Happy 40th to #715 by #44. More on that later.

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Brewers 10, @Phillies 4 – Ryan Braun quit his all-singles diet and snapped a career-long 25-game tater famine, ripping three HRs for 7 RBI in the Phils’ first game at home. The cheers must have been deafening.

  • Braun brought to The Bank a .392/1.189 mark, and now has 10 HRs in 20 games there.

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@Giants 7, D-backs 3 — Brandon’s 5th Belt cashed a leadoff walk from Trevor Cahill and helped boost the Jints to a 6-and-2 start in their home opener, while the Snakes slid to 2-8. Mark Trumbo ended the game with a whiff, stopping his 5-game home run streak. Tim Hudson is 2-0, with no walks in 15.2 IP, and took over the active wins lead with #207.

  • Only a Panda stood in the way of an all-Brandon infield. Is Brandon Inge officially retired? The Giants do have 3B Brandon Bednar at class-A, off to a hot start.
  • Belt has hit three of his 5 HRs from the #2 spot. Most homers by a 1B batting 2nd: 20 by Don Mattingly, 1985; 16 for Vic Power, 1962. Darrell Evans, one of those tied for 3rd with 14, is the only Giants first-sacker with more than 6 taters from the 2-hole.
  • At 207-111 (.651), Hudson is 7th in W% among modern 200-game winners, and 25th at 96 games over .500. He began the year #61 in career WAR since 1893, and 35th in WAR per inning of those with 2,000 IP. His ERA+ ranks 29th of those with 2,500 IP. I don’t really know what is the current Hall of Fame standard for pitchers, or what it might be when his time comes. And Hudson will face the same “never the best” prejudice as Mike Mussina. But he’s building a HOF case.

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Rangers 10, @Red Sox 7 – Texas battered Felix Doubront and Burke Badenhop for an 8-0 lead in the 4th, and survived an old-fashioned Fenway hit-fest.

(Wrote these notes having forgotten the BoSox won Monday…)

  • Boston lost their first four home games in 1928 and ’82, 1948 and ’84. Their final home records those years: 26-47, 49-32, 55-23 and 41-40, combined 171-142.
  • The Ruth-less Red Sox won their first five games in 1920, all at home, sweeping three from the Yanks, before reality crept in. The winning pitchers in that sweep — Waite Hoyt, Bullet Joe Bush and Herb Pennock — were dealt to New York before 1921, ’22 and ’23, respectively, and the three averaged 175-123 thereafter. Pennock went 30-8 against Boston after being dealt.

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Mets 4, @Braves 0 – Now, that’s the fat tub of 41-year-old goo we were counting on. Bartolo Colon earned his 190th win with 7 walk-free innings on 6 hits, no more than one per inning and five coming with two outs. Jason Heyward had two cracks to tie it, but he went 0-5, now 2 for 25 on the year. Aaron Harang fanned nine over 6 IP, but he gave the Mets one run on two walks and a wild pitch. Travis d’Arnaud got off the schneid with two hits, Eric Young got New York’s first steals of the year, and 8th hitter Ruben Tejada had two ribby hits to RF and a walk, scoring twice. The Mets won another video challenge with Juan Lagares running, which led to an insurance run that felt good when Papa Grande filled ‘em up in the 9th.

  • Colon and Harang are nos. 4 and 10 on the active starts list, with 407 and 321. Active leader Mark Buehrle made his 431st start tonight.
  • Ten more wins would make Colon the third Dominican with 200 victories.

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@Cleveland 8, Padres 6 – Cleveland’s three runs in the 3rd: two walks, a passed ball, throwing error, groundout, sac fly. Tyson Ross had a 3-1-3-1-3-1 pitching line at that point, but his own error led to three more unearnies in the 4th, on a jack by David Murphy (3-3-2-4 from the 9th hole). Nick Swisher’s second boot of the game kept San Diego alive with 2 outs in the 9th, and they got the tying run to the plate, but John Axford came on for a quick save against the dangerous Will Venable.

  • The Pads had 15 hits, but no walks. Everth Cabrera doubled three times with less than two outs, but never scored.

