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Elias Says: June 4, 2017

Rookies are all the rage in the Stanley Cup Finals

A rookie has scored the winning goal in each of the first three games of this year’s Stanley Cup Final. Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel tallied the winner in both Game 1 and Game 2, and Frederick Gaudreau’s goal was the decisive score for Nashville in Game 3. This is only the second Stanley Cup Final since the NHL took exclusive control of the trophy in 1927 in which there were three game-winning goals scored by rookies. The only other time it happened was in 1939, when the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs, four games to one, and rookie Roy Conacher scored the winning goal for Boston in Games 3, 4 and 5!

Guentzel scored the only goal for the Penguins in Game 3, after scoring once in the series opener and twice in Game 2. Guentzel is the first player to score a goal in each of the first three games of a Stanley Cup Final series since Steve Yzerman did so for the Red Wings against the Flyers in 1997. Guentzel is just the second rookie in the last 70 years to score goals in each of three consecutive games at any juncture in a Stanley Cup Final series. Dino Ciccarelli did it with a goal in each of the first three games for the North Stars versus the Islanders in the 1981 Final.

Roman Josi scored one goal and assisted on two for the Predators on Saturday night. Josi is only the fifth defenseman to score as many as three points in a Stanley Cup Final game over the last 21 years. The other defensemen to do that since 1996: Colorado’s Rob Blake (1 goal, 2 assists in Game 1) and Adam Foote (1 goal, 2 assists in Game 6) in 2001, Carolina’s Frantisek Kaberle in 2006 (1 goal, 2 assists in Game 2), and Chicago’s Duncan Keith in 2010 (3 assists in Game 4).

King Albert joins 600 Home Run Club

Albert Pujols hit his 600th major-league home run in the Angels’ 7-2 win over the Twins, a long grand slam off Ervin Santana. The only player in major-league history who hit a “100th” home run of 400-or-higher that was a grand slam was Carlos Delgado, whose 400th home run was a grand slam, for the Mets at home off Jeff Weaver of the Cardinals on August 22, 2006. Delgado hit number 399 off Weaver earlier in the game and also homering twice in that game was Pujols himself: the 238th and 239th of his career off of John Maine.

Pujols is the ninth player to join the 600 home run club, and he had 1,223 extra-base hits leading up to his 600th homer. That’s the second-most for a player at the time of his 600th homer, behind Hank Aaron (1,233). Willie Mays had the next-most (1,193). Pujols was batting .308 entering the 600th home run, third-highest at the time of accomplishing the feat, below Babe Ruth (.349) and Hank Aaron (.312). Ruth started his career before RBIs became in official statistic in 1920. Among the 8 members of the 600 home run club who debuted since 1920, Pujols’s 1,855 RBIs at the time of number 600 rank second to only Aaron, who had one more (1,856).

Ervin Santana is a former teammate of Pujols; they played together for the Angels in 2012. Pujols is the third player to hit a “100th” home run of 500-or-higher off a former teammate. Jimmie Foxx hit number 500 while playing for the Red Sox in Philadelphia in 1940, off his former A’s teammate George Caster, and Manny Ramirez hit number 500 while playing for the Red Sox in 2008 in Baltimore off his former Red Sox teammate Chad Bradford.

Finally, a no hitter! Volquez breaks long spell

Edinson Volquez’s no-hitter was the first in the major leagues since Jake Arrieta threw one at Cincinnati in April 2016. That was longest stretch without a no-hitter in the majors in more than a decade––since there were none from Randy Johnson’s perfect game in May 2004 to Anibal Sanchez’s no-no in September 2006.

Volquez’s no-hitter was the Marlins’ sixth no-hitter in their 25 seasons. Only four teams have had as many no-hitters through their first 25 seasons: the Red Sox (10) from 1901-1925, the Astros (8) from 1962-1986, the Angels (7) from 1961-1985, and the White Sox (7) from 1901-1925.

Volquez struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth inning. Only three other pitchers in the expansion era (since 1961) have struck out the side in the last inning of a no-hitter: the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax against the Cubs on Sept. 9, 1965, the Giants’ Chris Heston against the Mets on June 9, 2015, and the Cubs’ Arrieta at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 30, 2015.

