Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Stark [Print without images]

Friday, May 22, 2009
Ibanez on a Sandwich Award-winning roll


Greetings once again to all of our favorite gourmets. Have a seat at any vacant table and dine on our weekly Generic Sandwich Awards. But first, a quick serving of our …

Munchies of the Week

Useless Infomaniacs everywhere were ready to leap off the nearest skyscraper Thursday when the White Sox scored in the eighth inning to avoid becoming the fifth team since 1900 to get shut out, 20-zilcho (or worse). So the final was merely: Twins 20, White Sox 1. And since I know you need to know, here are the only teams in the modern era to get shut out and give up at least 20 runs in the same game:

And in case you were wondering (since I was), the Vikings have never won a 20-0 game in franchise history -- or, due to mathematical reasons beyond their control, a 20-1 game, either.

Your Zack Greinke note of the day: Nine starts into the season, his ERA has been under 1.00 after EVERY inning he's thrown all season. According to the amazing baseball-reference.com Play Index, the only other pitchers in the past 55 years to make it through their first nine starts of any season without ever having their ERA even reach (gulp) 1.00 were Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 and your record holder, Juan Marichal (who made it through 11 straight starts in the Sub-1.00 Club) in 1966.

Jason Bay is now up to 11 straight home runs with at least one runner on base, one short of the all-time record shared by Hank Aaron and Ken Griffey Jr. So who's the all-time record holder for most consecutive homers with NOBODY on base? The Sultan of Swat Stats, David Vincent, reports it's Curtis Granderson, who set that record (18) just two years ago -- while none of us was looking, obviously.

Edwin Jackson threw 132 pitches for the Tigers on Thursday. That's the most launched by any pitcher for any Jim Leyland team since a 141-pitch Jamey Wright outing for the Rockies back on Sept. 3, 1999. But it was nowhere near the record for Most Pitches Thrown by Any Pitcher for Leyland. That record? Would you believe 172, by Tim Wakefield on April 27, 1993? He did it in a 10-inning complete game in which he walked 10 -- and won.

And now a Jake Peavy note that has nothing to do with his no-trade clause: In his start last weekend, this man threw 92 strikes in 122 pitches. And if you thought that seemed like a ton of strikes, how right you are. Our pitch-count guru, loyal reader Aneel Trivedi, reports that only four other pitchers in the past 20 seasons have thrown that many strikes in a start of 122 pitches or fewer. Check out this cool list:

Date Pitcher Pitches Balls Strikes
9/20/02 Curt Schilling 114 20 94
9/14/98 Carlos Perez 116 24 92
5/17/09 Jake Peavy 122 30 92
4/29/92 Bret Saberhagen 121 29 92
5/31/95 John Smiley 121 29 92

You don't see many finishes like that ninth inning in San Diego on Thursday night. The Padres tied the game in the ninth on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch (David Eckstein taking that blow for his ever-grateful team). ESPN research whiz Ryan McCrystal reports that was only the second game-tying HBP in Padres history. And the other was in the third inning -- on July 3, 1996, when Ramon Martinez drilled the unforgettable Marc Newfield.

Finally, the Nationals played their 100th game in the history of Nationals Park on Thursday. And Nationals public-relations genius John Dever reports that the highest-scoring game in the history of the ballpark (A) isn't over yet and (B) won't even be finished in Nationals Park. It was that May 5 game with the Astros that was suspended in the 11th inning with the score tied, 10-10. So at least one of the runs in the highest-scoring game in Nationals Park will be scored 1,500 miles from home plate in that park. Gotta love baseball.

And now, on with the awards …

Raul Ibanez

Ibanez

Strike One -- The On A Roll Award

I don't recall ESPN interrupting its regular programming to announce that the Phillies had just reached an agreement with Raul Ibanez last December. Of course, it was 4:15 a.m. at the time, so that might have had something to do with it. But the point is, Ibanez wasn't viewed by the general public as the biggest-impact free agent of the offseason.

Now, though, it's Memorial Day weekend, and it's time to re-evaluate. After a week in which he hit .400, with five homers, 14 RBIs and a 1.374 OPS, Ibanez ranks, officially, as the best acquisition of anybody's offseason, a quarter of the way through the season.

He leads the National League in home runs (15, tied with Adrian Gonzalez) and in RBIs (40). And in case this keeps up, you should know that the only free agents in NL history who ever led the league in both those departments over their first full season were Andre Dawson ('87 Cubs) and Barry L. Bonds ('93 Giants).

