Elias Says: Aug. 12, 2017

Yankees rally late to end Red Sox streak

Aaron Hicks hit a wake-up-the-team, wake-up-the-crowd, two-run homer in the eighth inning, sparking a five-run Yankees rally that wiped up the Red Sox’ 3-0 lead and led to a 5-4 victory in the Bronx. Left-fielder Hicks, playing just his second game since June 25 after a stretch on the disabled list, then threw out the potential tying run at third base to complete a ninth-inning double play, throwing water on a would-be Red Sox rally after Aroldis Chapman walked the first three batters that he faced. (Chapman became only the fourth major-leaguer to earn a save in a game in which he walked the first three batters he faced, joining Darold Knowles of the Washington Senators in 1970, Pittsburgh’s Mike Williams in 2003, and the Reds’ Francisco Cordero in 2011, who somehow produced a save after walking the first four batters he faced! Against the Mets, Cordero took a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the 13th, walked the first four guys he faced—one was caught stealing—and then induced a line-drive double-play, by none other than Justin Turner!)

Thus ended Boston’s eight-game winning streak, marking the third time that the Red Sox have seen a winning streak of eight-or-more games end in the opening game of a series against the Yankees. One such instance came last September 27, though Boston stood comfortably atop the A.L. East when the Yankees ended its 11-game winning streak. The other instance was much more dramatic: the Red Sox won their last eight scheduled games of the 1978 season, closing a two-game gap with the Yankees, and resulting in a 163rd tie-breaking game between the two teams. Trailing, 2-0, in the seventh, Bucky Dent hit a three-run homer and the Yankees held on for a 5-4 win. Bob Lemon’s Yankees went on to defeat the Royals in the ALCS and the Dodgers in the World Series.

It was Boston’s first loss this season, against 44 wins, when leading by three-or-more runs in the eighth inning or later.

Stanton reaches the big four-oh

Giancarlo Stanton’s 40th home run of the season—a screamer to left-center field—highlighted a Marlins comeback that culminated in a 6-3 victory over the visiting Rockies. Stanton became just the second player in the Marlins’ 25-year history to hit 40 homers in a season; Gary Sheffield still holds the team record—for another day, at least—with the 42 that he hit back in 1996. Stanton reached 40 homers in his 114th game. Over the 16 seasons following Barry Bonds setting the single-season home run record in 2001, Stanton has reached 40 homers in the third fewest games played by his team (114), after David Ortiz (110th game in 2006) and Chris Davis (110th game in 2013).

Stanton has hit 19 home runs in his last 31 games, becoming the first major-leaguer to hit that many homers over a 31-game stretch since Javy Lopez—yes, Javy Lopez—did that for the Braves from May 10 to June 24 of 2003. Lopez finished that season with a career-high 43 homers, even though he endured an 18-game home-run drought immediately after his 19-homers-in-31-games splurge. Other than Lopez, the most recent major-leaguer to hit as many homers over 31 games was Shawn Green in 2002 (he hit 20 over 31 games), and only after Lopez and Green do you get to Barry Bonds in 2001, Mark McGwire in 1999, and Sammy Sosa in 1998.

Meaningful milestone for Arenado

Nolan Arenado’s two-run homer at Miami on Friday night lifted his season RBI total to 100, as he became the first major-leaguer to reach that milestone this season. He was the first major-leaguer to reach 100 RBIs as early as August 11 since Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis did it in 2013, and he was the first National Leaguer to do so since Albert Pujols back in 2009. Moreover, this marked the third consecutive season in which Arenado has been the first National Leaguer to reach 100 RBIs, becoming the first senior circuit player with that distinction since Hall-of-Famer Willie Stargell from 1971 to 1973.

Cardinals’ winning streak continues, as does the heavy hitting

The Cardinals continue to crush any and all comers, winning their seventh consecutive game by outlasting the visiting Braves, 8-5. After starting the streak last Saturday with a 4-1 win at Cincinnati, the Cardinals have maintained their winning ways by scoring 58 runs over their last six games. They have scored at least eight runs in each of those last six games, and have also produced an inning of four-or-more runs in each of them—a pair of team records that they tied on Friday. Since they started playing in the National League 125 years ago, the Cardinals had scored eight runs in each of six straight games only twice (in 1922 and 2011, which was the last time that any major-league team did it). Meanwhile, they had generated an inning of four-or-more runs in at least six games in a row only once (in 1928).

