Once again this week, you can smell sandwiches in the air. But no, not roast-beef-and-cheddar paninis. It's time for another edition of the eagerly awaited Generic Sandwich Awards.
But first, let's snack on the ...
Munchies of the Week
• It took the Astros only until May 4 to rip off two eight-game losing streaks. They're just the second National League team in history to have two streaks that long by that date. Obviously, the season starts earlier now than it used to before the 1960s. But it still isn't easy. The only other NL team to do it was the 2005 Rockies. Over in the AL, those soon-to-be 119-loss wonders, the 2003 Tigers, were the fastest ever to do it -- racking up two eight-gamers by April 22.
• OK, one more amazing Astros note, and then we'll move on. When the Diamondbacks came to Houston this week, two different players on that Arizona team (Mark Reynolds and Kelly Johnson) had as many home runs (nine) as the Astros' whole team. Last time that happened this late in any season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau: June 22, 1980, when a Mets-Dodgers series featured a Mets team with 15 homers all year (in 63 games) against a Dodgers lineup that included Steve Garvey (15) and Johnny B. "Dusty" Baker (16).
• Sadly, for the fifth consecutive year, no hitter got five hits on Cinco de Mayo. (Last to do it: Jose Reyes, a 5-for-7 in 2005.) And for the eighth consecutive year, nobody went 5-for-5 on Cinco de Mayo. (Last to do that: Omar Vizquel in 2002.)
• But for the first time in nine years, we did have a pitcher put up five walks and five strikeouts in the same game on Cinco de Mayo. Clayton Richard pulled that off for Los Padres this year. Last before him: Jose Nunez, for the Dodgers, on a night when he also got only cinco outs.
• It should have been Donut Night in San Diego this week when the Rockies came to town. As loyal reader Ben Higgins (of KGTV fame) reports, the longest scoreless-innings streak by an NL pitcher was ended in that series three games in a row. First, Ubaldo Jimenez lost his 25 1/3-inning streak. The next night, his successor, Padres rookie Wade LeBlanc, got up to 20 1/3 before giving up a run. Then the next guy in line, Padres reliever Tim Stauffer (17 1/3), completed the trifecta Wednesday. And here we all thought Petco Park was the place to go if you wanted to start a scoreless-innings streak.
• The only two pitchers who have hit a home run this season -- Yovani Gallardo and Edwin Jackson -- were set to pitch against each other Friday night. Just in case, the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR home-run historian David Vincent, reports that the last time two pitchers gave up home runs to each other in the same game was May 18, 2002 (Kevin Millwood and Dennis Stark).
• Loyal reader Andrew Kleinman watched Yankees rookie Francisco Cervelli get a triple and a bunt single in the same game Tuesday and wondered: Who's the last catcher to do that? The correct answer, according to Elias: Gerald Laird on June 16, 2007.
• The Tigers did something Tuesday that's really tough: They got multi-homer games from two players (Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila) and still scored only four runs. Loyal reader Eli Rosenswaike couldn't help but ask how long it's been since any team did that. And the answer is: nearly 30 years, according to Elias. The Brewers did it May 31, 1982, in a game that featured two trots apiece from Robin Yount and Cecil Cooper.
• Had an incredible note I haven't been able to cram in before now, so here it comes: On the Phillies' last road trip, they lost a game they led by three runs with two outs in the ninth (in Atlanta) -- but also won a game they trailed by three with two outs in the ninth (in San Francisco). They're the first team in the expansion era, according to Elias, to have two games like that on the same road trip.
• Milestone alert: Jamie Moyer heads into his start Friday against Atlanta with 498 career gopherballs -- which leaves him two away from joining only the late, great Robin Roberts in the 500-Gopherball Club. Roberts entered that club 44 years ago by serving one up to some guy named Hank Aaron on Aug. 2, 1966. So how 'bout this for an astonishing stat: Since Roberts joined the 500-Homer Club, 16 hitters have entered it -- but no pitchers. At the time Roberts got his membership card, only four men had ever hit 500 homers: Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott and Ted Williams.
• Finally, how fitting was it that, in the first two games after Roberts' death Thursday, that team he pitched for most of his career (the Phillies) started the active leader in complete games (Roy Halladay) and then the active leader in home runs allowed (Moyer)? Roberts left behind many mind-blowing stats. But here's one for you. Complete games just by Roberts in his career: 305 in 609 starts. Complete games by the 404 different pitchers who started games in the 2008 and 2009 seasons combined: 288, in 9,716 starts.
And now, the Sandwich Award envelopes, please:
The On A Roll Award
Winner: Andre Ethier, Dodgers
When we talk about the Dodgers, we seem to spend all our time talking about Manny Ramirez and Matt Kemp. But the true centerpiece offensive player in their lineup might turn out to be None of the Above.
Here's a vote for Andre Ethier, a man who is to West Coast walk-offs what David Ortiz used to be to the New England walk-off scene.
