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Elias Says: May 28, 2017

Wild, wacky stuff happening in MLB

There were 16 major-league games played on Saturday (including one doubleheader), and here were the final scores of those games: 3-2, 3-1, 5-3, 3-0, 6-0, 4-3, 3-0, 6-1, 5-2, 5-2, 4-3, 5-0, 5-2, 5-4, 3-0 and 6-3. That’s right. No team scored more than six runs in any of Saturday’s 16 games. That marked the first time in major-league history, dating to 1876, that no team had scored more than six runs on a day on which at least 16 games were played. (If you’re wondering, Saturday, May 27, 2017 was the 703rd day in major-league history on which at least 16 games were played.)

This came on the heels of Elias’s discovery that Friday, May 26 marked the first day in major-league history on which at least 15 games were played and there were no sacrifice bunts. You had two triples, a grand-slam homer, even a batter awarded first base on catcher interference, but nary a sacrifice bunt. (There had been 2900 days on which at least 15 games were played through Friday, May 26.)

Dodgers’ low-hit shutouts of champs haven’t been seen in 100 years

Brandon McCarthy and Ross Stripling combined to limit the Cubs to three hits, all singles, as the Dodgers took Saturday’s contest, 5-0. On Friday night, Alex Wood and two relievers had limited the Cubs to two hits, both singles, in a 4-0 Dodgers victory. You have to go back 100 years—OK, six days shy of 100 years—to find the last team that shut out the defending World Series champions on three-or-fewer hits in each of two consecutive games. That team was the Indians, who blanked the Red Sox at Fenway Park, 3-0 on one hit and 5-0 on three hits, on June 1-2, 1917. Guy Morton and Jim Bagby were the Cleveland pitchers, but more interesting is that Boston’s lone hit in the June 1 game was supplied in the eighth inning by that day’s losing pitcher, a young lefty named Babe Ruth.

A shutout like no other for Red Sox rookie

Brian Johnson tossed a five-hit shutout, striking out eight and walking none, as the Red Sox made it six straight wins by blanking the run-starved Mariners, 6-0. It was the first shutout by a Red Sox rookie since Clay Buchholz no-hit the Orioles, 10-0, on Sept. 1, 2007. The last Boston rookie to toss a complete game in which he allowed neither a run nor a walk was Jim Wright, who did that against Kansas City on July 29, 1978. But here’s the piece de resistance: Johnson became the first rookie in Red Sox history to toss a shutout in which he allowed no walks and no more than five hits with at least eight strikeouts.

The Red Sox became the first major-league team this season to win six straight games with the starting pitcher credited as the victor in each game.

The loss was the seventh in eight games for Seattle, which has scored a total of nine runs over those eight contests. The last American League team to lose at least seven of eight games while scoring fewer than 10 runs was Detroit in 2005, when it scored nine runs over eight games, all losses.

Strasburg and friends run total to 44 strikeouts over last 3 games

Stephen Strasburg saw his Nationals teammates strike out 13 Mariners batters on Thursday and 14 Padres batters on Friday, then went out and whiffed a career-high 15 Padres hitters over seven innings of Washington’s 3-0 victory on Saturday. Including two additional strikeouts by relievers who followed Strasburg to the mound, Nationals pitchers have produced 44 strikeouts over their last three games. That total equaled the National League record for strikeouts over a span of three consecutive games, with no extra-inning games included; Brewers pitchers, led by Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada, amassed 44 strikeouts over three consecutive nine-inning games in 2012. The major-league record is 45, done by the Indians (led by Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar) in 2015.

Anderson tosses gem against his old team

Former Diamondbacks pitcher Chase Anderson outdueled former Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke, and he did it with a flourish, in Milwaukee’s 6-1 victory over Arizona. Anderson held the visitors hitless through the first seven innings on Saturday, losing his bid for a no-hitter when Nick Ahmad singled in the eighth. The Brewers have had only one no-hitter in franchise history and that one, authored by Juan Nieves in 1987, came in Baltimore. The last no-hit game in Milwaukee was pitched by the Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano in 2008, in a game against the Astros that was transferred to Milwaukee because of a hurricane in Houston. To find the last no-hitter in Milwaukee by a pitcher on the home team, you have to go back to Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves in 1961.

