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Welcome to another edition of Five Astounding Facts:
When the Yankees blew all 10 games of their 10-game lead in the American League East over the past month and a half, the good news was that they still had four weeks left in the season to right their luxury liner.
Now here's the bad news: Since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, eight other teams have made a double-digit lead in their league or division disappear at some point in the season. Only one of those eight teams -- the 1928 Yankees -- recovered to finish in first.
That '28 Yankees team led the AL by 13½ games on July 2, fell out of first on Sept. 8 and went 14-6 down the stretch to win the pennant by 2½ games.
The other good news? Of the seven teams that didn't win their division, five didn't have the wild card to use as a safety net. The Yankees do.
Anybody recall the only team in the wild-card era to blow a double-digit lead and still make it to the postseason as a wild card?
That would be the 2006 Tigers -- a team that turned around and upset (who knew!) the Yankees in the division series and wound up in the World Series.
So is there life after collapsing? Whaddaya know. There sometimes is.
Astounding feats often come in twos, but nobody in recent memory has taken that more literally than the Twins' Ryan Doumit.
In a seven-run second inning against the White Sox on Tuesday, he made two of the Twins' three outs. Three innings later, he atoned for that in the most symmetrical way possible. While his team was scoring 10 times in the fifth inning, he got two of their eight hits.
So that's a two-hit inning and a two-out inning in the same game. That was so preposterous, it caused loyal readers Tony Foley and Joshua Borenstein to ask: Has anybody ever done that before?
Excellent question. The answer, according to Elias: Nope. At least not in the expansion era, which began 52 seasons ago. Amazing.
Fortunately for Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, he went deep off Mets knuckleball whiz R.A. Dickey on Wednesday. Unfortunately, he still wound up as the losing pitcher. But fortunately, Wainwright can still say this:
He is just the sixth pitcher in the past 30 seasons to hit a home run off a knuckleballer. The others:
Mike Krukow, off Joe Niekro -- Aug. 13, 1985
Trevor Wilson, off Tim Wakefield -- June 5, 1993
Dwight Gooden, off Charlie Hough -- July 1, 1993
William Van Landingham, off Tom Candiotti -- Aug. 4, 1995
Mark Clark, off Wakefield -- June 14, 1997
You think the Yankees have seen enough Mark Reynolds home run trots to last them another century or so? This man just did something only one other player in the history of the Yankees had ever done -- spew out three multihomer games against them in one season. The other guy to do it? That would be the great Hank Greenberg in 1938.
|In 12 games against the Yankees this season, Mark Reynolds is batting .333 with six homers and 13 RBIs.|
Ah, but it took Greenberg 27 days (in May and June) to do that. It took Reynolds only a week (Aug. 31, Sept. 2 and Sept. 6) -- a span of just four games. So
Who is the last man to cram three multihomer games against the same team into four games in the same week? Would you believe Ted Williams, against the White Sox, on Aug. 24, 26 and 27, 1949?
And how many other players, according to Elias, have ever had three multihomer games in a stretch of four games against any team, over any length of time? Just two: Harmon Killebrew against the Tigers in 1959 and Albert Belle against the White Sox in 1995.
Finally, who is the last player to have three multihomer games against any team this late in a season (i.e., from Aug. 31 on)? The Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR home run historian David Vincent, reports it was Vladimir Guerrero against the Rangers on Sept. 17, 28 and 30, 2004.
So that's your multihomer pantheon: Hank Greenberg, Ted Williams, Harmon Killebrew, Albert Belle, Vladimir Guerrero and (of course!) Mark Reynolds.
We know all this history Mike Trout keeps making can wear the Astounding Facts research crew out, but the guy just won't stop. Here's his latest impossible feat:
He has been in the big leagues for four months this season -- and won the AL Rookie of the Month award in every one of those months.
That got us thinking. Baseball has three prominent monthly awards -- player of the month, pitcher of the month and rookie of the month. The player of the month award goes back to 1958. The pitcher of the month award started in 1978. The rookie of the month award has been handed out since 2001.
And how many times has any player won any of those awards four months in a row? Never, until now.
In fact, only one other man has ever won three in a row. That was Pedro Martinez, who was the AL pitcher of the month in April, May and June of 1999. Then, being the magnanimous guy he is, he let somebody else win for a couple of months before winning it again in September and the following April.
And who is the only other player ever to win any of those awards four times in a season, though not consecutively? Ichiro Suzuki, who was the AL rookie of the month in April, May, August and September of 2001.
Luckily for the rest of mankind, Trout can win this award just one more time before he'll have to turn his attention to other trophies. We can hardly wait.