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Elias Says: Sept. 20, 2017

Indians first AL team with 25-1 span

The Indians, who defeated the Angels on Tuesday, became the first American League team to earn 25 wins in a 26-game span. The last National League team with such a span was the New York Giants, who won a major-league record 26 in a row back in 1916.

The major-league record for the longest stretch of games with only one loss has stood since 1884, when the Providence Grays, then a National League powerhouse, won 28 of 29 games from August 7 to September 18 (a 20-game winning streak, then a loss, then an eight-game winning streak). The Grays’ ironman pitcher, Hall-of-Famer Old Hoss Radbourn, started 27 of those 29 games, winning 26.

Stray pitch plates only run in Red Sox’ extra-innings win

A wild pitch by Brad Brach in the top of the 11th inning brought home Jackie Bradley, Jr. with the only run of the Red Sox’ 1–0 victory over the Orioles. It had been over 100 years since the last time the Red Sox won a game by a 1–0 score with the lone run scoring on a wild pitch. On June 23, 1916, Dick Hoblitzell scored on a wild pitch by Philadelphia A’s starter Tom Sheehan in the seventh inning to produce the only run in Boston’s 1–0 triumph.

With the win, the Red Sox improved to 15–3 in extra-inning games this season, tying their franchise record for most extra-inning wins in a season. Boston went 15–14 in games that required at least 10 innings in 1943. Only one major-league team in the last 50 years finished a season with at least 15 extra-inning victories and no more than three extra-inning losses. That was the Orioles, who posted a 16–2 record in games that went past nine innings in 2012.

And speaking of 1–0 wins…

The Brewers had no wins by a score of 1–0 in the first five months of the season, but they now have two such wins in September, the second of which occurred at PNC Park on Tuesday night. In the past 25 seasons, Milwaukee has had multiple 1–0 wins in only one other calendar month. In May 2009 the Brewers scored one run in two victories, both over the Cardinals.

The Red Sox and Brewers each needed just one run to claim victory on Tuesday, making September 19 the second day this season in which multiple teams notched victories with a final score of 1–0. Three teams won by that score on September 1 – the, Brewers over the Nationals, Dodgers at San Diego, and the Orioles against the Blue Jays. But how about two teams winning 1–0 on the road on the same day? You’d have to go back to July 10, 2015, when the White Sox squeaked by their crosstown rivals at Wrigley Field by a 1–0 score, as did the Reds over the Marlins in Miami.

Montgomery and Cubs bullpen stifle Rays

The Cubs extended their winning streak to a season-high seven games after defeating the Rays, 2–1, at Tropicana Field. Mike Montgomery and three relievers combined for 11 strikeouts and zero walks for Chicago, with Brad Miller’s solo homer in the sixth inning representing the only base hit for Tampa Bay.

There has been only one other Cubs game since 1893, when the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate was established at its current distance of 60 feet, 6 inches, in which Chicago’s pitching staff finished a game with at least 10 strikeouts, no walks, and no more than one hit allowed. And the Wrigley faithful should know that game well. On May 6, 1998, in just his fifth major-league start, Kerry Wood tied a major-league record for a nine-inning game by striking out 20 Astros batters at “The Friendly Confines.” Wood allowed just one hit – a single to Ricky Gutierrez in the third inning – and did not issue a base on balls.

Scherzer joins Hall-of-Fame trio on exclusive list

Max Scherzer struck out seven Braves hitters over seven innings, giving him 253 punchouts on the season, most among National League pitchers. Scherzer has reached 250 strikeouts in each of the last four seasons, making him the fourth pitcher in major-league history to compile a streak of that length. Randy Johnson has the longest streak of that kind, having topped 250 strikeouts in six consecutive seasons from 1997 to 2002. Two other pitchers totaled 250 strikeouts in four consecutive years – Ferguson Jenkins (1968–71) and Pedro Martinez (1997–2000).