Volquez entered the game with a 1-7 (.125) record. That’s the lowest winning percentage for a pitcher in a season entering a no-hitter, among pitchers with at least three previous decisions. The previous lowest belonged to the Kansas City Cowboys’ (American Association) Henry Porter in 1888 and the Orioles’ Hoyt Wilhelm in 1958; each came into his no-hitter at 2-10 (.167).

Grand Slams defeat Triples, 7-0

Mike Zunino’s fifth-inning grand-slam homer produced four of his total of seven RBIs in the Mariners’ 9-2 victory over the Rays. In addition, after Albert Pujols delivered the sixth grand-slam of Saturday’s action, tying the single-day major-league record, Zunino’s slam set a new major-league mark of seven grand-slams in one day. The previous record of six grand-slam homers was set on May 21, 2000. Saturday’s slams truly ran the gamut from A to Z, ranging from Albert to Zunino.

So Saturday’s action featured seven grand-slams and the first MLB no-hitter in more than a year, but one thing it didn’t have: a triple. No MLB player hit a triple on any of the day’s 1,155 plate appearances, the first time that there have been no triples in a day of 15-or-more games since there were none in 15 games on May 27, 2008.

Schwarber channels 7th-inning magic in Cubs’ comeback win

The Cardinals took a 3-1 lead into the late Harry Caray’s rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” during the seventh-inning stretch. But with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning, Kyle Schwarber, batting ninth in Joe Maddon’s lineup, took a Mike Leake fastball deep over the left-centerfield fence for a game-winning grand slam. Schwarber is the first starting ninth batter to hit a behind-to-ahead game-winning grand-slam in the seventh inning or later since the Brewers’ Jose Valentin hit a game-winning grand-slam off the Blue Jays’ Mike Timlin on June 21, 1995, in Toronto. Schwarber is the first starting ninth batter in Cubs history to hit a behind-to-ahead grand slam homer in the seventh inning or later.

Adams a home run hero in Cincinnati

Matt Adams was the hero in the Braves 6-5 win in 12 innings in Cincinnati. Trailing, 1-0, in the fifth, Adams hit a grand slam off Scott Feldman; then in the top of the 12th, he hit a solo shot off Blake Wood, for the game-winner. Adams is the first player in Braves history to hit two go-ahead homers in the same game, one a grand slam and the other an extra-inning game-winner. Four other players in the expansion era (since 1961) have accomplished the feat, all in the American League. The Blue Jays’ Otto Velez victimized the Indians on May 4, 1980, the Red Sox’ Jack Clark did it against the A’s on July 31, 1991, the Royals’ Carlos Beltran crushed Texas on May 31, 2002, and the Mariners’ Kyle Seager came through against the Rays in St. Petersburg on May 26, 2015.

Taylor, a wizard with bases juiced, defeats Brewers with GSHR

Chris Taylor did it again, and this time with a flourish. Taylor’s ninth-inning grand-slam homer at Milwaukee produced the game’s final runs, turning an 8-6 deficit into a 10-8 lead and eventual victory. Taylor’s last seven plate appearances with the bases full have generated these results for the Dodgers: grand-slam (last July 15), RBI single (last July 31), walk (April 22), walk (April 27), grand-slam (May 8), walk (May 18) and grand-slam (June 3). That streak of seven consecutive bases-loaded plate appearances in which Taylor reached base by means of a hit, walk or hit batsman is the longest current streak of that sort for any major-leaguer. The last such streak of that length by a Dodgers player was turned in by Manny Mota, the former pinch-hitter par excellence, over the 1970 and 1971 seasons.

The victory was the Dodgers’ first ever over the Brewers after having trailed by three-or-more runs in the ninth inning. The last time that the Dodgers had beaten a Milwaukee team under those circumstances came in 1959, in the second game of a best-of-three tie-breaker series between the Dodgers and the Milwaukee Braves for the National League pennant. The Dodgers had won the first game, 3-2, in Milwaukee, but trailed the Braves, 5-2, the next afternoon at the Los Angeles Coliseum, before rallying for three runs in the ninth and one in the 12th to capture a 6-5 victory and their first pennant after moving west.

