Game notes from this week’s first half (ending 8/7)
Your narrator was overtaken by events, so here’s some scattered jottings. With apologies for any split infinitives…
@Mariners 4, Bravos 2 (Tues.) — Two M’s scored when Tommy La Stella dropped a two-out popup in the 4th, and one more right afterward, as Atlanta fell to King Felix and their cliff-dive reached seven games. But don’t you think Jason Heyward should have called him off? J-Hey was playing deep, but he closed quickly and was there in time. It’s one thing if the infielder is camped under it, but La Stella was weaving the whole way — a fact on which the A.P. story whiffed badly.
You know what’s almost as amazing as Felix’s 15-game streak of 7+ IP and 2 runs or less? Just two of those were scoreless — his only scoreless games this year, despite a 1.97 ERA and 2.39 RA/9. Ten qualified pitchers have posted an RA/9 of 2.50 or better with 24+ starts and less than two CG shutouts. All but one had at least three scoreless starts of 7+ innings:
- Jose Fernandez, 2013, 2.45 RA/9 — no SHO, but eight scoreless starts, seven of 7+
- Roger Clemens, 2005, 2.17 RA/9 –no SHO, but 10 scoreless starts, six of 7+ IP
- Chris Carpenter, 2009 2.29 RA/9 — one SHO, eight scoreless starts in all, five of 7+ IP
- Matt Harvey, 2013, 2.32 RA/9 — one SHO, five scoreless starts, four of 7+ IP
- Pedro Martinez, 1999, 2.36 RA/9 — one SHO, four scoreless starts, four of 7+ IP
- John Candelaria, 1977, 2.50 RA/9 — one 7-IP SHO, six scoreless starts, four of 7+
- Tommy John, 1968, 2.28 RA/9 — one SHO, three scoreless starts, three of 7+, including a 9-IP no decision
- Stan Bahnsen, 1968, 2.42 RA/9 — one SHO, three scoreless starts, three of 7+
- Josh Johnson, 2010, 2.50 RA/9 — no SHO, five scoreless starts, three of 7+
- Bob Tewksbury, 1992, 2.43 RA/9 — no SHO, three scoreless starts, two of 7+
This year alone, 39 pitchers have at least three scoreless starts of 7+ IP (or, more than Felix). But only two of them have a better RA/9 — Wainwright (10 such starts) and Kershaw (6). Felix himself averaged 5.2 such starts over the previous five years, but with a combined 2.85 ERA and 3.25 RA/9.
So, while his season stats scream “dominance!,” a better description is “outrageously consistent excellence.”
One more Felix note: Check out his line against winning teams this year.
(Wed.) @Mariners 7, Bravos 3 — What comes after “cliff dive”? Atlanta’s wobbling so badly that even positives somehow turn sour. Freddie Freeman’s one-out, bags-full double in the 3rd brought a 3-1 lead. But Austin Jackson relayed it quickly, and Jesus Sucre flagged Chris Taylor’s high peg and slammed a tag on Tommy La Stella. Chris Young struck out Justin Upton, and the M’s jumped on Julio Teheran with two homers in their half, including Logan Morrison’s two-out, 3-run jack. Atlanta had one more good chance to get back in it, but B.J. Upton’s two-out drive hopped over the wall, holding Jason Heyward at third, and Ramiro Pena tapped out. Young survived 5 innings to reach 10 wins for the first time since 2006.
- Two doubles and a walk gave Robinson Cano a .395 OBP, 2nd in the AL and a would-be career high.
- Taylor made a lot of E’s at shortstop in the minors, but he’s a good line-drive hitter who’ll take a walk, and he drew his first today.
- 8 losses is Atlanta’s longest skid in the 2nd half since 1982. They dropped 10 straight in June ’06, and nine in April 2010.
@Athletics 3, Rays 2 (Mon., 10 inn.) — What a prankster is our Cosmos! Grant Balfour wedged his standard pair of walks between two 0-and-2 hits, with the laurels landing upon Derek Norris. Not what you’d call a rain-maker, but showers were bound to follow.
- It’s time to combine two walk-off staples that are getting a bit stale, the home-plate bounce-‘n’-splash and the interview ambush. I’m thinking along these lines.
