcher to do that this season was the Mets' Oliver Perez (10 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings to beat the Marlins on May 2). Nolan Ryan did that five times during his career (four times with Houston and once with Texas).
Johnson won for the first time at PNC Park, where he had lost his previous two decisions. It was the 41st different ballpark in which Johnson earned a victory, the second-most for any pitcher in major league history, behind Hall-of-Famer Tim Keefe. Keefe won in 47 different venues from 1880 to 1893 while playing in three different major leagues (the National League, American Association and Players League).
Johnson has failed to register a victory in only two ballparks in which he has pitched, and he will not get a another chance to add either of them to the win column. The Big Unit lost his only appearance at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (May 7, 1989) and was 0-2 in three games at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.
• Joel Peralta was the winning pitcher for the Royals, throwing the final two frames of their 12-inning, 10-5 triumph at Colorado. With Kansas City leading by two runs in the top of the twelfth, Peralta stepped to the plate for the first time in his major league career and promptly provided himself with some insurance by stroking a two-run double.
It had been more than 34 years since the last time a player's first major league plate appearance came during extra innings of a game and resulted in a run-producing extra-base hit. The last to do it was Houston's Jim Crawford, with a 12th-inning walk-off double to defeat the Dodgers on April 10, 1973.
• Andruw Jones had a game to forget in the Braves' 6-3 loss at Fenway Park. Jones became only the fourth player in the last 50 years to go 0-for-5 with five strikeouts and make the final out of the game with the tying run either on base or at bat. The others were Scott Rolen (1999), Sammy Sosa (1997) and Greg Gagne (1993).
• The Marlins erased a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Devil Rays 4-3. Josh Willingham began Florida's comeback in the seventh inning with a run-scoring double off James Shields. It was Willingham's 31st RBI of the season and all of them have come against right-handed pitchers.
• Over the last ten years, the only right-handed batter to accumulate 31 RBIs in a season before driving in a run off a left-handed pitcher was Toronto's Chris Woodward in 2002. Woodward's streak ended with his 32nd RBI of the year, a run-scoring groundout against the White Sox' Kelly Wunsch on August 26.
• The Dodgers were swept in Anaheim over the weekend and certainly haven't adapted well to having a designated hitter in their lineup. The Dodgers are 1-20 in interleague road games since 2005, the worst such mark in the majors over that span, poorer than the Pirates (2-10), Nationals (5-13), Astros (5-13) and Devil Rays (5-13).
• The Indians improved their home record to 16-4 with Sunday's triumph over Cincinnati, matching the best mark in franchise history through their first 20 home games of a season. Cleveland (10-11 on the road) is the third team in the past seven seasons to win at least 16 of its first 20 home games, but each of those teams had a losing record in road games at that juncture of the season. The others were the 2002 Twins (16-4 at home, 6-10 on the road) and 2005 Padres (16-4, 9-12).
• Tyler Clippard impressed both on the mound and at the plate for the Yankees in his major league debut, earning the victory and hitting a double against the Mets on Sunday night. Clippard was the fifth Yankee pitcher in the expansion era (since 1961) to hit safely in his first game in the majors and each was the winning pitcher in his debut. Mel Stottlemyre (Aug. 12, 1964) and Fritz Peterson (April 15, 1966) did it prior to the advent of the designated hitter, and two others did it in interleague games: Brandon Claussen (June 28, 2003 at Shea Stadium) and Brad Halsey (June 19, 2004 at Dodger Stadium).
• Derek Jeter, who had a 20-game hitting streak earlier this season, extended his current streak to 15 games with a third-inning double. Jeter has fashioned eight single-season hitting streaks of at least 15 games during his career, third-most among active players, behind Nomar and Ichiro (each with nine).
• Teemu Selanne's game-winning goal in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals was only the second overtime goal of his playoff career and his first since 1993, as a rookie with Winnipeg. The gap between Selanne's overtime winners in the playoffs is the longest for any player in NHL history, a distinction previously owned by Claude Lemieux, who scored a pair of playoff game-enders 11 years apart (1986 and 1997).
• Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer scored at 19:12 of the third period to send the game into overtime. It marked the sixth time in this year's playoffs that a goal was scored in the final minute of the third period to force overtime. There were only six such goals scored over the last two postseasons combined.
• Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 27 points in their series-opening victory over the Jazz. Duncan has averaged 26.5 points per game in the opening games of the 26 playoff series in which he has played, and only four players in NBA history have higher scoring averages in playoff series openers than has Duncan (minimum: 15 series): Michael Jordan (34.0), Jerry West (27.7), Shaquille O'Neal (27.6) and George Mikan (26.6).
• The Jazz have lost Game 1 of the last seven playoff series that they opened on the road. On Monday night at Auburn Hills, Cleveland will try to snap an even longer streak of that nature. In franchise history, the Cavaliers are 0-11 in Game 1 of playoff series that they have started on the road.