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Elias Says: May 30, 2017

Penguins recover late to win Game 1

Jake Guentzel’s goal with 3:17 left to play in the third period snapped a 3–3 tie and proved decisive in the Penguins’ 5–3 victory over the Predators in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Pittsburgh outscored Nashville, 3–0, in the first period, but the Predators dominated play for most of the last two periods and they tied the score at 3–3 a little over three minutes before Guentzel scored the winning goal for the Penguins. This was the first time that an NHL team won a game in the Stanley Cup Final after squandering a three-goal lead since 1994, when the Canucks avoided elimination with a 6–3 victory in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden after tossing away a 3–0 lead in the third period.

Guentzel scores game-winner

Guentzel is the sixth rookie in the NHL’s “modern era” to score the winning goal in the first game of a Stanley Cup Final series. The other rookies to do that since 1944 were Earl “Dutch” Reibel (1954 Red Wings), Yvan Cournoyer (1965 Canadiens), Jacques Lemaire (1968 Canadiens), Billy Carroll (1981 Islanders), and Theo Fleury (1989 Flames).

Guentzel’s game-winning goal was his fourth in this year’s playoffs. (He scored two in the first round versus Columbus and one in the second round against Washington.) That ties the NHL record for most game-winning goals by a rookie in one playoff year, a mark set by Claude Lemieux with the Canadiens in 1986 and equaled by Chris Drury with Colorado in 1999.

Astros turn dial to 11 in comeback win over Twins

The Astros picked a good time for their highest-scoring inning in more than 20 years. Houston overcame a six-run deficit by scoring 11 runs in the top of the eighth inning in its 16–8 victory over the Twins at Target Field. Monday’s win marked the first time that the Astros won a game by at least six runs after overcoming a deficit of six or more runs. The only other team in the majors with a win of that kind over the past five seasons is the Blue Jays, who won a 12–6 decision at Yankee Stadium in August 2016.

Prior to Monday, the Astros had never won a game in which they trailed by six or more runs in the eighth inning or later. Houston was 0–921 in games with a deficit of that kind prior to the comeback victory on Monday. That leaves the Diamondbacks as the only active MLB franchise that has never fashioned a comeback of that kind; Arizona is 0–374 in games in which it trailed by six or more runs in the eighth inning or later. On the flip side, the Twins have lost 12 games in which they led by at least six runs in the eighth inning or later, which are the most such defeats for any major-league team.

Plethora of clutch hits by Houston’s hitters

The Astros entered Monday having completed a 10-game homestand in which they batted .169 with runners in scoring position, compiling 12 hits in 71 at-bats in that situation. Houston nearly equaled its RISP hit total from that 10-game span, going 11-for-17 with runners in scoring position against the Twins. Entering play on Monday, the only other team this season to produce at least 10 hits in a game with runners in scoring position was the Mets, who batted 12-for-20 in that scenario at Atlanta on May 3. (Later on Monday the Blue Jays became the third team this season to accumulate 10 or more RISP hits in a game, going 12-for-21 against the Reds.)

No relief in Minneapolis

Three Twins pitchers shared the misery in the Astros’ 11-run inning on Monday. Ryan Pressly, Craig Breslow, and Matt Belisle recorded one out apiece in the eighth inning with Pressly surrendering five runs and both Breslow and Belisle giving up three. There had been only one other game in the past 20 seasons in which three teammates gave up three or more runs with no more than one out recorded. Coincidentally, that game also featured an 11-run eighth inning for the victorious team. On Aug. 28, 2007, the Devil Rays defeated the Orioles 15–8, with three of Baltimore’s pitchers allowing runs in Tampa Bay’s 11-run eighth. Jim Hoey allowed the first five runs in that inning, Brian Burres was charged with the next three runs (without recording an out), and Chad Bradford allowed the final three. Kurt Birkins came on to relieve Bradford and record the final out of the inning.

Correa hits milestone homer

Carlos Correa cleaned up for the Astros on Monday, going 3-for-4 with a home run, three runs scored, and three RBIs. Correa’s first hit of the day – a solo homer to open the scoring in the fourth inning – was his 50th home run in an Astros uniform. Correa, who has 321 hits in 298 games for Houston, became the second player in franchise history to compile at least 300 hits and 50 home runs for the Astros within his first 300 major-league games. Lance Berkman was the first to do so for Houston, producing 313 hits, including 58 homers, in his first 300 major-league games.

