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Elias Says: June 25, 2017

Three A’s youngsters educate the world about the Federal League

It was just another quiet Saturday afternoon at the Elias Bureau until Matt Olson (first inning), Jaycob Brugman (second inning) and Franklin Barreto (third inning) of the Athletics each hit their first major-league home run, each against the White Sox’ James Shields, at Chicago. Research determined that they became just the second set of three teammates each to hit their first major-league home run in the same game. It was previously done on April 26, 1914, by three players on the Kansas City Packers of the Federal League – second baseman Duke Kenworthy, center fielder Art Kruger and right fielder John Potts. (The Federal League played as a third major league during the 1914 and 1915 seasons.)

That 1914 game, which Kansas City won, 12-4, was played on a Sunday afternoon, concluding a three-game series that the Packers played in Chicago against that city’s Federal League entry, the Chicago Federals (later rebranded as the Whales). The three games in that series were the first three games ever played at the ChiFeds’ home field, Weeghman Park, which you may know better by its current name—Wrigley Field! The three home runs by the Packers sent the ChiFeds to the first of 3792 losses suffered by home teams at Clark and Addison,the highest total of home losses at any stadium in MLB history.

Olson later added another homer in Oakland’s 10-2 victory, and thereby tied another major-league record—this one not pertaining to a player or a team, but to major-league hitters as a whole. Olson’s two-homer game marked the 26th consecutive day on which at least one major-league player produced a multiple-homer game, tying the longest run of that sort in MLB history. That had been done just once previously, from May 27 to June 21 in 1999.

Washington continues its unconditional support for Joe Ross

With 18 runs scored today in their 18-3 win over the Reds, the Nationals have scored 104 runs in the 10 games started by Joe Ross this season! The last time—and only other time since 1900—that a pitcher received at least 100 runs of support within his first 10 starts of a season came in 1923, when the New York Giants scored 104 runs in Rosy Ryan’s first 10 starts. Ryan, feeling rosy, went 7-0 with a 3.93 ERA in those 10 starts. (For completeness, there were also 15 nineteenth-century pitchers whose teams scored at least 100 runs in their first 10 starts of a season.)

Leadoff batter Trea Turner went 5-for-5 with four runs scored in the win. He became only the second leadoff batter in Nationals/Expos history to go 5-for-5 or better with four runs scored in a game. The Expos’ Tim Raines went 5-for-5 with four runs vs. Pittsburgh on August 16, 1987.

Beating the Yanks in the Bronx? Simple as AB-D!

Austin Bibens-Dirkx limited the Yankees to one run over seven innings and the 32-year-old rookie earned his third victory without a loss (and his second victory in four appearances as a starter), as the Rangers took an 8-1 decision at Yankee Stadium. Bibens-Dirkx was the second-oldest starting pitcher ever to earn a victory over the Yankees in the Bronx in his first year in the major leagues. The only older pitcher was Hisanori Takahashi, a veteran of Nippon Professional Baseball who, in his first MLB season at age 35, threw the first six innings of the Mets’ 4-0 win at Yankee Stadium on June 18, 2010.

Yes, the game also featured a home run by the player who has produced the American League’s best homers-to-at-bats ratio this season (minimum: 10 homers); and there was also a home run hit by Aaron Judge. The Rangers’ Robinson Chirinos belted his 10th home run of the season (he ended the game with 95 at-bats), and his ratio of one for every 9.5 at-bats is the best in the league among players with a double-digit home-run total. For Judge, it was his major-league-leading 26th round-tripper of the season, with 18 of them coming in his 35 games at Yankee Stadium. Judge is averaging one homer for every 9.8 at-bats this season.

Dodgers extend home-run streak to 16

In their 4-0 victory over the Rockies, Joc Pederson homered off Tyler Chatwood to extend the team’s streak of games with a home run to 16, the second-longest streak since the franchise moved to L.A. in 1958. The Dodgers had a 17-game streak in 1960. The Dodgers home run leaders during the streak, which began June 7: Cody Bellinger (10), Corey Seager (5) and Yasiel Puig (5). Moreover, the Dodgers are 15-1 during the home-run streak, and are the only team in major-league history to have a 15-1 stretch during which they hit at least one home run in each game.

