Elias Says: Apr. 1, 2018

Cruz sets major league record for homering in season opener and second game

The Mariners lost to the Indians 6-5, but Nelson Cruz homered again, just as he did in the Mariners’ season opener on Thursday. It’s the fourth time that Cruz has homered in each of his first two games of a season. He also did so three times for Texas, in 2010, 2011 (when he tied a major-league record by homering in each of his team’s first four games of a season) and 2014. Cruz is the first player in major-league history who homered in his first two games of a season as many as four times.

Adam eats up bases in Nationals’ win

Adam Eaton, batting leadoff, went 5-for-5 with a home run, two doubles, and four runs scored in the Nationals’ 13-7 win in Cincinnati. Eaton is the first leadoff batter since Charlie Blackmon on April 4, 2014 to go 5-for-5 or better with three-or-more extra base hits and at least four runs scored. One other leadoff hitter in Nationals franchise history did that: Hall of Famer Tim Raines for the Expos on Aug. 16, 1987, against the Pirates.

Pillar is a greedy thief in Blue Jays’ win

Kevin Pillar stole second base, third base and home plate in the eighth inning to score the final run of the game in the Blue Jays’ 5-3 win over the Yankees. Pillar is the fourth player in the last 20 seasons (since 1999) to steal second, third and home in the same inning. Jayson Werth did it in 2009, Dee Gordon in 2011, and Wil Myers last season. Pillar is the first Blue Jays’ player to steal second, third, and home in the same game.

Altuve and Correa both go 4-for-5 in Astros’ win

Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa both went 4-for-5 in the Astros’ 9-3 win in Arlington, with Correa homering and hitting a double. It was the first time that Altuve and Correa have each generated at least four hits in the same game. In fact, that’s something that Astros legends Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell never did in the same game, and no Astros pair has done it more than once.

Yelich goes 5-for-5 to help propel Brew Crew to 3-0 start

In his third game with the Brewers, Christian Yelich went 5-for-5 to help them win, 7-3, in San Diego and improve to 3-0. Yelich is just the third player in the last 80 seasons (since 1939) to go five-for-five or better in one of his first three games with a team. Ty Cline did it in his third game for the Cubs in 1966 and Luis Polonia did it in his second game for the Tigers in 1999.

Cabrera bats leadoff instead of cleanup, Mets win either way

Asdrubal Cabrera, batting leadoff, went 3-for-5 with two doubles in the Mets’ 6-2 victory over the Cardinals, helping boost the team to a 2-0 start. Cabrera hit leadoff in the Mets opener, and he is the first player since 1915 to bat fourth in their team’s opener and leadoff in their second game. Joe Schultz did it for the 1915 Brooklyn Dodgers, though it didn’t work out as well as it has for the Mets. With Schultz batting cleanup, the Dodgers dropped the season opener to their city rivals, the New York Giants, 16-3. Then with Schultz leading off, the Dodgers lost their second game to the Giants, 2-0, and they were no-hit by Rube Marquard in the process! By the way, since 1900, only one major-league player has done what Schultz and Cabrera did, but in reverse: Hall of Famer Tim Raines hit leadoff in the Expos’ 1989 opener and fourth in their second game.

Angels win with production from Trout and Pujols

Mike Trout went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and Albert Pujols went 2-for-5 with two RBIs in the Angels’ 8-3 win in Oakland. The Angels are now 17-2 when both Trout and Pujols each produce at least two hits and RBIs.

Bogaerts has been a doubles machine

Xander Bogaerts went 3-for-4 with a home run, double, and two RBIs in Boston’s 3-2 win against the Rays in St. Petersburg. Bogaerts now has five doubles in the Red Sox’ first three games of the season. Only three players since 1900 have notched five doubles in their team’s first three games of a season: the Tigers’ Pop Dillon in 1901, the Reds’ Jim Greengrass in 1954, and the Mets’ Carlos Beltran in 2008. Bogaerts now has two extra-base hits in each of his first three games. Only one other player in the live ball era (since 1920) had multiple extra-base hits in his first three games of a season: Adrian Gonzalez did it with the Dodgers in 2015.

Zobrist is a hero in extras

Ben Zobrist hit an RBI single in the tenth inning to break a 6-6 tie in Miami. Kris Bryant added a three-run double as the Cubs went on to a 10-6 win. Zobrist now has a .350 career batting average in extra innings, and more unbelievable, has a .500 on-base percentage after the ninth inning. Only two other players to debut in the expansion era (since 1961) with at least 120 extra-inning plate appearances can boast a .500-or-better OBP: Frank Thomas (.536) and Joe Mauer (.500).