- If Joe Maddon were a smoker, he’d have an easy nickname for Balfour. But I guess “Rage” can work from either vantage point.
- Brad Boxberger has retired all seven men he’s faced with the bases loaded, including four whiffs and a DP. Since the last run charged to him on June 27, he’s fanned 27 of 58, with 4 walks, 4 singles and 3 DPs, stranding 12 of 13 orphans.
- This fits the theme of Oakland’s frequent late rallies. But are we sure it’s not a nutria?
No-Decisions — Best ERA:
(Min. 10 no-decision starts in a season)
|1||Roger Clemens||in No Dec.||2005||11||0.99||11||73.0||40||8||8||2||23||71||0||1||277||0.863||8.8||3.09||.159||.230||.207||.437|
|2||Clayton Kershaw||in No Dec.||2009||15||1.38||14||84.2||51||14||13||3||37||101||0||5||333||1.039||10.7||2.73||.174||.267||.253||.519|
|3||Greg Maddux||in No Dec.||1997||10||1.45||10||74.2||61||13||12||3||7||49||1||0||286||0.911||5.9||7.00||.221||.243||.279||.522|
|4||Jeff Samardzija||in No Dec.||2014||11||1.66||11||76.0||55||18||14||4||18||58||6||3||297||0.961||6.9||3.22||.203||.267||.303||.569|
|5||Pedro Martinez||in No Dec.||2003||11||1.76||11||66.2||49||14||13||4||13||76||3||3||262||0.930||10.3||5.85||.202||.250||.313||.563|
|6||Jose Fernandez||in No Dec.||2013||10||1.77||10||56.0||37||11||11||3||24||49||0||1||226||1.089||7.9||2.04||.187||.274||.247||.521|
If we used RA/9 instead of ERA, Samardzija would plunge … all the way to 8th.
(Tues.) @A’s 3, Rays 0 — Whether Tampa traded David Price or not, two runs in two days wasn’t going to get much done against the A’s.
(Wed.) Rays 7, @A’s 3 — Until Tuesday night, Nori Aoki had the 4th-longest active string of homerless at-bats (333). Next up was Eric Sogard (337), and his died this afternoon. I don’t think Pete Kozma (407) has been called up, which means that Adeiny Hechavarria is officially on the clock: 448 at-bats over 122 games since last September’s slam off Jeff Samardzija. It ends Thursday. Edinson Volquez, you have been warned. [What the heck, I took a shot.]
@Angels 5, Dodgers 0 (Mon.) — The first shutout for Garrett Richards was also the first by an Angel in Dodger Stadium since they called it home in 1965.
- Batters are hitting .195 off Richards. The last qualified Angel under .210 was Nolan Ryan, 1977.
- After Yasiel struts and frets his hour upon the stage, it’s left to Albert, Thane of Pujols, to cap the nothing-signified drama. Encore!
- Is there any significant measure by which Mike Trout is not the best all-around hitter and player this year? Right now, he leads the majors in OPS+, total bases, WAR and offensive WAR, plus every permutation of “base/out” ratio and of Win Probability Added (with a 3-to-2 margin in raw WPA). Well, I guess he’s only #4 in “clutch” WPA.
- One of the guys on MLB Tonight keeps harping on Eric Aybar‘s “monster year.” Does anyone get that? By all that I can see, Aybar is doing just as he’s done over the last six years. As I recall, the focus was on Aybar’s 75-RBI pace. He may be underrated — 4th in WAR among shortstops since 2009, yet just one All-Star nod — but 75 RBI batting while batting 5th and 6th in the #2 scoring lineup is not impressive.
