Friday game notes: Streak-Buster Special

@Marlins 10, Indians 0 — Unstoppable force, meet No-Way Jose Fernandez. Miami’s precocious ace prolonged his coming-of-age party — his 21st game was his first at age 21 — with a gem more brilliant than the last one, throwing a 14-K roadblock in front of Cleveland’s 8-win streak.

 

The Indians got 3 hits, as in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Yu Darvish, but Ubaldo Jimenez was no Justin Masterson; and once the Marlins plated 3 in their first raps, it was all Fernandez. He fanned one or more in each of his 8 stanzas (position players all), and with 2 Ks in his final frame he topped the career high set in his last age-20 start. Let’s go to the Play Index! (all game feats are since 1916):

  • It’s the 17th game of 14+ strikeouts by a player this young (21 years, 2 days). The others belong to Dwight Gooden (5), Bob Feller (4, all in his teens), Dick Drott (2), Jose Rijo (2 back-to-back late in age 20), Sandy Koufax, Gary Nolan, and Kerry Wood.
  • Fernandez is the 7th with two 13-K outings in his first 21 games. Kerry Wood is the fastest, arriving (as you may recall) in games 5-6, with two more within his first 15. Hideo Nomo made it by his 9th game (and had 5 within his first 21). Bob Feller got his second in game #11, Bob Turley game #13, Don Wilson game #15, and Balor Moore game #20. Of those six, only Feller and Wood were younger than Fernandez.
  • First 13-K games back-to-back since Randy Johnson, 2004, and the first in Marlins history. Fernandez is the only active pitcher with that feat.
  • It’s the 41st such back-to-backer, by 21 different pitchers. Streak searches don’t have an age filter, but checking 20 birthdays by hand isn’t so hard … and the results: Only Dwight Gooden (late-19) and Kerry Wood (late-20) were younger than Fernandez when they had consecutive 13-K games.
  • For the season, Fernandez has a 2.54 ERA. In the live-ball era, there are 3 years at seasonal age 20 or under with 20+ starts and a lower ERA: (1) Gooden, 1.53, 1985; (2) Gary Nolan, 2.40, 1968; (3) Fernando Valenzuela, 2.45, 1981. All were age 20. Nolan and Fernando had very low-run environments; Fernandez has a better ERA+ than both of theirs.

Fernandez has won 3 straight starts for the first time. And Miami’s 30-24 from May 31; that’s one-third of a season. They’re 9-2 in the last 11 Fernandez starts — 6-2, 1.67 for Jose, with 86 Ks in 75.1 IP.

Four Marlins had 3 hits or more (a first since Sept. 2011), including the rookie OFs Yelich and Marisnick, but Logan Morrison led the way (5-2-4-4).

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@Mets 4, Royals 2 (11 inn.) — It took 4 hours and cost the Mets their best player for what could be a month, but Eric Young redeemed a night of wasted chances with his first home run as a Met and first-ever game-winning hit, a sudden ending to K.C.’s 9-win streak. Royals relievers turned in 5 scoreless innings, but Young got a room-service fastball from Luis Mendoza on 3-and-1 with 2 outs and a man aboard, and he cracked it over the RF fence.

David Wright put the Mets in front with a 2-run homer in the 1st, and Dillon Gee was sharp, ending the 7th with his 99th pitch to escape his only real jam. Not long before, broadcaster Gary Cohen remarked that Terry Collins has accepted that Gee for now is a 100-pitch guy. But there he was to start the 8th, walking Lorenzo Cain on 5 pitches — his 4th walk in 12 PAs past 100 pitches this year, to go with 3 hits and a HR. Scott Rice came on and clipped Alex Gordon with his first pitch, and two groundouts brought a run to cut the lead in half.

