Welcome to another edition of Five Astounding Facts:
1 I might have to create my own category for the Astros. They're not just astounding anymore. They're Astrounding. But they're also in the midst of a gravitational plunge unlike anything most living humans have ever witnessed:
• In their last 38 games, these Astros are 4-34. I'm shocked to report that no National League team has endured a 38-game stretch that grim since the legendary 1899 Cleveland Spiders finished their season with an attractive 1-40 debacle. And any team that winds up in the same sentence as those Spiders needs to ingest a lot of Tylenol immediately.
• The only other teams in modern history to win no more than four times in any 38-game stretch? Clyde Vollmer's 1949 Washington Senators (4-34) and Whitey Witt's 1916 Philadelphia Athletics (2-36). And that's it.
• At least the 'Stros won't leave home again until Monday. And why is that such good news? Uh, they're 2-24 on the road since June 14. That's why. They're also 6-37 since they won in Pittsburgh on May 11, and 11-46 away from Houston for the season. Trouble Ahead Alert: They'll need to get cranking if they want to avoid the record for fewest road wins in a 162-game season. Which is 17, by Rod Kanehl's 1963 Mets and Lastings Milledge's 2010 Pirates. Think this team has a 7-17 stretch in it? It had better!
2 Speaking of teams that clearly have jet-lag issues, how 'bout those Cubs? By getting swept in San Diego this weekend, they've clinched quite the spectacular feat:
They went 0-for-the-West Coast this season (0-10).
Did you know that, since the Dodgers and Giants headed west in 1958, only one other team has ever done that? True story. That, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, would be Blue Moon Odom's 1967 Kansas City Athletics. They went 0-9 on the Left Coast that year (all against the Angels) and then figured out a tremendous way to avoid duplicating that feat: They moved to Oakland immediately.
3 After Mets count-working machine Mike Baxter walked five times against the Padres on Saturday -- against five different pitchers -- loyal reader Evan Jones wondered: When was the last time anybody did THAT in a nine-inning game? The answer, according to Elias, was 40 years ago, on Sept. 16, 1972, when Elrod Hendricks did it (as a Cub) AGAINST the Mets.
Hendricks walked against Tom Seaver in the third inning, Brent Strom in the fourth, Hank Webb in the fifth, Bob Rauch in the seventh and Danny Frisella in the eighth. But there was a lot more walking where that came from. Mets pitchers walked 15 hitters that day -- for the first (and only) time in the history of the franchise, in a nine-inning game.
4 When Gio Gonzalez went deep in Houston on Wednesday, it made him the third Nationals pitcher to hit a home run this year (joining Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann). In one of those fabulous coincidences that only the Five Astounding Facts crew seems to get worked up about, all three of those pitchers also have rolled up at least one double-figure strikeout game this year. And that makes the Nationals the fourth team in this millennium to have three different pitchers pull off that cool little daily double. The others, according to Elias:
Two addendums here:
A. If Edwin Jackson (one career homer, five career double-digit strikeout games) feels like joining this fun, he could make the Nationals the first team in the DH era to have four pitchers do this in the same year.
And B. Besides homering Wednesday, Gonzalez also threw a complete game. And that made him the first pitcher from Washington to hit a home run and go the distance in the same game since Mike McCormick did it for the late great Washington Senators against the White Sox on June 28, 1966.
5 Finally, the Angels did something Wednesday that no visiting team had ever done: They hit five home runs in one game at The Coliseum in Oakland -- and lost. The previous 15 teams to hit that many bombs in Oakland all won. And even the A's have lost only twice in franchise history when they hit at least five homers in a game at The Coliseum -- in 45 seasons. Hard to do, friends. Hard to do.