I’m sticking with this format for now — a division-based look at series featuring contenders. Once again, mixed matchups are classified by the better team or series winner; and as always, I gloss over my teams’ losses.

_____

AL EAST

@Rays 6, Red Sox 4 (Fri.) — David Price outlasted Jon Lester, losing the ERA comparison but winning his sixth straight turn, as Tampa’s streak reached eight. Lester turned over a 3-2 lead after six, but the bullpen quickly coughed up 4 runs on just two hits, capped by Evan Longoria’s 3-run double off Junichi Tazawa after three had reached for free. Boston bagged 8 hits in Price’s 8 stanzas, with two scoring knocks by Shane Victorino. But the human trade rumor walked none for the 8th time this year, and rang up 10 Ks for his 9th double-digit haul, three more than any other pitcher.

  • Desmond Jennings broke up Lester’s shutout in the 5th with a two-out, 2-run homer.
  • Will Lester be the star left-hander who gets traded? You’d have to say the Sox are cooked, falling 10.5 games out of first place and 7.5 behind the second wild card. They’re 17-26 in the division (under .500 against all four teams), 29-40 against teams at .500 or better. With due respect to Neil Paine, holding out hope for this year’s Sawx does seem delusional, at this point. And trading Jake Peavy shows that Ben Cherington has faced facts.

@Rays 3, Red Sox 0 (Sat.)Number nine … Number nine … Number nine … Tampa’s 9-win streak has featured no walk-offs or one-run wins, and just two margins of 5 runs or more (their only games scoring more than 6 runs). The pitching has been awesome — 15 runs, 0.99 WHIP, 91 Ks and 19 walks in 81 innings — and the bats have been steadily productive, thriving more on their .374 OBP than their 5 HRs. Kevin Kiermaier has reached 16 times in 30 trips during the streak.

  • Jake McGee has converted 23 of 24 save or hold chances, failing only when he let in one of two runners he inherited with one out

Red Sox 3, @Rays 2 (Sun.) — A 3-run homer in the 3rd by David Ortiz stood up and halted Tampa’s joyride, in more ways than one. Allen Webster got the win despite 5 walks in 5.1 IP, inducing a DP grounder from Matt Joyce on a 3-0 pitch, and fanning Evan Longoria to leave men on third and second in the 3rd.

  • Ortiz has 5 HRs, 12 RBI in 7 games since predicting his own explosion. He wisely made no such promise for the team overall, which has lost five of the seven, with Papi driving in 8 of their last 14 runs. (And FWIW, the bat flip didn’t bother me — at least he tossed it towards his own dugout.)
  • Webster, who was part of the big 2012 trade with LA, debuted last year with an 8.60 ERA in 7 starts (8 games) — among the five worst in Red Sox history by ERA, ERA+ or FIP, for those with 6+ starts. But he’s been solid in AAA over the last two years, with a 3.33 ERA and 8.6 K/9 in 41 starts.

_____

Orioles 4, @Mariners 0 (Thurs.)

Orioles 2, @Mariners 1 (Fri., 10 inn.) – The O’s prove that a team can win without walking, so long as they make timely trots. Their last two wins make six this year with no free passes, tied with the M’s for most in MLB. Hackmeister Delmon Young’s 3-run shot was the key to Thursday’s game (and gave him 4 HRs and 3 walks in 128 PAs), while solos by Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis were just enough on Friday to lift Baltimore to 10-3 in extra-inning games.

Felix Hernandez tied Tom Seaver’s searchable record of 13 straight games with 7+ innings and 2 runs or less. A snapshot of those streaks:

Name Strk Start End Games W L CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA HBP WP BK
Tom Seaver 1971-07-17 1971-09-16 13 8 3 10 2 114.1 72 15 12 25 114 5 0.94 1 2 0
Felix Hernandez 2014-05-18 2014-07-25 13 7 1 0 0 99.0 58 16 15 17 113 3 1.36 0 10 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used / Generated 7/26/2014.
  • Seaver averaged more innings (8.8 to 7.6), but that’s just a function of the times. Regardless of runs allowed, Felix’s streak is just the 7th to reach 13 games of 7+ IP during 2005-14, whereas that was done 58 times in Seaver’s first 10 years. Adding the runs criterion, Seaver’s streak was two games longer than the next-best for 1967-76, while Felix leads by three games for 2005-14.
  • Seaver got more wins in his streak, but Felix has the better team record, 10-3 vs. 9-4.
  • League scoring average: Seaver 3.91 R/G (1971 NL); Felix 4.26 R/G (2014 AL). Both home fields had the same one-year park factor.