Through Monday, the Angels have MLB’s second-best record, 4 full games above #3, but they still face a play-in game. Should that gap last through September, it would be the 10th time that MLB’s top two records were (a) at least 4 games better than #3, and (b) both in the same division, (or the same league, before 1969). Here are the top three records in those nine prior seasons; seven of those 2nd-place teams went straight home:
- 2001 — Mariners 116-46, A’s 102-60 (+6.0), Yankees 95-65
- 1993 — Bravos 104-58, Giants 103-59 (+6.0), Phils 97-65
- 1978 — Yankees 99-63,* Red Sox 99-63* (+4.0), Dodgers 95-67 (*Pre-playoff record)
- 1974 — Dodgers 102-60, Reds 98-64 (+7.0), Orioles 91-71
- 1961 — Yankees 109-53, Tigers 101-61 (+4.0), Reds 93-61
- 1954 — Cleveland 111-43, Yankees 103-51 (+6.0), Giants 97-57
- 1945 — Cubs 98-56, Cardinals 95-49 (+6.5), Tigers 88-65
- 1915 — Red Sox 101-50, Tigers 100-54 (+7.0), White Sox 93-61 (Phils won NL at 90-62)
- 1909 — Pirates 110-42, Cubs 104-49 (+5.5), Tigers 98-54
(Tues.) @Dodgers 5, Angels 4 — Call CSI: Chavez Ravine — Clayton Kershaw has let nine men reach base in consecutive games for the first time this year! Seven of the first 12 Angels hit safely Tuesday, counteracting Juan Uribe’s 3-run homer in the second. With the go-ahead run dangling on the vine, a patient play by the veteran third sacker stemmed the tide, and Kershaw returned the lift by giving up no more hits through seven.
- Hunh. The Dodgers are still trying to get something out of Brian Wilson.
Yasiel Puig went 0-4 on five pitches, including a first-pitch popout with two aboard. Through May, Puig hit .344 with 11 HRs, but .289 with 2 HRs since. That’s probably just natural regression — he wasn’t likely to BAbip .397 all year — but another factor is one-pitch at-bats. Puig was 19 for 39 through May, slugging near .900, and 11 for 37 since, .351 SLG. His frequency of one-pitch ABs held steady — his 39% first-pitch swing rate is 10th among qualifiers this year — but maybe the pitchers have adjusted his feeding schedule.
(Wed.) Dodgers 2, @Angels 1 — Dan Haren shrugged off his troubles for one night and beat the Angels in his first chance as an alumnus. Haren retired Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton three times each, and Kenley Jansen handled the fourth turn. Kole Calhoun led off the 9th with a single, and then swiped second. But Jansen punched out Trout, and after Albert flied out, Hamilton chased high cheddar. Jansen has a career .172 BA allowed, but .150 with RISP — trailing only Craig Kimbrel’s .127 among searchables with 200+ ABs.
- “What to do? … We’re down by two, one out, great hitter one spot away — I’d better challenge Yasiel!”
- The shape of things to come? “Matt Kemp, DH.”
- The Dodgers are 22-15 in one-run games, and 19-12 in blowouts — the only team at least 5 games over .500 in both.
Orioles 7, @Nationals 3 (Mon.) — Matt Williams showed big faith in a near-rookie: Tanner Roark batted in the home 6th, with men on the corners and two out, Nats up by one. He bounced out — and six pitches later, the O’s had the lead, and Roark was gone. One of my crackpot theories: Pitchers who fail at bat when they might have been lifted often have bad innings right after. Either way, those at-bats are rarely productive: Since 2010, pitchers hitting in the 6th or 7th with RISP and two out, up by one run, are 10 for 101, with 13 RBI.
- Delmon Young got the go-ahead RBI with his 9th pinch-hit in 17 tries this year.
Orioles 9, @Blue Jays 3 (Tues.) — Smelling the finish line, Baltimore rocked the Jays and seized a season-high 5-game lead with 50 games to play.
