Jim Rooker couldn’t jinx this one
The Pirates scored 10 runs in the first inning and cruised to a 14–3 win over the Cubs in Chicago. Sunday’s win pushed the Bucs’ all-time record to 2–1 in games in which they put up a two-digit number in the first inning-runs column. Pittsburgh scored 12 times in the first inning of their home-opener in 1892, a 14–3 win over St. Louis. And on June 8, 1989, the Pirates squandered a 10-run first-inning in a 15–11 loss at Philadelphia. During that game, broadcaster Jim Rooker famously claimed that he would “walk back to Pittsburgh” if the Pirates lost. Rooker didn’t in fact walk home that night, but after the season he did do the long march across Pennsylvania to raise money for charity.
Cervelli hits Pirates’ first-ever first-inning slam from top third of lineup
Francisco Cervelli grounded out as the game’s second batter, and then later in the first inning belted a home run with the bases loaded in Pittsburgh’s 14–3 win at Wrigley Field. Cervelli is the first player in Pirates history to hit a first-inning grand slam out of the first, second, or third lineup slot.
Houston’s offense reaches astronomical levels
Carlos Correa’s four hits and two home runs led a 17-hit, five-homer attack in the Astros’ 19–1 win at Toronto. Houston enters the All-Star Break batting .298 on the road, the highest such batting average since the 2002 Mariners hit .299 away from Seattle before the Midsummer Classic. The Astros’ .516 road slugging percentage is the third-highest in major-league history going into the break, behind Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio’s 1936 Yankees (.528), and Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent’s 2000 Giants (.523.)
The Astros’ 18-run margin of victory is the largest by a team in its final game before the All Star Game. The previous record was set in 1938, when the Giants defeated the Dodgers by a score of 16–1.
Kershaw joins elite, familiar company with pre-break numbers
Clayton Kershaw allowed two runs and struck out 13 Royals batters in a complete-game 5–2 win at Dodger Stadium. Kershaw reaches the All-Star break with a 14–2 record, a 2.18 ERA, and an average of 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings. The only other pitchers have at least 14 wins, an ERA below 2.50, and a strikeout-per-nine ratio of at least 10 before the All Star Game are Sandy Koufax in 1965 (15–3, 2.13 ERA, 10.4 K/9), Pedro Martinez in 1999 (15–3, 2.10, 12.3), and Randy Johnson in 2000 (14–2, 1.80, 12.3.)
Dodgers have the best record in MLB. But is that a good thing?
The Dodgers currently own the majors’ best record (61–29, .678.) It’s the 13th time that the Dodgers have had at least a share of MLB’s best winning percentage before the All Star Game. Only the Yankees (15 times) have done that more often. But Brooklyn/Los Angeles has gone on to win the World Series in only two of those 13 years – 1955 and 1981.
DeJong sticks it to the Mets
Paul DeJong homered for the third straight day as the Cardinals completed a three-game sweep of the Mets with a 6–0 win on Sunday. DeJong is the fourth different Cards rookie to hit a home run in each game of a three-game series (none have done so in a series longer than three games), joining Enos Slaughter (in 1938 vs. Phillies at Sportsman’s Park), Albert Pujols (2001 at Colorado and at San Diego), and Chris Duncan (2006 at Wrigley Field.)
Wait, which team broke a home run record?
The Mets lost, 6–0 at St. Louis, but this being 2017, they still managed to break a home run record. New York enters the All-Star break with 79 home runs in 43 road games. That works out to an average of 1.84 homers per road game, the highest ever posted by a team before the Midsummer Classic. Based on what you’ve read earlier in this column, you probably won’t be surprised that this year’s Astros finished in second place in this category at 1.77, edging out the previous record set by the 2000 Giants (1.74.)
Shaw off to fast start in Milwaukee
Travis Shaw had four RBIs, including a three-run home run in the first inning, in Milwaukee’s 5–3 win at Yankee Stadium. Shaw, who was traded by the Red Sox last winter, now has 65 RBIs in 2017. That’s the second-highest total by any player before the All-Star break in his first season with the Brewers, behind Carlos Lee’s 76 in 2005.
Yankees can’t buy a series win
The Yankees lost their three-game home series against the Brewers, two games to one. New York has not won any of its last eight series, losing seven and splitting one. The last time the Bombers had no wins and no more than one split over a span of eight-or-more regular-season series was late in the 1991 season under manager Stump Merrill (8 losses, 1 split over a nine-series span.)