During the reign of King Felix:

  • Most starts of 7+ IP and 1 run or less: Felix 97, Lee 80, Sabathia and Halladay 75.
    Most such games without a win: Felix 32, Cain 24, Lee 22.
  • Most starts of 7+ IP and 2 runs or less: Felix 137, Lee 113, Sabathia 111.
    Most such games without a win: Felix 51, Cain 50, Hamels 43.

Hernandez has 20 quality starts in 22 outings this year, two more than anyone else. This is old news, as he owns the two highest season totals of the past five years (30 in 2010, 29 in ’09), and trails only Dan Haren in total QS since 2005 (205-200, though Felix has the better percentage).

Mariners 4, Orioles 3 (Sat.) — After Chris Young sparkled for seven stanzas, Seattle survived an 8th-inning fiasco to stop a 4-game skid.

  • Babe Herman lives! Kyle Seager should have known from last season that Kendrys Morales is perhaps the most cautious baserunner, if not the slowest. He’s taken just one extra base on 12 others’ hits this year, with just this one time being caught.
  • Worst AL team OBP in the DH era, non-strike years: Seattle’s .292 in 2011, .296 in 2012, .298 in 2010 and .299 this year. (Houston also had .299 last year.) Despite adding Robinson Cano’s .389 OBP, the M’s have dropped from .306 to .299.

Orioles 3, Mariners 2 (Sun., 10 inn.) – Baltimore’s 10th started with RHBs Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz, so the decision to lift Fernando Rodney after five pitches in the 9th was rather curious. Rodney’s held righties to a .164 BA in the last three years (2 HRs in 293 ABs), and has limited Jones, Cruz and Chris Davis to a combined 6 singles in 34 ABs, with 13 Ks and 3 walks. Of course, it looks worse after Yoervis Medina let those three reach base, then grooved an 0-2 pitch that Manny Machado drilled for a decisive sac fly.

How to square Miguel Gonzalez‘s career 112 ERA+ with his 1.3 HR/9, 10th-highest among regular starters since 2012? Simple: 74% of his homers have been solos, easily the highest share among actives with 50+ starts. It seems that pitching carefully is part of this pattern, as his walk rate goes up 20% with men on. The risk in that strategy is shown by his HR rates with just one man aboard (1.6%) versus two or more on (3.5%) — the latter being close to his bases-empty rate (4.1%).

Why am I interested in these Gonzalez minutiae? Well, a certain southpaw rode this on-the-edge strategy straight to the Hall of Fame. Tom Glavine‘s HR% was higher with bases empty (2.3%) than with men on (1.4%) — partly because, once someone reached base, he’d rather walk a dangerous hitter than “give in” to him. Glavine’s walk rate was much higher with men on — even after deducting intentionals, his walk rate was 42% higher with men on than with bases empty. Glavine’s walk rate was well below the league average with bases empty (6.2% to 7.7%), but above the league average with men on (8.9%-8.2%). He pulled it off through total commitment, even with bases full; Joe Torre’s induction quip that “Greg Maddux has no pulse” applies just as well to his longtime teammate.

Unlike Miguel Gonzalez, Glavine’s HR rate didn’t climb as more men reached base: It was the same with two on as with one on (1.5%), and plunged to 0.5% with the bags full. Many’s the time we saw him pitch around two straight batters, to get to the one he felt best about. It’s not a technique you’d teach youngsters

  • You wouldn’t guess it, but Seattle has more wins by 5+ runs (14-8) than by one run (13-19). But since sweeping the Astros to start the month, their bats have slumbered: 2.2 R/G during a 7-13 stretch.
  • James Jones is 5 for 40 since the Break, with one walk and one run, his season OBP down to .294. In 30 starts at leadoff, he has a .256 OBP, 14 runs and 2 RBI. Is there anyone on this team to set the table? Their #1-2 hitters have combined for a .279 OBP. What would you do with the top of their lineup? For all the talk that they still need “a bat,” someone who gets on base should be the top priority. It’s too late now, but I wonder why they didn’t target rentals like Josh Willingham (.356 OBP since 2012) or Adam Dunn (.335) instead of Morales (.321). Dunno who’s left at this point who would fit into their lineup.

