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Monday, June 10, 2013
Chronicling a wild, wild week


OK, take a deep breath. And now let's try to digest the craziest week of the baseball season.

We begin with our …

Working Overtime Dept.

• The Blue Jays and Rangers played an 18-inning game Saturday. And it wasn't even the longest game of the day. No two teams have ever been able to make that statement. On any day in the history of baseball. Amazing.

• There has only been one AL game longer than 18 innings in the past seven seasons. And the Blue Jays have never played a longer game in the history of their franchise. But let's repeat this one more time: It wasn't even the longest game of the day.

Kevin Slowey
In a game that lasted 20 innings, Kevin Slowey pitched seven scoreless innings in relief to earn the win in the Marlins' 2-1 victory over the Mets on Saturday.

• That, of course, is because the Mets and Marlins played a baseball game the same afternoon that practically turned into a tripleheader -- 20 innings worth of nuttiness that included 561 pitches, 155 batters marching up to home plate, 41 names showing up in the box score, 16 pitchers showing up on the mound and exactly three runs crossing home plate.

• The Mets, as you might have heard, got zero hits with runners in scoring position in this game. As in 0-for-19. Only two other teams in the past 40 years went 0-for-19 in a game with runners in scoring position: The 2004 Red Sox (April 24, in a 12-inning win against the Yankees) and the 1977 Pirates (June 11, in a nine-inning game against the Padres). Nobody has gone worse than 0-for-19 in that span, in case you were wondering.

• But how 'bout this: The Mets played a 20-inning game three years ago, and didn't get any hits with runners in scoring position in that game, either (0-for-7). So their last hit of any kind, with a man in scoring position, in a game of 20-plus innings, was by John Milner, in the first inning of their fabled 25-inning game with the Cardinals on Sept. 11, 1974. Since then, they're 0-for-42 with RISP in games of 20-plus innings. Hard to do!

• On the other hand, the Marlins never got a single extra-base hit in this game, in 20 innings -- and still won. Bet you didn't know only three other teams in the last 100 years have pulled off that crazy trick in a game of 20-plus innings -- the 1940 Dodgers, 1971 A's and those 2010 Mets.

• So which was crazier -- (A) the Mets listing 11 different names in the No. 9 spot in their batting order or (B) the sight of four pitchers throwing 90-plus pitches in the same game (Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez, Shaun Marcum, Kevin Slowey)? Let's go with (B) on that one -- because this was the first game in which four men launched at least 90 pitches each in the pitch-count era (which began in 1987).

• And while we're on the subject of Harvey and Fernandez, here's the Elias Sports Bureau tidbit of the century on those two: They've now faced each other twice this year. The first game lasted 15 innings. The second went 20. The last pair of starters to match up for two games of 15-plus innings in the same season? That would be Old Hoss Radbourn and Jim Devlin -- in 1884. Of course!

• Rob Brantly of the Marlins had kind of an eventful day. He caught all 20 innings. He also got four hits along the way. He was the first catcher to squat for that many innings and get that many hits in the same game, according to the Marlins, since the Twins' Brian Harper got four hits in a 22-inning game on Aug. 31, 1993.

• One more on the Mets and Marlins before we move along: After playing 20 innings Saturday, those teams enjoyed seeing each other so much, they played 10 more innings Sunday. So how often do you see that? Oh, just slightly more often than you see Halley's Comet. Only four other teams in the past 80 years, according to Elias, have followed a game of 20-plus innings with another extra-inning tussle the very next game -- the 1989 Astros-Dodgers (22, then 13), the 1982 Angels-Mariners (20 and 10), the 1972 Brewers-Twins (22, then 15) and the 1967 Red Sox-Yankees (20 and 11).

• In a related development, something else happened Saturday that hadn't been witnessed in almost 40 years: Three pitchers went at least 6 2/3 innings in relief on the same day -- Marcum (eight for the Mets), Kevin Slowey (seven for the Marlins) and Ross Wolf (6 2/3 for the Rangers). Loyal reader Trent McCotter reports that hadn't happened on the same day since May 12, 1976 -- when Reggie Cleveland went 8 1/3 for the Red Sox, Bill Laxton worked 7 1/3 for the Tigers and Doyle Alexander logged 7 1/3 for the Orioles out of the pen. How 'bout that trio?

• Meanwhile on "Sunday Night Baseball," Reds rookie Curtis Partch arrived on the scene in the 10th inning -- and served up a grand slam to the first batter he faced in his career (Matt Holliday). That has happened only four times in the history of the big league universe, according to the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR home run historian David Vincent. The other three:

Clarence Mitchell (Tigers) to Doc Gessler (June 2, 1911)
Bill Macdonald (Pirates) to Bobby Thomson (May 6, 1950)

• And speaking of extra-inning slams, John Mayberry Jr. smoked one Tuesday against the Marlins -- for his second home run that night just in extra innings. That made him the sixth player in history to hit two extra-inning homers in the same game, the third to do it in a game he didn't even start (joining Mike Young and Art Shamsky) and the first to cap off the extra-inning fun with a walk-off slam.

