Kernels of Wisdom: Week in review

  • Curtis Granderson didn't start last Sunday's game against Baltimore, but was available to pinch-hit. He probably didn't expect to have quite the game he did. Granderson drilled a pinch-hit home run in his first plate appearance in the sixth inning. He stayed in the game in center field, and then came up twice more with the bases loaded as the Yankees exploded for seven more runs in the next two innings. All told, Granderson went 3-for-3 with five RBI in a game he didn't start. Toronto's Kelly Gruber was the last player to have three hits and drive in five runs as a substitute. Gruber entered Toronto's game against the Yankees on April 11, 1988, in the first inning after starting 3B Rance Mulliniks was injured in a collision with a stealing Rickey Henderson. The last player to do it who didn't enter a game until the sixth inning was Cincinnati's Art Shamsky, who had a three-homer game on August 12, 1966. And Granderson is the first Yankee ever to have five RBIs (on any number of hits) in a game that he didn't start.

  • Ichiro Suzuki had an interesting line in that same game last Sunday as well, over and above his two singles and an RBI: He played all three outfield positions. When Granderson entered the game, Ichiro moved from center over to left. The next inning, Raul Ibañez pinch-hit and stayed in left, forcing No. 31 back across to right field. He's the fourth player this year to see all three outfield positions in the same game, but just the third Yankee in the past 30 years. Gerald Williams (July 2001) and Melky Cabrera (September 2009) both did it in equally-lopsided games.

  • Although he only drove in two runs rather than Granderson’s five, Arizona's Chris Johnson duplicated Granderson's three-hit feat on Friday night, going 3-for-3 after batting for Ryan Wheeler in the sixth inning. Johnson, Granderson, and Sam Fuld (August 28) are the only players this season with three hits in a game they didn't start. Johnson's two RBIs accounted for both Arizona runs in its 6-2 loss to San Francisco. Johnson became just the third player in Diamondbacks history to record at least three hits as a sub. Quinton McCracken went 4-for-5, including a walk-off triple in the 11th, against Florida on July 18, 2005; and Mark Grace went 3-for-3 against Colorado on July 17, 2002. As for plating both Arizona runs, no substitute had posted three-plus hits AND driven in all his team's runs in a game since Dave Hostetler had the lone RBI in Montréal's 2-1 loss to the Mets on the final day of the 1981 season. And the only sub ever to do it where multiple runs were involved had been Billy Hitchcock of the Athletics, who replaced Hank Majeski on Sept. 5, 1951, after the latter fouled a ball off his face in the first inning. Hitchcock then went 4-for-4 and drove in all the runs in Philadelphia's 4-1 win over the Senators.

  • Cincinnati's 14-inning win over Pittsburgh on Monday was a classic "September call-up" game. The teams combined to use 49 players -- five more than in any other game this year, and the most since Washington and Atlanta combined for 51 on Sept. 7, 2008. If you recognize that pinch hitters are denoted with letters in the box score, better brush up on your alphabet. Of those 49 entries on the lineup card, 14 of them were "pinch" players (hitters and runners). Each team used seven, and that was one day after the Phillies became the first team this season to use seven pinch-players in any game (the nightcap of their doubleheader with Colorado). The Pirates hadn't used seven pinch-players in a game since losing a rainy 8-6 affair with St. Louis on May 3, 1995. The Reds had used no more than seven over that same span.

  • Pittsburgh had the bases loaded with nobody out in the top of the 14th inning of that game, and didn't score. The next three batters hit a short fly ball, a fielder's choice with the out recorded at home, and a ground ball to end the inning. That made the Pirates the first team this year to have three on with none out in the 13th inning or later and fail to score at least one run. On Thursday, the Orioles matched them, filling the sacks in the 13th before eventually walking off with the win in the 14th. It was only their fifth time loading the bases with no outs after the 13th since moving to Baltimore in 1954, and the first of those five occurrences where they didn't score.