Dodgers dominating old rival

The Dodgers earned their 50th win to improve to 50-26 (.658) on the same day that the Giants lost their 50th game to fall to 27-50 (.351). It’s the first date in major-league history that the Dodgers are at least 300 percentage points ahead of the Giants with both teams having played at least 70 games. It has happened in the other direction, with the Giants 300 percentage points above the Dodgers at least 70 games into the season, on four occasions: 1904, 1905, 1908, and 1912.

Walking in L.A.

And here we all thought that nobody walks in L.A. Tyler Chatwood walked 8 batters in 3⅓ innings at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night. He’s the first pitcher—either a Dodgers’ opponent or a Dodgers pitcher—to walk eight-or-more batters in Los Angeles in fewer than five innings of work. The last major-league pitcher to walk at least eight batters with 10-or-fewer outs recorded was the Brewers’ Jimmy Nelson, at Cleveland on August 26, 2015, 2014 (3⅓ innings, eight walks).

Trumbo comes through again in clutch

With the score tied, 3-3, in the top of the seventh with two outs in St. Petersburg, Mark Trumbo came through with a two-run double, providing what proved to be the game-winning RBI in the Orioles’ 8-3 win over the Rays. Trumbo has five game-winning RBIs in the seventh-inning or later, the most in the majors this season.

The Orioles ended their streak of allowing five-or-more runs in each of 20 consecutive games. The streak was tied for the modern (since 1900) MLB record set by the 1924 Phillies, but, despite what you may read elsewhere, it fell nine games shy of the all-time record for consecutive games allowing five or more runs, 29 by Louisville of the National League in 1894.

Dozier hits 8th-inning HR off Cody Allen, extends streak at Progressive

Brian Dozier’s eighth-inning solo homer off Cody Allen put the Twins on top to stay in their 4-2 win in Cleveland. Entering Saturday, the Twins had only two go-ahead home runs in the seventh inning-or-later this season, which had been the lowest total in the majors. One of the prior late go-ahead home runs was hit by Dozier, off the Rays’ Tommy Hunter in the eighth inning on May 27; the other was a ninth-inning walk-off homer by Joe Mauer off Boston’s Matt Barnes on May 5.

Dozier entered his eighth-inning at-bat 0-for-3, but his game-winning home run extended his hitting streak at Progressive Field to 12 games, since August 1, 2016, over the course of which he is hitting .347 with six home runs. The streak is tied with teammate Joe Mauer for the longest current hitting streak at Progressive Field; Mauer went 2-for-2 and is hitting .469 over his 12-game streak there.

Davis gets the job done for Cubs

Wade Davis struck out Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich and got Marcell Ozuna on a comebacker in a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth for Davis’s 15th save of the season in the Cubs’ 5-3 win. Davis is 15-for-15 in save opportunities and in those games he has allowed just seven hits in 15 innings while striking out 21. Since the save rule was established in 1969, Davis is the fourth pitcher to convert his first 15 save opportunities with a franchise, striking out at least 20 and allowing 10-or-fewer hits: Brad Lidge did it for the Phillies in 2008, Andrew Miller for the Yankees in 2015, and Greg Holland for the Rockies this season.

Davis is the first Cubs pitcher to convert his first 15 saves without blowing one. The previous high was 13 saves, by Randy Myers in 1993.

Riddick’s odd combo helps Astros win

Josh Reddick impressed with a diving catch in left field to retire Jean Segura in the first inning and a two-run homer in the top of the third. But when he reached first base on interference by catcher Carlos Ruiz in the seventh, it led to a bases-loaded situation and a three-run double by Brian McCann in the Astros’ 5-2 win in Seattle. Believe it or not, it’s the third time in his major-league career and the second time this season that Reddick has homered and has reached base on catcher interference in the same game. (He also produced that unlikely pairing while playing with the A’s two years ago, and in a game at Yankee Stadium on May 14 this season.) The only other major-league player who has homered and reached on “CI” this season? None other than Reddick’s teammate, George Springer, who did it against the Mariners on Opening Day, April 3.

