A triple play, a strikeout machine and more

What a weekend.

A team pulled off a triple play and a walk-off win in the same inning. Aaron Harang did something that Sandy Koufax, Clayton Kershaw and Fernando Valenzuela never did. It was a Friday the 13th for the ages. And if Matt Cain is now in favor of having the National League adopt the DH, you could understand why.

Fortunately, our Useless Information Department investigators were out in force. So let's take a look at all that madness.

Triple-double department

Now here's something you don't see every day: On Sunday, the Dodgers turned a triple play in the top of the ninth inning, then won on a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Here's what you need to know about that crazy daily double:

• The Dodgers were the first team to cram a triple play and a walkoff win into the same inning since the 1942 Cubs pulled off that trick against the Reds on Aug. 22, 1942 -- except the Cubs did it in the 11th inning. They turned a triple play on a popped-up bunt in the top of the 11th, then manufactured the winning run off Reds reliever Junior Thompson in the bottom of the 11th.

• But it's even more rare for a team to do something like that in the ninth inning. Retrosheet has assembled box scores dating all the way to 1918. And the Dodgers are the ONLY team with a triple play and a walk-off hit in the ninth inning of any game in the last 95 seasons.

Dee Gordon was in the middle of that triple play, then got the walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Gordon was just the second player in the last 15 seasons to participate in a triple play at any point in a game, then get a walk-off RBI later in the game. The other : Prince Fielder, for the Brewers, on Sept. 6, 2009. Prince's triple play, for the record, came in the top of the sixth inning.

• Dodger Stadium has been around for 50 years, but this was just the fifth triple play turned there -- and only the second by the Dodgers. To put that in perspective, the Dodgers played 45 seasons in Ebbets Field -- and there were eight triple plays there.

• Finally, the legendary Bill Chuck reports this was just the second 2-5-6-3 triple play ever. The other? It took place on May 21, 1950 (Cardinals versus Phillies).

Nine lives department

Speaking of great Dodgers feats ... here's one that eluded Koufax, Kershaw, Fernando, Drysdale, Nomo, Hershiser and every other luminary ever to throw a pitch for the Dodgers -- until Friday.

But on an incredible Friday night at Dodger Stadium, Harang struck out nine hitters in a row. Nine. So how astounding was that?

Aaron Harang


• Harang had gone 42 consecutive starts without striking out nine hitters in a game -- then he struck out nine hitters in a row. Of course he did.

• Only four other starting pitchers in history have ever struck out at least nine straight hitters. And it's quite the funky list: Your record holder is Tom Seaver (10 in a row in 1970). The three others with nine: Ricky Nolasco in 2009, Jake Peavy in 2009 and Mickey Welch in 1884. Bet you never thought you'd ever read those names in the same sentence.

• But what did Harang do that those other men did not? He got his first nine outs of the GAME via those nine punchouts in a row (after a leadoff single). Hard to do, friends.

• Our favorite streak guru, Trent McCotter, checked in with all the relief pitchers who ever whiffed at least nine in a row (though obviously not in one game): Eric Gagne (10; May 17-21, 2003), Ron Davis (9; May 4-9, 1981), Armando Benitez (9; Sept. 8-14, 1998) and Joaquin Benoit (9; May 17-23, 2010).

• And who's the only starting pitcher ever to pile up nine straight K's over multiple games? It was none other than Stephen Strasburg, over the first two starts of his career, June 8-13, 2010.

• Want to guess the last right-handed starter before Harang to have nine strikeouts through the first three innings of any game (not necessarily in order)? Good luck. It was the Astros' Don Wilson, on July 14, 1968. Wilson wound up punching out 18 that night.

• But Harang didn't even get a win in this game, because the Padres scored five runs off the L.A. bullpen in the last three innings to tie the game -- only to give the game back to the Dodgers on another bizarre feat. The Dodgers had two outs in the ninth and nobody on; two Padres relievers then walked four hitters in a row. According to SABR's Bob Timmerman (via Dodgerthoughts.com's Jon Weisman), it was the first game to end on four straight walks since May 19, 1989, when the Giants walked the Mets' Lenny Dykstra, Tim Teufel, Howard Johnson and Darryl Strawberry in succession with two outs in the 10th.