Gee leads the Mets with 5 sac bunts, but in both the 2nd and 4th, he failed to lay it down with 2 on, 1 out, and they left 5 on base in those two tries. A 1-2-3 home 8th made 13 of the last 14 retired, giving the fill-in closer David Aardsma no margin for error, and although he’s done that job well in the past, he seemed a little edgy with the slim cushion. Aardsma got two quick strikes on pinch-hitter Miguel Tejada, but buried two sliders in the dirt, offering little temptation. The next one had to be a strike, and Tejada banged it off the wall in left-center. Eventually, with bases loaded, he hung a 1-2 slider to Cain and was lucky that it only brought the tying run on a sac fly.

Ike Davis roped a double leading off the home 9th, his third line-drive hit and 4th time on base, and a bunt put a man on 3rd with 1 out. But PH Justin Turner had an awful time at bat, going down on three quick sliders from Aaron Crow, the last two check-swing bouncers. Juan Lagares battled with 2 strikes, but grounded out. Failing to win it there brought dire consequences far beyond the game’s outcome.

Wright led off the 10th with a grounder over the mound, and he put his tender hamstring to the test trying for the hit. He wound up safe when the throw sailed high, but two steps before he hit the bag, we all knew he’d pulled it, and he limped off the field. The prognosis awaits tomorrow’s MRI, but 3 weeks minimum is a good guess, and there’s no reason to push for an early return. (The inning would present another chance with 1 out, man on 3rd, which died in John Buck’s DP, capping his 0-for-5.)

  • I cheered the rebuilding trades of Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey, so why am I so glad they didn’t deal 35-year-old Marlon Byrd for whatever he could bring? It’s simple: I watch the Mets, and Marlon makes them much more watchable. There was no offer remotely like a Wheeler or a D’Arnaud, and in the midst of a 5th straight losing season, I value the pleasure of watching Byrd more than the hope represented by a fringe prospect.

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Braves 6, @Phillies 4And then there was one. Already the only team this year with two 8-game winning streaks, Atlanta made it three for the season (and the only one now active) behind a five-run 5th and three dominant relief performances totaling 7 Ks in 9 batters. Kris Medlen yielded solo HRs on consecutive pitches in the 2nd, but Jason Heyward got the comeback started by converting Medlen’s sacrifice with a ribby knock. Heyward opened the 5th with a double, and two batters later, Brian McCann tomahawked a 2-run shot — no pun, the pitch was up — to put his team on top. And before the cheering stopped, Chris Johnson slugged the next pitch deep and gone to center, and soon it was 6-2. Medlen gave a couple back in the 6th, his ERA rising to a season-high 3.85, but he bagged his 8th strikeout to end that inning with a man on 3rd, and it was enough for his 2nd straight win.

  • Craig Kimbrel converted his 22nd straight save since May 9, with 1 run on 12 hits in 28 IP during that stretch. Career stats: 202 IP, 107 hits, 1.43 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 44% K rate, 90% save conversion rate. (And 1 hit, 8 Ks in 16 postseason batters.) Yah.
  • McCann’s been crushing for the last month, batting .357 with 23 RBI in his last 26 games. With 168 home runs hit as a catcher, he’s 2nd to Javy Lopez (209) on the Braves’ all-time list at that position. His 172 career HRs leads all active catchers, and he’s 8th all-time in HRs by a catcher through age 29. He’s been an All-Star in 7 of his 8 full seasons; they’re 39-21 in his starts this year; and he’s a local boy. Are they really thinking they might let him walk this fall?
  • When Chris Johnson slipped some after his roaring start, I kind of took my eye off him. Whoops! With an 11-game hitting streak (21-44) and a .388 mark in his last 38 games, Johnson has reclaimed the NL batting lead at .347. There’s a lot of singles in there, and not too many walks; but in Year 1 A.Ch., no one inside the tepee is picking nits from their third baseman’s .347 average. (That was “After Chipper,” by the way.)

