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Friday, July 13, 2012
All-Star futility: K.C. and Ron Washington


Welcome to another edition of Five Astounding Facts:

1 This is for every one of you who watched that All-Star Game on Tuesday and said something to the effect of: "It figures. The All-Star Game came to Kansas City, and a Royals game busted out." Oh yeah? Well, how about this:

The Royals hadn't lost a home game by eight runs or more in any of their previous 94 games (since May 16, 2011). And they hadn't lost an 8-0 game at home (or any shutout by a worse score) in any of their previous 503 games. Last time it happened: May 22, 2006, in an 8-0 loss to Detroit. And guess who started for the Tigers that night? Who else? Justin Verlander.

2 Ron Washington joked at his All-Star press conference on Monday that he hasn't had a lot of success in big games against the National League. Hey, if he only knew. He just became the first American League manager to lose back-to-back All-Star Games since Billy Martin in 1977-78. And …

Even more notably, Washington just became the second manager in history to lose two straight All-Star Games AND two straight World Series in (essentially) back-to-back years. But at least he's in good company. The other guy to do it? That was Bobby Cox (who lost the 1991-92 World Series and the 1992-93 All-Star Games).

3 When Matt Cain started this All-Star Game, it made him and Tim Lincecum the fifth set of current teammates who have each started one of those games. The others:

Jered Weaver (2011), Dan Haren (2007)
Roy Halladay (2009 and 2011), Cliff Lee (2008)
Ubaldo Jimenez (2010), Derek Lowe (2002)
Cain (2012), Lincecum (2009), Brad Penny (2006).

But what separates Cain and Lincecum from those other four sets of names? They started the All-Star Game WHILE they were teammates. (The others joined forces later.) Last teammates to do that: Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson in 2001-02.

4 How much did the Dodgers miss Matt Kemp? This ought to sum it up:

• The Dodgers from May 28 to the All-Star break: 12 HR in 1,442 PA. That's one home run in every 120 trips to the plate.

• Kemp all by himself in April: 12 HR in 98 PA. That's one home run every eight trips.

All righty … Any more questions?

5 Finally, what's a week without another Adam Dunn tidbit? Couldn't help it, because the Big Donkey has set two more records that are either unbreakable or unthinkable. Or possibly both.

RECORD NO. 1: His 134 first-half strikeouts were, not so shockingly, the most at the All-Star break in the history of swinging and missing. The previous record was 129, by Ryan Howard in 2008. But the former AL record was "only" 117 by -- guess who? -- Dunn, himself, last year. The most by any AL hitter in history who isn't named Adam Dunn was 115, by Bo Jackson in 1987. And keep in mind that we'd never seen ANY player whiff 100 times before the break until Bo knew how to make that happen.

RECORD NO. 2: Even more impressive, Dunn had already rolled up 202 plate appearances by the break in which he'd either walked (68 times) or struck out (134). Wait. Seriously? Did we just say 202? Shouldn't that be just about impossible? The previous record for most first-half trips to the plate without the ball leaving the batter's box was 181, by Jack Cust in '08 (114 K's, 67 BBs). So Dunn incinerated that one. And before you toss Barry Bonds' name out there, sorry. Not even close. Yeah, he walked a lot. But he rarely struck out in his later years. So his most ever was 150 in 2004 (131 BBs, 19 K's).

So … good old Adam Dunn. He's a freak of baseball nature. But if that's what it takes to keep the Five Astounding Facts staff in business, we're all for it.