Actually, could Saturday’s events be a good omen for the Diamondbacks? Follow us on this: The last Brewers pitcher to take a no-hitter into the eighth inning was none other than Anderson himself, also in a game at Miller Park, also in May, last season. The team against which he flirted with that no-no? None other than the Cubs, the future World Series champions. The player who broke it up? None other than last year’s World Series MVP, Ben Zobrist.

Trout stands alone as MLB leader in home runs

Mike Trout’s 16th home run of the season, a first-inning moonshot that gave him the major leagues’ undisputed lead in home runs, led the Angels to a 5-2 victory in Miami. Only once before in his major-league career has Trout taken over the undisputed big-league lead in home runs. That happened on July 26, 2015, when Trout hit two homers to boost his season total to 31, surpassing teammate Albert Pujols. Trout kept sole possession of the lead until August 9, when Nelson Cruz tied him for the major-league lead. (Chris Davis wound up leading the majors in 2015, with 47.)

Sabathia, now at .500 vs. A’s, earns a unique distinction

CC Sabathia and three relievers combined for 14 strikeouts and despite getting only two hits, the Yankees eked out a 3-2 win over the visiting Athletics. Sabathia finally evened his all-time mark against Oakland at 11-11, which means that, remarkably, Sabathia now owns a won-lost percentage of .500 or greater against 28 of the 30 major-league teams. The exception: Sabathia’s record against the Yankees is 1-8 (with the only victory coming against the Yankees in 2001) and he has no decisions against the Marlins. With his victory on Saturday, Sabathia is now the only pitcher, active or not, who owns a .500-or-better winning percentage against as many as 28 of the 30 current MLB teams. Randy Johnson possessed the old high-water mark, with a .500-or-better percentage against 27 of those 30 teams.

Bautista takes measure of longtime nemesis

Jose Bautista reached Yu Darvish for a three-run homer with two out in the sixth inning to provide all of the Blue Jays’ runs in a 3-1 victory over the Rangers. Coming into that confrontation, Bautista had managed only one hit, a single, in 20 previous at-bats against the Texas right-hander—the lowest batting average that Bautista had produced against any of the 59 pitchers whom he had faced at least 20 times in his major-league career. It was Bautista’s seventh homer in his 16 games since May 10; only Justin Bour (nine) and Mike Trout (eight) connected more frequently over that period.

Dozier’s late-inning thunder wins it for Twins

Brian Dozier hit a two-run, two-out homer as the first batter to face Rays reliever Tommy Hunter in the eighth inning, snapping a 2-2 tie and propelling the Twins to a 5-3 triumph. It was just the seventh homer this season for Dozier, who belted 42 last year, but he’s actually ahead of last year’s schedule. He didn’t hit his seventh of last season until June 7 (and then didn’t hit his eighth until June 19). And he has a history with Hunter: The first walkoff homer of Dozier’s big-league career was surrendered by Hunter (then with Baltimore) on July 6, 2015, also breaking a 2-2 tie.

Wainwright dominates Rockies again

Adam Wainwright allowed three hits over seven scoreless innings to earn a 3-0 victory over the Rockies in Denver. For Wainwright, it was his eighth victory in his last eight starts against the Rockies, his longest streak of winning starts against any team in his big-league career. The last Cardinals pitcher to win eight straight starts against an opposing team was Chris Carpenter, who secured 10 wins in a 10-start span against the Reds from 2006 to 2010. Prior to Carpenter, you go back to Bob Gibson, who defeated the Mets in each of eight consecutive starts over 1965 and 1966.

Altuve has his way with Miley again

Jose Altuve saw Wade Miley warm up to start Saturday’s game for the Orioles and came out rippin’. The Astros second baseman stroked an RBI double in the first inning and a leadoff double in the third before grounding out against Miley in the fifth. That 2-for-3 performance lifted Altuve’s career batting average against the Orioles’ lefty to .609, on 14 hits in 23 at-bats. That’s the third-highest career batting average by one active major-leaguer against another, based on a representation of at least 20 at-bats. Pablo Sandoval owns a .650 (13 for 20) lifetime average against Nathan Eovaldi (both of those players are currently on their respective teams’ disabled list) and Jedd Gyorko has a .625 average (15 for 24) against Jorge De La Rosa.