Ibanez's career high in homers is 33 (for the 2006 Mariners). At this rate, he'll blow by that number in, like, three weeks. In his last three series, he's launched a 450-bomb against the Dodgers, a 434-footer against the Nationals and a 422-foot rocket against the Reds (according to hittrackeronline.com). And last Saturday, he became the first Phillie since Harry Anderson, in 1958, to have a multihomer game in one game of a doubleheader and hit another homer in the other game.

After watching Ibanez go 9-for-18 in that series, with four homers, Nationals mashmaster Adam Dunn told the Sandwich Awards Committee that Ibanez is now, clearly, "the best player on earth." Well, we don't know about that. But he's a Sandwich Award winner, anyway.

Chris Davis

Davis

Strike Two -- The Cold Cuts Award

There are men in this sport who make box score watching way more entertaining than their fellow mere mortals. Rangers 1B/DH Chris Davis is one of those men.

Some weeks, it's because of all the home runs that come flying off those box scores. And then there are weeks like this one, when Davis' last three games looked like this:

Yeah, it's been that kind of week for poor Chris Davis: 0 for his last 16, with eight whiffs; 1 for his last 20, with nine whiffs. Yet all that followed a stretch in which he went 11-for-30, with four homers and eight RBIs. So you never know which roller-coaster you'll be riding with this guy. But whatever, you can't beat the ride:

Davis is already up to 61 strikeouts this year. And as loyal reader Bill Chuck points out, that's two more whiffs already than Kirby Puckett piled up in his entire 1989 season, when he played in 163 games.

That's also a 252-strikeout pace. Which wouldn't merely break Mark Reynolds' all-time single-season strikeout record of 204 (set just last year). It would break it by nearly 50 punchouts. That's the equivalent of somebody coming along and breaking Barry Bonds' single-season home run record -- by hitting 90 homers.

Justin Morneau has gone 273 consecutive games without striking out three times in any game. Davis already has seven three-K games in just his first 39 games of the season.

Albert Pujols once went 75 straight games without a multistrikeout game. Davis is already up to 16 of them just this season.

And we should also probably mention Davis' other fascinating little stat line this year: He has as many homers (10) as walks. The only other active players to pull that off in a 30-homer season are Ryan Braun (34 HR, 29 BB in 2007), Alfonso Soriano (39-23 in 2002), Garret Anderson (35-24 in 2000), Pudge Rodriguez (35-24 in 1999), Joe Crede (30-28 in 2006) and Jose Guillen (31-24 in 2003).

So here's to Chris Davis. He's a Sandwich Award waiting to happen every week.

Strike Three -- The Can-We-Box-That-Up Award

I don't normally hand out these prestigious awards just for one eye-popping box score entry. But when those box score entries look like A's pitcher Sean Gallagher's line Monday in Tampa Bay, the Sandwich Award rules can change in a hurry. Ready? Here it comes:

Sean Gallagher

Gallagher

2 1/3 IP, 3 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 5 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 1 HBP, 77 pitches to get seven outs and a memorable first-inning stretch that went: walk, out, single, bases-loaded walk, bases-loaded HBP, RBI single, out, passed ball that scored two more runs.

So here's what you need to know about that line, thanks to ESPN research whiz Doug Kern: Gallagher was only the fourth pitcher in the last 55 years to give up no more than three hits and still somehow allow NINE runs. (The others: Gil Meche in 2006, Tom Underwood in 1979 and Buzz Capra in 1974.)

Quote of the Day

"I can't think of one pitch that I probably executed well," Gallagher said.

So what did this poor guy get out of all that wildness? A trip back to the minor leagues the next day -- and one Sandwich Award to go.

Jayson Werth

Werth

Werth Contest Update

A week ago, the Sandwich Awards committee asked you loyal readers and tweeters to come up with a name for a guy who steals second, third and home in the same inning, as the Phillies' Jayson Werth did May 12. The fun entries included:

And the inventive "A Verne."

But our winner comes via Twitter (@jaysonst), from loyal reader Al Przygocki. His nomination:

A "Tri-Theft-A."

Excellent. Great work from all our loyal readers on this one.

Shameless Book-Plug Dept.

Next signing of "Worth The Wait: Tales of the 2008 Phillies" will be Saturday, May 23, at the Barnes & Noble, Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem, Pa., from 1 to 3 p.m. For a complete list of "Worth The Wait" signings, click here.