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@Tigers 2, White Sox 1 — Doug Fister had his sinker diving and the ChiSox hacking, and he went 8 innings on just 88 pitches (no walks, 2 Ks, 16 grounders, 3 DPs). Fister’s won 4 straight starts, the Bengals 6 straight games; they’re 6-1 without Miguel Cabrera this year. Jose Iglesias made his Detroit debut at 3B — Iggy for Miggy, if you can stand it — and he drove in the first run with a 2-out flare in the 4th. Austin Jackson homered in the 5th, and in the next half he threw out Alex Rios trying to stretch his RBI single, which postponed Adam Dunn’s hit into the harmless 7th. Joaquin Benoit (1.43 ERA) notched the save with his 14th straight scoreless effort, maintaining his year-long perfect record with a lead.

  • Fister began this Detroit streak with a 2-1 win; the Tigers tallied 38 runs in the intervening four.
  • Hector Santiago has allowed 2 runs or less in 10 of 15 starts. His ERA is 1.91 in those games, but his record’s 3-2 and the team is 3-7, scoring 10 runs in the losses.
  • Chicago has lost 8 in a row for the 2nd time this year, and the length of the skid matches their worst since 1991. Their 40-67 record is their worst at this point since 1970, when they set the franchise record of 106 losses; they’re on a 101-loss pace now.

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Dodgers 6, @Cubs 2 — With Hanley sitting out, Yasiel got his 4th crack at the cleanup spot and delivered a 2-out, 0-2 RBI single in the top of the 1st, starting L.A. towards another win. The Cubs out-hit them, 14-9, and led 5-3 in doubles (neither side went deep). But Travis Wood walked 4 straight in the Dodgers’ 2-run 3rd, while Hyun-jin Ryu gave 11 hits but no walks in 5.1 IP, and got the boon of two DPs. Wood got just 10 outs; he’d gone 5.2 IP or more in all 21 starts this year, and 5+ in his last 36 outings.

  • Junior Lake is the first Cub since 1916 (at least) with two 4-hit games within his first 16. One of the 19 who did it once was Steve Lake, no relation. Brant Brown’s on that list and the multi-HR one below (see “Late Thursday”); but a la Merkle, all anyone remembers is this game.
  • Lake’s was the 10th regulation game this year with 4+ hits, no runs or RBI. Those teams went 3-7.
  • Nice diving catch by Puig. You might see a tour de force, a car wreck, or both in the same inning, but you have to watch the man. 

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@Angels 7, Blue Jays 5 — The play-by-play reads, “Jose Bautista flied out to left.” The video tag on MLB.com reads, “Shuck makes ridiculous catch.” We’ll go with (b) on that one. Shuck also singled, doubled, tripled home the tying run in the 8th (another battle won against Bautista), then scored ahead of Kole Calhoun‘s 4th hit of the game and first career homer.

  • After raking the high-A Cali League in 2011, Calhoun skipped to AAA last year and did just enough to get a brief look in MLB, which did not go well. This year, he’s among the PCL leaders in you-name-it (with as many walks as Ks), and here he is again. Thursday was his first 2-hit game (plus a walk and a steal). He had a full college career, so he’s already 25, but he could be ready.

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@Orioles 11, Mariners 8 — If he does end up with 62, he might regret wasting this one on #40. (Wait, what am I saying? Nobody regrets a Peter, Paul & Mary homer!)

  • The good news: Baltimore surged back into a wild-card spot.
  • The bad news: In 4 games with the O’s, Francisco Rodriguez has served up 4 HRs. Maybe he can’t focus in the low-leverage spots he’s had so far, but he’s not earning a juicier role this way.
  • Seattle won the HR Derby, 4-3, but Nate McLouth’s grand slam tipped the ribs-on-HRs battle for the Orioles.

____________________

Late Thursday

Dodgers 6, @Cubs 4 — Who was that guy who noted Anthony Rizzo’s slump, then said, “Now watch — he’ll hit a home run or two today?” So Rizzo split the difference: one HR Wednesday, two Thursday.

