Elias Says: May 21, 2017

Durant’s big third quarter keys Warriors’ win

Kevin Durant scored 19 points in the third quarter, his highest total in any period of a playoff game, on 5-for-6 shooting (83.3%) in the Warriors’ Game 3 win at San Antonio. Only one other player over the last 10 postseasons has scored as many points with as high a field-goal percentage in a quarter of a Conference Finals or NBA Finals game. LeBron James scored 19 points on 7-for-8 shooting (87.5%) for the Heat against the Spurs in the third quarter of Game 4 of the 2014 Finals.

Warriors win big in San Antonio despite early deficit

The Warriors overcame a four-point deficit at the end of the first quarter to win, 120–108 at San Antonio. The Spurs’ 12-point margin of defeat tied the second-largest that they’ve suffered in a home playoff game under Gregg Popovich that they led after one quarter. San Antonio lost by 14 to the Suns in the second round in 2010, and by 12 to the Mavericks in the 2003 Western Conference Finals.

Aberg scores his first playoff goal in a big spot

Rookie Pontus Aberg’s first Stanley Cup playoff goal was the game-winning goal for the Predators in their 3–1 victory at Anaheim in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. Only three other active players notched a game-winning goal in a Conference Final or Stanley Cup Final series with the first goal of their NHL postseason career: Braydon Coburn (for the Flyers in Game 1 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Final), Alec Martinez (for the Kings in Game 3 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final) and Simon Despres (for the Ducks in Game 3 of the 2015 Western Conference Final.)

Nova’s control makes history through first 20 starts for Pirates

Ivan Nova didn’t allow a walk in seven-and-one-third innings of the Pirates’ 6–3 home win over the Phillies. In 20 starts for Pittsburgh since arriving in a trade with the Yankees last August, Nova has surrendered just seven bases on balls. That’s the lowest walk total by any pitcher over his first 20 starts for one team since the pitcher’s mound was set at its current distance in 1893. The only other pitcher over that span to allow fewer than 10 free passes over his first 20 games started for a particular team was Hal Brown, who walked eight for the Houston Colt .45s in 1963.

Three important homers by Castillo over the last two games

One day after hitting a game-tying home run in the sixth inning and a walkoff blast in the 10th, Welington Castillo smashed a three-run homer in the seventh inning to turn a deficit into a lead as the Orioles defeated the Blue Jays, 7–5. Only two other Orioles players have hit three lead-changing home runs in the sixth inning or later over a two-game span since the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954: Boog Powell (Aug. 15-16, 1966) and Charles Johnson (April 5-6, 2000.)

Rio Ruiz’s first homer is memorable

Rio Ruiz’s first major-league home run, a second-inning shot off Max Scherzer, gave the Braves a lead they would not relinquish in Atlanta’s 5–2 home win over Washington. Ruiz is the sixth rookie ever to drive in the eventual game-winning run on his first major-league homer, coming against a pitcher who won the Cy Young Award the previous season. The first five were Tony Taylor (vs. Warren Spahn in 1958), Rusty Staub (Don Drysdale in 1963), Fred Kendall (Bob Gibson in 1971), Danny Tartabull (LaMarr Hoyt in 1984), and Will Rhymes (Zack Greinke in 2010.)

A big game for White Sox outfielder Garcia. Which one?

Avisail Garcia doubled twice, homered twice, and drove in six runs in the White Sox’ 16–1 win at Seattle. Since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920, only two other Southsiders players have produced at least four extra-base hits and six RBIs in one game: Pat Seerey (4 HR, 7 RBI) at Philadelphia on July 18, 1948, and Robin Ventura (2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI) against Milwaukee on July 19, 1991.

Tigers go back-to-back-to-back in the first inning

Alex Avila, Miguel Cabrera, and J.D. Martinez hit consecutive home runs off A.J. Griffin in the first inning of the Tigers’ 9–3 home win over the Rangers. Detroit had not hit three straight home runs in the first inning since July 29, 1974, when Al Kaline, Bill Freehan, and Mickey Stanley went back-to-back-to-back against Cleveland’s Fritz Peterson.