_____

@Yankees 6, Blue Jays 4 (Fri.) – Ichiro’s first home run since last August plated three and capped all scoring in the 3rd, as New York surged to 7-1 since the Break and their 17th straight home win over Toronto. Jose Bautista drove in all the Jays’ runs with homers in his first two trips, giving him four bombs in 14 ABs off Hiroki Kuroda. But Mark Buehrle had no better luck than usual with the Bombers, yielding all six runs and 9 hits against just 9 outs, extending his NYY winless streak to 15 games since 2004.

  • Ichiro’s blast was New York’s 9th worth 3 runs or more; only Texas has fewer among AL teams. Even last year, when they were next-to-last in AL homers, the Yanks hit 20 worth 3+. Their last year with less than 20 was 1994.
  • Only two teams have losing streaks longer than 17 in the Bronx: 19 straight by Cleveland, 1960-62, and 20 by the Senators from 1939-41.

Blue Jays 6, Yankees 4 (Sat.)

Blue Jays 5, @Yankees 4 (Sun.) — Jose Bautista stole second with two out and came in on Dioner Navarro’s 1-and-2 single off David Robertson, as Toronto took the rubber game. The Yankees answered Blue Jay tallies to tie it up in the 5th, 6th and 8th, with back-to-back jacks by Chase Headley and Francisco Cervelli, and two-out knocks from Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. But Casey Janssen closed them out in order to save the first win by reliever Aaron Sanchez.

  • Dellin Betances cleaned up a 7th-inning mess, but then compounded a 4-pitch leadoff walk with a wild pickoff that sent Colby Rasmus to third and set up Munenori Kawasaki’s go-ahead flyout.
  • Zelous Wheeler cut one down at the plate in his second outfield game, showing that it doesn’t take a perfect throw if you get to the ball and get rid of it quickly.

_____

AL CENTRAL

Tigers 6, @Angels 4 (Thurs.) — Detroit answered the Halos’ three-spot against Max Scherzer with four straight hits off Garrett Richards in the 6th, retaking the lead on Nick Castellanos’ 2-run double. Scherzer had whiffed Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton to stop the bleeding, and capped his stint by fanning six of the last nine to finish with 11 Ks against one walk.

  • First time this year that Richards yielded four straight safeties, and just his second game surrendering three extra-base hits. While Richards has allowed just a .196 BA and AL-best 0.26 HR/9, there is a slight cluster tendency — .226 BA with two or more on base, .221 with RISP. And his MLB-high 18th wild pitch led directly to the first run of this game.
  • Detroit’s just 8-12 since 2012 against the Angels, but Scherzer has dominated his five starts — 4-0, 2.00, with 47 Ks in 36 IP. Trout is 3 for 16, with a homer, but 10 strikeouts and no walks.

@Angels 2, Tigers 1 (Fri.) — Drew Smyly whiffed 10 through 5 innings, with just one baserunner. By the 6th, he’d set a new high of 11 Ks — but he was trailing, 2-1, and out of the game after a two-out ribby knock by Efren Navarro, Josh Hamilton’s in-game replacement. Mike Morin relieved Tyler Skaggs in the 6th and got one out to earn the win, a bags-full whiff of Torii Hunter. Huston Street cashed his 13th one-run save in 14 tries — one reason he leads all relievers in Win Probability Added.

@Angels 4, Tigers 0 (Sat.) — Gloss …

@Angels 2, Tigers 1 (Sun.) –  … gloss.

_____

@Kansas City 2, Cleveland 1 (Thurs., 14 inn.) — Pity Danny Duffy, the worst-supported pitcher in MLB this year, and possibly in the entire history of bat-and-ball games. Pity Corey Kluber, whose career-best 91 Game Score earned him only the honor of the best non-winning mark since last May. And pity Ryan Raburn, whose only error this year became an instant classic gaffe-GIF. (Raburn gave his all, but do they call him effort-maker? No! But you spike one lousy throw…)

  • Since 1914, five other Cleveland pitchers got no win from 9+ innings on 2 hits or less: Jackie Brown, 1976; Sam McDowell, 1965; Red Embree, 1946; Steve Gromek, 1944; and the 1942 epic by home-grown Al “Happy” Milnar — no-hitter busted with two out in the 9th, finished with 14 shutout frames on two singles, zero strikeouts — and a tie! (Wait, how do you get a tie in the first game of a doubleheader?)

@Kansas City 6, Cleveland 4 (Fri.) — In July 2011, Billy Butler homered in four straight games, totaling 5 HRs and 10 RBI. And now he has 4 HRs in 101 games this year. At least this was a big one.

  • Almost a year since KC’s last pinch-homer. That one and this are their only go-ahead pinch-HRs since June 2006.
  • Carlos Santana sent a pair over the wall.