Dallas Keuchel returned to action and earned his eighth victory in eight decisions, becoming the first major-leaguer to annex eight wins this season. He lowered his ERA to 1.81, just a hair behind the major-league leader, Ervin Santana at 1.80.

Jaso’s combination punch too much for Mets

John Jaso’s pinch-hit single sent home the tying run in the ninth inning and his bases-loaded single with a 3-2 count in the 10th inning delivered the winning run in the Pirates’ exciting 5-4 victory over the Mets. Jaso became only the second major-leaguer over the last three seasons to drive in the game-tying run in the ninth inning and then to produce a walkoff RBI in the tenth. Justin Smoak did that for the Blue Jays against the Rangers on May 3 of last year. But the last Pirates player to deliver in that manner did so 40 years ago this month. On May 1, 1977 against the Astros, Al Oliver launched a leadoff homer off Ken Forsch to tie the score in the ninth inning, and then singled off Forsch to send Omar Moreno home with the game-winner in the tenth.

The loss ended the Mets’ streak of 104 consecutive wins in regular-season road games in which they possessed a lead in the ninth inning or later. That had been the longest streak of that sort in the majors, though the Mets lost Game One of the 2015 World Series at Kansas City after leading in the ninth inning. The Mets’ last loss of that type in the regular season came on Aug. 10, 2014, when the Phillies rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth, capped by Ryan Howard’s game-winning hit off Jenrry Mejia. That blown save cost Mets starter Zack Wheeler a victory, as was also the case in the game at Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

A pair of first-time winners in Tigers-White Sox twin-bill

The White Sox and the Tigers split their doubleheader on Saturday, with Chicago taking the opener, 3-0, and Detroit holding on to win the nightcap, 4-3. The notable aspect of the twin-bill was that in each game, the winning pitcher earned his first big-league victory—Tyler Danish in the first game and Buck Farmer in the second. It was the first time since 1989 that two starting pitchers each earned their first big-league victory in a doubleheader in which each team won a game; on that occasion, Detroit’s Kevin Ritz and Minnesota’s Mike Dyer were the first-time winners.

Tommy Joseph, walkoff hero

Tommy Joseph gave the Phillies a short-lived lead with a fourth-inning home run, and then cemented his team’s 4-3 victory over the Reds with a walkoff single in the ninth inning. Joseph also provided a game-ending hit in Philadelphia’s 11-inning victory over Colorado on Thursday, making him the first Phillies player in nearly 19 years to get a couple of walkoff RBIs within a span of three days. Rico Brogna had been the last player to do that, beating the Marlins twice within three days with a walkoff hit and a game-ending sacrifice fly in July of 1998.

Escobar feels good seeing Goody

Alcides Escobar smacked a bases-loaded double that gave the Royals a sixth-inning lead that they would never surrender as Kansas City came from behind to win in Cleveland for the second successive day. Escobar came to the plate to face Nick Goody having batted .146 against the Indians since the beginning of last season (13 hits in 89 at-bats). However, he had faced Goody twice before, successfully, if a bit painfully: A hit batsman on May 11 of last year, and an RBI double on May 5 of this season. In each of those cases, as on Saturday, Escobar was the first batter faced by Goody after the latter had entered the game in relief.

Giants’ bottom third gets 6 hits in win over Braves

Nick Hundley, Mac Williamson and Ty Blach, the 7-8-9 hitters in the Giants starting lineup, combined for six hits in 11 at-bats and Blach allowed only two runs over seven and two-thirds innings in the Giants’ 6-3 win over the Braves. The Giants have been offensively challenged for most of the season, and nowhere more so than in the bottom third of the batting order. Even with Saturday’s offensive burst, the Giants’ 7-8-9 hitters are batting only .192 this season, lowest in the National League.