Useless Roger Clemens Information
It's about time that Roger Clemens checked his birth certificate -- because 41-year-old pitchers are not supposed to do this stuff. And we'll prove it, in the latest edition of the Useless Information Department:
As loyal reader Gerard D'Angelo reports, Clemens has now started his career with three different teams (Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox) with a winning streak of at least five games. (He started 11-0 with Toronto, 5-0 with New York and 6-0 with Houston.)
But only two other pitchers in history have ever changed leagues in the offseason and then gotten off to 6-0 starts in their new league. The others, according to the Elias Sports Bureau:
1962 Billy Pierce, Giants (8-0)
1918 Earl Hamilton, Pirates (6-0)
And according to the Elias Sports Bureau, with Tuesday night's victory over Florida, Clemens became the first pitcher in more than 40 years to win his first seven starts for a team he didn't pitch for the previous year. The last was Pierce, who won his first eight straight for the '62 Giants.
Over the last two seasons, Clemens went into Tuesday with 10 regular-season wins in a row. Ponder that a second. A 10-game winning streak by a pitcher in his 40s? It ain't unprecedented -- but it's close. The only other modern pitchers to win 10 straight decisions after turning 40, according to the Elias Sports Bureau: Warren Spahn (10) in 1961 and Rip Sewell (13) in 1948-49.
But that's not all. Clemens carried a 2.11 ERA into his start Tuesday against Florida. Only two pitchers his age (or older) ever had an ERA that low over a full season in which they made at least 20 starts -- Cy Young (1.26 in 1908) and Ted Lyons (2.10 in 1942). The only starter in the last half-century to have an ERA under 3.00 at Clemens' age: Spahn (2.60 in 1963).
If Clemens keeps on whiffing hitters at this rate and gets 35 starts, he'd finish with 233 strikeouts. Only one pitcher 41 or older has ever struck out 200 in a season. Guess who?
But it's Clemens' strikeout rate that's so amazing. Over his first six starts, he punched out 41 in 38 1/3 innings -- a ratio of 9.63 per 9 IP. Only one starting pitcher this old has ever whiffed more than a hitter an inning, too, according to Lee Sinins' Sabermetric Encyclopedia. Same guy:
But suppose Clemens wins 20? It sure isn't out of the question at this point. How many pitchers, aged 41 or older, ever did that? Exactly two -- Spahn (23) in 1963 and Cy Young (21) in 1908. Pretty good list.
It's pretty absurd to have a man this age allowing 6.10 hits per 9 IP. But Clemens did that, too, over his first six starts. Here are the five best hits-per-9-IP ratios by starters his age (or older), according to the Sabermetric Encyclopedia:
Then there's the whole Clemens-Andy Pettitte tag-team angle. In Clemens' first two wins as an Astro, he gave up one hit in the first start and two hits in the second. In Pettitte's first two wins as an Astros, he also gave up one hit in the first start and two hits in the second.
These two guys made a combined 882 starts in the American League -- and never made back-to-back starts in which they won both games and gave up a total of only three hits (or fewer).
Clemens' best was four -- in back-to-back two-hit outings on July 4 and 14, 1994. Pettitte never allowed fewer than six hits over any two-start span as a Yankee. He did that twice -- but got a no-decision in at least one of the starts both times.
But the unhittability of those two didn't stop there. If you throw out Clemens' April 24 start at Coors Field, in the other eight wins by him and Pettitte through Monday, they'd allowed a total of just 22 hits. That's under three hits per win. Incredible.
Since Pettitte recruited Clemens to play for the Astros, we'll let him tag along for this note: In his three-start winning streak, Pettitte has given up the absurd total of five hits (in 17 innings). We asked Retrosheet's Dave Smith how many other pitchers in the last 30 years have given up that few hits and won three times in a three-start span.
Only two other pitchers matched Pettitte exactly (three starts, five hits):
Tommy Greene, Phillies, in May, 1991 (24 IP, 5H)
Randy Johnson, Mariners, in June, 1997 (25 IP, 5H)
Two pitchers, meanwhile, allowed four hits over three starts -- but didn't get a win in all three:
Trevor Wilson, Giants, in June, 1990 (18 IP, 4 H)
Damian Moss, Braves, July-August, 2002 (22 IP, 4H)
And only one starter allowed a total of just three hits in three starts (over 19 1/3 IP). That was the inimitable Nolan Ryan, in May, 1991. But it sums up Ryan's career that the only start he won in that period was a May 1 no-hitter.
Finally, as loyal reader (and, we have to announce, chief spokesman for the Roger Clemens Award) Chuck Pool reports, they should just name the Pitcher of the Month award after Clemens. April marked the 15th time he has won it -- and in three different decades.
The breakdown by month: 3 in April, 2 in May, 2 in June, 2 in July, 5 in August, 1 in September.