@Kansas City 7, Cleveland 5 (Sat.) — Billy Butler walloped a go-ahead 2-run homer for the second straight game, capping KC’s comeback from an early 5-0 hole for their 5th straight victory. As in that prior game, Terry Francona summoned lefty Nick Hagadone to retire Mike Moustakas with a man on in a tie game. On Friday, Francona then brought the righty John Axford, who served it up. So Terry changed tack Saturday and rode the lefty, in spite of rocky numbers against RHBs. But Hagadone teed up a fastball, and Butler teed off.

  • Although Zach McAllister’s ERA has soared this year (3.75 to 5.65), his basic rate stats are almost the same as last year, as reflected in his FIP (4.03, 3.90). He’s been roasted by clusters such as Saturday’s 4th, when KC tied the game with 4 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks. McAllister has always struggled with men on base, but this year’s split is over the top — .236/.669 with bases empty, .314/.885 with men aboard.
  • As Tyler Kepner noted in his Sunday column, Wade Davis has not allowed an extra-base hit this year: 44.2 innings, 19 singles. So, not only would his .125 BA rank 1st all-time for those facing at least 150 batters (one point below Craig Kimbrel, 2012), his .125 SLG would best by 24 points the mark Al Alburquerque set in 2011. Davis also owns the biggest gap in career results as a reliever (1.80 ERA, .481 OPS) compared to overall (4.03, .725), for those with 100+ relief innings. The Royals gambled last year that his breakout 2012 season was not just about moving into the bullpen, and that bet produced a 5.67 ERA in 24 starts. Lesson learned.

Cleveland 10, @Kansas City 3 (Sun.) – If Victor Martinez didn’t teach us last year not to give up on a proven hitter who starts impossibly cold, Carlos Santana is the refresher course. Through his first 46 games (201 PAs), Santana hit .146 with a .572 OPS, fueled by a .162 BAbip. In his last 49 games, his walk and K rates haven’t changed a bit, but he’s well over .300/1.000, with 15 HRs.

_____

AL WEST

@Rangers 4, Athletics 1 (Fri.) – It’s come to this in the Rangers’ ravaged rotation: On July 8, the last-place Astros cut Jerome Williams, with a 6.04 ERA in 26 relief outings. Now he’s the 13th to start a game for last-place Texas, who had lost 27 out of 32. But, youneverknow: Williams tamed Oakland on one run in six innings, with no walks for MLB’s leading strollers. Neftali Feliz navigated the 9th for his first save since 2011, and the Rangers squared their ledger with the mighty Oaks at 5-5.

 

Athletics 9, @Rangers 3 (Sun.) — Updating the blowout report, Oakland is now 24-6 in games decided by 5 runs or more. Here are the 24 teams with at least 30 such wins and a comparable winning percentage — 15 won the pennant, 6 won it all:

Rk Tm Year G W L W% ▾ Final Standing
1 CHC 1909 39 35 4 .897 104-49, 2nd place
2 CIN 1975 40 35 5 .875 108-54, WS Champs
3 NYY 1939 47 41 6 .872 106-45, WS Champs
4 NYY 1942 39 34 5 .872 103-51, Lost WS
5 PHA 1909 35 30 5 .857 95-58, 2nd place
6 CHC 1906 39 33 6 .846 116-36, Lost WS
7 PIT 1902 51 43 8 .843 103-36, Won NL (no WS)
8 NYY 1927 51 43 8 .843 110-44, WS Champs
9 NYY 1931 53 44 9 .830 94-59, 2nd place
10 LAD 1974 39 32 7 .821 102-60, Lost WS
11 CLE 1906 38 31 7 .816 89-64, 3rd place
12 ATL 1998 43 35 8 .814 106-56, Lost WS
13 CHC 1905 37 30 7 .811 92-61, 3rd place
14 CHC 1935 42 34 8 .810 100-54, Lost WS
15 STL 1942 42 34 8 .810 106-48, WS Champs
16 BRO 1951 42 34 8 .810 97-60, Lost NL Playoff
17 HOU 1998 44 35 9 .795 102-60, Lost NLDS
18 NYG 1911 39 31 8 .795 99-54, Lost WS
19 BRO 1949 53 42 11 .792 97-57, Lost WS
20 PHI 1976 43 34 9 .791 101-61, Lost NLCS
21 PIT 1909 43 34 9 .791 110-42, WS Champs
22 BAL 1969 38 30 8 .789 109-53, Lost WS
23 NYY 1948 42 33 9 .786 94-60, 3rd place
24 NYG 1922 46 36 10 .783 93-61, WS Champs

