1st Pitch: Interleague season in review

Quick Hits: The interleague season is now in the books as the AL goes 134-118 against the NL. It’s the seventh straight year that the AL bested the NL, after falling short in four of the first seven. Here’s a look at some other notables tidbits from the interleague portion of the schedule:

  • Red Sox pitchers hit .313 (5-16) in interleague play. They now have half as many hits as Dodgers pitchers in 104 fewer at-bats. Since interleague play began in 1997, the highest single-season batting average for an AL pitching staff is .368 by the 1997 Rangers.

  • Prior to the season, the Mariners were the only AL team with at least one hit from a pitcher in every season of interleague play. No longer, as the Mariners' staff went 0-for-18 with 12 K at the dish.

  • AL pitchers went homerless in 2010 for just the fourth time in the 14 years history of interleague play. As a group, AL pitchers are hitting just .105, which would be their third lowest total.

  • Jorge Cantu’s three home runs as a DH are tied for second most in NL history. In 2004, Jim Thome knocked four out while playing for the Phillies.

  • The White Sox finished with a 15-3 interleague record. Only three teams have posted a better record in the last 14 years. Chicago’s four shutouts are tied for the most in an interleague season.

  • Jason Berken pitched 12 2/3 interleague innings without allowing an earned run. That’s the third most innings for a pitcher with a 0.00 ERA in interleague play history.

  • Mike Sweeney is hitting just .205 against AL opponents, but he posted a .476 batting average and 1.399 OPS against the NL.

  • For the first time, no one hit more than seven home runs in interleague play. However, David Wright’s 24 interleague RBI is tied for the third most in a season.

  • Mark Reynolds struck out in 26 of 44 interleague at-bats, tying the single-season record.

Today’s Trivia: Justice John Paul Stevens sits on the Supreme Court bench for the final day on Monday. He will retire tomorrow after over 34 years on the court. Which legendary baseball game did he attend as a 12-year-old boy?

Today’s Leaderboard: NL designated hitters managed just a .217 batting average, the league’s worst mark in interleague history. Last season, they hit .277 as a group. The worst offenders in 2010 were the Brewers, who were just 1-23 at DH. The 2002 Brewers, who went hitless in 21 at-bats, are the only NL team to have a worse interleague season at DH.

Lowest Batting Average at DH, National League History

Key Matchups: Hitting just .196 in June, Matt Kemp was held out of the starting lineup on Sunday. You can bet he’ll be back in there on Monday. Kemp is 16-for-35 (.457) in his career against Barry Zito. There is no pitcher he has faced more in his career, and those 16 hits are five more than he has against any other pitcher. Interestingly, only two of those 16 have gone for extra bases, and Kemp has yet to homer off of Zito.

Going into 2009, David Wright was a .480 hitter in 25 at-bats against Ricky Nolasco. But last season was a different story, as he managed just one hit in 11 at-bats while striking out seven times. The struggles continued this season, as he went hitless in his first four at-bats against Nolasco. However, he goes into Monday’s meeting with hits in each of his last four at-bats against the Marlins righty.

Trivia Answer: "He pointed toward the scoreboard in center field," Stevens told the Orlando Sentinel in 2007. "That much I do know." Indeed, Stevens, a lifelong Cubs fan who is now 90, was in the Wrigley Field stands on October 1, 1932 when Babe Ruth is said to have called his shot during Game 3 of the World Series.