Kernels: Darvish, walk-offs, rare double play

AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

Yu Darvish struck out a career-high 15 on Monday against the Houston Astros.• Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish made another run at a no-hitter Monday, striking out 15 Houston Astros and surrendering only a solo home run by Carlos Corporan in the eighth inning. The 15 whiffs not only set a career high for Darvish, but it was his fifth game this season with at least 14 strikeouts. All other pitchers in the majors combined have three such games. Before this season, the Rangers hadn't had anyone reach 14 in a game since Nolan Ryan in 1991.

It was just the second time in Astros history that their only hit of a game had been a home run; the other was May 28, 1995, when Jeff Bagwell went deep against the Braves' Greg Maddux.

• The Arizona Diamondbacks swept this week's series from Baltimore, all via walk-offs. In the 14-inning finale Wednesday, there were 42 players used, including five pinch hitters for the Orioles. It’s just the third time they've used five in any game since Earl Weaver's final season in 1986, and only the fourth time they'd ever used that many in an interleague game. The other three were all in the 1979 World Series against Pittsburgh -- by the rules at the time, that entire series was played without the designated hitter because it was an odd-numbered year.

As for the three straight walk-off wins, Arizona's now done that three times in its history. In July 2007, Eric Byrnes homered against Florida, followed by a Tony Clark homer and a Conor Jackson single in the first two games of a series with Atlanta. In May 1999, the Diamondbacks swept a series from Montreal on walk-off home runs by Jay Bell, Luis Gonzalez and Matt Williams.

Brad Miller of the Seattle Mariners and Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays both homered twice in Tuesday's 5-4 Mariners win, becoming just the third pair of leadoff hitters in major-league history to each have multiple home runs in the same game. The other occurrences were June 5, 1994, by Detroit's Tony Phillips and the Twins' Chuck Knoblauch; and way back on July 8, 1965, when Felipe Alou did it for the Braves and Joe Morgan did it for the Astros.

• On Tuesday, the St. Louis Cardinals had one out and runners at the corners in the bottom of the 11th. The Pirates brought Josh Harrison in from right field and created a five-man infield, and it worked. Batter Seth Maness grounded out to short. Harrison covered second, not only getting the force, but turned the double play to end the inning. If you're scoring at home, it's a GIDP, six-NINE-three. Harrison kept his "9" even though he's temporarily moved for one batter.

The fine folks at Retrosheet were nice enough to look up the previous occurrence of a defensive play that went 6-9-3.

It happened on June 6, 1981, in a game between the Royals and Brewers. Royals first baseman Willie Aikens led off the second inning with a 6-9-3 groundout, but the circumstances of how the play developed (shift, deflection, injury, etc.) are unknown. All we know is that Aikens' at-bat was delayed when Royals manager Jim Frey complained that Brewers pitcher Pete Vuckovich was wearing two different-colored shoes. (Vuckovich was known for wearing different brands of spikes throughout his career because his feet were two different sizes.) The umpires let him continue but told him to make the colors match before his next start.