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Elias Says: July 21, 2017

Pirates ARRR on a historic winning streak

The Pirates defeated the Brewers 4-2 to complete a four-game sweep of their first-place division rivals, and improved to 48-48, extending their winning streak to five games. Pittsburgh was down 2-1 entering the bottom of the fourth until Gregory Polanco hit a solo home run that inning and Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen added RBI singles in the bottom of the fifth. In each game this series the Pirates had trailed and they had also trailed the Cardinals on Sunday, July 16, in the game that started their current winning streak. The Pirates are the first team this season or last to win five straight games in comeback fashion, all against divisional opponents.

The Pirates have only had one other stretch like that in the divisional era (since 1969): they won five straight games, all comebacks vs. divisional opponents, from August 10-14, 1991. The first three games were vs. the Cardinals and second two vs. the Phillies, all at home at Three Rivers Stadium. Barry Bonds hit a behind-to-ahead walk-off home run off the Cardinals’ Lee Smith on August 12 during the stretch, one of Bonds’s three home runs to go along with a .444 batting average over the 5 games. Pittsburgh would go on to win the N.L. East that season.

Only two other teams in major-league history have conducted a four-game sweep vs. a first-place divisional opponent (or league opponent before 1969), with all games being comeback wins. Those two teams were the 1924 Pirates, who swept the first place New York Giants in four home comebacks in August of that season, and the 2006 Astros, who swept the first-place Cardinals at home in four comeback games in September of that season.

When “Gardy goes Yardy” the Yankees Win, the-uh-uh Yankees Win

Brett Gardner homered off Felix Hernandez to break a scoreless tie in the top of the sixth inning in Seattle, Gardner’s 16th four-bagger of the season. The Yankees would go on to win 4-1. The Yanks are 13-0 in games in which “Gardy goes yardy.” No other player with at least 15 home runs with one team this season is without a loss when he homers. Only one other Yankees player with at least 15 homers through July 20 of a season was without a team loss in games in which he homered: the Iron Horse himself, Lou Gehrig, in 1928. The Yankees went 23-1 when Gehrig homered in 1928, losing only in Detroit on September 29 of that season.

Reyes notches fourth walk-off RBI, first with Mets since 2005

The Mets defeated the Cardinals 3-2 at Citi Field, with the winning hit coming on a Jose Reyes walk-off RBI single, the fourth walk-off RBI of his career. His first was on April 13, 2005, with the Mets vs. Houston, his second on September 18, 2012, with the Marlins vs. Atlanta, and his third was on August 23, 2014, vs. the Rays.

Reyes had gone 12 years and 98 days between walk-off RBIs with the Mets. That is the longest span between walk-off RBIs for a player with a particular team since Ken Griffey, Jr. with the Mariners. Griffey, Jr.’s last walk-off RBI with his first stint with Seattle came on September 19, 1995. His next one with Seattle came 13 years, 327 days later on August 12, 2009. Reyes now holds the longest gap between walk-off RBIs for a Mets player.

The new Royal flush: 4-4-4-4

The Royals scored four runs in four different innings in their 16-4 rout of the Tigers at Kauffman Stadium: the first, third, sixth, and eighth. It is the first time in Royals history that they have scored four-or-more runs in four different innings in a game, and the second game like that this season: the Nationals did it vs. the Mets on April 30. The Royals are the second team in major league history to score four runs in four innings and score exactly 16 runs: the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (now L.A. Dodgers) did it at Chicago vs. the Orphans (now Cubs) on September 3, 1898 in an 16-8 win in which they scored four runs in the first, second, fifth, and seventh innings.

That Hosmer’s so hot right now

Eric Hosmer went 2-for-3 with a home run, walk, two RBIs and three runs scored. After a .225/.292/.281 slashline in April, Hosmer has a .344/.401/.559 slashline (.960 OPS) since May 1, and he has 93 hits and 13 home runs since that date. The only other player with as many hits and homers since the beginning of May is the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon (98 H, 16 HR).

Smoak billows from Fenway

Justin Smoak went 3-for-5 with two home runs and three RBIs as the Blue Jays defeated the Red Sox, 8-6, to garner a 2-2 series split in Boston. Smoak’s home runs were his 25th and 26th, well above his previous high in a season, 20 for the Mariners in 2013. And his RBIs were number 60, 61, and 62 of the season, establishing a new season-high for Smoak, with his previous-high being 59 for the Jays in 2015. It’s Smoak’s eighth major-league season; only one other player who has played in eight-or-more seasons has already set a personal best for RBIs so far in 2017. That’s the Tigers’ Andrew Romine, who has driven in 18 runs in his eighth season this year, two more than his previous-high of 16 in 2016!

Braves end Dodgers’ streak

The Braves snapped the Dodgers’ 11 game winning streak with a 6-3 win in Los Angeles. That ties the longest winning streak that the Braves have broken since moving to Atlanta in 1966. They also broke an 11 game streak by the 1977 Pirates and by the 1986 Mets.

Freeman’s 50

Freddie Freeman played in this 50th game of the season, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Freeman has 17 homers, 37 RBIs, and 45 runs scored on the season. The last player with as many homers, RBIs, and runs in his first 50 games of a season was the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista in 2011 (20 HR, 40 RBIs, 46 R). Ender Inciarte went 2-for-5. Inciarte has 100 hits since May 1, the most in the majors.

Lamb sends them BAAck twice for 6 RBIs

Jake Lamb went 2-for-5 with two 3-run homers and a career-high 6 RBIs vs. the Reds in the Diamondbacks’ 12-2 win at Great American Ballpark. Lamb has hit 22 home runs and driven in 76 in Arizona’s 95 games this season (Lamb has played in 91). Only three D-Backs have had as many RBIs through 95 team games: Luis Gonzalez in 2001 (91), Matt Williams in 1999 (87), and Paul Goldschmidt in 2013 (77).

Lamb is the fifth player in the last five seasons with at least 22 homers and 75 RBIs through 95 team games. The others were Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera in 2013, and David Ortiz and Edwin Encarnacion last season.

Prior to today, Lamb had produced just four RBIs in 16 previous games against the Reds and had not homered in any of those contests.

Orioles have 10th four-homer game of 2017

The Orioles hit four home runs in their 9-7 win vs. the Rangers: by Jonathan Schoop, Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo, and Chris Davis. It’s the 10th O’s game this season they’ve hit at least four home runs, the most such games in the majors. The Astros, Dodgers, Yankees, and Rays each have the next-most at eight apiece. The Browns/Orioles franchise has had three other seasons with at least 10 four-homer games, all since the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954: in 1995 (10), 1996 (14), and 2016 (16).

The 2016 Orioles also had exactly 10 four-homer games through July 20. Only one other team has had two straight seasons with 10 four-homer games through July 20: the Yankees had 10 such games through July 20 in both 2004 and 2005, fueled by sluggers Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, and Jason Giambi.

MadBum no match for Spangenberg

Cory Spangenberg hit his eighth home run of the season off of Madison Bumgarner in the Padres’ 5-2 win in San Francisco. Spangenberg, whose career-high in homers was four (in 303 at bats) in 2015 entering the 2017 season, has hit three home runs in his last five games! It was Spangenberg’s third career homer off a lefty, the others coming off Jorge De La Rosa on April 9, 2016 in Colorado, and vs. the Rangers’ Alex Claudio on May 8 of this season. The last left-handed batter to go deep off MadBum was the Braves’ Freddie Freeman on August 28 of last season.