Elias Says: April 8, 2017

A historical performance for Westbrook…but not the one he wanted

On a day he was attempting to break Oscar Robertson’s single-season record for triple-doubles, Russell Westbrook instead turned in a poor performance, making only six of 25 shots from the field and committing eight turnovers in Oklahoma City’s loss to Phoenix on Friday. Since the NBA began tracking individual turnovers in 1977–78, the only other player to make less than 25 percent of his shots from the field with at least 25 attempts and turn the ball over eight or more times in the same game is Ron Harper, who like Westbrook on Friday, made six of 25 shots from the field with eight turnovers for the Clippers against the Cavaliers on March 10, 1991.

Murray joins McDyess and Carmelo in Nuggets lore

Jamal Murray made 10 of his 14 field-goal attempts in a 30-point performance, leading the Nuggets to a win over the Pelicans on Friday night. Murray is the third rookie in Denver’s NBA franchise history to register 30 or more points while making at least 70 percent of his field-goal attempts in a game, joining Antonio McDyess, who scored 32 points on 11-for-13 (.846) shooting against the Raptors on March 18, 1996, and Carmelo Anthony, who made 12 of his 17 shots from the field (.706) in a 31-point performance against the Heat on Jan. 18, 2004.

The only other rookies to do that this season are Joel Embiid (33 points, .706 FG percentage on December 18) and Skal Labissiere (32 points, .733 FG percentage on March 15).

DeRozan scores 25 in the first half

DeMar DeRozan scored 25 of his game-high 38 points in the first half in Toronto’s win over Miami on Friday. It’s the first time in his 594-game career that DeRozan scored 25 or more points in the first half of a game. Prior to DeRozan, the last Toronto player with at least 25 first-half points in a game was Chris Bosh, who registered 25 points in the first two quarters of a 37-point performance against Memphis on Oct. 30, 2009.

Marjanovic’s 27-point/12-rebound effort off the bench leads Pistons comeback

Boban Marjanovic registered 27 points and 12 rebounds off the bench in Detroit’s win over Houston on Friday night. Marjanovic became the first Pistons player in over 11 years to record a 25-point/10-rebound game off the bench in a regulation game, since Antonio McDyess posted 26 points and 14 rebounds in a reserve role against New Orleans on April 4, 2006.

Detroit came back from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to win the contest. The Pistons were just 2–111 (.018) when facing a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter on the road since the start of the 2012–13 season entering the game. That was the third-lowest such winning percentage in the NBA over that span, ahead of only Philadelphia (0–132) and Denver (0–90).

Hawks hot shooting leads to win over Cavs

The Hawks made 45 of their 89 field-goal attempts (50.6 percent) and converted all of their eight free-throw attempts in the team’s win over the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Friday. That marked only the second time in franchise history the Hawks made at least half of their shots from the field and all of their attempts from the line in a road game. The only other time Atlanta did that was on December 14, 2013 at Madison Square Garden when the Hawks were 40-for-66 (60.6 percent) from the field and 11-for-11 from the line.

Conley beats Knicks from downtown

Mike Conley made seven of his 11 three-point attempts in a 31-point performance in Memphis’ 101–88 win over New York on Friday. Conley has made at least seven three-pointers in a game five times this season, which is tied with Eric Gordon for the third-highest total in the NBA, behind Stephen Curry (10) and Klay Thompson (seven). Prior to the 2016–17 campaign, Conley had never made more than five three-pointers in a game in his nine-year career.

Hayward falls one point shy of ending Utah’s streak

Gordon Hayward scored a career-high 39 points in leading the Jazz to a win over the Timberwolves on Friday night. Hayward fell one point shy of ending Utah’s streak of what is now 327 consecutive games without an individual scoring 40 or more points. That’s the third-longest current streak of its kind for any NBA team behind Philadelphia (869 straight) and Atlanta (611 straight). The Jazz are closing in on the franchise record for consecutive games without a 40-point scorer, which is 333 from March 2003 to March 2007. There have been 283 individual 40-point games in the NBA since the Jazz last had one – which was a 40-point performance by Al Jefferson against Minnesota on April 12, 2013.

Twins peak of AL Central

Phil Hughes stifled the White Sox over six innings to keep the Twins undefeated and atop the AL Central standings. Minnesota, who improved to 4–0 on Friday, finished last season with the worst record in baseball at 59–103. The 2017 Twins are the sixth team in major-league history to open a season with a four-game winning streak after losing 100 or more games in the previous season. The other five squads to do so were the 1899 Cardinals, who started 7–0 after a season with 111 losses, 1906 Braves (4–0 after 103 losses), 1952 Browns (4–0 after 102 losses), 2003 Royals (9–0 after 100 losses), and 2004 Tigers (4–0 after 119 losses).