• But here's the craziest part of all: That was as many homers as Mayberry has hit in his past 248 trips to the plate during the first nine innings of all the games he has played since Sept. 3, 2012.

• More extra-inning fun: How can we not list the line score of Wednesday's White Sox-Mariners game, because there has never been one like it:

CHI 000 000 000 000 050 2
SEA 000 000 000 000 050 0

• First thing we'd never seen before: No game in history had ever produced a plot line that insane -- 26 consecutive scoreless half-innings, followed by 12 (count 'em, 12) runs over the next six half-innings.

• A second thing we'd never seen before: A team taking a five-run lead (or bigger) in any extra inning, then getting tied up in the bottom of that inning and having to keep playing.

• A third thing we'd never seen before, courtesy of our pal, Tim Kurkjian: Everyone's favorite .162 hitter, Adam Dunn, was intentionally walked three times in that game. He's the first player in history to rack up three intentional walks in a game that he began hitting under .200 this deep into a season.

• And one more wacky development in that game, from loyal reader Evan Jones: White Sox closer Addison Reed blew that five-run lead, wound up pitching three innings and still got a win. He's the first reliever to go no more than three innings, allow at least five earned runs and get a win out of it since Jim Slaton did it on July 10, 1983.

All righty. Now that we've got all the extra-inning insanity out of the way, how 'bout all the goofy stuff that took place in regulation over the past week?

Let's Play Nine Dept.

• On Tuesday, the Red Sox scored in every inning in which they batted against Texas -- except for the inning that was pitched by the Rangers' starting left fielder that night, David Murphy.

Matt Holliday
Holliday

Matt Adams
Adams

Matt Carpenter
Carpenter

• On Thursday, the Cardinals went all Name Game on us. They had three guys named Matt (Carpenter, Adams, Holliday) homer in the same game. Loyal reader Aneel Trivedi reports that's the first time three players with the same first name homered for the same team in the same game since three guys named Chris (Snyder, Young and Burke) did it for the Diamondbacks on Aug. 15, 2008.

• Maybe the most fun Name Game trio ever to all homer in the same game: Three famed Willies (Mays, McCovey, Kirkland) for the Giants on May 8, 1960.

• Only the Astros could have an inning in which eight men batted, no fielders other than the pitcher or catcher touched the ball, and they still scored four times. As Retrosheet founder Dave Smith reported, in the fourth inning Wednesday, they crammed three homers, three strikeouts and two walks into the bottom of the fourth inning. It was only the ninth time in the past 63 seasons that that many hitters came to bat in one inning and only the pitcher and catcher touched the baseball. And it was all perfectly legal!

• On Thursday, Ian Kennedy joined Hiram Burgos as the only pitchers this year to allow at least 10 runs in a game -- with this wild line: 4 IP, 13 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. He was the first pitcher to give up that many hits and that many runs in the first four innings of any game, according to Elias, since Runelvys Hernandez also served up 13 hits and 10 runs to the Pirates on July 7, 2008.

• On Saturday, Kris Medlen became the third Braves pitcher to homer this year. That means Braves pitchers (three home runs) and Cubs pitchers (four homers) have more home runs this season than the first basemen for the Twins or Royals (two apiece).

• Just as we all expected, Chad Gaudin won back-to-back starts for the Giants in the past week. Naturally, he did it before Tim Lincecum or Ryan Vogelsong won back-to-back starts for the Giants this year.

• And we can't talk about this week without mentioning the legend of Yasiel Puig. In his first week in the big leagues he had five multihit games. That's as many as Adam Dunn has had all season.

• And of course, the first four home runs of Puig's career consisted of (what else?) the home run cycle -- solo, two-run homer, three-run bomb, grand slam. The only current big leaguers who could make that claim, according to the Sultan: Mark Teixeira, Chase Utley, Will Middlebrooks and (of course) Lou Marson.

• Meanwhile, the Dodgers have been playing in Los Angeles for 66 seasons now. In that time, they've called up Mike Piazza, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero, Adrian Beltre, Eric Karros, Matt Kemp and several other big boppers you might have heard of. The only other man besides Yasiel Puig who ever started his career with a home run cycle was Frank Howard. Except it took Howard three years to hit his (two-run HR in 1958, three-run HR in 1959, the slam and solo in 1960). It took Yasiel Puig five games. Unreal.

All that happened in just one week of baseball, ladies and gentlemen. We can't wait to see what the most beautiful sport ever invented gives us this week. How about you?