A different angle … Oakland has a .625 winning percentage, and a pythagorean record 5 games better than their actual mark. In years with a World Series, 11 teams had at least a .610 W% and pythag at least 4 games better than actual. Three won the Series (1935 Tigers, ’39 Yankees, ’48 Cleveland), and two lost the Series (’42 Yanks, ’74 Dodgers). The ’98 Astros lost in the NLDS, and the others finished second (1909 A’s and Cubs, ’31 Yanks, ) or third (’48 Yanks, ’54 ChiSox).

Bottom line — As good as the current A’s look by these measures, there’s still no magic bullet.

_____

NL EAST

Nationals 4, @Reds 1 (Fri.) – Tanner Roark won his third straight outing, each with one run in 7 innings, and Denard Span’s second straight 4-hit game led Washington to a 2.5-game lead over Atlanta. Alfredo Simon came in with the best team win percentage in his starts (15-4), despite just average run support, thanks to his own consistency (16 of 19 QS). But he surrendered a season-high 9 hits, and failed to last five for just the third time, as Cincy remained winless since the Break and landed at .500.

  • Roark has yielded just 11 runs in his 10 wins this year, and no homers. In 25 career starts, 13-7, 2.61.
  • Span’s hitting .383 with 16 runs during the Nats’ 15-6 surge.

@Reds 1, Nationals 0 (Sat.) — Johnny Cueto stopped the Nats on 4 singles over 7 innings, helping end the Reds’ skid at 7 games. Chris Heisey’s first steal try was foiled by Gio Gonzalez, but he persisted, swiping third after his double in the 5th. Brayan Pena took advantage of the in-tight infield with a hot grounder that beat Anthony Rendon’s reflexes.

  • Bryce Harper walked twice, but he erased himself each time – doubled off first base when Jay Bruce ran down a no-out drive to right-center, then caught in-between after an ill-considered break for third on an infield hit. He’s hit just .222 since coming off the DL (3 RBI, 26 Ks in 63 ABs), so this could be a case of trying too hard to compensate. But both were very bad judgments.

Nationals 4, Reds 2 (Sun.) — Doug Fister is 10-2, 2.69 this year, and 12-4, 2.15 in 22 career starts against NL clubs. Mat Latos lost his command with two out in the 5th, forcing in the game’s first run with two walks and a hit batsman, before Adam LaRoche plated two with an 0-and-1 single.

  • By a few minutes, Cincy became the first to score 3 runs or less in 9 straight games this year. Ten is the longest in the last three years, by the 2013 Astros and 2012 O’s. The Reds’ last such strings of 9 or more were in 1982, when they lost 101 games.
  • Tyler Clippard leads the majors with 56 holds in the last two seasons, and his 0.97 WHIP is 4th among non-closers with 70+ IP since 2013.

_____

Padres 5, @Braves 2 (Fri.) — Jesse Hahn has been outstanding since a rocky debut. Already the only Padre to win five of his first seven games (and first to fan five or more each of his first seven), Hahn bumped his record up to 6-2 and a 2.12 ERA. The Friars peppered Alex Wood with singles and built up a 5-0 lead before Hahn yielded his lone run in the 6th.

 

_____

NL CENTRAL

Mets 3, @Brewers 2 (Fri.) — Lightning struck K-Rod in the 9th, as Lucas Duda’s first-pitch missile finished off a 3-run blitz that torched Yovani Gallardo’s best work this season.

Both starters had such winning stuff that they hardly needed outfielders. Gallardo faced down his only trouble in the 4th, whiffing Bobby Abreu to strand Mets at the corners, after Daniel Murphy and David Wright had opened with singles. He put down 14 straight until an infield hit with two out in the 8th finished his night, with 8 Ks, no walks and four singles. Zack Wheeler was just as good through six — 8 Ks, a pop to second, everything else on the ground — but more unlucky, yielding one tainted hit and one unearned run, both thanks to Murphy’s misplays. The run came in the 6th, after Murph’s through-the-wickets whiff on a sure DP ball, and Aramis Ramirez earned a ribby groundout with a nine-pitch, five-foul battle. With two out in the 7th, Carlos Gomez jumped a first-pitch fastball and rode it past the fence in center, which seemed sure to make Zack an honest loser.

