Elias Says: July 30, 2017

The constant Gardner

Brett Gardner clinched the Yankees’ sixth consecutive win with a RBI-single in the bottom of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. That marked Gardner’s eighth walkoff RBI in his tenure with the Bronx Bombers, including his second in the last three days (his 11th-inning walkoff homer finished off the Rays on Thursday). That’s the second time in Gardner’s major-league career that he produced a pair of walkoff RBIs in a three-day span; he also did that on August 9 and 11, 2013 against the Tigers. No other Yankees player has achieved that feat in the last 30 years. The last player before Gardner to plate the game-winning run in a walkoff win twice within three days for the Yanks was Mike Pagliarulo in May 1986.

Gardner is the third player this season to drive in the game-winning run in a walkoff win twice within a three-day span. The others to do that were Tommy Joseph (May 25 and 27) and Brandon Phillips (June 17 and 18).

Don’t blame Duda

Lucas Duda homered again for the Rays on Saturday – his second in two games for the Rays – though Tampa Bay came up on the losing end in both of those contests. Only one other active player hit a home run in each of his first two games for a team, with his new squad absorbing the loss in both games. Earlier this month, Ji-Man Choi homered in each of his first two games for the Yankees, and New York lost both of those games, the first to the Blue Jays on July 5 and the second to the Brewers on July 7.

Nunez helps Red Sox snap Royals’ streak

Sandy Leon maneuvered around Drew Butera’s tag attempt to score the game-winning run for the Red Sox in their walkoff victory over the Royals. Eduardo Nunez received credit for the game-winning RBI on that play, capping a big day for Boston’s brand new infielder. In his second game since being traded from the Giants, Nunez went 3-for-6 at the plate with three RBIs, including a pair of solo home runs. Nunez became the eighth different Red Sox player to produce a multi-homer game this season, most among AL teams. He’s also the first player since Gabe Kapler to record a multi-homer game within his first two games played for the Red Sox. Kapler went deep twice in his second game for Boston in June 2003 against Brad Penny and the Marlins.

Hill tops Giants

Rich Hill surrendered just two hits in 5⅔ innings on Saturday to earn his fourth win of the month for the Dodgers. Since July 1, Hill has been one of the best pitchers in baseball, having compiled a 4–0 record and 40 strikeouts with just 19 hits allowed. Barring an unlikely relief appearance in the next two days, Hill will be the first Dodgers pitcher since 1893, when the distance from the mound to home plate was first established at 60 feet 6 inches, to record at least four wins and 40 strikeouts while surrendering fewer than 20 hits in a calendar month.

The last major-league pitcher with such a month was Jake Arrieta, who went 6–0 in August 2015 while registering 43 strikeouts and allowing 19 hits. Arrieta capped that month with a no-hitter at Dodger Stadium on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball; his 12 strikeouts that night were a season-high.

Quite a(nother) start for Martinez

J.D. Martinez homered on Saturday – his fifth in eight games for the Diamondbacks – to help power Arizona past the Cardinals in St. Louis. Martinez enjoyed a similar power surge earlier this season with the Tigers, hitting six home runs in his first 10 games of the 2017 campaign. Martinez is the only player in major-league history to homer at least five times in his first 10 games for two different teams within a single season.

Extra-big win for Cubs in battle for first

The Cubs outlasted the Brewers, 2–1, in 11 innings at Miller Park to stay atop the NL Central standings. Saturday’s game was the first extra-inning game for the North Siders since May 7 against the Yankees, snapping a streak of 71 games that ended in nine innings. That streak of 71 regulation games matched the longest single-season streak in Cubs franchise history; Chicago also played no more than nine innings in 71 straight games in the 1941 campaign.

Boyd benefits from Tigers’ comeback versus Astros

Including Saturday’s victory over the Astros, Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd has won each of his last three starts despite being charged with three earned runs in each contest. The only other pitcher with a streak of that length this season is Chris Sale, who had four consecutive starts of that kind from May 24 to June 10.