But even with his terrific extra-inning batting average, Zobrist’s RBI on Saturday night was his first in extra innings in a regular-season game in his three seasons with the Cubs. Of course, there was that little thing he did in the 10th inning of Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Cleveland, when his double produced the tie-breaking run.

Gibson doesn’t allow a hit in six, Twins cruise

Kyle Gibson did not allow a hit—he did walk five—in six innings of work in the Twins’ 6-2 win in Baltimore. Gibson became the first player in Twins/Senators history to throw more than two innings and not allow a hit in his first start of a season.

Blackmon 2, D-Backs 1

Charlie Blackmon took things into his own hands in Phoenix on Saturday night. After the Rockies had lost their first two games of the season, Blackmon hit a pair of home runs to account for all of his team’s scoring in a 2-1 victory over the Diamondbacks. Blackmon became just the second Rockies player to hit two solo home runs in a game, with those homers representing all of the team’s runs. Nolan Arenado had such a game at Wrigley Field two years ago, connecting twice in a 2-0 victory over the Cubs. It was the first time in their 20-plus seasons that the Diamondbacks had lost in such a manner.

Maeda strikes out ten in five innings

Kenta Maeda pitched five shutout innings in the Dodgers’ 5-0 win against the Giants, allowing five hits and one walk while striking out 10. Maeda is the first Dodgers pitcher to strike out 10 batters in his first start of a season while pitching five-or-fewer innings. Maeda struck out 10 in a game on only one other occasion in the majors: he whiffed 13 Padres players in seven innings of work on July 10, 2016, at Dodger Stadium.

Unsung Braves’ signing Flaherty coming through early

Ryan Flaherty went 4-for-5 with two doubles and four runs scored in the Braves’ 15-2 win against the Phillies. Flaherty, who recently signed with the Braves, now has seven hits in his first three games with Atlanta. That’s the most hits in a player’s first three games with the Braves since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966.

White Sox 2-0 on two multi-run comeback wins

Trailing 3-1 in the eighth inning in Kansas City, the White Sox came back with a Yoan Moncada solo homer and a Welington Castillo two-run double to win, 4-3. The Pale Hose won the opener, 14-7, overcoming a 4-0 deficit. This is just the third season in franchise history in which the White Sox won their first two games of the season with multi-run comebacks. They also did it in their infamous 1919 season, as well as in 1978.

Historic return for Wizards’ Wall

John Wall, playing for the first time since he underwent knee surgery on Jan. 31, scored 15 points and was credited with 14 assists in the Wizards’ 107–93 win over the Hornets. That was the highest assist total in NBA history in a player’s first game back after an absence of at least 60 days (excluding a player’s first game of the season). The previous high was 11 by Isiah Thomas, after he missed 10 weeks with an injured wrist in 1991.

Mo masters March

Marcus Morris came off the bench to score a team-high 25 points in the Celtics’ 110–99 win over the Raptors. Morris capped his highest-scoring month in two-and-half years, and he became the first Boston sub to score at least 25 points in a game since Kelly Olynyk scored 26 in a victory at Atlanta 14 months ago (Jan. 13, 2017). Morris averaged 18.9 points per game during March, just short of his personal high of 19.3 PPG in three games in Oct. 2015.

Raptors’ loss is Rockets’ gain

With Toronto’s loss at Boston, Houston clinched the NBA’s best record for the season. It’s the first time in team history that the Rockets will finish a season with the best record in the league. Their 50 straight seasons without even a share of the league’s best mark was the second longest in NBA history. The Hawks have a current streak of 69 seasons.

Strong individual performances in another Knicks loss

The Pistons defeated the Knicks, 115–109, at Madison Square Garden, as New York suffered its 22nd loss in 26 games since January 31. But there was a bright spot for the home side, as Michael Beasley (32 points), Kyle O’Quinn (15 rebounds), and Trey Burke (15 assists) all gave Knicks fans something to cheer. It was the first time in nine seasons that three different Knicks players reached the 30-point, 15 rebound, and 15-assist levels in the same game. The last trio to do that for the Knickerbockers included Al Harrington (36 points), David Lee (21 rebounds), and Chris Duhon (22) assists in a 138–125 win over the Warriors.

Nets break slowly but win in OT

Coming into Saturday’s game at Miami, the Nets had outscored their last eight opponents in the first quarter; but they lost five of those games. So what happened against the Heat? You guessed it: Miami led, 32–22, at the end of the first quarter, but the Nets erased that deficit and posted a 110–109 overtime victory. That snapped Brooklyn’s streak of nine consecutive losses in games in which they “lost” the first quarter. The Nets had lost the previous 25 road games in which they were outscored by at least 10 points in the opening period.