But Murphy, the only Met with good swings against Gallardo, slashed K-Rod’s first pitch for a double down the left-field line, his third hit. Wright reached for a 2-2 change and yanked it into left, scoring Murphy. Duda stepped in with a .310/.407/.621 line in his last 34 games, slugging .548 against righties this year. He got a fastball, aimed for knees away, delivered thigh-high, in — and the Mets bullpen catcher had a souvenir. Jenrry Mejia fanned three after a leadoff walk, and Milwaukee’s 4-win streak was history.

  • For three years, everyone from Mets coaches to broadcasters to talk-show callers has howled for Lucas to be more aggressive, never mind his career .310/1.091 output when ahead in the count. He’s finally listening, already with career highs across the board in first-pitch events — 16 for 35, 4 HRs, 12 RBI.
  • Wheeler’s last five starts have all had one earned run in 6 to 6.2 IP.
  • The New York Times account of Thursday’s 9-1 Mets loss made an empty point about their supposed lack of comeback firepower — as if any team would have much chance to climb out of a 6-0 hole. In the NL, only the Cards, Giants and Rockies have rallied to win from 6 runs down. Fact is, the Mets now have 21 comeback wins, one more than average in the NL. They haven’t won from more than 3 runs down, but the same is true of Atlanta, and some other non-contenders. The Dodgers have just 10 comeback wins, none when trailing after 7 innings. The Cards have 16 comeback wins, just one when trailing after even 6 innings. The Mets have 4 wins when behind to start the 9th, about twice the NL average. They’ve scored 112 runs in the 7th-9th innings, which is about average if you deduct the Coors-fueled Rockies. All in all, once you consider park factors, the Mets are probably better than expected at comebacks.

@Brewers 5, Mets 2 (Sat.) — But then, the Mets can also lose a middle-innings lead right with the best of ‘em — 12 losses when leading after four, while other NL clubs average 8 such losses. Jon Niese lost his composure after his two-out wild pitch in the 5th cut the lead to 2-1, serving two straight 2-strike hits before Ryan Braun lined the next pitch for a go-ahead single. K-Rod got back on the horse with an easy, two-whiff save.

Mets 2, @Brewers 0 (Sun.) — Four Mets had hammered doubles off the wall, but they still hadn’t pushed a run across when Lucas Duda stepped up in the 6th. Jimmy Nelson had whiffed him in the 4th, and got into an 0-2 count with one out and Daniel Murphy hugging second. Jonathan Lucroy wanted a back-door slider, but Nelson put it in, and Duda put it out. Jacob deGrom battled the tenacious Brewers through 30 foul balls that ran his pitch count up to 109 through six two-hit stanzas, then gave up two hits out of three well-struck balls in the 7th. Vic Black put out the fire with popouts of Scooter Gennett and Aramis Ramirez, and the emerging closeout duo of Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia sealed the 4-game split.

  • Duda’s homer was the 10th in his last 33 games, and first in 115 career PAs settled on 0-2. Eleven of his 18 bombs have come with someone on, putting him among the top 10 in that score.
  • Despite scoring 3 runs or less in 9 straight games (matching their longest since 1981), New York finished the road trip at 5-5, and 4-3 against two contenders.

Jacob deGrom is:

  • The 3rd pitcher since 1996 with four scoreless starts of 6+ IP among his first 14 outings (Anibal Sanchez, Mike Fiers).
  • The 3rd since 2007 with at least seven starts of 6+ IP and one run or less among his first 14 games. Jarrod Parker had nine, Matt Harvey and Zach Britton seven each. (Yeah, and where are they now?)
  • The 3rd Met since 2006 to win four straight starts yielding one run or less in 6+ IP. R.A. Dickey won six straight in his 2012 Cy Young campaign, and Harvey did four last April.

_____

@Cubs 7, Cardinals 6 (Fri.) — LHBs vs. Kevin Siegrist: 8 for 68 last year, with no home runs; 10 for 31 this year, with one big bomb.

  • Travis Wood has hit much better than he’s pitched this year. Since 2013, he leads pitchers with 6 HRs, also leads in hits, runs, RBI, extra-base hits and total bases.
  • First homer by a pitcher against St. Louis since Sept. 2010, when Wood nailed Adam Wainwright.
  • The Cards have fared better against winning teams (37-31) than losers (17-17). Last year, they swamped the losers (58-29), but just held their own against the winners (39-36). But the bigger point here is proportions.
  • For what (little) it’s worth, Allen Craig still is hitting better with RISP (.256) than with bases empty (.223).
  • Chicago rookie Neil Ramirez has held foes to 16 for 98, and 3 runs in 28 IP. Now in his 8th pro season, but only 25, Ramirez was strictly a starter until this year, and has a 4.40 career ERA in MiLB.

