Kernels: Pitchers going beyond their duty

Zack Greinke isn’t just pitching extremely well, he’s doing everything he possibly can to help the Los Angeles Dodgers keep winning.

Greinke stole his second base of the season on Sunday against the Padres. He became the first pitcher for any team to have two steals in a season since Orlando Hernandez for the Mets in 2007. The last to do it for the Dodgers was Orel Hershiser in 1987.

This was one of a number of interesting and unusual pitching feats this week. Here’s a run-through of our favorites:

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Miami Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez hit his first career triple to start the third inning against Atlanta on Friday.

Fernandez just turned 21 on the last day of July. In the past 40 years, only two pitchers younger than Fernandez have ever tripled in a game: Rick Ankiel (April 5, 2000) and Fernando Valenzuela (September 6, 1981). Both were 20 at the time.

The last three 21-year-old pitchers to triple (all further into the year than Fernandez): Steve Avery, John Smoltz, and Dwight Gooden.

Jonathon Niese of the Mets pitched a three-hit shutout against the Phillies on Tuesday, but he made bigger noise as a batter. In the bottom of the 6th inning, Niese came up with the bases loaded and doubled to center field to score all three runners and provide the final victory margin of 5-0.

Niese became the fifth pitcher this season with a three-RBI game, but the first Met since Al Leiter also had a three-run double against the Padres on August 12, 1999.

But throwing a shutout on top of driving in three runs? No pitcher had done that since Arizona's Brandon Webb on May 20, 2006 (also a three-run double, against Atlanta); and only one other Mets pitcher had ever done it. That was Pete Falcone who had a solo homer and a two-run single against the Phillies on September 29, 1981.

Weirdness of the Week: The rain-shortened complete-game

Ticketholders at Comerica Park didn't quite get their full nine innings this week.

Tuesday's game against the Oakland Athletics was called in the top of the sixth inning due to rain. Athletics starter Tommy Milone ended up with a five-inning complete-game victory.

Bartolo Colon received credit for a seven-inning shutout in April during a rain-shortened game in Boston. Before that, the last Oakland pitcher with a complete-game win of less than nine innings was Steve Ontiveros in 1995. The Athletics hadn't had a pair of shortened complete games since 1949.

On Friday night it rained again at Comerica, causing the Tigers' game with Cleveland to be called after seven frames.

It was the first time the same stadium had seen two shortened games in four days since September 26 and 27, 2008, when games between the Orioles and Blue Jays at Camden Yards were both stopped after seven innings.

More Weirdness of the Week: The Extra-Inning Balk

In the 10th inning on Tuesday, Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler reached on a one-out single, eventually stole third, and then scored with two outs on a balk by Seattle Mariners reliever Danny Farquhar.

Not only was Tuesday's the first balk ever called on Farquhar, but it was the first one called on a Mariners pitcher this year. From 2006 to 2012, they got called for 48 of them, the most in the majors over that span (the Rockies had 47).

It was the fourth extra-inning balk called this season, and the second to score a run. Shawn Camp of the Cubs committed one on April 14 to score Hector Sanchez of the Giants, also with the go-ahead run in the 10th.

And it was just the second time in Mariners history that they had ever balked in a run in extra innings. Mike Stanton (that's the earlier Mike Stanton, not the one who pitched for the Braves throughout the '90s) had the other against the New York Yankees in 1984.