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Elias Says: April 30, 2017

Pageau’s sombrero “naturally” gives Senators a 2–0 series lead

Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored four goals in the Senators’ double-overtime win in Game 2 of their series against the Rangers and single-handedly turned a 5–3 deficit into a 6–5 Ottawa victory. Pageau scored Ottawa’s first goal, and then with the Senators trailing 5–3 with less than four minutes remaining in the third period, he tallied twice in a 2:17 span (at 16:41 and 18:58) to tie the score and send the game to overtime. After a goalless first overtime period, Pageau beat Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist for the game-winning goal at the 2:54 mark of the second OT stanza. He’s the second player in NHL history to score four goals in a playoff game with the final goal coming in overtime. The first player to do that was Joffrey Lupul for the Ducks in Game 3 of their second-round series against Colorado in 2006. Pageau is the first player in NHL postseason history to complete a “natural” hat trick (i.e., three consecutive goals) by scoring in overtime.

Pageau’s only previous NHL hat trick was also registered in the playoffs, in Game 3 of Ottawa’s first-round series against the Canadiens in 2013. He’s the fifth player whose first two NHL hat tricks were produced in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The others are Johan Franzen (first three hat tricks), Frank St. Marseille (his only two hat tricks), Paul Reinhart (first two) and Patrick Kane (first two).

Americans Kessel and Guentzel each score twice in Pens victory

Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel each scored two goals for the Penguins as they took a two games to none lead in their series against the Capitals with a 6–2 win in Washington on Saturday. They’re the first pair of Penguins players to score at least two goals in the same playoff game since 2013, when Jarome Iginla and James Neal each tallied twice in Game 4 of Pittsburgh’s second-round series versus Ottawa. Kessel, who was born in Wisconsin, and Guentzel, a rookie from Nebraska, are the first pair of U.S.-born players ever to score multiple goals for the Penguins in the same postseason game. Guentzel’s two goals give him a league-leading total of seven in the 2017 playoffs. That’s a new Penguins record for goals by a rookie in one playoff year, breaking the old mark of six which was set just last year by Bryan Rust.

Guentzel’s two goals in Game 2 gave him seven in as many career playoff games. Among players who have made their Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in the modern era (which began in 1943–44), only Maurice “Rocket” Richard (10) and Dino Ciccarelli (7) have scored as many goals as Guentzel over their first seven games.

Yankees hit back-to-back home runs the hard way

Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run as the Yankees resumed their long-ball parade by going deep four more times in their 12–4 home win over the Orioles. On Friday night, New York hit five home runs over the final six innings, including a game-ending blast by Matt Holliday in the 10th frame. It’s only the fourth time in team history that the Yankees have followed a walkoff home run with a leadoff homer in the next game. Joe Gordon hit a game-ending home run against the Philadelphia Athletics on August 12, 1940, and then started the next day’s game with a homer against the Red Sox. In 1977, Chris Chambliss hit a walkoff home run against the White Sox on August 16, and then Mickey Rivers hit a leadoff blast the next day at Detroit. And on August 5 and 6, 1990, Roberto Kelly hit walkoff and leadoff homers on consecutive days against Cleveland.

Conforto hits two homers for Mets

Leadoff batter Michael Conforto, age 24, hit two home runs, including his first regular-season shot against a left-handed pitcher, in the Mets’ 5–3 win at Washington. The only younger Mets players to produce multi-homer games out of the top lineup spot are Jose Reyes (three times, in 2003, 2005, and 2006), Lee Mazzilli (1978), and Gregg Jefferies (1989.)

Both New York leadoff batters hit two home runs

Brett Gardner and Michael Conforto, batting first for the Yankees and Mets respectively, each hit two home runs on Saturday. It was the first time in the teams’ 56-season coexistence that a Yankees leadoff batter and a Mets leadoff hitter each produced a multiple-homer game on the same day.

Gomez collects second cycle, nearly nine years after the first

Carlos Gomez hit for the cycle in the Rangers’ 6–3 win over the visiting Angels. It was the second time that Gomez has hit a single, double, triple, and home run in a major-league game. The first was nearly nine years ago, for the Twins on May 7, 2008. Only four other players have gone at least eight years between cycles, and three are in the Hall of Fame: Joe Cronin (1929–1940), Joe DiMaggio (1937–1948), and George Brett (1979–1990.) The only eligible player not enshrined in Cooperstown to do this is Chris Speier (1978–1988.)

Kemp gets a late start in his three-homer game

Matt Kemp hit home runs in the fifth, seventh, and eighth innings of Atlanta’s 11–3 win at Milwaukee. Only two other players in Braves history, which dates back to the founding of the National League in 1876, have hit three home runs in a game after not homering in any of the first four innings. Jim Tobin did that against the Cubs in Boston in 1949, and Chipper Jones repeated the feat at Washington in 2006.

Tobin’s feat was most notable because he also pitched a complete game that day. He’s one of only two pitchers ever to hit three home runs in a game. Louisville’s Guy Hecker was the first, all the way back in 1886.