(Wed.) @Blue Jays 5, Orioles 1 — As I said, there’s plenty of life yet in those blue birds. Drew Hutchison allowed one hit and struck out eight, falling one out short of a game that was perfect but for one home run:
|Bob Lemon||1951-05-29||CLE||DET||W 2-1||CG 9, W||9.0||1||1||0||1||7||1||88|
|Robin Roberts||1954-05-13||PHI||CIN||W 8-1||CG 9, W||9.0||1||1||0||1||8||1||89|
|Chris Knapp||1978-09-03||CAL||TOR||W 3-1||CG 9, W||9.0||1||1||0||1||5||1||86|
|Brian Holman||1990-04-20||SEA||OAK||W 6-1||CG 9, W||9.0||1||1||0||1||7||1||104||60||88|
|Curt Schilling||1992-09-09||PHI||NYM||W 2-1||CG 9, W||9.0||1||1||0||1||8||1||95||68||89|
|Tom Kramer||1993-05-24||CLE||TEX||W 4-1||CG 9, W||9.0||1||1||0||1||8||1||118||79||89|
|Roger Pavlik||1996-05-04||TEX||DET||W 3-1||CG 9, W||9.0||1||1||0||1||7||1||114||77||88|
@Brewers 4, Giants 3 (Tues.) — Gerardo Parra’s first hit as a Brewer got the big huzzahs; first homer by a lefty against RHP Jean Machi, in 157 PAs. But Parra’s calling card is still defense, and that grab helped Milwaukee navigate the 8th after two straight walks. The Crew have held or shared the Central lead for four solid months, since April 5.
- Two huge hits by Carlos Gomez left him batting .343 with RISP this year, putting him on pace for 82 RBI despite mostly leading off. His offense has been better this season than last year’s breakout (9th in NL oWAR, up from 12th). But Lucroy is the only Brewer name I’m hearing in the opened-up discussion for NL MVP. I’m not touting, just noting how well he’s filled Milwaukee’s leadoff spot: His .869 OPS there is #1 among regulars, and his .356 OBP is 9th, and way above his career mark.
- Not to ignore Lucroy, two doubles gave him a career-best 50 extra-base hits, five shy of Ted Simmons’s club mark for catchers.
- Parra was a good pickup for the righty-laden Brewers, who’d gotten just 12 homers from lefty swingers. He makes a good platoon mate for lefty-killing Khris Davis, and he can handle any outfield spot, should Gomez or Braun need a day off.
- Will Smith is fading fast: A 9.00 ERA and 2.00 WHIP in his last 20 outings. His walks have soared, which could be compensating for a loss of stuff and/or confidence.
(Wed.) Giants, @Brewers —
- Milwaukee’s bullpen ERA, by month: April 2.45, May 4.22, June 3.67, July 4.48.
- K-Rod and Will Smith combined: April, 28.1 IP/1 run; May, 24/9; June, 29.2/9; July, 17 IP/20 runs.
@Cleveland 7, Cincinnati 1 (Mon.) — Corey Kluber blanked the Reds into the 8th before fading, and John Axford got two big outs with ducks on the pond. Kluber got a cushion from Lonnie Chisenhall’s 3-run blast in the 4th, for his first 3-RBI game since the big’un.
- Chisenhall’s 3-dinger, 9-ribby day capped a 10-game, 22-RBI splurge. He had 3 HRs and 11 RBI in his next 43 games. (Aren’t you glad you don’t play fantasy baseball?)
- The last Clevelander with three straight no-ER starts of 8+ IP was John Denny, 1981 (three shutouts).
(Tues.) Cincinnati 9, @Cleveland 2 — Pitcher win luck doesn’t always even out. But after going 5-4, 1.68 in his first 12 starts, Johnny Cueto is 8-2, 2.45 in his next 12. On second thought … 8-2, 2.45 … never mind — Dame Fortune still owes him!
- Ramon Santiago’s crushing 3-run homer was his first tater as a starter since June 9, 2012, for Detroit in Cincinnati.
- Billy Hamilton hasn’t walked since the Break, creating a bad line for a leadoff man: .206 BA, .203 OBP.
(Wed.) Cincinnati, @Cleveland —
First Santiago, now Zack Cozart? Just two of his 31 prior homers were good for 3 or more, and he’d hit .171 with two or more aboard (28 for 164, plus 11 sac flies).
@Cardinals 3, Red Sox 2 (Tues.) — Lance Lynn logged his sixth straight game of 6+ IP and 2 runs or less, Pat Neshek fanned the top of the order in the 8th, and Jon Jay finished off three straight two-out singles for the lead against Junichi Tazawa, as the Cards won their third in a row and kept pressure on Milwaukee.
- Neshek’s 0.60 WHIP is #1 among those with 40+ innings this year. His 1.04 career WHIP is 13th among actives with 200+ IP, and his 153 ERA+ 16th on that list. He’s earning $1 million this season for the first time in his 7-year career.
