Kernels of Wisdom: Week in review

  • Wednesday's pitchers' duel between Matt Cain and Cliff Lee didn't disappoint -- unless you were looking forward to spending three hours at the ballpark. The two pitchers were working so fast and so efficiently, with no runs, only one walk between them and seven half-innings of less than 10 pitches that the regulation nine innings were played in 1 hour and 50 minutes. When the Giants walked off with a 1-0 win in the 11th, the elapsed game time was still just 2 hours and 27 minutes.

    There have been a handful of fairly quick 10-inning games in the last couple years, but that game was the first contest of 11-plus innings to finish in less than two and a half hours since May 10, 1980! On that day, the Twins and Yankees also played 10 scoreless innings before Minnesota manufactured the game's only run in the top of the 11th. That one ended in 2 hours and 28 minutes.

  • Norichika Aoki recorded the 10th inside-the-park home run at Miller Park on Friday night. The Brewers had three inside-the-park homers last season, all in Milwaukee (Rickie Weeks, July 8, was the most recent). Among active stadiums, only Kauffman Stadium (12) has seen more inside-the-park homers since Miller Park opened in 2001.Also on Friday night, the Pirates' Alex Presley led off the game for Pittsburgh with his own inside-the-park homer, made possible by Skip Schumaker's falling down injured on the play. It marks the fourth straight season there has been a leadoff inside-the-park homer somewhere in the majors (Jose Altuve in '11, Rickie Weeks in '10, Angel Pagan in '09). However, the Pirates had not had a leadoff batter go inside-the-park since Omar Moreno circled the bases against the Astros' Vern Ruhle on June 21, 1980.

  • The Royals' Eric Hosmer lined into a triple play Friday as the Blue Jays doubled off two runners who were going on contact. It was the fourth triple play turned in Toronto history; the others all came in the Jays’ first three seasons (one of them on Sept. 7, 1979, the same day ESPN went on-air). It was also the first time that Kansas City hit into a triple play since June 19, 1979, against Oakland.So through all of that, the Elias Sports Bureau confirms for us that the last time a single day had two inside-the-park homers and a triple play was May 31, 1980. Gary Carter (Expos) and John Wathan (Royals) had the homers (off Bob Forsch of the Cardinals and Ed Farmer of the White Sox, respectively). The Mariners turned a triple play in Cleveland in very similar fashion to Hosmer's. Toby Harrah lined out to first, Ron Hassey was doubled off second and then Joe Charboneau was caught in between first and second and tagged out.

  • While we're talking about triple plays, the Dodgers turned a bizarre triple play on Sunday when the Padres’ Jesus Guzman threw his arms up in self-defense and effectively bunted the ball right back out in front of home plate. Believing that umpire Dale Scott had called the ball foul, all three Padres stopped running. The result was only the second 2-5-6-3 triple play in major league history.

  • Matt Carpenter had a career day on Sunday, going 4-for-4 with five RBIs while batting sixth in the Cardinals' order. It was literally a career day: Carpenter had just six career hits in 14 games played. Since the RBI became official in 1920, he's just the ninth player, the first Cardinal, and the first outfielder, to have a four-hit, five--RBI game within his first 15 appearances.

  • Omar Infante was the first to set off the Marlins' new sculpture thing in center field, Hanley Ramirez wasn't far behind on Sunday. He homered in the eighth to tie the game, and then won it with a walk-off single in the 11th.He's just the third player in Marlins history to have a game-tying hit and a game-winning hit, where both came in the eighth inning or later. The others are Edgar Renteria (April 5, 1997) and Alex Gonzalez (April 23, 2002). Each of them also had a homer in regulation followed by a walk-off single in extras.

  • Monday's Patriots' Day game in Boston was the first contest in major league baseball in nearly three years where the only run of the game scored on a bases-loaded walk. On May 1, 2009, Russell Martin of the Dodgers drew a two-out walk from Duaner Sanchez of the Padres in the bottom of the ninth for a 1-0 win.The Braves also won a 1-0 game in Washington via bases-loaded walk nine days before that one.

  • Ron Gardenhire struck first in his ongoing "feud" with Jim Leyland. Entering the 2011 season, each had been ejected from games 61 times in their coaching/managerial careers, tied for 12th place on the all-time list, and the most among active personnel. Gardenhire got himself thrown out on Tuesday arguing balls and strikes with Greg Gibson.

  • The Rangers put up an eight-run eighth inning in their 18-3 thumping of Boston on Tuesday. It's just the sixth time in franchise history that they've posted eight runs in frame No. 8 -- and the third time it's been exactly eight. The others were way back on April 19, 1974 (against Minnesota) and Aug. 22, 1973 (against Boston).The Rangers also hit six home runs in that game, the most so far by any team this season. Although their own park in Arlington has become known for its prolific home run rate, the half-dozen long balls were the most Texas has hit in a road game since they launched seven out of Comerica on Sept. 11, 2007.

  • Orioles right-hander Tommy Hunter's pitching line on Wednesday included nine hits, four walks, eight runs and eight strikeouts. Sort of a strange combination. In fact, it's so strange that no pitcher in the majors has hit all those numbers in one game since Matt Clement of the Padres did it in August 1999. And no one had done it for the franchise since Howard "Lefty" Mills pitched a complete-game 11-5 loss for the St. Louis Browns, against the Yankees, on Aug. 24, 1939.

  • Phillies starter Cole Hamels was tagged for two balks on Friday night. He's the first pitcher to get called twice in a game in exactly one year. Luke Hochevar of the Royals was charged with a pair on April 20, 2011. No Phillies hurler had gotten called for multiple balks in a game since Paul Quantrill on July 15, 1995 (at Montreal).

  • Friday was the eighth time that the Red Sox and Yankees (Highlanders) had played at Fenway Park on April 20 -- including the original opener in 1912 and Friday's centennial. Until this year's 6-2 defeat, Boston had won six of the previous seven, and the only loss (1957) had been in extra innings. Meanwhile, the two teams have played six April 20 games in the Bronx -- and the New Yorkers have won all six.