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@Blue Jays 5, Astros 2 – These two teams went hitless in 20 RISP chances, but the Jays got round-trippers from Jose Bautista and Melky Cabrera, and a typical Mark Buehrle Houdini act, as he worked around 9 runners into the 6th for win #188.

  • Four dongs now for Joey Bats, and a .455 OBP. He and Edwin Encarnacion combined for 5 walks in the game, and Dioner Navarro had two scoring doubles behind them.
  • Houston’s Jason Castro wore the RISP sombrero, making the last out each time.
  • Buehrle’s the active leader with 431 starts and 142 losses, 4th in wins.

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Pirates 7, @Cubs 6 – Three walks and a sac fly in the 8th broke the game’s third tie, and the tag team closed out in style as Pittsburgh rose to 5-2. The Bucs feasted with four in the 1st, their first runs this year in the opening stanza, matching their six-game total for innings 1-5. Starlin Castro tied the game with a 3-run shot, then notched his first 2-HR game with a 6th-inning solo — both on 2-strike pitches from Charlie Morton. But the hosts’ generosity carried the day, as they doled out eight free runners to just one from Pittsburgh.

  • Three more knocks and a swipe for Emilio Bonifacio, who leads the majors with 17 hits and 5 steals.
  • Castro drove in 6 in his debut, and had 12 more games of 3+ RBI in his first three years, but no more than two in a game last year.
  • Pirates scored 4 or less in five of their first six games, but won three of those by one run. They came in hitting .206 off starting pitchers, .262 off RPs.

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Orioles 14, Yankees 5 — Just the 4th time the O’s have had 20 hits in The Bronx; last time was a career day for Lee Lacy.

  • First time that eight Orioles had 2 hits or more vs. the Yankees. The Browns did it once (in the Babe’s “belly-ache” year), paced by rookie Harry Rice, who hit .359.

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Rays 1, @Royals 0 – James Loney had another big hit, plating the lone run with 2 outs in the 9th after Greg Holland’s wild pitch. KC had 9 hits, but all singles. Yordano Ventura dazzled for six innings on 2 hits, no walks. But Chris Archer was even more efficient, using just 91 pitches through seven, twice slipping through bags-full/one out while collecting 2 DPs and a pickoff.

  • KC is the last homerless team. They ranked last in AL HRs last year, 10th or lower for ten straight seasons. In 2004-13, the Royals averaged 126 HRs hit, and 175 HRs allowed; other AL teams averaged 170 hit, 168 allowed. Their last man with 30 was Jermaine Dye, in 2000

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@Cardinals 7, Reds 5 – Is Lance Lynn the luckiest fella, or the man who inspires the bats? The 2012-13 NL run-support rajah is at it again, with two touchdowns already in his account. In his second straight start against Cincy, Lynn again served 3 runs in the 1st, and was down 4-zip in the 2nd. Once again, Homer Bailey couldn’t hold it; Kolten Wong tied it up with his first career triple and RBI. Lynn fell behind in the 5th, but Matt Holliday’s 2-out, 2-run double put him back on top.

  • Lynn is 2-0, 6.55, while Bailey’s 0-2, 7.71.

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@Dodgers 3, Tigers 2 (10 inn.) – LA’s winning rally: Leadoff walk to Chone Figgins (no MLB hits since batting .185 in 2011-12); failed sac attempt; Carl Crawford laces a 2-and-0 groove-ball from lefty unspecialist Phil Coke, and Rajai Davis loses the meaning of “no-doubles” defense.