Lackey wins in return to Boston

John Lackey, pitching against the Red Sox for the first time since winning the decisive Game 6 of the 2013 World Series for Boston, allowed four runs in six innings but was credited with the victory in the Cubs’ 7–4 win at Fenway Park. The only other pitchers in the last 90 years to beat the Red Sox after having previously won a World Series game in a year Boston won the title are Babe Ruth, who started and beat Boston in the regular-season finales in 1930 and 1933, and Derek Lowe, who beat the Red Sox while pitching for the Indians and Yankees, both in 2012.

Offense fizzles after first inning in Cleveland

The Mariners scored three runs in the top of the first inning on home runs by Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager, but the Indians stormed back for four runs of their own in the bottom of the first on two-RBI hits by Jose Ramirez and Lonnie Chisenhall. And that was the end of the scoring as Cleveland held on to win, 4–3. The last major-league game in which each team scored at least three runs in the first inning and then didn’t score again was on Sept. 12, 1993, when the Tigers beat the White Sox, 6–3 in Chicago. The runs in that game were driven in by Detroit’s Eric Davis (3), Cecil Fielder (2), and Alan Trammell (1), and by Chicago’s Robin Ventura (2) and George Bell (1.)

Dodgers hit three straight ninth-inning home runs to tie game

The Dodgers trailed, 5–2, entering the last at bat of their game against the Phillies. But Yasiel Puig, Cody Bellinger, and Justin Turner started the bottom of the ninth with three straight home runs, and then Los Angeles scratched across a fourth run to take a 6–5 decision. No major-league team had hit three consecutive home runs to tie a game in the ninth inning or later since Sept. 18, 2006. On that date, the Dodgers connected for four straight ninth-inning homers against the Padres (by Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, Russell Martin, and Marlon Anderson) to force extra innings. Los Angeles eventually won on a walkoff home run by Nomar Garciaparra in the 10th inning.

A’s-Astros game is very 2017

The Athletics, behind home runs by Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis, won 2–1 at Houston, where Jose Altuve homered for the Astros. It was the fourth game this season (which, remember, is less than a month old) that ended with a final score of 2–1 in which all runs came on solo home runs. The others were between the Rockies and Brewers (April 6), the Cardinals and Pirates (April 19), and the Astros and Angels (April 20.) There were exactly four such 2–1 games over the first 55 seasons of Major League Baseball (1876 through 1930.)

Rockies somehow rank both first and last in five-run comeback wins

Mark Reynolds homered and drove in three runs against his former team as the Rockies rallied from a 6–1 deficit to defeat the Diamondbacks, 7–6 in Phoenix. Colorado, in its 25th season, has won 54 games in which it trailed by at least five runs, the highest total by any major-league team since 1993.

But 49 of those 54 wins have come in home games. The Rockies’ five road comeback-wins by five-or-more runs tie the Diamondbacks for the fewest in the majors over the last 25 seasons. And Arizona didn’t play its first game until 1998.

Holland off to quick start for new team

Greg Holland threw a scoreless ninth inning to register his 11th save of the season in Colorado’s come-from-behind win at Arizona. Only one other pitcher has saved as many games by the end of April in his first season with a team. That was Lee Smith, who had 12 early saves for the Orioles in 1994.

Another efficient complete game for Nova

Ivan Nova needed just 95 pitches to complete his 4–0 win for Pittsburgh at Miami. It was the fifth time since arriving in a trade from the Yankees at last year’s deadline that Nova has thrown fewer than 100 pitches in a complete game. We’d be negligent if we didn’t point out that one of those CGs was in a game called due to rain in the sixth inning, and another was an eight-inning effort in a road loss. But those caveats aside, no other major-league pitcher has thrown more than one sub-100-pitch complete game of any length since the start of last season.

Bautista scores twice without a hit

Jose Bautista was hitless in two official at bats but scored the Blue Jays’ first and third runs following walks in Toronto’s 4–1 home win over Tampa Bay. It was the ninth time since 2013 that Bautista has scored more than one run in a game without collecting a base hit. That’s the most such games by any major-league player over the last five seasons, one ahead of Bryce Harper.

Big inning is key to Padres win in San Francisco

Wil Myers’s three-run home run capped an eight-run sixth inning in the Padres’ 12–4 road win over the Giants. The eight runs San Diego scored in that frame matched the team’s highest total in any of the 406 games it’s played in San Francisco. In the 1983 season opener, the Padres scored eight times in the fifth inning of a 16–13 win at Candlestick Park.

Cabrera homers in extras

Melky Cabrera led off the 10th inning with his first home run of the season in the White Sox’ 6–4 win at Detroit. It was Cabrera’s fourth career extra-inning home run, and all four have driven in the eventual game-winning run. His previous extra-inning homers were for the Yankees in 2006 (vs. Seattle) and 2009 (vs. Oakland), and for the Royals in 2011 (at Texas).