- Boy, the Cards are really making hay on my crack about their bullpen being not cut out to win a lot of 3-2 games. They’ve taken two in a row by that score, and haven’t yielded a run in the 8th or 9th of their last 8 games (14 total innings).
- Yoenis Cespedes had three of Boston’s 5 hits, but he failed to score after a leadoff triple. The BoSox are near the bottom in all measures of moving runners along, which matters little if you hit home runs — but when you’re near the bottom there, as well….
(Wed.) Red Sox 2, @Cardinals 1 — The good news for St. Louis was Shelby Miller’s best outing since a June 7 shutout. He might have had another one here, using just 88 pitches through seven low-stress frames. But Matt Holliday whiffed on a two-out drive from Xander Bogaerts, which produced the tying run in the 4th, and led to Miller’s ouster in the 7th when his batting turn came up. (Given two outs and none on, with Miller having put away the last 10 BoSox and owning a bit of pop himself, one doubts that there was much to gain by subbing Shane Robinson.) Boston quickly threatened against Sam Freeman, but Seth Maness specializes in the two-for-one, inducing them at twice the going rate, and starting four himself this year.
The bad news was Trevor Rosenthal’s ongoing struggle with the first man he faces. Yoenis Cespedes fouled off two 1-2 offers and then singled, hiking Rosenthal’s first-batter BA to .362 this year (17 for 47).
- Extra-base hits as a percentage of career PAs: Robinson 4.4%, Miller 6.4%.
@Yankees 2, Tigers 1 (Mon.) — Brandon McCarthy had to use all his powers, and all his skills, and 116 pitches in 5.2 innings. But he held Detroit to an unearned run, bagging five of his 8 Ks with Bengals aboard, including three in in the 2nd to leave the sacks loaded. Despite a superb sacks-full grab by Ezequiel Carrera, Detroit’s new part-time CF, the Yanks still scored twice in the 3rd, thanks to Brian McCann’s two-out off Max Scherzer, who took his first loss in eight starts.
- McCarthy’s the second Yankee to win four starts in a row without going past 6 innings.
- Heard on the broadcast: (1) New York’s last 15 games were decided by two runs or less, the longest such streak in team history, longest in MLB since the ’75 Orioles. (2) McCarthy’s line of 5.2 IP, 5 hits, unearned run, 2 walks and 8 Ks is unique since 1914, including postseason. (I find one that matches all except with an earned run, and one matching all but with no runs.)
- Carrera’s catch was the third that I’ve seen in the last week where an outfielder leaped while running towards the wall but before the track. Is it just my faulty memory, or are such catches rare?
(Tues., 12 inn.) Tigers 4, @Yankees 3 — Four pitchers in their first Detroit season covered all 12 frames, and Alex Avila caught ’em all and homered in the last one, making New York’s surprising roster move loom large for at least one night. Avila is almost helpless against southpaws (career .212 BA/.317 SLG), and Matt Thornton had been summoned to retire him in a tight spot Monday, preserving a 2-1 lead. But Thornton had been placed on waivers, and Brian Cashman let him go when Washington put in a claim. The Yanks still had two lefties in the bullpen. But David Huff worked the 10th (retiring Avila), and the just-called-up veteran Rich Hill flunked his first test in the 11th, prompting Joe Girardi’s move to Matt Daley to quell that threat. And it was Daley who misplaced a fastball to Avila, who then magnified those few vertical inches. Detroit’s last extra-innings Bronx win was in 1998.
- David Price’s Bengal bow was typical of his year to date:
— Tuesday: 8.2 IP, 3 ER, 8 hits, 0 walks, 10 Ks, 2 HRs.
— Before, per 8.2 IP: 3.0 ER, 7.9 hits, 1.2 walks, 9.6 Ks, 0.9 HRs.
- I’ve said it, so have others: Sometimes Price throws too many strikes. Jacoby Ellsbury’s two-out double on an 0-2 count brought the lead run in the 3rd. But that’s just confirmation bias (i.e., we’re all full of it) — In reality, his outcomes on 0-2 and on two strikes are much better than the AL norm.