Cardinals 6, @Cubs 3 (Sat.) — Welington Castillo’s poor position on a play at home opened the gates to a 4-run 7th, as James Russell’s baffling reverse split deepened. A 2-run triple by Matt Adams left the southpaw Russell with a .293 BA and .894 OPS against LHBs this year, while righties are just 5 for 53.

  • Randy Choate’s 7th one-batter win is one shy of Scott Radinsky’s known record. His career average of 2.74 batters faced per game is higher than only Mike Myers among those with 500 career games; one more good year of loogying could give Choate both those “crowns.”

Cardinals 1, @Cubs 0 (Sun.) — Third 1-0 win this year for Adam Wainwright. The other 22 such wins for starters are spread out one apiece. St. Louis leads the majors with five 1-0 victories.

  • The Cards are last in NL homers, but they own four of this year’s ten 1-0 wins via solo homer — three of them backing Wainwright, two hit by Matt Holliday, who never had a 1-0 winning homer until this year.
  • Wainwright’s 10 scoreless starts — all 7+ IP, averaging 7-2/3 – are the most this year, by three, and tied with Kershaw for most in the last three seasons. Since 1969, the most scoreless games of 7+ innings is 11, shared by Cliff Lee in 2011, and Doc Gooden and John Tudor in 1985. Ten were logged by Jim Palmer (’75), Don Sutton (’72) and Denny McLain (’69).
  • Last Cardinal to homer in a 1-0 Wrigley win: Tom Herr, 1986 – one of his two HRs that year, and his only one in 72 career games in Wrigley.
  • Second game this year in which a 1st-inning solo shot stood up all day.

_____

@Rockies 8, Pirates 1 (Fri.) — Brett Anderson baffled the Bucs for the second time in six days.

@Rockies 8, Pirates 1 (Sat.) — Speaking of replica results…. Five times in Coors Field history, one team tallied no more than one run and five hits in back-to-back games. Three of the five were Pirates. They’ve lost all five there since last year, totaling 9 runs.

  • In six games since Tulowitzki got hurt, Josh Rutledge is 12 for 27 with 9 RBI, 6 XBH.
  • The last back-to-back scoreless starts by Rockies were last July 24-25, at home to Miami.
  • Rockies brass won’t say so publicly, but the missing “T” stands for Time on the DL — or the twenty-five percent of team games Tulo’s missed since 2007, thirty percent since 2010.
  • When he plays, Tulowitzki is among the very best. Since 2010, his ratio of 4.6 WAR per 100 games trails only Robinson Cano among those with 500+ games. And even with the time missed, he ranks 11th in total WAR in that span. If he keeps playing (and not playing) at this level, Tulo would more than earn his $20 million average salary over the next six years, in terms of market rates. The dilemma for teams such as the Mets who’d like to land him is, (a) whether these nagging nicks portend a bigger breakdown in his 30s; (b) is it wise to build a team around a shortstop expected to play 120 games a year; and (c) just how much talent should they part with for the privilege of taking that risk? The Mets have not fared well in recent years with high-risk, high-reward maneuvers.

Pirates 7, @Rockies 5 (Sun.)

That’s my Josh! (And this escape was pure, unlike the other.)

_____

NL WEST

Dodgers 8, @Giants 1 – In my own field of dreams, every park would have a Triples Alley. Yasiel Puig tripled our pleasure with three of those thrilling hits to center field, tying the modern record, and added a double and a long flyout to the same zip code. Dee Gordon (#10) and Matt Kemp joined the spree for three, as LA became the first team since 1986 with five triples in a 9-inning game. In other news, Zack Greinke beat the Giants for the third straight time this year, while LA otherwise is 1-7.

  • One other 5-triple game in Dodgers history — 1921, Polo Grounds, including pitcher Dutch Ruether. (Great names in that box. Ray Schmandt hit the game’s only homer, his only one that year. “Ray Schmandt”?) The LA Dodgers never had 4 triples in a game before.
  • No “Dodger” tripled three times in a game before. Jimmy Sheckard hit three on Opening Day for the 1901 Brooklyn Superbas, at Baker Bowl. Sheckard led the NL with 19 triples and .534 slugging, in his best season.
  • Kemp was the last Dodger with 4 XBH in a game, against the Giants in Sept. 2011 (HR, 3 2Bs).
  • Carl Crawford, 4-time AL triples leader and the only man alive with 100 triples in his first 10 seasons, went 0-for-5. He has 6 triples in 200 games in the last three years.