Rhys Hoskins, RBI machine

With two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning, Rhys Hoskins doubled off Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez to clear the bases and give the Phillies a lead they would not relinquish. Hoskins, who also singled home a run in the sixth inning, has accumulated 43 RBIs in his first 39 major-league games. The only other active player to reach 40 RBIs before playing in his 40th major-league game was Albert Pujols, who racked up 42 RBIs through his first 36 games for the Cardinals in 2001.

The last Phillies player – rookie or no – to produce at least 43 RBIs in his first 40 games of a season was Del Ennis, who drove in 43 runs through his first 40 games in 1954. Hoskins is the only player for any team since 1920, when RBIs were first officially recorded, to total more than 40 RBIs in a season without appearing in a game before August 1. Rick Ankiel had the previous highest RBI total among late-debuting players, having driven in 39 runs for the 2007 Cardinals. Ankiel debuted for St. Louis on August 9 of that season after spending the previous four months in the minors transitioning from the mound to the outfield.

Sabathia climbs another rung on strikeout ladder

CC Sabathia allowed two runs and struck out five over six efficient innings against the Twins on Tuesday to notch his 12th win of the season. Sabathia’s second strikeout of the night was the 2,833rd of his major-league career, moving him past fellow southpaw Mickey Lolich for 18th place on the all-time strikeouts list and third place among left-handed pitchers. It may take a little while for Sabathia to challenge the top two left-handed hurlers – Randy Johnson (4875) and Steve Carlton (4136).

A's rookie homers in fifth straight game

Matt Olson’s solo home run in the second inning opened the scoring for the A’s in their 9–8 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park. That marked the fifth straight game that Oakland’s rookie slugger ripped a home run, tying the major-league record for most consecutive games with a home run by a rookie player. Seven players had previously compiled five-game streaks of that kind in their rookie season, including Rhys Hoskins last month (August 23–27). Olson is the second player to do so for the A’s franchise, joining George Alusik who homered in five consecutive games for the Kansas City Athletics in August 1962.

Realmuto ends homerless skid with walkoff blast

After scoring the game-tying run in a three-run ninth-inning rally, J.T. Realmuto capped the Marlins’ comeback win over the Mets with a game-ending homer in the bottom of the 10th. Realmuto entered the day with a .100 career batting average in potential walkoff situations, with just two hits in 20 at-bats of that kind. One of those two hits ended another victory against the Mets earlier this season – Realmuto’s RBI-double was the walkoff winner for the Marlins on April 14.

The game-ending home run on Tuesday was the first round-tripper of September for Realmuto, snapping a streak of 90 homerless at-bats dating back to late August. The longest streak of homerless at-bats by a player this season that ended with a walkoff home run lasted 136 at-bats. Billy Hamilton endured that powerless stretch before hitting a game-ending homer on September 4.

Comeback is in the Cards thanks to Fowler

After hitting a game-tying home run in the eighth inning, Dexter Fowler doubled in the go-ahead run for the Cardinals in the 10th inning of their 8–7 victory over the Reds. Including Tuesday’s win, St. Louis is 6–0 versus Cincinnati over the last five seasons in games that required at least one extra inning. That’s the longest winning streak in extra-inning games that the Cardinals have compiled versus any opponent over the last 20 seasons. Fowler entered the day with a .300 batting average in his major-league career in the 10th inning or later, though he was only 1-for-8 in those innings with the Cardinals prior to Tuesday.

New all-time home run record set by Alex Gordon… wait, really?

Alex Gordon homered in the top of the eighth inning at Rogers Centre, though that was not enough offense for the Royals, who lost 5–2 to the Blue Jays. It was the eighth longball for Gordon this season, but more notably it was the 5,694th round-tripper hit in the major leagues this year, setting a new high for most home runs in a season in major-league history.

The 5000 homer plateau was first crossed in the 1998 season, as Mark McGwire and company combined for 5064 taters that year. And that record stood for all of one year! By the end of the 1999 campaign, the new high for a season was 5528 home runs, with both McGwire and Sammy Sosa hitting more than 60 four-baggers for the second straight year. In the following season, no player hit more than 50 home runs – Sosa hit exactly 50 to lead the majors – but homers as a whole were on the rise yet again. There were 5693 home runs hit in the 2000 season, the highest total in any season until this year.