You wouldn’t think a catcher would hit well in extra innings, but Alex Avila is 8 for 24 with 3 home runs when he’s worn the gear into overtime. And he’s not alone. Stats for 2011-14, through Monday:
- Catchers in first 9 innings — .246 BA … ..703 OPS … 37 PAs per homer.
- Catchers in extra innings — .264 BA … .766 OPS … 33 PAs per home run (1,655 total PAs).
- Other non-P/non-PH in extras — .253 BA … .724 OPS … 50 PAs per HR.
(This year, overall OPS is virtually the same in regulation and in extras.)
Meanwhile, I told you this would happen, one way or another. (And you know Dombrowski has Papa Grande’s digits.)
(Wed.) @Yankees 5, Tigers 1 — The Bombers backed Chris Capuano’s changeup mastery with a pair of two-strike solo shots off Justin Verlander, and captured two of three against Detroit’s Cy Young trio, heading into Thursday’s series wrapper. Verlander had a shutout in the 5th when Chase Headley got all of a misplaced change, wiping out early gift run from Derek Jeter’s error and a wild pitch. In the 7th, Adam Warren cleaned up Capuano’s two-out trouble, and Verlander left a 1-2 fastball up to Brian McCann, who got enough to clear the wall in right-center. The Yanks tacked on three against rookie Blaine Hardy in the 8th, but that insurance cost them Mark Teixeira at least for the near future, as he took stitches after sliding in safely at the end of a wild play.
- DET starters: 22.2 IP, 7 runs, 4 HRs, 4 walks, 19 Ks.
- NYY starters: 19.1 IP, 5 runs (3 ER), 1 HR, 3 walks, 21 Ks.
- NYY relievers: 10.2 IP, 1 run, 3 hits, 1 walk, 9 Ks.
Royals 12, @D-backs 2 (Tues.) — Third game in Royals history with homers worth 3 runs or more by three different players. A 1-7 skid bridging the Break nearly kayoed KC, dropping them 8 games back of Detroit and 4.5 games off the wild-card pace, with three other teams to pass. But a 10-3 stretch has them right back in the hunt, a skinny half-game behind Toronto’s berth.
- “Swing hard, in case you miss it.” Danny Duffy reached first on a two-out whiff/wild pitch (see 1:03), and Nori Aoki lined the next one for his first-ever slam — and first dinger in 369 PAs this year. Aoki swatted 18 in his two prior years, but none with more than one passenger.
- Alex Gordon is the 10th to notch 1,000 hits as a Royal. Of the other three teams that began in 1969, the Pilots/Brewers have 11 with 1,000 hits, the Expos/Nationals have eight, and the Padres have three.
- Can you explain how this gets scored as a wild pitch? The catcher picks it up right in front of him, and throws behind the runner at first base, who was not heading for second. They botch the pickle, and the runner scores from third. That’s a fielder’s choice. The Rule 10.13 Comment, while not 100% on point here, would seem to apply:
— The official scorer shall not charge a wild pitch or passed ball if the defensive team makes an out before any runners advance. For example, if a pitch touches the ground and eludes the catcher with a runner on first base, but the catcher recovers the ball and throws to second base in time to retire the runner, the official scorer shall not charge the pitcher with a wild pitch. The official scorer shall credit the advancement of any other runner on the play as a fielder’s choice.
Giants 4, @Mets 3 (Mon.) — Three times, Buster Posey was walked with a base open. Pablo Sandoval punished all three with hits, driving in three with a pair of two-out doubles, including the go-ahead run in the 9th, when Jenrry Mejia hung an 0-and-2 breaker.
- Panda would have had another RBI, but for Laser Lagares — a huge play to stop the lead run with no outs in the 7th, and Josh Edgin got a one-pitch DP to get out of the inning. But the Mets couldn’t scrape up a late run. Granderson’s ice-cold again, and David Wright’s slugging .388, with one XBH in the 2nd half.
- Gregor Blanco gave Lagares a dose of that medicine — not a smart stretch, with one out and the pitcher up next.