Junior Lake added two of his own, for the first multi-HR game since 2009 by a Cubs #2 hitter. Multi-HR games in MLB this year, by batting order spot: 1st-11, 2nd-21, 3rd-34, 4th-32, 5th-20, 6th-22, 7th-12, 8th-9, and 9th-4.

Lake is the 7th Cub with a 2-HR game within his first 15 outings. The previous six guys (including Earl Webb in his Cubs debut) averaged 29 career HRs, and none topped Webb’s 56 career clouts. In 1925, Mandy Brooks homered in his 5th game, hit 2 in game #8, another in game #11 and 2 more in #15. After 21 games, he had 9 HRs, 30 RBI and a .379 average. He finished the year with 14-72-.281 in 90 games. The next year, he hit .188 with 1 HR in 48 ABs and was sold to the PCL, never to return.

It’s the 4th searchable game where all of a team’s runs came from 2 players hitting 2 or more solo HRs. The other three games:

1962-08-02 — Phillies 9, @Mets 4 — New York’s #4-5 batters, Frank Thomas and Marv Throneberry. Thomas in the 3rd, back-to-back in the 7th, and Marvelous with 2 outs in the 9th. All four HRs came off Art Mahaffey, who could afford the largesse after his own grand slam in the 3rd.

1982-05-31 — @Mariners 5, Brewers 4 — Milwaukee’s #2-3 batters, Robin Yount and Cecil Cooper. Back-to-back in the 1st. Cooper in the 9th, giving the Crew a lead against Gaylord Perry, but the M’s tied with 2 outs in their half off Mike Caldwell in his lone relief appearance that year. Yount put them on top again in the 11th (he led the majors with 7 multi-HR games that year), connecting against the Ageless Greaser. No “ten-and-fly” guy, Perry had recently won #300 and would turn 44 that season, but he wasn’t above a little overtime. That was the last game where a pitcher who had already turned 41 worked more than 10 innings; and in the searchable era, only Satchel Paige and Jack Quinn had such a game when older than Perry.

Oh, by the way: Milwaukee lost the game when Seattle’s Paul Serna, all 5′ 8″ of him, hit a 2-run walk-off — his 2nd HR of the game, and (yup) his last home run in the majors.

2010-05-05 — @Twins 5, Tigers 4 — Detroit’s #4 and #7 batters, Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila. Miggy with 1 out in the 4th and the 6th, Alex leading off the 3rd and the 9th. It was the first of four multi-HR games for Cabrera that year, and Detroit lost them all, including his first-ever 3-tater outburst later that month. (His other 3-HR game was this May, and that, too, was a loss.)

It sounds a little nuts to name a breakout year for a guy who already owned 4 seasons batting .320+, 5 years of 30 HRs and 6 with 100 RBI, but 2010 was when Cabrera reached the new plateau where now he lives: New highs in HRs and extra-base hits, his first titles in RBI, OBP and OPS+ (178, same as he’s done since then). The pitchers answered by giving him 32 intentional walks, obliterating Norm Cash’s 1961 team record of 19 and one shy of the AL record shared by Ted Williams and John Olerud.

 

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Jacob
Jacob
8 years ago

Great stuff, John. (As always)

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
8 years ago

It’s nice to se something nice said about Marv Throneberry.

John: When you searched for games with 2 solo HR by 2 players accounting for all of the team’s runs were you able to do t without searching a considerable number of box scores?

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
8 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

Thanks John. Step (2) above yields over 3500 games. That means you have to copy 12 results pages into the Excel spreadsheet. I think I have figured out a way to retrieve the list without using Excel spreadsheets. It involves visual searching of those PI results.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
8 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

Thanks again. (and here’s a few more words to get this comment posted)

Doug
Doug
8 years ago

Fernandez is the also the youngest with back-to-back 13 K starts since Kerry Wood in 1998 (Wood was about 5 weeks younger). Jose Rijo (20) and Dwight Gooden (19) are the only others younger than Fernandez.