By Decades: 4 in the '80s, 8 in the '90s , and 3 in the '00s.
Useless 16-15 Information
It looked more like an NBA playoff score than a baseball score. It looked more like a video game than a baseball game. But it happened in real life Saturday night: Rangers 16, Tigers 15, in 10 very bizarre innings. Here is some of the most useless tidbits to come out of that game:
The Tigers have been around for 104 seasons. This was the 144th time they'd scored at least 15 runs in a game. And in the first 143 games, they went a spiffy 141-2. But this was the first time since 1921 they'd scored 15 runs in nine innings and lost. In their insane 17-16 loss to the White Sox on Sept. 14, 1998, they scored four runs in extra innings -- but gave up five.
If you're racking your brain to try to think of the last time a team scored 15 runs in nine innings -- and was forced to go extra innings to win -- keep racking. It hadn't happened in 25 years -- since one of our favorite games of all time: Phillies 23, Cubs 22 in 10 classic Wrigley Field innings.
But then, it's tough to score 15 runs and lose in any amount of innings. According to Retrosheet founder Dave Smith, that has happened to only 11 other teams in the entire division-play era. Six of those games required extra innings. And four were played in Wrigley. Here they are:
Aug. 3, 1969 Reds 19, Phillies* 17
May 23, 1970 Padres 17, Giants* 16 (15 innings)
April 17, 1976 Phillies 18, Cubs* 16 (10 innings)
July 28, 1977 Cubs* 16, Reds 15 (13 innings)
May 17, 1979 Phillies 23, Cubs* 22 (10 innings)
Sept. 24, 1985 Expos 17, Cubs* 15
May 19, 1990 Phillies 15, Dodgers* 12 (11 innings)
June 30, 1996 Rockies* 16, Dodgers 15
Sept. 14, 1998 White Sox 17, Tigers* 16 (12 innings)
May 5, 2000 Rangers* 17, White Sox 16
May 14, 2000 Expos* 16, Cubs 15
(* - home team)
The 18-run fifth inning (Tigers 8 runs, Rangers 10) was, of course, the Inning of the Year -- if not the century. Think about this: The Tigers and Rangers scored 18 runs in one inning. It took the Expos 12 games -- and 101 innings -- to score their first 18 runs this year.
That 18-run inning marked the first inning in history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, in which each team scored at least eight runs in the same inning. And it was only the second time since 1900 that two teams combined for at least 18 runs in one inning. The other: April 10, 1977, when the Indians (13) and Red Sox (6) paired up for 19.
There were 100 pitches thrown just in that fifth inning -- to get six outs. The Rangers threw fewer than that in a whole game earlier this year (99, in an April 6 loss to Oakland in which the A's didn't bat in the ninth).
And five different pitchers this year have thrown a complete game in which they didn't even need 100 pitches to get all 27 outs -- Carlos Zambrano (97), Roy Oswalt (94), Matt Morris (93), Sidney Ponson (88), and Tim Hudson (86). Plus Jake Westbrook threw a complete game in exactly 100 pitches -- against the Tigers.
The Rangers scored more runs in that fifth inning (10) than they've scored in the franchise's last eight postseason games combined (8).
By giving up 10 runs in that inning, the Tigers became just the third team in modern history -- and the first since 1936 -- to blow an entire double-digit lead in one inning. The others:
June 15, 1925 -- A's vs. Indians (down 15-4 in the sixth)
June 12, 1936 -- Tigers vs. Senators (down 11-1 in the sixth)
And oh by the way, the Tigers gave up more runs in that inning (10) than the Phillies have allowed in any inning over the last 15 years. Last time the Phillies gave up 10 in an inning, according to Elias: June 8, 1989, to the Pirates (in a game in which, amazingly, the Pirates also blew a 10-run lead).
Of the 28 batters in that fifth inning, 23 reached base (because Brian Jordan ended the fun with a double-play ball). The next night, the same two teams played in the same park. And in the entire game, only 16 hitters reached base.
In the midst of all this offense, Rondell White managed to go 0-for-6 for the Tigers. According to Elias, he's the first player to go 0-for-6 in a game in which at least 30 runs were scored since Jeff Cirillo did it for the Brewers on July 1, 1999, in a game in which they beat the Cubs, 19-12.
As Booth Newspapers' Danny Knobler reports, there was a certain symmetry to the pitchers who started and ended this inning. It began with Texas reliever Doug Brocail, who just returned to the big leagues in April for the first time since 2000. It ended with Craig Dingman pitching for the Tigers -- his first big-league inning since July 21, 2001.
And finally, speaking of symmetry, in Dingman's previous big-league inning back in 2001, he was part of a Rockies staff that gave up nine runs in one inning to the Dodgers. So what were the odds that in the next inning he pitched in, his team would give up more runs?