Mets 6, @Nationals 1 (Tues.) — Zack Wheeler had way too much movement to command, but somehow he rolled a lucky seven frames of one-run ball. Three walks and a wild pitch in the 2nd scored the run, but the one hit in the inning kept off the board a run that would have scored if that ball had been gloved. (Can you decipher?) Two hits opened the 3rd, but Jayson Werth hammered a 3-1 fastball right at Ruben Tejada for an easy 6-4-3, and a follow-up walk was stranded. Werth led off the 6th with a two-base screamer in the gap, but Eric Campbell nailed him trying for the plate on a hard hit to left with none out (2nd kill in two outfield starts), and Bryce Harper’s two-out drive died at the wall.
That kept the Mets ahead, 2-1. Their first run came after a grounder got past Adam LaRoche for a triple, and two more would cross on Asdrubal Cabrera’s ole of a likely inning-ending DP grounder in the 7th, before Lucas Duda’s two-out doink found the Bermuda Triangle for a 5-1 lead. Two more rope hits as Wheeler began the 7th, then another rocket went 6-4-3. That ended Zack’s night at 6.2 IP and 109 pitches, but not his good fortune: Juan Lagares stole a hit from Denard Span to strand that final runner.
- The Mets have no real hope of contending this year, but 12 more games with the Nats are a good chance to make a little statement, if not entirely spoil their stretch run.
THEY ALSO PLAYED (even if few noticed)
- Vargas spent all last year in high-A ball; now he’s 6 for 18 with 7 RBI in the Show.
- Phil Hughes has 18 starts this year with one walk or none and at least a hit per inning, including his last 12 in a row. The searchable season record is 21, shared by Lew Burdette and Carlos Silva; 20 was achieved by Red Lucas, Doug Bird and Bob Tewksbury.
@White Sox 5, Rangers 3 (Mon., 6-1/2 inn.) — Here we are, the season two-thirds gone, and still no cycle. August showers robbed Tyler Flowers of his shot, needing a double and likely to hit in the 8th. Only five ChiSox have cycled since 1914, including catchers Carlton Fisk and Ray Schalk.
- The last year without a cycle was 1983. The past four seasons averaged three.
- Only three of the 243 cyclists since 1914 batted 9th, where Flowers was, and only Jeff Frye did that at home. Only 26 have cycled in exactly 4 PAs.
- By starting position:
CF — 44
LF — 35
RF — 34
1B — 34
2B — 27
SS — 26
3B — 25
C — 14
DH — 4
P — none
(Tues.) Rangers 16, @White Sox 0 (Tues.) — Yes, it was I who wrote the epitaph for Colby Lewis three weeks ago, after his 13-run flameout left his ERA at 6.54. Now he has three straight quality starts, and his second career shutout — both in “Comiskey II.”
- First game in ChiSox history with five relievers tagged for multiple runs; first in MLB since 2006, in Coors.
- Adam Dunn pitched the 9th, but dodged history by allowing just one run. No team has ever had six relievers yield two runs or more.
- Dunn’s line also matched the best of Chicago’s last nine relief stints. None of their last 16 relievers has gotten through a full inning unscathed.
(Wed.) Rangers 3, @White Sox 1 — Daniel Webb relieved Chris Sale to start the 7th, and immediately served a home run to Adam Rosales, whose 2-run shot was both all that Sale allowed and the cause of Adam Eaton’s face-meets-fence disaster.
- Rosales joined Robinson Chirinos as the second Ranger in two days to notch his first 2-HR game against the ChiSox.
Cubs 6, @Rockies 5 (Tues., 12 inn.) — Keith Law: “Baez has enormous power, the kind you get from having lightning-quick wrists and strong forearms, which he’s shown major league audiences in flashes such as this year’s Futures Game, where he hit an opposite-field homer….”
- As for the rest of this affair … the less said, the better.
- Only two pitchers this year have departed starts in which they faced the minimum in at least 3 innings: Brett Anderson in this game (back spasms), and teammate Jorge De La Rosa on May 22 (rain).
- Out of 19 players since 1914 who homered in a debut that went extra innings, four are Cubs. Three were A’s (one in each city), and the others divided one per team.
- Debut go-ahead home runs in extras (known since 1949): Billy Parker, 1971 (walk-off in 12th, first hit); Kent Hrbek, 1981 (12th); Miguel Cabrera, 2003 (walk-off in 11th, first hit).
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