Entering Saturday, Griffin had been one of only three major-league pitchers who had made at least five starts in 2017 without surrendering the game’s first run in any of them. Chris Archer and James Paxton were the others.

Miller remains untouchable for Cleveland

Andrew Miller struck out two in a scoreless eighth inning of the Indians’ 3–0 win at Houston. Miller has now thrown exactly 50 regular-season innings for Cleveland, over which he’s struck out 75 batters and posted an ERA of 1.08. That strikeout total is the highest in franchise history by a pitcher through his first 50 innings with the team. And his ERA ties Vicente Romo (1.08 in 1968, the “year of the pitcher”) for the lowest by any Cleveland pitcher through his first 50 innings for the team since earned runs became an official statistic in the American League in 1913.

Another big first inning for D-Backs, and against Padres

One night after scoring eight first-inning runs against the Padres, the Diamondbacks put a five-spot on the scoreboard in the opening frame of their 9–1 win at San Diego. Only one other team in the last 10 years has scored at least five first-inning runs in two consecutive games. That was the Blue Jays, against the Giants in May 2013.

Saturday was the third time on its current homestand, which is scheduled to last seven games and end Sunday, that San Diego allowed at least five first-inning runs; the Brewers scored five on Tuesday. Only one other team in major-league history has allowed five-or-more first-inning runs three times on a homestand of 10-or-fewer games. That was the Pirates, who did so on a nine-game stand in September 2004.

Reyes gets hits #2000, 2001, & 2002

Jose Reyes’s first-inning single was the 2000th hit in his major-league career in the Mets’ 7–5 home win over the Angels. Reyes, who debuted with New York in 2003, is just the third player to reach 2000 career hits after playing his first-ever game in a Mets uniform. The others were Amos Otis, who debuted in 1967 and Ken Singleton, who played his first game in 1970. Only 27 of Otis’s 2020 total hits were produced for the Mets. Singleton produced 125 of his eventual 2029 hits for New York. Reyes, who added two more hits on Saturday after his milestone single, has hit safely 1398 times for the Amazin’s (also 184 for the Marlins, 370 for the Blue Jays, and 50 for the Rockies.)

Another two-homer game for Dickerson in an unusual role

Designated hitter Corey Dickerson, batting first in Tampa Bay’s lineup, hit two home runs in the Rays’ 9–5 home win over the Yankees. It’s the second time in five days that Dickerson homered twice out of the leadoff slot as a DH, having also done so at Cleveland on Tuesday. Only two other designated hitters have ever had two multi-homer games as leadoff batters in one season. Darin Erstad did that for the Angels in 2000, and Dave Dellucci repeated the feat for the Rangers in 2005.

Giants and Cards don’t score until the 13th

Christian Arroyo’s two-run double broke up a scoreless tie in the 13th inning and San Francisco went on to defeat the St. Louis, 3–1. The Giants and Cardinals have played each other over 2000 times in the regular season and another 24 times in the postseason. But only two of their previous matchups were scoreless after 12 innings. New York won, 1–0 on an 18th-inning walkoff single by Hughie Critz at the Polo Grounds on July 2, 1933. St. Louis won 1–0 on a Todd Zeile RBI single in the 13th inning at Candlestick Park on July 4, 1992.

A’s hit three fifth-inning homers

Mark Canha, Khris Davis, and Chad Pinder each hit home runs in the fifth inning of the Athletics’ 8–3 win over the visiting Red Sox. Oakland hadn’t homered three times in one inning since Sept. 27, 2012, at Texas (Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss, and Josh Reddick in the 8th inning.) The last time the A’s did that in a home game was on April 15, 2006, also against the Rangers (Eric Chavez, Frank Thomas, and Milton Bradley in the 6th.)

Rockies, Reds exchange big innings

The Rockies scored six runs in the top of the fifth inning, and the Reds tallied six times in the bottom of the sixth inning of Cincinnati’s 12–8 win. It was the 15th time that Colorado and its opponent each scored at least six runs in an inning in one game. The first 12 of those games took place at Coors Field, but the last three have been on the road - at San Diego in 2012, at Arizona in 2016, and at Cincinnati Saturday.