Doug
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

Right you are, John.

Sorry I missed that fourth bullet.

Doug
Doug
8 years ago

Junior Lake and Mandy Brooks are also the only Cubs with four 3-hit games in their first 16. Brooks had only 3 more the rest of his career, one of them a four-hit game to start an 8 for 12 finish (incl. a 2B, two 3B and a HR) to close out his first season, the only hot spell (albeit brief) after his fast start.

Doug
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

Forgotte, indeed. Even in his own time. Has just one A-S selection (in 1994), even after twice finishing top 5 in CYA. Probably something to do with never winning more than 15.

Undoubtedly one the best trades the Reds ever made, getting Rijo and Tim Birtsas from Oakland for a washed-up Dave Parker.

e pluribus munu
e pluribus munu
8 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

Another man who’s been forgot Is Dick Drott. So what? Sorry for this tangent, but John brough up Dick Drott, whose name is completely familiar to me only in the context of utter mediocrity. I was shocked to see him listed with Rijo et al. I knew Drott well as an annoyingly common Topps card in 1959, sometimes turning up twice in a ten cent pack, redolent of Bazooka, when I was praying for Furillo or Hodges (or maybe Shlabotnik). I understood he was a baseball nobody: a minor part-time pitcher on a lousy team – baseball filler – and… Read more »

Hartvig
Hartvig
8 years ago

I have to admit that even though my baseball card collecting days started in 1961 I had never heard of Dick Drott (or if I had I have completely forgotten about him). I have a few hundred cards from earlier than than mostly from trading with the older brothers of friends of mine but now I’m going to have to go look thru my stuff from that time period just to see if he’s in there someplace.

And JA can we safely assume that the phrase “hot to trot” is part of another line of your friends poem?

Doug
Editor
8 years ago

The White Sox are 8-25 since June 25, and 16-43 since they were last at .500. on May 26.

Their second 8-game losing skid marks just the 3rd time since 1916 that they’ve had two such streaks in the same season. They had a 9-game and a 10-game slide in 1976 (finished 64-97) and an 8-game and 10-game skid in 1934 (finished 53-99, the 8th of 9 straight sub-.500 seasons, the Sox longest such stretch).

bstar
bstar
8 years ago

Thanks (as always) for the Craig Kimbrel love, JA.

I’ll add this: Kimbrel is definitely a hot-weather pitcher. If you’re gonna get to Craig, get him early in the season.

Kimbrel July-August career split: 55.2 IP, 21 hits, 3 runs allowed, 0.49 ERA, 16.7 SO/9.

bstar
bstar
8 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

I think if McCann had another year similar to last season (0.8 WAR, 86 OPS+), they may have let him walk. But with the invention of pitch framing metrics, McCann now looks like an average defender, and his bat this year is livelier than it’s been since his first full year in the bigs. In fact, McCann’s recent power surge has crept him into the top ten in the NL in AB per HR (eighth at 14.2). I love me some Evan Gattis, but it almost seems like the next chapter of his unbelievable story might be that he forgets… Read more »

Brent
Brent
8 years ago

I think your positive post about Marlon Byrd jinxed him. He was very unwatchable on Sunday, with 2 fly balls off Royals’ bats lost in the Sun.

Paul E
Paul E
8 years ago

Fernandez’ ERA+ at age 20 amongst pitchers qualified for the ERA title is 5th all-time. Dwight Gooden, living proof that cocaine is NOT a performance enhancing drug, is 1st at an astronomical ERA + of 229 and no one is even close in the live-ball era. Next on the list (post-1920) are Feller, Drysdale, and Fernandez at 154, 153, and 153.

We all knew Doc Gooden was something special. It’s a shame he was so humble that he didn’t believe he was so special and he just had fun and screwed it up. That’s life…..at least he had fun