Royals emerge above .500, Vargas stays on point

The Royals’ 3-2 win over the Blue Jays brought them to above-.500 territory, at 37-36, for the first time this season. The Mariners also recently emerged from being under .500 for the first time, with a win on Thursday that brought them to 38-37. It’s the first season in the Wild Card era (since 1994) that two teams pulled above .500 for the first time 70 games-or-deeper into the season. But these teams have not fared well: starting with the 1995 Orioles and going through the 2014 Reds, none of the 10 teams that went above-.500 for the first time at least 70 games in a season made the playoffs. (Only one of these teams, the 1997 Tigers, had already been eliminated from the playoffs at the time of their first over-.500 emergence.)

Jason Vargas improved to 11-3 in his 15th start of the season, allowing two runs on eight hits and no walks, striking out a pair. Two other Royals pitchers won at least 11 of their first 15 starts of a season: Bret Saberhagen in 1987 (13-2) and Kevin Appier in 1995 (11-3). Vargas has won each of his last six starts. The last K.C. pitcher to do that was Zack Greinke, won nine straight starts spanning 2008 and 2009 (last three in 2008 and first six in 2009).

deGrominating once again

Jacob deGrom pitched eight masterful innings in the Mets’ 5-2 win in San Francisco: he allowed only one run on four hits and one walk, striking out seven, with the only run coming on a Brandon Belt homer. DeGrom has now pitched at least eight innings in each of his last three starts: a complete-game win against the Cubs on June 12 in which he allowed one run, and an eight-inning win over the Nationals on June 18, in which he allowed only an unearned run.

DeGrom is the first pitcher in 2017 to throw 25 innings over three starts. Chris Sale is the only other pitcher this season to throw at least eight innings in each of three straight starts, his last two starts of April and his first of May. Only three other Mets pitchers in the last 30 seasons (since 1988) have put together three straight starts of eight-or-more innings, allowing one-or-fewer run: Frank Viola in 1991, Bret Saberhagen in 1992, and Pedro Martinez in 2005.

Phillips hits homer in third straight game

Brandon Phillips went 2-for-4 in the Braves’ 3-1 win over the Brewers, including a two-run third inning home run that broke a 1-1 tie and provided the game’s last runs. Phillips has homered in each of the Braves’ last three games. Since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966, only one other second baseman has homered in three straight games: Jeff Blauser did it in June 1991.

Phillips is now batting .423 in day games this season, tied with Adam Frazier for the highest batting average among players with at least 75 plate appearances in day games, above Carlos Correa (.386) and Aaron Judge (.385).

Gerrit Cole: tough against the Redbirds

The Pirates defeated the Cardinals 7-3 in St. Louis, with Gerrit Cole victorious, allowing one run on five hits and two walks in six innings, striking out five. In 12 starts facing the rival Cardinals, Cole is now 6-4 with a 2.72 ERA. Among pitchers to debut with the Pirates in the live-ball era (since 1920), that’s the lowest ERA for a Pirates’ pitcher in his first 12 starts vs. St. Louis; the next-lowest belongs to Russ Bauers (2.84, 1937-1939) and Dock Ellis (2.93, 1968-1971).

Another GWRBI for EY, Jr.

Eric Young, Jr.’s fourth-inning RBI double off David Price gave the Angels a 2-1 lead, which they would not relinquish en route to a 6-3 win at Fenway Park. Young, Jr. has four game-winning RBIs since May 31; Brandon Phillips and Eric Thames (five each) are the only major-leaguers with more since that date. Before May 31, “EY, Jr.” had not had a game-winning RBI since April 25 of 2015, when he was playing for the Braves.

Ben and Ray take measure of each other

Ben Lively shocked Robbie Ray and most of the state of Arizona when the Phillies pitcher connected for a long two-run home run to right-center on Saturday night, but Ray got some revenge when he subsequently stroked a double and scored the run that put the Diamondbacks ahead to stay in what turned out to be a 9-2 victory. There has been only one other big-league game since the start of last season in which each starting pitcher produced an extra-base hit off one another. On May 13 of this year, Jon Lester and Carlos Martinez each stroked a two-base hit off his opposite number.

Tigers endangered; fall to 10 games below .500

The Tigers fell to 10 games below .500, 32-42, with a 7-3 loss in San Diego. Detroit has not been 10-or-more games below .500 prior to 120 games played in a season since June 2008, Miguel Cabrera’s first season with the team. In that season, Detroit fell below .500 for the first time on May 16, at 16-26, and finished 74-88, the team’s poorest finish since Cabrera joined the team.