Freeland works hard in no-hit bid
Kyle Freeland’s allowed just one hit, a single by Melky Cabrera on his 126th and final pitch, in eight and one-third innings as the Rockies routed the visiting White Sox, 10–0. No major-league rookie had thrown as many as 125 pitches in one game since Oakland’s Guillermo Moscoso (129) against Kansas City on Sept. 7, 2011.
Freeland is the second pitcher ever to take a no-hit bid into the ninth inning at Coors Field. The Dodgers’ Hideo Nomo completed his no-no on Sept. 17, 1996.
A bad day for Windy City baseball
The Cubs lost 14–3 and the White Sox fell, 10–0 on Sunday. It was just the second date in the last 67 years on which both Chicago teams lost by at least 10 runs. On Sept. 12, 2004, the Cubs fell 11–1 at home to the Marlins and the White Sox lost, 11–0 at Anaheim.
The King beats his favorite opponent
Felix Hernandez improved to 24–9 in his career against the Athletics by tossing six scoreless innings in the Mariners’ 4–0 win at Safeco Field. Hernadez’s 24 wins are the most by any active pitcher against a particular opponent, one more than Justin Verlander has against the Royals (23–10.)
Six homers produce just seven runs
Freddy Galvis hit two of the Phillies’ six home runs in Philadephia’s 7–1 home win over San Diego. It was the 12th time that the Phillies have hit as many as six homers in a game. They never scored fewer than 10 runs in any of the previous 11 contests.
Stanton stars in extra-inning win
Giancarlo Stanton was 3-for-4, drew two walks, was hit by a pitch, scored four runs, and hit two home runs in the Marlins’ 10–8, 11-inning win at San Francisco. The only other players in team history to, in one game, reach base safely five times, score four runs, and hit two home runs are Derrek Lee (June 10, 2002 at Kansas City) and Justin Ruggiano (May 5, 2013 at Philadelphia.)
Bailey on the right track after dismal start to season
Homer Bailey allowed one run in six and two-thirds innings to earn a 2–1 victory at Arizona. In his previous appearance, his third of the season, Bailey allowed one run in six innings in a win at Colorado. So how, after two impressive outings (at two of the toughest ballparks for pitchers), does Bailey still own an 8.31 ERA? In his first two outings of the season after returning from an elbow injury in late June, he allowed a combined 14 earned runs over four and two-thirds innings (27.00 ERA) in losses to the Nationals and Brewers. Bailey is the 99th pitcher since earned runs became official (1912 NL, 1913 AL) to be allowed to start at least two more games after posting an ERA of at least 20.00 over his first two starts of a season. Of those 99, the only others to win their third and fourth starts while allowing no more than one run in each both pitched for Cleveland – Don Black in 1948 and Dennis Eckersley in 1976.
Angels two-hit Rangers
JC Ramirez and three relievers combined to allow just two hits in the Angels’ 3–0 win at Texas. It was the second time that the Halos held the Rangers to two-or-fewer hits in a game at the stadium currently known as Globe Life Park in Arlington. On Sept. 19, 1997, Ken Hill, who had started that year on the Rangers, threw a complete-game two-hitter against his former team in a 7–1 Anaheim win.
Jimenez would prefer you look at his W–L record, not his ERA
Ubaldo Jimenez improved his season record to 4–4 but raised his ERA to 6.67 by allowing four earned runs in five innings of the Orioles’ 11–5 win at Minnesota. Jimenez’s ERA is the highest by any pitcher at the All-Star break with at least 75 innings and a non-losing record since the Royals’ Chris George in 2003 (7.11, 9–6.)
Miller’s late HR gives Rays the win
Brad Miller’s two-run home run off Joe Kelly in the bottom of the eighth inning broke a 3–3 tie and the Rays went on to beat the Red Sox, 5–3 at Tropicana Field. It was Miller’s 62nd major-league home run, but only the third which also drove in the game-winning run in the fourth inning or later. The previous two were hit against the Royals, for the Mariners on June 20, 2014 (in the ninth inning at Kansas City) and for Tampa Bay on August 4, 2016 (at home in the 8th.)
Top six of Nats lineup score all 10 runs
The first six batters in the Nationals’ lineup combined to score 10 runs in Washington’s 10–5 home win over Atlanta. It was the first time in nearly five years that the Nats scored as many as 10 runs in a game, with all of the scoring coming from the top two-thirds of the lineup. Their last such game was a 10–4 win over the Brewers on Sept. 22, 2012.