  • As for that Baltimore win in the 14th, it was the 13th straight extra-inning game that the Orioles had won. According to Elias, that ties the '95 Indians for the second-longest such streak in major-league history. The 1949 Cleveland squad won 17 straight extra-inning affairs. The O's also extended their record in one-run games to 27-7 (.794); they can lose two more one-run games and STILL have the best winning percentage in history. But possibly the quirkiest thing about that game was when Ryan Roberts injured himself with two strikes in the top of the 11th. Chris Archer, who was already set to pitch the bottom of the 11th for Tampa Bay, was sent up to complete the at-bat in Roberts' stead. Archer took a called third strike, ending the inning, and invoking the rule (10.15b) where Roberts gets credited with the strikeout.

  • Archer then remained in the game to pitch as scheduled -- becoming just the second American League pitcher ever to enter a Designated Hitter game as a pinch-hitter, and then stay in the game to pitch. Joel Finch of the Red Sox (who pitched only 15 games in his career) was the other occurrence, on July 25, 1979, in a 16-4 blowout of the Athletics at Fenway. Carl Yastrzemski left the game after the seventh inning, causing the Red Sox to surrender the DH. Catfish Hunter is listed as a PH/P in a Sept. 5, 1976, game against the Orioles; but in that case, Hunter started the game and the Yankees gave up the DH by having Hunter "pinch-hit" for Sandy Alomar, thereby assuming Alomar's spot in the order. Ron Mahay and Steve Avery also pinch-hit and pitched in interleague games played under NL rules. Thanks to forfeiting the DH, the Rays had 20 players who assumed an official spot in the batting order (not all of them batted), the most in their history.

  • That strikeout rule came into play again on Thursday night, when Billy Butler of the Royals got ejected in mid-at-bat for arguing a called second strike. Tony Abreu had to come in to finish the plate appearance, swung at and missed the only pitch he saw, and then sat back down. So again, because Butler "left the game" with two strikes, he gets charged with the K -- despite already having been tossed out of the game. The last known occurrence of a player striking out after getting ejected was on June 24, 2004. Then-Giant Michael Tucker took offense to a high pitch from Eric Gagné, dived out of the way, and then got in a shouting match that cleared the benches and got both players ejected. Damon Minor came on to complete the strikeout once order was restored.

  • In other pinch-hitter news this week, Tyler Moore of the Nationals homered in Tom Gorzelanny's spot in the seventh inning on Tuesday. The Nats have four pinch-hit home runs this year; Moore has the last two. But two innings later, Scott Hairston hit for Mets CF Andres Torres and also belted a home run. The Mets have 10 pinch-hit homers this year, tied with Colorado for the most in the majors. It's just the second time this year that opposing teams have hit pinch-hit home runs in the same game; both have been in the last week. The Mets (Ronny Cedeño) and Braves (Eric Hinske) matched each other last Saturday. There were two such games in 2010, but none during the 2011 campaign.

  • Dexter Fowler led off for the Rockies last Sunday (as he's been doing for all of September). If the leadoff man is supposed to get on base, Fowler cooperated. He went 3-for-3 with two doubles and two walks. He was retired once on a double play, and stranded at either first or second the other four times. Didn't score a single run. He's the only leadoff hitter this season to reach base five times (via any combination of hits, walks, errors, etc.) and not score at least once. Nobody did it last year, either.Then-Royal Gregor Blanco (four hits and a walk) posted the last such line on August 27, 2010. Fowler’s “feat” was a first (for a leadoff hitter) in Rockies franchise history.

  • B.J. Upton launched three homers out of Tropicana Field last Sunday. (OK, not really "out of" Tropicana Field, but over the wall.) He joins Jonny Gomes (2005) and Evan Longoria (2008) as the three Tampa Bay hitters with three-homer games. It's also the sixth consecutive season that exactly one leadoff hitter has had three home runs; Chris Heisey of the Reds (June 22) was last year's winner. Upton's homers were all solo shots, meaning he finished the game with "only" three RBI. Among this year's 10 three-homer games, only Ike Davis (July 28) hit three of the solo variety. The aforementioned Jonny Gomes had another three-HR game for Cincinnati on August 13, 2009. And he was the last player (before Upton on Sunday) to have a three-homer game and out-hit the entire opposing team. The Nats were shut out on two hits that day, just as the Rangers were against Upton. The two-hit shutout thrown by James Shields was the Rays' first since Matt Garza's no-hitter in July 2010.