Dodgers 5, @Giants 0 (Sat.) — Has any pitcher so enjoyed a rival’s park as Clayton Kershaw in San Francisco? The camera caught him smiling often in the last few innings of this 2-hitter, and why not? He’s 7-2 in 10 starts there, with 3 shutouts, an 0.69 ERA and 0.79 WHIP over 79 innings, and just one home run allowed — by far the best results of any with at least 6 starts in AT&T Park. The two losses were by by 2-0.

  • His home park obviously helps Kershaw’s overall ERA, but he’s also #1 in road ERA over the last two (2.04), three (2.46), four (2.59), and five seasons (2.55).
  • Only the two LA teams are over .500 in games without a home run — Dodgers 27-26, Angels 21-19. All others have a combined .354 W% in such games, .364 for NL teams.

Dodgers 4, @Giants 3 (Sun.) — Hyun-jin Ryu has a 12-5 record in 20 starts, but his 3.44 ERA and 104 ERA+ are just fair. Must be great run support and/or some cheap wins, right?

No, and no — LA’s averaged 4.0 runs in his starts, less than 5 in his wins. And tonight’s 6-IP, 3-run effort is the worst of his winning efforts, which total 16 runs in 75.1 IP (1.91 RA/9). His only non-QS win was 5 scoreless innings in his first start, in Australia, when he left with a 6-0 lead. His other four non-QS (all losses) mainly matched up with low run support, totaling 10 runs in those games. Ryu’s record could be even bettter: His three no-decisions include blown leads of 1-0 and 3-2 after 7 IP.

_______________

They Also Played

Padres 13, @Cubs 3 (Thurs.) – Tyson Ross has made 38 starts since joining San Diego last year, with a 2.81 ERA and 240 Ks in 237 innings. Home/away ERA is 2.09/3.51, but his K and HR rates are the same in both.

  • A 9-run 6th was five more than any other Friars frame this year. Eight singles and four free runners fueled the bonfire.
  • Brian Schlitter was the first this season to be charged with 6+ runs while retiring no one.
  • Seth Smith is qualified for the batting title — and ranks 4th with a 160 OPS+, top-10 in OBP and SLG — despite being strictly platooned. He’s only started one of 21 games southpaws started against the Pads, but 76 of 80 against RH starters. LHPs have started less than 24% of NL games, compared to 30% in the AL.

@Phillies 9, Diamondbacks 5 (Fri.) — Arizona’s Alfredo Marte pinch-hit a grand slam for his first career homer, and the team’s first slam since last August. Paul Goldschmidt smacked all three of theirs last year.

White Sox 9, @Twins 5 (Fri.)Thus endeth Jose Abreu’s 7-game wait for #30. In the 1st inning, he’s 24 for 67 with 9 homers, 8 doubles, and 22 RBI.

  • Have we stopped counting “fastest to N homers”? Abreu’s 30th HR in game #89 trails only Rudy York (79 games) and Mark McGwire (84). Only two others had at least 25 HRs in their first 90 games (Wally Berger and Ryan Braun, 27 each).

White Sox 7, @Twins 0 (Sat.) — Finally qualified, Chris Sale flashed MLB’s best ERA for a few hours, until Kershaw’s latest shutout.

  • Pick’em: With no names attached, could you tell Kershaw from Sale — or decide who’s doing better?
ERA ERA+ IP BA SLG OPS GS H R ER BB SO HR BF IBB SB CS OPS+
1.76 202 112.1 .186 .285 .503 16 75 22 22 15 141 6 423 0 2 2 46
1.88 210 110.0 .194 .269 .510 16 76 24 23 19 122 6 420 0 3 2 43
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used / Generated 7/27/2014.

 

@Twins 4, White Sox 3 (Sun.) — Two walks by Ronald Belisario fueled Minny’s 3-run 7th that erased a 2-1 lead. ChiSox relievers have walked 4.74 per 9 innings, by far the AL’s most; rest of the league averages 3.25.

  • Jose Abreu had an 18-game hitting streak stopped on July 5, but he started another the next day, now up to 17 games — first player this year with two streaks of 15+. He’s hit .345 with 11 HRs in this 35-of-36 stretch.
  • Abreu’s 56 extra-base hits through 91 career games trails only Joe DiMaggio (63).

 

Subscribe to: RSS feed