Perfection, and its polar opposite
(Trying out a different format here; let me know how it plays. I can only scratch the surface of all that happened on this crazy day.)
Red Sox relievers faced 26 batters and got 9 outs. They matched the known record of 5 pitchers allowing at least 1 run in less than an inning, done four times previously (including one that went the other way).
In 107 prior games this year when a team was held to 1 run or less in 6+ innings by the starter, no such team finished with more than 8 runs.
The Yankees had two 7-run innings. Their previous high inning this year was 4 runs. The Red Sox allowed an 8-run inning to Texas last Tuesday.
Potential bad news in Washington, despite the win: Ryan Zimmerman was a late scratch with right shoulder inflammation. Zimmerman’s throwing has been visibly affected since last year’s abdominal injury, and you have to hope the change in his motion hasn’t led to a major injury.
I do not understand how a closer walks a batter when doing so brings up the tying run. Brad Lidge, Frankie Francisco, we’re looking at you…. Lidge walked Hanley Ramirez on 4 straight balls after getting ahead 0-2, then served a game-tying HR to Logan Morrison. Francisco didn’t throw a single strike to Nate Schierholtz.
Another reason to like the way Terry Collins is running the Mets: When Francisco started with a 3-run lead but put the tying runs on base with 1 out, Collins pulled him and played matchups — lefty Byrdak against Hector Sanchez (a young switchy who looks better from the left side), then righty Rauch, who’s been by far the best Met reliever to date. I don’t think Francisco is a bad pitcher, but he’s done nothing in his career to deserve being treated as the sacrosanct closer. If you want the respect of being the “do or die” guy, you have to earn it.
Mike Napoli homered in his 5th straight game. The last longer streak was 6 in 2010 by Carlos Pena in 2010. (Mets fans won’t believe this, but Jason Bay once homered in 6 straight.) His slugging percentage after 7 games was .100; after 12 games, it’s .721.
Some winning moves don’t show up in the box score. In the 9th inning, Mets pinch-runner Scott Hairston swept Buster Posey‘s leg with a clean slide at home. Hairston was forced out, but his slide seemed to disrupt Posey’s return throw to 1st base, which sailed wide and allowed the winning run to score.
Humber’s perfecto, in his 56th game (30th start), was not just his first shutout, not just his first complete game. It was his first time lasting 8 innings.
The only modern perfect game within the pitcher’s first 67 career games was by Charlie Robertson of the White Sox on April 30, 1922, in his 5th game. Robertson had a CG in his previous start. Dallas Braden‘s perfecto in his 68th game was also his first outing of at least 8 innings.
Robertson finished with a record of 49-80.
Alfredo Aceves is the first pitcher this year with 3 games facing at least 2 batters without retiring anyone. He had never done that in 114 games before this year (105 relief games).
Stephen Strasburg’s 6 scoreless innings gave the Nats 11 starts of 6+ IP and 2 runs or less, tops in the majors. The walk-off win kept pace with the 1981 Expos for the best start in franchise history (12-4).
Duane Below‘s 6-goose-egg relief stint was the first such game in the AL since 2007. He also stranded the 2 runners he inherited from Rick Porcello‘s epic fail. Below has not allowed a run in 10 IP this year, tying him with Toronto’s Luis Perez for the MLB lead, and has stranded all 6 inherited runners. Nice.
Am I the only one who has flashbacks seeing the name “DeJesus” atop a Cubs box score? Ivan De Jesus scored 104 runs leading off for the ’78 Cubs, but he never had a .400 OBP like David DeJesus has now.
Matt Kemp, who hit his 9th HR in game #15, is the best player in the world … right now. But let’s not forget how a scorching start in 2010 — through 14 games, he had 7 HRs, 20 RBI and an 1.150 OPS — devolved into the worst year of his career, ending with a .249 BA and his own front office questioning his make-up. (Yeah, I don’t think that’s happening again, either, but it’s my job to remember history.)
Clayton Kershaw + the Astros = recipe for his first win of the year. He’s allowed 2 runs in his last 28 IP against Houston. (I kind of miss the old NL West, when the Dodgers and Astros were rivals. Kershaw has only pitched 6 times against Houston in 4+ years; Fernando faced them 6 times in 1986 alone.)
It’s fun to watch Dee Gordon run, and scoring 9 times in 14 games looks fine. But no amount of fancy baserunning can make up for a .295 OBP and no HRs.
Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira are the first teammates with 6+ RBI in one game since the Rangers’ 30-run outburst in 2007. One of the big hitters in that game, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, was on the wrong side of today’s outcome, though he had 4 hits. The Yanks last did it in 2005, with A-Rod & Tino.)
Humber’s 96 Game Score tied Matt Cain for the season high. The last higher Game Score was a 100 in 2008 by Brandon Morrow. Of the 16 perfect games in the searchable era, it was the first 96 Game Score. The only number not filled between 92 (Dennis Martinez) and 101 (Sandy Koufax) is 99, i.e., 12 strikeouts. That’s also the only Game Score between -12 and 100 that has not been done by an active pitcher.
When you’re facing the best team and they’ve bludgeoned their way to 8 straight wins, it sure is nice to have a stopper.
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