Welcome to another edition of Five Astounding Facts:
1 Ervin Santana started against the Indians on the Fourth of July, and once again, it didn't work out too enjoyably. Four outs -- and eight runs -- later, he was done for the day. And his lifetime record against the Indians dropped to 1-8. But here's the bizarre part: The one win was -- what else? -- a no-hitter (last July 27). So loyal reader Eric Knight just had to ask: Has any pitcher ever had a worse lifetime record against a team he no-hit? And the answer, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is: of course not! The runner-up: Matt Garza, 1-6 (with a no-hitter) against the Tigers./p>
2 After 13 straight starts this year without a win, Cliff Lee finally got one in his 14th try -- ending the second-longest winless streak to begin a season by any former Cy Young winner (behind Vida Blue's 14-start streak in 1983) -- it's time to do the math. How many pitchers won a game this year before the third-highest-paid pitcher in baseball? Would you believe 279 -- including a DH (Chris Davis), a guy who hadn't won in eight years (Travis Blackley), a fellow who once quit baseball for six years (Tom Wilhelmsen) and a man whose only win over the previous two years was in an independent league (Kip Wells). True story. It's a funny game, huh?
3 Unless Chase Headley gets his home run mojo going this weekend, he's going to (ahem) head into the All-Star break as the Padres' 2012 home run leader ... with EIGHT. So how rare is it for a team to make it all the way to the All-Star break without anybody on the roster hitting 10 homers? The Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR home run historian David Vincent, reports this would be just the fourth time it's happened, in a nonstrike season, in the wild-card era -- but, mysteriously, the third year in a row. The others:
4 The Rangers own the best run differential in baseball (plus-81). But think how huge that gap might be if they also weren't the only team to give up 19 runs or more in two different games this season. They allowed 19 to the White Sox on Tuesday, just five weeks after somehow letting the Mariners score three touchdowns on them (in a 21-8 game). So here's all you need to know about that:
• The last team to give up 19 or more twice in the same season and go on to win the World Series? That would be Mule Haas' 1930 Philadelphia Athletics.
• Only three other teams in history have ever led their league in run differential in a season in which they allowed at least 19 runs more than once. Those three, according to Elias: Shawn Chacon's 2006 Yankees (twice), Deacon Phillippe's 1900 Pirates (twice) and Sadie McMahon's 1894 Baltimore Orioles (who did it four times, but still wound up outscoring their opposition by 352 runs).
• And, as loyal reader Warren Leunig pointed out, Tuesday was the second time this year that the Rangers had fallen behind in a game 17-0 (or worse). And that's tough, even for the Cowboys. The 2002 Indians were the last team to fall 17 behind (by any score) twice in the same season. But no team had dropped into two different 17-0 holes in the same year, according to Elias, since Al Santorini's 1969 Padres. That team went on to lose 110 games. I'm betting this Rangers team will have a slightly better fate.
5 Finally, it isn't often that you can wake up in the morning in San Francisco, flip on the TV and find a member of the Giants making a home run trot before 8:30 a.m. But it happened Wednesday, when Pablo Sandoval went deep at 11:21 a.m. in Washington, D.C. -- but 8:21 a.m. California time. That meant it was possible to watch the Panda round the bases, then flip back to ABC and still catch BeBe Winans crooning away on "Good Morning America!" But that's not all it meant.
ESPN Stats & Info Kernel collector Doug Kern reports that Sandoval's 11:21 local-time home run was the earliest anybody in baseball had homered since a David Ortiz Patriots Day bomb in Boston that also left the park at 11:21 in 2006. But as best we can tell, if you don't count games in Japan or on other distant continents, this may have been the first time any player on ANY West Coast team had ever homered before 8:30 a.m. back home.
Since baseball expanded to California in 1958, the only other known instance of East Coast teams starting a game against one of those teams at 11 a.m. or earlier is the Red Sox, on Patriots Day. And no California team had ever homered that early in the day in any of those games. So there ya go. The question of the morning at Fisherman's Wharf just had to be:
"What are you having for breakfast today?"
"How 'bout oatmeal, fruit and a Panda home run trot?"