Adam Wainwright, who allowed one run over five innings, boosted his record to 12-5. He also singled in a run, his 11th RBI this season, the most among major-league pitchers. Wainwright has 29 RBIs over the past two seasons, including 27 in games in which he was pitching. It’s the most RBIs by a pitcher over two consecutive seasons since Steve Carlton had 28 for the Phillies in 1977 and 1978, and the most by a Cardinals pitcher since Bob Gibson had 29 in 1970 and 1971.

Dodgers lose lead and game, ending record streak

Manuel Margot’s second homer of the game tied the score in the seventh inning and minutes later, Jose Pirela connected for the go-ahead run as the Padres came from behind to defeat the Dodgers, 4-3, in Los Angeles. That result ended the Dodgers’ streak of having won the last 37 home games in which they held a lead of any kind, a modern (since 1900) National League single-season record. The last time that Dave Roberts saw his team lose a game that it had led at Dodger Stadium was on May 3 of this year, when the Dodgers led early but lost to the Giants in 11 innings, 4-1. That loss dropped the Dodgers’ season record to 15-14; since then, they are 66-20.

Carrasco’s no-hit bid gives rise to a hard-to-believe fact

Carlos Carrasco’s first victory in his last six starts was a beauty. He smothered the Rays on two hits over eight innings, striking out 10, as the visiting Indians took a 5-0 decision. Carrasco did not allow a hit until there were two out in the seventh inning, when Logan Morrison lined a single to right field. Remarkably, it marked the fourth time over the last three seasons that a Cleveland starter, pitching in St. Petersburg against the Rays, has reached the sixth inning without permitting a hit! That’s one more starts of that type than Indians pitchers have produced over the same span in Cleveland—even though the Tribe has played 219 regular-season games at Progressive Field compared with only eight at Tropicana Field since the beginning of the 2015 season.

Reds win, but can’t stop Thames

The Reds squeaked to a wild, 11-10 victory over the Brewers in Milwaukee, jumping out to a 10-2 lead, surrendering a seven-run sixth inning and then holding on to win. It was only the second time over the last seven seasons that the Reds have won a game in which they allowed a double-digit runs total, and both of those wins came at Miller Park, the other coming in 2015 by a 16-10 score. Conversely, those two games against the Reds are the only games that the Brewers have lost when scoring 10-or-more runs over the last five seasons.

Even in defeat, though, Eric Thames continues to plague the Reds. Thames clobbered a three-run homer in the Brewers’ seven-run inning—the first of his 47 major-league homers, by the way, that came with more than one runner on base. Of greater concern to Reds pitchers is that the Brewers bopper has hit nine home runs in 10 games against Cincinnati this season. The last major-leaguer to hit as many as nine homers within the first 10 games he played against a team in a given season was Sammy Sosa, who homered nine times in the nine games he played vs. Colorado in 1999. Five players actually hit 10 homers in their first 10 games against one opponent, most recently Sosa against the Brewers in 1998. And longtime Milwaukee fans, and former commissioners, may recall that in 1953, the Braves’ first year playing there, Eddie Mathews hit nine homers in his first 10 games against the Reds.

Lackey’s 14th season of 10-plus wins

John Lackey pitched five and one-third innings and five teammates pitched scoreless relief to deliver an 8-3 victory for the Cubs over the Diamondbacks in Phoenix. The victory was Lackey’s tenth this season, marking the 14th time in the 15 seasons playing in the majors that he has accumulated 10-or-more wins. (Lackey won nine games as rookie with the Angels in 2002—of course, he also won twice in the postseason including Game Seven of the World Series—and he missed the 2012 season entirely, when he was with the Red Sox, due to injury.) The big right-hander now leads active pitchers in seasons with a double-digit wins total; CC Sabathia and Bartolo Colon each have put together 13 such seasons.

Altuve strikes out, and Hamels chalks up another win

Cole Hamels blanked the Astros over seven innings, watched as Houston rallied against his successors on the mound and celebrated when Alex Claudio struck out Jose Altuve with the tying runs on base to seal the Rangers’ 6-4 triumph. Hamels is 7-1 this season, and 29-7 (.806) since pitching his first game in a Texas uniform on Aug. 1, 2015. Among all major-league pitchers with at least 20 wins since that date, only Clayton Kershaw owns a higher winning percentage. The Dodgers left-hander is 35-7 (.833) since that date.