Minnesota partying like it’s 1987

After adding three more scoreless innings on Friday, the Twins bullpen has been unscored upon in their first 13 innings of the 2017 season. That’s Minnesota’s longest streak to start a season without allowing a run in relief since 1987 – the Twins began that season with 13⅓ scoreless innings from their bullpen. That 1987 season, which culminated in a World Series title for Minnesota, was also the last time the Twins started a season 4–0 before this year.

Mazara is RBI machine for Rangers

Nomar Mazara was a one-man wrecking crew for the Rangers on Friday, driving in six of the team’s 10 runs in their victory over the A’s. Mazara hit a run-scoring fielder’s choice in the first inning, a grand-slam home run – the first of his major-league career – in the following frame, and an RBI single in the sixth. Mazara now has nine RBIs in the Rangers’ first four games of the 2017 season, most of any player in franchise history through a season’s first four contests. Juan Gonzalez held the previous record for the Rangers, having driven in eight runs through four games in both 1996 and 1998.

Successful debut for Scherzer

Max Scherzer earned his first win of the season as the Nationals held off the Phillies, 7–6. Scherzer lost his first start against Philadelphia in 2008, but he is 8–0 with a 1.72 ERA in 11 starts versus the Phillies since then. The last pitcher before Scherzer to win eight or more consecutive decisions against the Phillies was Darryl Kile, who won nine straight versus Philadelphia from 1995 to 2000.

VV reaches 10 K’s despite abbreviated outing

Vince Velasquez absorbed the loss on Friday despite striking out 10 of the 20 Nationals batters he faced. Velasquez struck out multiple hitters in each of his four innings on Friday, with two strikeouts in each of the first two innings and three strikeouts in each of the next two frames. Velasquez is the sixth pitcher in the last five seasons to strike out 10 or more batters in a game with no more than four innings pitched, joining Felix Hernandez (2013), Danny Salazar (2014), Michael Wacha (2014), Noah Syndergaard (2015), and Jon Gray (2016). Prior to this five-season span, no pitcher had a game of that kind since July 17, 1909, when Smoky Joe Wood struck out 10 batters in four innings for the Red Sox at Cleveland.

.019 > .000

Wei-Yin Chen had more than his first win of the season to celebrate on Friday at Citi Field. Chen pitched six innings for the Marlins to earn the W against the Mets, but his accomplishment of the night took place in the batter’s box as he chopped a roller past the pitcher’s mound for an infield single. That was Chen’s first hit in the major leagues; he had been 0-for-51 prior to that plate appearance. Only three other players who have debuted since 1900 started their major-league careers with at least 50 consecutive hitless at-bats. Ron Herbel was 0-for-55 at the time of his first hit in 1965 for the Giants in Houston, Joey Hamilton started 0-for-57 before his first base hit in 1995 which came against the Mets, and Jon Lester snapped an 0-for-66 skid in July 2015 against the Cardinals.

Tigers survive Red Sox thanks to rookie’s run-scoring walk

After blowing a four-run lead in the top of the eighth inning, the Tigers scored twice in the bottom of the frame to recapture the lead for good over the Red Sox. Boston’s bullpen issued four walks in the inning, including a bases-loaded walk to JaCoby Jones to force in the go-ahead run. The last Tigers rookie prior to Jones to draw a base on balls with the bases loaded to give Detroit a lead was Clete Thomas, who had two such walks in a single game! On June 26, 2008 versus the Cardinals, Thomas walked with the bases full in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a scoreless tie, then he drew a second bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Tigers a walkoff victory.

Detroit’s comeback extends home opener win streak

Including Friday’s victory over the Red Sox, the Tigers have won their last nine home openers, which is the longest such streak in franchise history. Only four other teams in major-league history won as many as nine straight home openers: the Yankees (11 straight from 1998 to 2008), Pirates (10, 1945–1954), Reds (nine, 1983–1991), and Red Sox (nine, 2005–2013).

Can’t spell “Grreatt” without Garrett

The Reds’ Amir Garrett threw six shutout innings in St. Louis to win his major-league debut. Garrett is the fourth pitcher in the modern era – that is, since 1900 – to throw at least six scoreless innings in a start for Cincinnati in his big-league debut. The others to do so in that span are Bob Spade, who threw nine scoreless innings in his 1907 debut, Chief Johnson, who went seven scoreless in 1913, and Wayne Simpson, who posted zeros in nine innings in 1970.

It was a stellar debut for Garrett, who was a 22nd round draft pick by the Reds in 2011. The last pitcher drafted in the 20th round or later to throw at least six scoreless innings in his major-league debut was Jarred Cosart, who was selected in the 38th round by the Phillies in 2008 and threw eight scoreless innings for the Astros in his major-league debut in 2013.