A two-run homer by Evan Gattis in the first inning gave the Astros an early lead at Comerica Park, but the Tigers scored five unanswered runs in the late innings to complete the comeback win. Houston had been the only team that was undefeated this season after scoring multiple runs in the first inning; the Astros were 14–0 in such games entering Saturday.

No one ever said pinch-hitting was easy…

Brandon Guyer’s pinch-hitting appearance on Saturday was painful but productive for the Indians in Chicago. With two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth inning, a stray fastball by White Sox reliever Gregory Infante struck Guyer on the elbow, driving in the game-winning run for Cleveland. There have been over 1100 hit-by-pitches this season, including 25 that earned their victims an RBI, but Guyer’s was the first this year that plated the go-ahead run for his team in the ninth inning or later.

Angels rally in ninth

The Angels rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth inning of their 6–5 victory over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Saturday’s comeback win marked the Angels’ fourth win this season after entering the ninth inning with a multi-run deficit (they had three such wins in April). That’s the most wins of that kind for any team this season, and it’s tied for the most such wins by the Angels in any season. The California Angels overcame a multi-run ninth-inning deficit in four wins in the 1970, 1983, and 1985 seasons.

Pair of triples for Pirela

Jose Pirela posted a “triple-double” at Petco Park on Saturday, producing a RBI-triple in the first inning and rapping another three-bagger his next time up. Pirela, who had just four triples in 101 major-league games entering play on Saturday, became the eighth player this season to record multiple triples in a game. The only one of that group with fewer than four career triples at the time of his multi-triple game was Nick Williams, who recorded his first two major-league triples in the same game on July 19.

Mariners solve deGrom

Jacob deGrom’s streak of consecutive starts with a win came to an end at Safeco Field, with the Mariners prevailing over the Mets, 3–2. That was the first win for Seattle in its last 30 games when scoring three or fewer runs. The Mariners’ 29-game losing streak in games with fewer than four runs scored was the second-longest active streak of its kind in the majors, behind Detroit’s current 36-game skid in such contests. It was also the second-longest skid in Mariners history – Seattle lost 33 straight games with three or fewer runs scored in 1978.

Rockies rookie looks perfect early versus Nats

German Marquez dazzled the Nationals for seven brilliant innings, leading the Rockies to victory over the Nationals. Marquez finished his night with 10 strikeouts, his first double-digit strikeout total in a major-league game, and did not allow a baserunner until Matt Wieters singled with one out in the sixth inning. Marquez became the first rookie pitcher this season to begin a game with five perfect innings. Only one rookie pitcher had such a game all of last season – on July 27, 2016, Dylan Bundy pitched 5⅓ innings for the Orioles without allowing a Rockies batter to reach base. Bundy’s perfect outing ended with a walk to Mark Reynolds in the sixth inning, and the rookie hurler took his exit 10 pitches later after surrendering a pair of home runs to Nick Hundley and David Dahl.

Another walkoff win for Davis, A’s

Rajai Davis capped a four-hit game with a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, turning a one-run deficit into a one-run victory for the A’s over the Twins. The walkoff homer was the sixth for the A’s this season, tying their most in a single season. Oakland also walloped six walkoff bombs in 2004 and 2012.

Davis has knocked in the game-winning run in nine walkoff wins in his major-league career. He has done so three times for the A’s, three for the Blue Jays, and three for the Tigers. The only other active player with at least three walkoff RBIs for three different major-league franchises is Adrian Beltre, who had eight such RBIs for the Dodgers, three for the Mariners, and seven for the Rangers.

A day of close calls in Major League Baseball

Oakland’s walkoff victory in the final game on Saturday produced an impressive tally of close games: 12 of Saturday’s 15 games were decided by either one or two runs. (Nine games were decided by a one-run margin, three games by a two-run margin.) It was the highest total of games decided by either one or two runs, considering those days on which no more than 15 games were played, in just over three years, since 12 of 15 games were decided in that manner on July 27, 2014.

The average margin of victory on Saturday was a slim 1.93 runs per game, which was the lowest average margin of victory on a day with at least 15 games played over the last five seasons (2013–17).