  • Dee Gordon did WHAT leading off the home 1st against Max Scherzer? Detroit stranded a man on 3rd with one out in the top half, but ex-leadoff man Austin Jackson squared matters with a drive off Dan Haren, who went six on a run for the second straight outing. Jose Juan Uribe set up the go-ahead run with a 7th-inning double, and PH Justin Turner delivered the sac fly.
  • Once in a while, I think I should buy the MLB TV package. Miggy facing Kenley in the 9th with the tying run on second — I should see that. (Ah, save yer money, kid. Mighty Casey has struck out. One foul, two balls, three misses. That is some cutter.)
  • Cardiac Cats: Detroit’s six games include three walk-offs (2-1), a 6-run bulge in the 9th shaved to one, and a game tied through the 7th.
  • Scherzer gave up 8 hits in 7 IP. He yielded 8+ hits 23 times from 2010-12, but just twice in 2013. His BAbip by year: .316, .311, .300, .316, .337, .260 last year, .297 this year. I like him a lot, but I’m almost glad he turned down Detroit’s 6-year offer. Another great year will drive his price even higher, but a year more like the previous two (4.09 ERA) might drop him under $20 mil per. And more info is always better.

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White Sox 15, @Rockies 3 – If your pitcher goes 0-for-4, it’s a good day. Chicago hit 6 HRs (at last count), three in the 8th off Wilton Lopez. Jose Abreu’s MLB blast was a 3-run game-breaker, and he joined Avisail Garcia with a second wall-clearing in the salt-away 8th.

  • Since 2000, teams whose SP went 0-for-4+ are 464-10.

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@Nationals 5, Marlins 0 – Since 2012, Washington has 12 shutouts in 38 games vs. Miami, 11 in 293 games against others.

  • Decipher the game’s biggest play on the WPA meter: “Baserunner Advance; LaRoche to 2B/Safe on E4 (catch); Harper Scores/No RBI/unER.” Yeah, that makes sense, actually. And it reminds me: Sometimes we wonder why a 2B or SS takes a throw in front of the bag on a tag play. But as this one shows, with a runner approaching, it’s a challenge to hold the glove steady and keep an eye on the ball.
  • Did you know that this counts as an outfield assist? I guess that’s the one time I prefer the genteel “assist” to the Jamesian “baserunner kill.”

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Monday

@Rockies 8, White Sox 1 — Rox SP Jordan Lyles had 3 hits, the second straight game that a pitcher’s done that in Coors.

Coors Field (opened 1995) has hosted 10.2% of all 3+ hit games by non-pitchers in NL parks, but 15.4% of those by pitchers. I’m surprised — I would have thought that pitchers’ shorter stints caused by giving up more hits in Coors would offset in ABs the greater ease of their getting hits there. But it turns out that starts actually aren’t much shorter in Coors, at least recently: last year, SPs averaged 5.63 IP in Coors, 5.91 IP elsewhere, less than a one-out difference. And perhaps the large number of blowouts plays a role, too.

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The best one-game Win Probability Added so far is a reminder of that measure’s limitations: On April 2, ChiSox second baseman Leury Garcia was credited with 0.731 WPA, but the vast bulk of that came from events beyond his control. Garcia’s batting totaled about 0.16, and even that modest amount was boosted by an error on a confounding sac(?) bunt try with men on the corners and 1 out (not a squeeze). The rest of his WPA seems to come from a balk and three wild pitches occurring while he was on base, though I’m damned if I can figure out just which of those numbers went in Garcia’s WPA bucket.

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The “715″ box score featured that year’s National League:

  • MVP and Cy Young winners (Steve Garvey, Mike Marshal);
  • ERA and WHIP titleist (Buzz Capra);
  • Batting champ, triples and hits leader (Ralph Garr); and
  • Leader in walks and defensive WAR (Darrell Evans).

Plus a future 200-game winner who won 177 from age 31 on (Charlie Hough).

Seven of 16 starting position players wound up with 2,000 or more games, ranking in the modern top-190, and two more played 1,800.

Each manager was or would be a Hall of Famer, Walter Alston and Eddie Mathews (who was fired at the All-Star break). Five future managers played: Davey Johnson, Dusty Baker, Johnny Oates, Davey Lopes and Bill Russell.

Two on LA’s bench would soon be pioneers off the field: Tommy John was 13-3, 2.50 in mid-July when his elbow gave out; experimental surgery saved his career, and he, too, would win 177 from age 31. And Andy Messersmith, that year’s Cy Young runner-up, who challenged the reserve clause and helped create free agency … and wound up with the Braves. (You can’t win ‘em all.)

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