McCutchen joins short list of Pirates legends with walkoff homer

The Pirates walked off with a 4–3 win over the Diamondbacks, thanks to Andrew McCutchen who cracked a game-ending home run to start the bottom of the ninth inning. McCutchen now has six walkoff homers for the Pirates, tied with Ralph Kiner and Willie Stargell for the most in franchise history. McCutchen became the fourth Pirates player to hit a walkoff homer on Memorial Day, joining Billy Cox (1947), Joe Garagiola (1952), and Richie Hebner (1974). No other major-league team has hit more than three game-ending homers on Memorial Day.

Blue Jays batter Reds

The Blue Jays batted .500 against the Reds on Monday, pounding out a season-high 23 hits in 46 at-bats in their 17–2 blowout victory over Cincinnati. Toronto became the fourth team to bat .500 in a game this season, joining Detroit (April 25 versus Seattle), Washington (April 30 against the Mets), and Texas (May 17 versus Philadelphia). All of those teams hit exactly .500; no team has topped .500 in a game since the start of last season.

The Blue Jays have played the Reds 16 times since the start of interleague play in 1997, which makes it all the more incredible that Toronto’s .500 batting average on Monday was only the second-highest the team has posted in a matchup with Cincinnati. The Jays compiled 22 hits in 43 at-bats versus the Reds on June 24, 2008, good for a .512 batting average. The only other game in franchise history in which Toronto batted .500 or better took place on June 26, 1978 versus the Orioles. The Blue Jays batted 24-for-47 (.511) that day and scored 24 runs, which is still the team’s single-game scoring record.

Big hits for bottom of Blue Jays’ order

It’s hard to pick a standout from the Blue Jays lineup on Monday, so let’s limit ourselves to the bottom of their order. Number seven hitter Troy Tulowitzki went 2-for-5, including a grand slam in the third inning to blow the game open. The bottom two hitters for Toronto, Devon Travis and Ezequiel Carrera, both tied their personal best by rapping four hits each. The last time that Toronto’s starting 7–8–9 hitters produced at least 10 hits in a game was on Aug. 9, 1999 at Texas. Jacob Brumfield (four hits), Willis Otanez (three hits), and Homer Bush (four hits) combined for 11 hits from the bottom of the Blue Jays order that day. For each of those three, that game either stands as their career-high in hits for a game (Brumfield) or is tied for their high (Otanez and Bush).

Pair of Reds relievers take their lumps

Robert Stephenson and Jake Buchanan each allowed 10 hits in relief for the Reds in their loss to the Blue Jays on Monday. That was the first time a team had multiple relievers allow at least 10 hits in a game in 88 years. On July 6, 1929, the Phillies started their second game of a doubleheader against the Cardinals by allowing 10 runs in the first inning, leading to an early exit for starter Claude Willoughby and reliever Elmer Miller, neither of whom recorded an out. Luther Roy and June Greene recorded all 27 outs for the Phillies in that game, with Roy allowing nine runs (eight earned) on 13 hits and Greene 11 runs (all earned) on 12 hits.

Bellinger blasts off again

Cody Bellinger homered for the Dodgers in their 5–1 win over the Cardinals in St. Louis on Monday. Bellinger now has 11 home runs on the season, including nine since the start of May. With two games left to play this month, Bellinger has a shot to become the first rookie player to reach double-digits in home runs in a calendar month for the Dodgers, a franchise that joined the National League in 1890. For now Bellinger’s nine longballs in May are tied for the most in a month by a Dodgers rookie; that total was previously reached by James Loney (Sept. 2007) and Joc Pederson (May 2015).

Orioles edge Yanks thanks to Schoop

The Orioles defeated the Yankees 3–2, improving Baltimore’s Memorial Day record against New York to 4–0. Jonathan Schoop provided the game-winning blow for the O’s in the third inning with a two-run double. Schoop has produced 31 RBIs in his 50 games against the Yankees, his highest RBI total versus any opponent. Among players to debut with the Orioles in the last 50 years, the only other player who drove in 30 or more runs for Baltimore in his first 50 games against the Yankees was Cal Ripken, Jr. The “Iron Man” plated 32 runners in his first 50 matchups with the Bronx Bombers.