• One thing Harang did do, though, was wind up with 13 strikeouts -- on Friday the 13th. He was the first pitcher to whiff 13 on any Friday the 13th, according to Elias, since Dwight Gooden did it June 13, 1986.

Lucky 13th department

While we're on the subject, the Useless Info Department loves Friday the 13th. Who the heck knows why? All we know is, there was some awesome Friday the 13th fodder this year. So here it comes:

• Nine hitters who wear No. 13 made it into their teams' lineups on Friday the 13th. It sure wasn't unlucky for them. Each of them reached base at least once. And they combined to go 14-for-38 (.368), with three homers, two doubles, four RBIs and six runs scored.

• One of those No. 13's, Alex Rodriguez, hit his first home run of the year on Friday the 13th.

• Another No. 13, Freddy Galvis, hit the first homer of his career on Friday the 13th.

• Yet another No. 13, Starlin Castro, had his first three-hit game of the year on Friday the 13th.

• But the greatest Friday the 13th tale of them all took place in Washington, where Jayson Werth got a Friday the 13th walk-off hit -- in the 13th inning. After Elias reported that he was the first hitter to get a 13th-inning walk-off on Friday the 13th since Wilver D. Stargell in 1963, Nationals media-relations whiz John Dever went back and took a look at Stargell's hit -- and found that the guy who scored on Stargell's hit happened to be Dick Schofield. Who just happens to be (wait for it) Jayson Werth's grandfather. Pretty cool, huh?

Almost perfect department

Then there was Matt Cain, whose one-hitter against the Pirates on Friday provided all sorts of amazing tidbits:

Matt Cain


• Before this night, there had only been six games in history in which the only hitter standing between any pitcher and a perfect game was the opposing pitcher. But Cain made it seven, thanks to a sixth-inning single by Pirates pitcher James McDonald. Elias reports this was the first game to meet that description since Sept. 21, 1986, when a Bob Knepper hit cost San Diego's Jimmy Jones a perfecto -- in the first game of his career.

• The other five games in history in which the only man to reach base was the pitcher, courtesy of Trent McCotter:

Hooks Wiltse, Giants, July 4, 1908

Clyde Shoun, Reds, May 15, 1944

Carl Erskine, Dodgers, June 19, 1952

Ralph Terry, A's, Aug. 22, 1958

Gary Peters, White Sox, July 15, 1963

• Cain was also the first pitcher in Giants history to throw a one-hit shutout in the home opener. And it only took them 130 home openers. But it's not as if all those other teams do it every year either. Cain was the first pitcher to throw a one-hitter in a home opener for any National League team, according to Elias, since Hippo Vaughn did it -- for the 1918 Cubs.

Useless info dept.

In other news ...

• As the Seattle Times' Larry Stone reports, Felix Hernandez's first three starts of the season all came against Oakland. Then again, Bartolo Colon's first three starts all came against Seattle -- both due to the miracle of Opening Day in Japan. So how rare is that? According to Elias, they're the first pitchers to make their first three starts of the season against the same team since Kevin Brown faced the then-Devil Rays three times in a row in 2004.

Jeff Gray


• As loyal reader Christopher Soderstrom reports, Twins reliever Jeff Gray is suddenly piling up wins. And who saw that coming? This is Gray's fifth team in five seasons. And in 68 appearances covering nearly 1,400 pitches for the other four teams, he'd collected exactly one win. Then, last Wednesday and Thursday, he vultured TWO wins in 24 hours -- while throwing a total of THREE pitches. It's a beautiful sport, ain't it?

• Finally, it took him eight seasons and 1,500 plate appearances, but Red Sox sprint champ Kelly Shoppach finally stole the first base of his career Friday. But I bet you'd never guess he ranked only third among active Zero Heroes in most career trips to the plate without a steal. Your leaders, according to Lee Sinins' Complete Baseball Encyclopedia:

Chris Snyder -- 0 SB in 2,191 PA

David Ross -- 0 SB in 1,777 PA ...

And counting.