Elias Says: April 26, 2017

Westbrook-Harden duel lives up to its billing

Russell Westbrook produced 47 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists but it wasn’t enough as James Harden registered 34 points, eight rebounds and four assists to lead Houston to a series-clinching win over Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.

The five-game series featured quite a duel between the NBA’s top two point scorers during the regular season, with Westbrook averaging 37.4 points, 11.6 rebounds and 10.8 assists and Harden producing averages of 33.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. That marks the first time in NBA history that opposing players each averaged at least 30 points, six rebounds and six assists in a playoff series.

Westbrook is only the second player in NBA history to average a triple double in a playoff series for a losing team, joining Oscar Robertson, who averaged 28.8 points, 11.0 rebounds and 11.0 assists in Cincinnati’s defeat at the hands of the Pistons in the 1962 playoffs; and his 37.4 points per game average is the highest in an NBA playoff series for a player who averaged a triple-double.

Grizzlies lose despite on the mark shooting

The Grizzlies made 51.4 percent of their field-goal attempts and 90.9 percent of their free-throw attempts but still came away with a 116-103 defeat at the hands of the Spurs on Tuesday. Memphis is just the sixth team in NBA history to lose a postseason game despite making at least half of its field-goal attempts and 90 percent of its free throws with at least 20 attempts from the line and the first to do so since Dallas lost to Phoenix in that fashion on May 24, 2006. Prior to Tuesday, teams were 58-5 (.921) in those contests in the playoffs.

Hayward is finding his stroke

Gordon Hayward scored 27 points and made nine of his 16 field-goal attempts in Utah’s Game 5 win over the Clippers on Tuesday night. Hayward has made 23 of his 40 field-goal attempts (57.5 percent) over his last three playoff games after converting only 18 of his 66 shots from the field (27.3 percent) in his first six career postseason games (four in 2012 and two this season).

Thames ties MLB mark with his eighth homer against the Reds

Eric Thames hit his 11th home run of the season, and eighth against the Reds, in the Brewers’ 9-1 thrashing of Cincinnati on Tuesday night. Thames’ eight homers against the Reds tie the most any player has hit against any team in a calendar month in MLB history. Three other players went deep eight times against a particular opponent in a calendar month: Babe Ruth against the Philadelphia Athletics in May of 1930, Willie Stargell against the Braves in April 1971 and Deron Johnson against the Montreal Expos in July 1971.

Turner hits for the cycle and drives in seven

Trea Turner hit for the cycle and drove in seven runs leading the Nationals to a 15-12 win over the Rockies on Tuesday. Turner became the eighth player in major-league history to drive in seven or more runs in a game while hitting for the cycle, but only one player did that at a younger age than Turner (23 years, 299 days old on Tuesday): Joe DiMaggio, who hit for the cycle and knocked in seven runs against the Washington Senators on July 9, 1937 at the age of 22 years, 226 days old.

Keuchel continues his fine start

Dallas Keuchel allowed two runs in a complete game effort leading Houston to a 4-2 win over Cleveland on Tuesday night. Keuchel has hurled at least seven innings while allowing two or fewer runs in each of his first five starts this season, becoming the first pitcher in Astros history to begin a season in that fashion. Over the last 25 years, the only other major-league pitchers to pitch at least seven innings and allow two or fewer runs in each of their first five starts of a season are Josh Towers (first five in 2001), Livan Hernandez (first five in 2002), Clay Buchholz (first six in 2013) and Johnny Cueto (first nine in 2014).

Santana off to a stellar start for the Twins

Ervin Santana allowed one run in seven innings of work leading the Twins to an 8-1 win over the Rangers on Tuesday. Santana is 4-0 with a 0.77 ERA in five starts for Minnesota this season. No other Twins pitcher had an ERA below 1.00 through five starts of a season since the club began playing in Minnesota in 1961. Prior to this season, the lowest ERA produced by a Twins pitcher through five starts during their time in Minnesota was 1.07 by Jim Perry in 1965.

Stroman comes through for the Jays….as a pinch hitter

Marcus Stroman hit a pinch hit double in the 11th inning – his first major-league hit – and came around to score what proved to be the winning run on an error by Aledmys Diaz in Toronto’s 6-5 victory over St. Louis on Tuesday night. In the history of interleague play, one other American League pitcher got his first major-league hit as a pinch hitter: Tampa Bay’s Wade Davis against the Astros on June 26, 2011.

Four hits and three RBIs for Goldschmidt

Paul Goldschmidt had four hits and knocked in three runs in the Diamondbacks’ 9-3 win over the Padres on Tuesday night. That marked the seventh time Goldschmidt had at least four hits and three RBIs in a game since his first full major-league season in 2012. The only other players with at least seven such games over that span are Miguel Cabrera (11) and Carlos Gonzalez (seven).

Kershaw continues to dominate Giants

Clayton Kershaw held the Giants to just one run in seven innings and the Dodgers bullpen hung on for a 2-1 win on Tuesday night. Kershaw is now 19-8 with a 1.60 ERA in 37 regular-season games (36 starts) against the Giants. Among pitchers who made their major league debut since 1913 (at which point both leagues were recording earned runs), only three have a lower career ERA against one team (minimum: 20 starts) than Kershaw’s mark against the Giants: Sandy Koufax versus the Mets (1.44, 1962–66), Mel Stottlemyre, Sr. against the Angels (1.49, 1964–74), and Reb Russell when facing the Red Sox (1.52, 1913–19).

White Sox produce eight runs with two outs

White Sox batters came through with seven two-out hits producing eight runs in their 10-5 win over the Royals on Tuesday. Chicago entered the day with a .182 team batting average with two outs, which was the third lowest mark in the major leagues ahead of Kansas City (.143) and San Diego (.170).

The White Sox have scored 10 or more runs in a game four times this season. The last time Chicago had four or more such games in April was in 2002 (five). The White Sox did not score 10 or more runs in a game for the fourth time until June 13 last season.

Cubs win despite mustering one run and two hits

The Cubs beat the Pirates despite their offense mustering only one run and two hits on Tuesday night. That marked only the third time in the last 78 years the Cubs won a game while producing only one run and two or fewer hits, having also done that on June 30, 1964 against the Reds at Wrigley Field (1-0 win with two hits) and on September 1, 1999 against the Padres at Qualcomm Stadium (1-0 win with two hits).

Lots of baserunners in Tigers-Mariners slugfest

The Tigers and Mariners put on an offensive show in a game Detroit would win by a score of 19-9 on Tuesday night. A total of 55 batters reach based safely via hit, walk or hit by pitch in the game – 31 by Detroit and 24 by Seattle. Prior to Tuesday, the last game that featured at least 55 base runners reaching via hit walk or hit by pitch in a nine-inning game occurred nearly nine years ago, when the Marlins and Rockies combined for 56 base runners on July 4, 2008.

Five Rays pitchers combine to blank O’s on two hits

Five Tampa Bay pitchers combined to blank the Orioles on just two hits on Tuesday night. It’s the 39th time the Rays allowed no runs and two or fewer hits in their franchise history, but it’s the first time they did that while using five pitchers. Four Rays pitchers combined on a shutout with two or fewer hits allowed four times.