Houston has lost its last four games, its longest losing streak of the season. The Dodgers are now the only major-league team that hasn’t lost four in a row this season. And about Altuve striking out for the final out in a game with the potential tying runs on base? It happened once in 2015 (by the Rangers’ Shawn Tolleson), once in 2016 (by Cleveland’s Cody Allen) and now once in 2017.

Angels mold another big comeback win

Albert Pujols drove in two runs and scored another in the Angels’ four-run seventh inning that eradicated the Mariners’ 5-1 lead, and Mike Trout scored the winning run in the ninth on an infield error as the Angels eked out a 6-5 win in Seattle. It was the seventh time this season that Mike Scioscia’s crew has won a game in which it had trailed by four-or-more runs, the most such victories for any big-league team this season. The first of those Angels victories, and the one in which they overcame the largest deficit, came on April 9, also at the expense of the Mariners. In that one, the Halos scored seven runs in the bottom of the ninth to defeat Seattle, 10-9.

Eddie Rosario delivers key blow for Twins at Detroit

Eddie Rosario’s three-run homer in the fourth inning gave the Twins a lead that they never gave up in Minnesota’s 9-4 victory at Detroit. The home run was Rosario’s 15th this season, but only his second with more than one runner on base. The other three-run shot was his first homer this season, and it also came against the Tigers. Friday’s homer at Comerica Park was only Rosario’s third in a road game this season. Among the 112 major-league players with at least 15 homers this season, only one other player has hit at least 80 percent of his circuit clouts at home: Cincinnati’s Eugenio Suarez has hit 17 of his 20 home runs at Great American Ball Park.

Amed Rosario’s first homer is a game-winner

Amed Rosario picked a nice time for his first major-league home run. The Mets’ rookie shortstop led off the ninth inning with an opposite-field blast, snapping a 6-6 tie and providing what proved to be the winning run in his team’s 7-6 victory at Philadelphia. Only three active players popped their first big-league homer before their 22nd birthday, and saw that homer put their team ahead in the ninth inning or later. Javier Baez did it with a 12th-inning shot at Colorado in 2014, Jay Bruce with a 10th-inning walkoff for the Reds in 2008, and Miguel Cabrera with an 11th-inning walkoff for the Marlins in his major-league debut in 2003.

At 21 years, 264 days, Rosario became the youngest Mets player to generate a go-ahead homer in the ninth inning or later—first MLB homer or no—since David Wright hit one at 21 years, 243 days in Denver in 2004.

White Sox beat Duffy yet again

It’s been a rough season on the South Side, but the White Sox have learned to do at least one thing better than any other team in baseball—that is, beat Danny Duffy. The Sox reached the Royals’ left-hander for five runs and seven hits on Friday night, winning, 6-3, and beating Duffy for the third time this season. Last season, Duffy went 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA in five starts against the Sox, but in three starts against them this season, Duffy is 0-3 with an ERA on 9.56. He is the only pitcher to lose three games to Rick Renteria’s team this season.

Nice game for Pirates, rough one for one particular Blue Jay

Jameson Taillon and three relievers pitched the Pirates to a 4-2 victory in Toronto, during which all four of Pittsburgh’s runs were scored in the third inning, and all four were unearned. More on that in a moment. But we must acknowledge that the final Pirates pitcher, southpaw Felipe Rivero, not only earned his 12th save of the season, but extended his remarkable streak of holding left-handed batters hitless, a streak that has now reached 36 at-bats. It’s the longest such streak in the majors since Tampa Bay’s Brad Boxberger, a right-handed pitcher, held lefty batters hitless over 43 straight at-bats in 2014.

We all have bad days, but not all of them play out in front of thousands of in-person spectators and untold thousands of others who follow from a distance. When Rivero struck out Toronto second baseman Rob Refsnyder to close out the victory, it finished off a game in which Refsnyder struck out in each of his four plate appearances and committed a pair of errors in the third inning that lead to the Pirates’ four unearned runs. Since the major leagues began keeping track of strikeouts for hitters more than 100 years ago, only four other players endured a game in which they struck out on every trip to the plate, and finished with at least four strikeouts and at least two errors. But how about this: Each of the players who did that was someone of at least All-Star quality in his career. They were Baltimore’s Jim Gentile in 1963, the Cardinals’ Garry Templeton in 1979, Toronto’s Carlos Delgado in 1997 and Ryan Zimmerman in a 2007 game in which he made three errors! (None of those players, however, also made the game’s final out.)