Rookie Renfroe clears the bases in San Diego

Hunter Renfroe blasted a grand-slam homer off Kyle Hendricks in the fourth inning, which was all the offense the Padres would need in their 5–2 victory over the Cubs. The Padres have hit four grand slams since the start of last season, and each of them was hit by a rookie – two by Renfroe and one apiece by Alex Dickerson and Ryan Schimpf. The last team that had a streak of four grand slams come from rookie players was the Royals in 2004 – Kansas City homered four times with the based loaded in August 2004, all by rookies (two by Abraham Nunez, one by John Buck, one by Calvin Pickering). The Padres had never compiled a streak of more than three grand-slam homers by rookies prior to this current stretch.

Mariners rookie notches first win on Memorial Day

Six Mariners relievers combined for four scoreless innings to preserve a win for the Mariners’ Sam Gaviglio, the first of his major-league career. Gaviglio is the first pitcher in Mariners history to earn his first major-league win on Memorial Day, which is a bit of a surprise considering Seattle’s success on that national holiday. Including Monday’s win the Mariners are 26–12 (.684) on Memorial Day, which is the best such record on that day in the majors.

Roark stays perfect against Giants

Tanner Roark threw seven scoreless innings at AT&T Park to lead the Nationals to victory over the Giants. Roark is now 6–0 against San Francisco in his major-league career, with at least one win in each of his five seasons with the Nationals. The only other pitcher in Nationals/Expos franchise history to earn a win against the Giants in five consecutive seasons was Jordan Zimmermann, who notched a win versus San Francisco each year from 2011 to 2015. Roark also became the third active pitcher to win his first six decisions against the Giants; the others to do that were Zack Greinke (started 8–0) and Jorge de la Rosa (started 6–0).

Cabrera comes through late for Tigers

Miguel Cabrera provided a big insurance boost for the Tigers with a two-run single in the eighth inning to cap the scoring in Detroit’s 10–7 win over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Cabrera had struggled in at-bats that took place in the eighth inning or later this season, batting .190 (4-for-21) entering Monday with three RBIs and eight strikeouts. Cabrera also endured a slow start in late-game at-bats last season, having compiled a .162 batting average with one RBI in the eighth inning or later from the start of the season through the end of May. Cabrera snapped out of his funk, however, batting a blistering .367 in the eighth inning or later from June 2016 through the end of the year.

A’s power display not enough for a win

Three solo homers weren’t enough for the A’s, who lost 5–3 to the Indians in Cleveland on Monday. That’s the third time this month that Oakland lost a game in which the team homered three times – the A’s also hit three round-trippers in losses at Texas on May 14 and at home versus the Marlins on May 23. It had been 11 years since the last time the A’s hit three or more home runs in as many as three losses within a calendar month – Oakland also had three losses of that kind in May 2006.

Souza’s march on Texas leads to Rays’ victory

Steven Souza, Jr. scored a run after each of his four hits on Monday, helping the Rays defeat the Rangers, 10–7. Souza is the first player in Rays history to produce at least four hits and score four runs in a game from the leadoff spot in the batting order. The last Rays player with such a game from any spot in the lineup was Ben Zobrist, who tallied four hits and scored four times in an 11-inning win at Baltimore in June 2011.

Melk-man delivers pair of go-ahead RBIs

David Price’s return to the mound was spoiled by Melky Cabrera, who drove in four of the White Sox’ five runs in their comeback victory over the Red Sox. Cabrera hit a three-run homer off Price in the third inning to put Chicago in front. After Boston retook the lead, Cabrera struck again with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the White Sox their final margin of victory. Monday’s game marked the first time in just over six years that Cabrera produced multiple go-ahead RBIs in a single game. On May 27, 2011, Cabrera put the Royals on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning with an RBI-double, then about four hours later he hit a go-ahead solo homer in the top of the 14th to help finish off the Rangers.

Simmons welcomes former mates in the best possible way

Andrelton Simmons hit a home run for the Angels against Braves starter Julio Teheran in his first at-bat against his old team. Simmons, who played 499 games with the Braves over his first four major-league seasons, became the second player since the Braves relocated to Atlanta in 1966 to hit a home run in his first at-bat against the Braves after having played at least 400 games with Atlanta. Brian Jordan, who participated in 434 games in his first stint with the Braves from 1999 to 2001, homered in his first at-bat versus Atlanta in 2002 as a member of the Dodgers. Jordan homered off Tom Glavine in the second inning and then hit another longball off Darren Holmes in the ninth inning, marking the 12th and final multi-homer game of Jordan’s 15-year career in the majors.