  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia pulled off the rarest of cycle misses this week, going homer-triple-double and needing just the "elusive" single for Boston's first cycle since 1996 (John Valentin). Only 13 players have missed the cycle by the single this year, versus 219 needing the triple, 14 the double, and 46 the homer. Since Valentin, six other Red Sox hitters have gone homer-triple-double, most recently Dustin Pedroia on July 2, 2008. And ‘Salty’ is the first Boston catcher to have a homer, a triple, and a double in the same game since Rich Gedman hit for the cycle against Toronto on Sept. 18, 1985.

  • Hitter-friendly Chase Field (whose Park Factor for runs trails only Coors Field among NL stadiums) saw just one run and nine hits on Tuesday as the Diamondbacks got an RBI double from Miguel Montero to beat the Dodgers 1-0 on an unearned run. (Montero’s hit scored Paul Goldschmidt, who had reached on an error.) It was the first 1-0 game at the ballpark this year, and just the 13th in its history. The Diamondbacks have won seven of those. Overall, Arizona has won just 16 1-0 games since the franchise was founded, and Tuesday's was the second of those wins that came on an unearned run. The first was last year (May 14), also against the Dodgers, when Stephen Drew was on second, went to third on a wild pickoff throw and then scored on a sacrifice fly.

  • The Astros also won a 1-0 game on Tuesday, the third 1-0 victory among their 46 this season. That's actually the most 1-0 wins in the National League, and it trails only Seattle (who has five) in the majors. These are, however, still the Astros. En route to their 1-0 win, they committed four errors, all allowing batters to reach base. But those errors came in four different innings, and the Cubs didn't advance any of the runners. The last team to commit four-plus errors, score only one run, and still win the game? That's your 1997 World Champion Florida Marlins, who also made four miscues against the Cubs on April 10 of that season but made Gary Sheffield's RBI single in the first inning stand up for the win.

  • It took until Sept. 14 for the Reds to make their first foray into the new Marlins Park in Miami. It didn't go well. Cincinnati managed just three hits and got shut out 4-0, just the third shutout the Marlins have put up in their new home. Of the 18 visiting teams to play their first game on the former Orange Bowl site this year, the Red Sox (one run on five hits) came the closest to the Reds' futility. Half got to double digits in hits, and three scored 10-plus runs. Overall, visiting teams were an even .500 (9-9) in their first game at the new stadium this season.

  • CC Sabathia threw two wild pitches and hit a batter (Evan Longoria) in Friday night's loss to the Rays. Although none of those directly led to a run, it was just the second game in Sabathia's career with two-or-more WP and a hit batter. The other was back in 2005 when he was with Cleveland. In the majors, 10 pitchers this year have bounced two and hit one in a game. Three of them have been Yankees, including Freddy Garcia's infamous five-WP game back in April and Hiroki Kuroda in July. No other team has had more than one such game. And it's the first time in the live-ball era that three different Yankees have done it in the same season. (They had three such outings in 2002, but two were by Roger Clemens.)

  • Kris Medlen of the Braves posted 13 strikeouts in his seven innings on Friday night, allowing just one run to the division-leading Nationals. Atlanta, however, couldn't get the offense going, and Medlen left the game tied 1-1. The Braves needed a walk-off throwing error to win the game in the bottom of the ninth. Medlen is just the fourth pitcher this season to record 13 strikeouts and NOT win the game. Aaron Harang and Anibal Sanchez got no-decisions in April, while Francisco Liriano took a 15-K loss in Minnesota's first game after the All-Star Break. Medlen is the first Braves pitcher with a 13-strikeout non-win since John Smoltz allowed two runs (and the bullpen allowed four more) to the Mets on April 10, 2005. The last five Braves to do it before that: Jason Marquis (2001), Kevin Millwood (2000), Pete Smith (1989), Phil Niekro (1977), and Warren Spahn (1952).