Elias Says: Aug. 30, 2017

The Bambino, Double-X, and now Stanton

In a season of home-run superlatives, this ranks at or near the top of the list. With his first swing of the bat on Tuesday night, Giancarlo Stanton hit his 51st home run of the season. That increased his lead to 14 homers over Aaron Judge, who ranks second in the majors. Only two other players led the majors by as many as 14 home runs at any point in any season since 1876. Babe Ruth did it in seven different seasons (1919–21, 1924, and 1926–28). His lead of 36 homers over runner-up George Sisler late in the 1920 season was the largest such margin ever recorded. The other player to hold a lead of 14 homers was Jimmie Foxx, who finished the 1932 and 1933 seasons with leads of 17 and 14, respectively; Ruth ranked second in both of those seasons.

Giancarlo Stanton has 30 home runs over his last 48 games, dating back to July 5. Only one other player in MLB history hit 30 homers over a 50 (or fewer) game span within one season: Barry Bonds, who hit 30 home runs over 47 games from April to June 2001.

Stanton has 18 home runs this month, tied with Rudy York (August 1937) for the second-most home runs in a calendar month in major-league history. Sammy Sosa hit 20 homers in June 1998 and finished that season with 66.

Sale reaches 1500 strikeouts in record fashion

Chris Sale struck out the 1500th batter of his MLB career in the Red Sox’s 3-0 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Sale reached 1500 strikeouts in 1290 innings, the fewest innings needed for any pitcher in major-league history to hit that mark. Rounding out the top five are Kerry Wood (1303 innings), Pedro Martinez (1337), Randy Johnson (1365 ⅔), and Nolan Ryan (1384 ⅔).

With 11 strikeouts on Tuesday night, Sale has 264 strikeouts in 27 starts in his first season with the Red Sox. Over the last 30 years, only four other pitchers had that many strikeouts in their first season with a team: Nolan Ryan with the Rangers in 1989 (301 strikeouts), Roger Clemens with the Blue Jays in 1997 (292), the Diamondbacks’ Randy Johnson in 1999 (364), and Max Scherzer with the Nationals in 2015 (276).

Royals end scoreless streak at 45 innings

Whit Merrifield’s third inning solo home run against the Rays on Tuesday night ended the Royals’ streak of 45 consecutive innings without scoring a run. Only three other teams in major-league history had such a streak of this length: the Philadelphia Athletics in 1906 (48 consecutive innings without scoring a run), Cubs in 1968 (48) and Reds in 1931 (45).

Kansas City was outscored 35-0 during its drought. That matched the modern major-league record (since 1900) for the most unanswered runs allowed. The Brooklyn Superbas were outscored 35-0 over a four-game span in 1906. The major-league record for consecutive unanswered runs allowed is 41 by the National League’s Buffalo team in 1885.

Bundy’s the star in one-hitter

Dylan Bundy allowed just one hit (Kyle Seager bunt single in the fourth inning) and struck out 12 batters in a complete-game shutout win over the Mariners on Tuesday. Only two other Orioles pitchers tossed a complete game with that many strikeouts while allowing one-or-fewer hits: Bobo Newsom on August 14, 1938 (one-hitter with 12 strikeouts, when the team was known as the St. Louis Browns) versus the Tigers and Mike Mussina on August 1, 2000 (one-hitter with 15 strikeouts) against the Twins. The last pitcher to do so for any team: Madison Bumgarner on July 10, 2016 (one-hitter with 14 strikeouts) versus the Diamondbacks.

It has been just over 23 years since the last time a pitcher tossed a complete-game one-hitter where the only hit allowed was a bunt hit. On June 23, 1994, Bobby Witt of the Athletics allowed one hit and struck out 14 Royals batters. The only hit allowed was a Greg Gagne bunt single with one out in the sixth inning.

