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Elias Says: August 2, 2017

Vazquez’s home run caps wild Boston win

Christian Vazquez’s three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth gave the Red Sox a 12–10 win over Cleveland at Fenway Park. Vazquez is the second Boston catcher to hit a walkoff home run in 2017, joining Sandy Leon, who connected against the Pirates on April 5. The only other season in which two different Red Sox catchers hit game-ending homers was 1995, when Mike Macfarlane connected against the Yankees on May 14 and Bill Haselman did the same versus the Blue Jays on June 27.

Vazquez would never have had the chance to win it if the batter immediately before him, Mitch Moreland, hadn’t reached first on a wild pitch after striking out. The last team to go on to win after striking out when trailing with two outs in the ninth inning or later was the Twins, on July 31, 2003 against the Orioles.

Sale’s scoreless streak ends abruptly

Chris Sale, who had not allowed a run in any of his previous three starts, was pounded for seven runs, including five over the first two innings, in Boston’s 12–10 home win over Cleveland. Only one other Red Sox starting pitcher coming off three or more straight scoreless starts had ever given up at least five runs before the start of the third inning. On July 6, 1903, Cy Young, who had thrown complete-game shutouts in his previous four starts, allowed four runs in the first inning and one in the second, but still managed to pitch a complete-game, 8–6 win over the St. Louis Browns in Boston.

A huge performance by Kendrick in his fourth game for Washington

Howie Kendrick, playing in his fourth game for the Nationals since being traded by the Phillies last week, went 5-for-5 with a home run in the Nationals’ 7–6 loss at Miami. Only two other players in the modern era (since 1900) have gone 5-for-5 or better with a homer in one of their first five games for a particular team. Danny Murphy was 6-for-6 with one home run in his first game for the Philadelphia Athletics on July 8, 1902 at Boston. And current A’s Executive Vice President Billy Beane was 5-for-5 with a homer in his fourth game for the Twins, on April 29, 1986 at Yankee Stadium.

Scherzer homers, leaves with injury

Max Scherzer hit his first major-league home run in the top of the second inning, but then had to leave the game with a neck injury before throwing another pitch in the Nationals’ 7–6 loss at Miami. The last starting pitcher to throw no more than one inning in a game in which he also homered was the Phillies’ Randy Lerch, in a 23–22 10-inning win at Wrigley Field on May 17, 1979. Lerch connected off Cubs reliever Donnie Moore in the top of the first inning, but was knocked out after recording just one out (and allowing five runs) in the bottom of the first.

Scherzer is the first starting pitcher in the modern era to hit a home run while pitching no more than one inning and not allowing a run on the mound.

Scherzer was the third pitcher this season to hit his first major-league home run on an 0–2 count, joining Marcus Stroman (May 18) and Taijuan Walker (July 25.)

Bottom of Cubs lineup provides power in win

The last three batters in the Cubs’ starting lineup – Javier Baez, Ian Happ, and Jon Lester – each hit home runs in Chicago’s 16–4 home win over Arizona. It was the fourth time in the modern era that the Cubs’ starting seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-place batters all homered. It previously happened on April 13, 1954 at St. Louis (Gene Baker, Clyde McCullough, and Paul Minner), Aug. 19, 1979 vs. San Diego (Joe Pepitone, Johnny Callison, and Ferguson Jenkins), and Sept, 2, 2002 vs. Milwaukee (Bill Mueller, Todd Hundley, and Kerry Wood.)

Two star pitchers hit their first home run

Jon Lester, who entered the day with 154 major-league wins, and Max Scherzer, who had won 137 games, each hit their first major-league home run on Tuesday. It was the first day in major-league history on which two pitchers with at least 100 wins under their belt both hit their first big-league homer.

Arenado has 41 RBIs over his last 20 home games

Nolan Arenado hit a three-run home run and a wakoff RBI single in the Rockies’ 5–4 win over the Mets at Coors Field. Dating back to June 7, Arenado has driven in 41 runs over his last 20 games in Denver. Only two other players have produced at least 40 RBIs over a span of 20 home games in any of the last 65 seasons: Joe Carter in 1994 (47) and Mark McGwire in 1999 (40.)

Dodgers win the sprint to 75

Kenta Maeda and three relievers combined on a four-hitter as the Dodgers improved their record to 75–31 with a 3–2 win at Atlanta. August 1 is the third earliest calendar date on which a team won its 75th game. The Mariners did that on July 28, 2001, beating by two days the previous record, set by the Yankees three years earlier.

Hamilton hits early triple, homer

Billy Hamilton hit a leadoff triple in the first inning and then hit a three-run home run in the second frame of the Reds’ 9–1 win at Pittsburgh. Hamilton is the first player to hit a triple and a home run within the first two innings of a game since Mike Trout, at Seattle on Sept. 3, 2016.

Home run by rookie Hicks provides winning run for Detroit

John Hicks’s three-run home run off CC Sabathia in the second inning gave the Tigers a lead they would not relinquish in Detroit’s 4–3 win at Yankee Stadium. The last Tigers rookie to produce a game-winning RBI on a home run in the Bronx was Travis Fryman, who connected against Chuck Cary on Oct. 1, 1990.

Beckham makes a good first impression in Baltimore

Tim Beckham, traded by the Rays to the Orioles on Monday, rapped two hits and scored twice in Baltimore’s 7–2 home win over Kansas City. The last player to have multiple hits and runs in his first career game for the O’s after having already played for another team that season was Brook Fordyce, on July 30, 2000 against Cleveland.

Donaldson homers in the first

Josh Donaldson’s first-inning home run opened the scoring for the Blue Jays in their 8–4 road win over the White Sox Tuesday. Six of Donaldson’s 12 home runs this season have come in the opening frame. Donaldson finished 2016 with only one more first-inning homer (7) despite hitting 37 longballs overall.

Brewers score three in first, win 3–2

Jimmy Nelson threw six strong innings and the Brewers made a three-run first inning hold up in their 3–2 win over the visiting Cardinals. The last time Milwaukee won a one-run game after putting up at least three runs in the first inning and then not scoring again for the rest of the game was on July 18, 2012, in another home win over St. Louis, by a score of 4–3.

Longo and LoMo go back-to-back in first

Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning of the Rays’ 6–4 win at Houston. Tampa Bay hadn’t hit consecutive longballs in the opening frame since Longoria and James Loney connected on Sept. 7, 2014 against Baltimore.

Giants’ big first inning buries A’s

Nick Hundley’s two-run home run capped a five-run first inning for the Giants in their 10–4 win at Oakland. San Francisco’s five first-inning runs tied the most by either team in any of the 112 regular-season games (or four World Series contests) between the two Bay Area rivals. The A’s scored five times in first on June 28, 2003, and the Giants did the same on June 25, 2004.

Chacin wins his fifth straight decision

Jhoulys Chacin allowed no runs and three hits over seven innings to win his fifth straight decision in the Padres’ 3–0 win over the visiting Twins. Chacin’s five-decision winning streak ties the longest of his career, set while pitching for the Rockies in 2013.