For his latest game-ender, Ethier crunched a walk-off grand slam against LaTroy Hawkins on Thursday, for his sixth career walk-off homer and 11th career walk-off hit -- all of them coming just since May 2008. Now let's put that in perspective:
• That walk-off slam completed Ethier's walk-off-homer cycle. He'd already hit a solo walk-off, three two-run walk-offs and a three-run walk-off. The only other active players with walk-off cycles, according to the Sultan: Alex Rodriguez, Adam Dunn, Jim Thome, Carlos Lee, Carlos Pena and Ryan Zimmerman.
• Ethier now has hit more walk-off homers, believe it or not, than Ken Griffey Jr. (6 to 5) -- even though Griffey has outhomered him in their respective careers by nearly 550 (630 to 85).
• As our fabulous Stats & Information group reported in Friday's TMI blog, Ethier has become just the sixth player in history with six walk-off homers in a three-season period. The only two players with more are Jimmie Foxx and Roy Sievers (with seven each).
• Just two players in the history of the Dodgers have ever hit more walk-offs than Ethier: Duke Snider and Gil Hodges (with seven apiece). Of course, those two also combined for exactly 750 Dodger home runs -- which would be 665 more than Ethier.
The Sandwich Awards Committee would like to note that Ethier does do more than hit walk-offs, by the way. Over the last week, he's 12-for-25 with five homers and a 1.674 OPS. But when a man has such a flair for game-ending drama, it tends to overshadow all else.
"I don't know what it is," he told ESPN Los Angeles' Tony Jackson. "For some reason, I just keep getting opportunities to go up there in that situation. You may have to look this up, but who else has that many opportunities to win a game like that? I don't know how many it is, but it isn't a lot."
That's one stat I don't have handy, unfortunately. But while he's probably right, the Sandwich Awards Committee has ruled that it doesn't matter. When you're the king of the walk-offs, we think the only proper response is: Give that man a sandwich.
The Cold Cuts Award
Winner: Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton
Here's how hot the Rays are:
Even when two of their big boppers are cold, they're on fire.
Before Thursday night, Pena and Upton were so out of whack, they would have had trouble buying a hit on Craigslist. Pena was 0-for-22 with 10 strikeouts. Upton was 1-for-21 with six strikeouts. And that's not good. Normally.
That's the Nos. 5-6 hitters, going a combined 1-for-43 with 17 whiffs. And while all this was going on, here's what went on all around them:
• The cleanup hitter in front of them, Evan Longoria, ripped off a 12-game hitting streak, during which he hit .429 (21-for-49), with eight multi-hit games.
• Their offense continued to lead the major leagues in runs scored -- with eight different teams at least 50 runs behind them.
• And their sweep in Seattle made them just the sixth team in history to open a season by winning 12 of its first 13 games on the road. (Last to do that: Sparky Anderson's 1984 Tigers, who actually won all 13.)
"I know it looks like we're off to a fast start," Carl Crawford told the St. Petersburg Times' Marc Topkin. "But we honestly feel like we can continue to do this because this is just the way we play. Nobody's really doing anything extra."
Boy, how right he is. And they now have the Sandwich Award to prove it.
The Can We Box That Up For You Award
Winner: Five lucky box-score heroes
Lots of great moments in box-score watching lately. So we'll divide our lucky Sandwich Award winners into two categories.
How'd That Happen Dept.: Tremendous pitching line by Cardinals reliever Trever Miller on Thursday against the Phillies:
1/3 IP ... zero pitches thrown.
How'd he do that? By picking off a guy who hadn't been thrown out stealing in 21 months (Chase Utley). Of course.
That line made Miller just the 10th pitcher in the last 10 years to record an out without throwing a pitch -- and the first Cardinal to do it since Lance Painter got credit for an out and a "game finished" by picking off the Royals' Jeff King on July 1, 1998. Plug that into your spreadsheet sometime.
The Gave Up 10 In '10 Club: We made it all the way to April 26 this year with only one pitcher (Jeremy Bonderman) giving up 10 runs in a game. Then, naturally, 10-run fever broke out -- and it happened four times in six days (for the first time since August 2008). We now present the four newest members of the Gave Up 10 in '10 Club:
April 27 -- Edwin Jackson versus Colorado: 2 1/3 IP, 11 H, 10 4, 10 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 55 pitches to get 7 outs.
April 30 -- Joel Pineiro versus Detroit: 3 1/3 IP, 10 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3 HR, 6 extra-base hits, 63 pitches to get 10 outs.
May 2 -- Johan Santana versus Philadelphia: 3 2/3 IP, 8 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 4 HR.
May 3 -- Max Scherzer versus Minnesota: 4 1/3 IP, 8 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 1 WP.
Claims To Fame: Pineiro was the first pitcher to give up that many runs, that many homers and that many extra-base hits in an outing that short since Bronson Arroyo in 2008. ... Santana has now had two four-gopherball games against the Phillies -- and one against all the other teams he's faced combined. ... Jackson gave up eight runs in his next start, making him the first pitcher to give up 10 runs and then allow at least eight in his next since Jose Contreras in 2007. ... Scherzer became the first guy named Max to allow 10 runs in a game since Max Lanier did it on April 19, 1952. ... And this year's Gave Up 10 in '10 Club now includes two Tigers (Bonderman and Scherzer), an ex-Tiger (Jackson) and a guy who did it against the Tigers (Pineiro). What's up with that?