Eichel ties a Sabres assist record

Jack Eichel tied a Sabres record when he assisted on five goals in Buffalo’s 7–4 win at Nashville. Three other players have earned five assists in one game for the Sabres and all three are in the Hockey Hall of Fame: Gilbert Perreault (three times), Dale Hawerchuk (once), and Pat LaFontaine (three times), who had the last five-assist game for Buffalo (Feb. 10, 1993 at Winnipeg). Eichel is the first U.S.-born player on any team to rack up five assists in an NHL game since Scott Gomez did that for the Devils against the Islanders on March 30, 2003.

Hurricanes are no match for King Henrik

Henrik Lundqvist earned only his fifth win in his last 22 games with a 40-save, 2–1 victory over the Hurricanes in Raleigh. Lundqvist has won all three games that he has played against Carolina this season, allowing only one goal in each game. His total of 28 career wins against the Hurricanes is the third-most all-time by a goaltender against the Hartford/Carolina franchise, behind Martin Brodeur (39) and Patrick Roy (35). The only other active NHL goaltenders with even half as many wins against the Hurricanes as Lundqvist are Marc-Andre Fleury (17), Ryan Miller (16), Roberto Luongo (15) and Carey Price (14).

Howard ends long shutout drought

Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard produced his first shutout of the season with a 2–0 win against the Senators in Detroit. Entering play on Saturday, Howard’s streak of 77 consecutive regular-season starts without a shutout was the longest current drought among active NHL goaltenders. That dubious distinction now belongs to Tampa Bay’s Louis Domingue, who has not posted a clean sheet in his last 69 starts in the NHL. Howard’s shutout drought was the longest by a Red Wings goaltender since Greg Stefan failed to post a shutout in 91 straight starts from February 1984 to March 1986.

Rookie DeBrusk scores twice for Bruins

Bruins rookie Jake DeBrusk scored two goals in an NHL game for the first time when Boston beat the Panthers, 5–1, on Saturday afternoon. DeBrusk is the third rookie to enjoy a multiple-goal game for the Bruins this season, following two-goal games by Anders Bjork (Oct. 19 vs. Vancouver) and Danton Heinen (Oct. 26 vs. San Jose). Three other NHL teams have had three rookies produce a multi-goal game for them this season: the Kings (Michael Amadio, Alex Iafallo, Adrian Kempe), Devils (Jesper Bratt, Blake Coleman, Nico Hischier) and Penguins (Zach Aston-Reese, Dominik Simon, Daniel Sprong).

Panarin and Jones put on a show in Vancouver

Artemi Panarin (four assists) and defenseman Seth Jones (one goal, three assists) each had a hand in all of the goals the Blue Jackets scored in their 5–4 overtime loss at Vancouver. They are the first pair of Columbus players to each produce at least four points in the same game since Dec. 10, 2013, when Cam Atkinson and Brandon Dubinsky each tallied four points for the Blue Jackets in a 5–4 win against the Devils. Panarin racked up 25 points in the 16 games he played for Columbus in March (eight goals, 17 assists), smashing the old franchise records for points (18) and assists (13) by a Blue Jackets player in a calendar month, marks which Panarin had previously equaled in December of this season

Penguins’ power play is strong again

Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel and Riley Sheahan each scored a power play goal for the Penguins in their 5–2 win against the Canadiens. Through December 31, Pittsburgh had a mediocre 13–11–1 record this season in games in which it scored at least one power play goal, but since New Year’s Day the Penguins are 17–2–0 when they have scored on their power play.

Taylor Hall notches another multiple-point game in Devil’s win over Isles

Taylor Hall scored a pair of goals for the Devils in their 4–3 win over the Islanders in Newark. It was Hall’s 26th multiple-point game this season, tying a Devils franchise set by Kirk Muller in 1987–88 and previously equaled by Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez in 2005–06, and Zach Parise in 2008–09. Hall recorded only 10 multi-point games last season, his first season with New Jersey.

Hellebuyck extends winning streak to six

Connor Hellebuyck extended his winning streak to six games with a 3–1 victory for the Jets in Toronto. Hellebuyck, a Michigan native, has 41 wins this season, only two shy of the NHL record for victories by a U.S.-born goaltender (43) set by Tom Barrasso with Pittsburgh in 1992–93. Two other Americans notched at least 41 wins in a season: Mike Richter with the Rangers in 1993–94 (42) and Ryan Miller for the Sabres in 2009–10.

Flames finally end bad losing streak

The Flames ended their seven-game losing streak with a 3–2 win against the Oilers on Saturday. The Flames not only failed to register a point in their previous seven games, but every loss was by a three-goal or four-goal margin. It was the first time that an NHL team lost seven or more consecutive games in one season, each by at least a three-goal margin, since the 1993–94 Ottawa Senators set the league record with nine straight losses by three goals or more.