Orioles rally with round-trippers

The Orioles used the longball to overcome a four-run deficit and defeat the Yankees, 6–5. Manny Machado’s three-run homer in the fifth inning pulled Baltimore within one run, and a two-run shot by Seth Smith put the Orioles ahead two innings later. Scoring bunches of runs with home runs is modus operandi for the O’s, who compiled the majors’ highest percentage of runs scored via homer in each of the last three seasons – 47.8 percent in 2014, 47.7 percent in 2015, and 51.9 percent last year.

Wild win in extras for Brewers

After a wild pitch by Mike Montgomery bounced to the backstop, Ryan Braun slid into home plate with the game-winning run for the Brewers in their 11-inning walkoff win over the Cubs. The last time before Friday that Milwaukee won a game on a walkoff wild pitch was on June 20, 2003, when Royce Clayton scored the game-ending run in the bottom of the 10th inning on a wild pitch by Twins reliever Juan Rincon.

Early hook for Liriano

Francisco Liriano was charged with five runs (all earned) in his first start of the season for the Blue Jays against the Rays. Liriano, who recorded just one out while allowing seven batters to reach base safely, now possesses an unsightly ERA of 135.00 for the 2017 season. Only two other Blue Jays pitchers compiled an earned run average north of 100 in their first start of a season. Mark Bomback’s ERA stood at 162.00 after allowing six earned runs in a third of an inning in his first start of the 1982 season; Bomback finished that season, his last in the majors, with a 6.03 ERA. Jimmy Key allowed five earned runs with one-third of an inning pitched in his first outing of the 1986 season for Toronto. Key lowered his ERA from 135.00 to 24.55 in his next start, whittled it down to 4.37 by the All-Star break, and ended the year at 3.57, lowest among all Jays starters that season.

Rockies rookie wins MLB debut

The Rockies earned a 2–1 victory over the Dodgers thanks to Kyle Freeland, who pitched six effective innings to earn the win in his major-league debut. No other pitcher in the 23-year history of Coors Field won a start at that ballpark in his major-league debut despite getting fewer than three runs of support. Only one other pitcher currently on a 25-man roster won a start in his major-league debut with no more than two runs of support from his team’s offense. Jarred Cosart was victorious in his 2013 debut, a 2–1 win for the Astros over the Rays at Tropicana Field.

Margot clears the fence twice at Petco

Manuel Margot hit his first two major-league homers on Friday, helping the Padres defeat the Giants, 7–6. Margot went deep off Matt Cain to begin the bottom of the first inning for San Diego then homered off Cain again in his next at-bat in the third inning to give the Padres the lead. Margot became the third player in Padres history to hit his first two major-league homers in consecutive at-bats within a game, joining Mark Parent (1988) and Yasmani Grandal (2012).

Braves struggling to draw bases on balls

Ivan Nova allowed one unearned run over six innings to help the Pirates earn their first win of the season as Pittsburgh defeated the Braves, 5–4. Nova did not issue a walk over his six innings, nor did any of the four Pirates relievers that followed. That has been an early trend for Braves hitters this season, as Atlanta has failed to draw a base on balls in three of its first four games this year (the Braves walked six times in their extra-innings win over the Mets on Wednesday). In the previous 96 years (1921–2016), there was only one team that drew no walks in at least three of its first four games of a season. The Giants did not coax a free pass in any of their first three games of the 1967 campaign. San Francisco eventually snapped out of it, finishing the year with an above-average total of 520 walks drawn, third-most among National League teams.

Miller earns win after early troubles

The Diamondbacks rallied for seven runs in the fourth and fifth innings to defeat the Indians, 7–3. The win went to Shelby Miller, who settled in after allowing three runs in the first two innings to Cleveland. Prior to Friday, Miller had never earned a win in a start in which he allowed at least three runs in the first two innings (he had been 0–4 in seven such starts). Miller had also never recorded a win in a start in which his team fell behind by three or more runs with him on the mound. He had been 0–29 in 33 starts of that kind prior to Friday’s triumph.

Kucherov scores his 40th goal of the season

Nikita Kucherov reached the 40-goal mark for the first time in his four seasons to help lead the Lightning to a 4–2 win at Montreal which kept Tampa Bay’s playoff hopes alive. Kucherov, a native of Russia, is the first player born outside of Canada to score 40 or more goals in one season for the Lightning. He’s the fourth active player born in Russia or the former Soviet Union with at least one 40-goal season on his NHL résumé. The others are Alex Ovechkin (with eight such seasons), Evgeni Malkin (two) and Vladimir Tarasenko (one).