When Gallo hits, he hits them far

Joey Gallo’s two-run home run gave the Rangers a 4-0 lead, and they cruised to a 12-2 victory over the Astros. Gallo’s blast was the 43rd home run of his MLB career, and he has not yet reached the 100-hit mark (he is at 95 hits)! No other player in major-league history had as many as 40 home runs within his first 100 hits in the majors.

Arenado delivers with men on base

Nolan Arenado’s three-run home run in the seventh inning gave the Rockies a 7-3 lead over the Tigers, and they went on to win by that same score. Arenado is batting 33-for-75 (.440) with at least two runners on base this season, including 1-for-2 on Tuesday night. That is the third-highest batting average among players with at least 50 at-bats in those situations in 2017, behind Marwin Gonzalez (.462) and Daniel Murphy (.458).

Santana and Polanco deliver the goods

Ervin Santana earned his 14th win of the season and teammate Jorge Polanco homered from each side of the plate in the Twins’ 6-4 triumph over the White Sox. Santana has a 14-win season with three different teams (three such seasons with the Angels, one with the Braves, and now one with the Twins). Two other active pitchers have had at least one season of 14-or-more wins with three different teams: Bartolo Colon (five different teams) and Zack Greinke (four teams).

Polanco is the third player to homer from each side of the plate as a shortstop in a game this season, joining Francisco Lindor (April 5) and Freddy Galvis (June 4).

Schebler and company end long losing streak versus Mets

Scott Schebler’s first-inning grand slam put the Reds up for good in their 14-4 victory over the Mets, ending a 14-game losing streak against New York (dating back to 2014). That was the longest losing streak for one team against another since the White Sox lost 14 straight to the Indians in 2013. Cincinnati has hit four grand slams this month (Scooter Gennett hit two and Patrick Kivlehan hit the other), the most for any team in a calendar month since the Blue Jays hit four in August 2015.

D’Backs produce in the first inning in win over Dodgers

The Diamondbacks scored five first-inning runs, including two on an A.J. Pollock home run, and they hung on for a 7-6 win over the Dodgers. Entering Tuesday, the Dodgers had not allowed a first-inning run in each of their last six road games, tying their longest such streak this season (April 24 to May 6). Arizona has scored at least five first-inning runs in three games in the 2017 campaign, tying the Brewers for the most in the National League.

Brewers drop to 3 ½ games back in the NL Central

Luke Weaver struck out 10 batters and Luke Voit drove in four runs in the Cardinals’ 10-2 win over the Brewers. Milwaukee fell to 68-64 on the season, and coupled with the first-place Cubs’ win, the Brewers trail in the NL Central by 3 ½ games. That ties the most games they have trailed the division leader this season; they were also 3 ½ behind through games of August 23. The Brewers’ largest lead in their division this season was 5 ½ games, as late as through games of July 15.

Arrieta pitching like an ace after the break

Jake Arrieta tossed six scoreless innings to earn the win for the Cubs over the Pirates on Tuesday. Since the All-Star break, Arrieta is 6-1 with a 1.59 ERA in nine starts. That marks the fourth consecutive season in which a Cubs pitcher had an ERA of 1.60 or lower over his first nine starts after the break. Kyle Hendricks went 6-1 with a 1.60 ERA in 2014, Arrieta went 7-1 with a 1.03 ERA in 2015, and Hendricks was 6-1 with a 1.34 ERA last season.

Cron hits two out in Angels’ win

C.J. Cron delivered a pair of home runs in the Angels’ 8-2 win over the A’s. Entering Tuesday, Cron had just one home run in 143 at-bats against the Athletics (in 41 games). That was a solo shot hit in a 4-1 loss in Oakland last September.

Power on display in 2017

Entering Tuesday’s games, there had been 4979 home runs hit in 2017, and across the majors in Tuesday night’s action, there were 35 more to increase that total to 5014. This season is the first in major-league history in which 5000 home runs were hit by the end of August. The previous highest total in the majors before September 1 was 4774 homers in 2000.