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Friday, July 27, 2012
Astros making history of the wrong kind


We interrupt these trade rumors for … The Five Astounding Facts of the Week!

1 It isn't easy for any team to work its way into a sentence that includes the phrase, "Even the '62 Mets never did that." But here's to the 2012 Houston Astros -- because they somehow have pulled that off. How? Well, they've played 25 games since June 28, and you know how many they've won?

Two.

Astros

That's correct. They're 2-23. And here's all you need to know about that:

• Even Choo-Choo Coleman's pathetic '62 Mets never did that -- and they lost 120 games that season. Their worst 25-game stretch was "only" 3-22, in July and August.

• The last team to go 2-23 in any 25-game span of any season? That would be Jeff Stone's 1988 Orioles. But they cheated. They started that year by going 0-21. Then they only had to play .500 for four games to get to 2-23.

• Meanwhile, just one National League team in the last 77 years has had a 2-23 stretch (or worse). And that was Pancho Herrera's 1961 Phillies, who actually went through a 1-24 funk in July and August. But they also cheated. They lost 23 in a row at one point, the longest losing streak in modern history.

• Other than those Phillies, only two other NL teams have found a way to lose 23 of 25 at any point in any of the last 103 seasons -- Pinky Whitney's 1935 Boston Braves and Doc Hoblitzell's 1914 Reds.

• Finally, just one team in history ever went through a 25-game stretch without winning once. That was Chicken Wolf's 1889 Louisville Colonels, whose fabled 26-game losing streak in May and June is still the longest of all time.

2 It's now two whole weeks since we fired an exciting new Adam Dunn tidbit out there. So here's the latest, courtesy of loyal reader Ben Thomas:

Thomas noticed, astutely, that when the Big Donkey whomped his 30th home run this week, he reached 30 homers before he got to 30 singles. (He's still at 29.) And that was excellent work by Ben Thomas. His mistake was in doubting that had ever been done -- or is that "Dunn" -- before. Of course, it has -- but not much:

Mark McGwire did it three times -- in 1996 (30 homers, 29 singles), 1998 (30 homers, 22 singles) and 2000 (30 homers, 26 singles).

Carlos Pena also did it once in 2009 (30 homers, a mere 19 singles).

• And then there's our record holder -- the one, the only Barry Bonds in 2001. He hit his 30th homer that year on (gulp) June 4. And how many singles did he have at the time? Would you believe 12? Seriously.

3 The Cubs turned a double play last weekend that ought to be impossible -- the old 3-4-5 trick. Happened on a Skip Schumaker bunt (3-4 on your scorecard), where Rafael Furcal decided to go all the way from first to third, but didn't make it. (Hence, the 3-4-5.) So how many other 3-4-5 DPs have there been, if you don't count rundowns with a 3-4-5 in the middle? One of our most loyal readers, the great Trent McCotter, looked through every game since 1947 -- and couldn't find a single one.

Sean Doolittle
Doolittle

4 Not all saves are created equal -- and A's rookie Sean Doolittle could tell you all about that. As longtime baseball writer Jeff Fletcher, the editor of Athletics Magazine, reports, Doolittle racked up his first career save last Saturday, against the Yankees. And all he had to do to record it was … face Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and Andruw Jones -- four guys with a career total of 1,574 homers. So how many pitchers, since the invention of the modern save rule, have ever had to face four hitters with that many homers to get their first save? That would be none. Of course.

5 Finally, if you're still trying to digest Tommy Hanson's box-score line Wednesday, against the Marlins, hey, get in line. It's an all-time all-timer. Here goes:

5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 7 BB, 7 K, 7 SB

So what's up with that?

• Hanson was the first pitcher in the live-ball era (starter or reliever) to pull off one of those slot-machine jackpot lines -- 7 (BB), 7 (K), 7 (SB). Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding.

• Hanson also became the first pitcher in the live-ball era (starter or reliever) to allow at least seven walks and seven stolen bases in one game, but give up only one run.

• Then again, the Marlins became the first team to steal seven bases in a nine-inning game and score only one run since Patsy Dougherty's 1909 White Sox. So the seven walks were just for show.

• Hanson also became only the second pitcher in the live-ball era to allow at least seven walks and seven stolen bases in a game and win it. The other: Randy Johnson, on July 29, 1989 (7 BB, 8 SB), against Oakland. But the Unit won a 14-6 game, so the degree of difficulty wasn't quite the same.

• And only two other starters in the live-ball era have allowed that many stolen bases (the heck with the walks) in a game they won -- the Padres' Stan Spencer (10 SB), on May 18, 2000, against the Marlins, and Mike Scott (7 SB), on May 28, 1989, against the Pirates.

But to do all of that in one game (in only five innings yet)? Now that's astounding.