1st pitch: Late-inning tidbits

Today’s Trivia: Mark Buehrle is set to face the Rays for the first time since his perfect game last July. Besides Buehrle, who are the only two pitchers with a World Series title and multiple no-hitters including a perfect game all with the same team?

Quick Hits: With the late-inning heroics of Darnell McDonald and Nate McLouth capping a wild Tuesday, let’s take a look at some late-inning tidbits from the opening weeks.

* Eugenio Velez is 4-5 with 2 HR and 5 RBI in the ninth inning and 4-23 otherwise, according to baseballmusings.com’s day by day database.

* Last season, Vernon Wells had a .598 OPS in the seventh or later and was homerless in 210 at-bats. This season, he’s posted a 1.838 OPS in the seventh or later thanks in part to a pair of ninth inning home runs.

* Joining Velez and Wells with two homers in the ninth are Jason Heyward, Shane Victorino, Adrian Gonzalez, Ty Wigginton and Juan Rivera.

* Gonzalez is batting .615 after the sixth inning with a 1.968 OPS. In innings one through six, he has a .176 average with a .545 OPS.

* Drew Stubbs is 3-13 (.231) in the seventh inning or later. However, of those 10 outs, nine have been via strikeout.

* Juan Uribe has scored nine runs this season, with eight of them coming in the seventh or later.

* In the seventh inning or later, the Dodgers are batting .349, easily the best in the baseball. Before that, they are hitting .282.

* The Braves are hitting an MLB-worst .193 after the sixth inning. Jason Heyward is hitting .353 in those innings, which means his teammates are hitting just .172 after the sixth inning. Despite this, the Braves are fourth in the majors in runs scored after the sixth.

* Only 13 of the White Sox’s 57 runs have been after the sixth inning. Of those 13 runs, nine were scored by way of home runs.

Today’s Leaderboard: STATS defines “close and late” situations as the seventh inning or later when ahead by one run, tied, or with the tying run on base, at bat or on deck. In those situations, no one touches the Tigers, who are hitting .396 close and late. The next best team is Dodgers at .305. It helps explain how the Tigers are an amazing 4-5 when trailing to start the seventh inning. In 2009, they were 10-58 when trailing to start the seventh according to baseball-reference.com.


Highest batting average in close and late situations (Source: STATS)

Key Matchups: Mark Buehrle faces the Rays for the first time since his perfect game last season. Not every Tampa Bay hitter dislikes facing Buehrle. Carl Crawford is a lifetime .429 hitter against him. However, the real thing to watch is the longball. Since 2001, only Jamie Moyer and Javier Vazquez have allowed more home runs than Buehrle’s 232. However, such has not been the case against Tampa Bay. Buehrle has allowed only one homer in his last six appearances against the Rays. Among current members of the Rays, only Carlos Pena has hit a home run off of Buehrle. He’s only done so once, and that was back in 2002. In fact, current Rays have just that one homer in 216 plate appearances. For his career, Buehrle allows one home run per 36 plate appearances.

Take all 69 batters that Jeremy Bonderman has faced at least 19 times. Bobby Abreu’s .571 batting average is the best of anyone (not to mention his .684 on-base percentage). Torii Hunter’s .424 average and Hideki Matsui’s .500 average are sixth and second best respectively. Yes, those would be the Angels’ two, three and four hitters that Bonderman faces Wednesday. Combined, the three are hitting .479 against the Tigers hurler.

Trivia Answer: Sandy Koufax (Dodgers) and Cy Young (Red Sox) both had multiple no-hitters including a perfect game and won a World Series with the same team. Buehrle became the third pitcher able to make that claim.