Grilli bombed by Bombers

The Yankees crushed the Blue Jays, 7-0, in Toronto with eight total hits: four home runs and four doubles. The Yankees became the first big-league team since 2010 to produce eight-or-more hits in a game, all for extra bases. It was the first game in Yankees history in which the team has had at least seven hits, all going for extra bases.

The Yankees hit all four homers in the eighth inning off of Jason Grilli, including three successive shots by Matt Holliday, Starlin Castro, and Didi Gregorius. The Yankees had not gone back-to-back-to-back since June 8, 2012, in a 9-1 home win over the Mets, when Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, and Andruw Jones all took Johan Santana deep in the third inning, in Santana’s first start after he had no-hit the Cardinals a week earlier at Citi Field.

Grilli is the first pitcher since the Rays’ Travis Harper in 2005 to give up four bombs to the Bronx Bombers in the same inning. On June 21 of that season in the eighth inning at old Yankee Stadium, Harper allowed a homer to Jorge Posada, and then back-to-back-to-back shots from Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, and Hideki Matsui.

Alonso is a firework

Yonder Alonso continued his home-run tear in the A’s 10-4 win over the Nationals, hitting his 16th of the season in only 144 at bats over 46 games played. Alonso’s home run frequency of one for every nine at-bats is the highest for any player with at least 100 at-bats this season, ahead of Freddie Freeman (one every 9.6 at-bats) and Aaron Judge (one every 10.1).

Only five other A’s players have hit 16 home runs over their first 150 at bats in a season: Jimmie Foxx (1932), Reggie Jackson (1969), Mark McGwire (1987, 1992, 1995, 1996), Jose Canseco (1990), and Jason Giambi (2000).

Alonso has hit 12 homers in 23 games since May 1. That’s the same total of homers that he had generated in his previous 193 games—since Aug. 17, 2015—before his current hot streak.

Nelson Cruz hits 100th homer with Mariners

Nelson Cruz hit his 100th home run with the Mariners in their 9-2 win vs. the Rays in his 358th game with Seattle. That is the fastest for a Mariners player to reach 100 homers, ahead of Richie Sexson (463 games) and Alex Rodriguez (470 games). In fact, Cruz reached 100 home runs with the Mariners faster than any other active player with a single team. The last player to reach 100 home runs with a club as quickly as Cruz with the Mariners was Carlos Pena with the Rays, who reached 100 homers with the team in June 2009, also in 362 games.

Cruz is one of five major leaguers who has hit at least 100 home runs with Seattle and at least 100 with a different team. The others: Ken Griffey Jr. (Mariners: 417, Reds: 210), Alex Rodriguez (Mariners: 189, Rangers: 156, Yankees: 351), Richie Sexson (Mariners: 105, Brewers: 133) and Adrian Beltre (Mariners: 103, Dodgers: 147, Rangers: 168).

The Price is right in Baltimore

David Price defeated Baltimore at Camden Yards in his 250th career start, pitching seven innings with his only run allowed coming on a Manny Machado solo homer. Price is now 122-65 (.652) with a 3.22 ERA and 1601 strikeouts in the 250 starts. Price is one of 395 pitchers to make 250 starts who debuted since earned runs became official in both leagues in 1913, and only six others have had a .650 winning percentage, an ERA of 3.25 or lower, and 1,500 strikeouts over their first 250 starts. Those six: Bob Feller (.659, 147-76, 2.90, 1,736), Dwight Gooden (.697, 136-59, 2.97, 1,604), Roger Clemens (.688, 141-64, 2.80, 1,739), Pedro Martinez (.698, 134-58, 2.68, 2,028), Johan Santana (.661, 123-63, 3.06, 1,634), and Clayton Kershaw (.676, 119-57, 2.41, 1,819).

Machado hits another HR vs. Red Sox

Manny Machado hit a solo home run in the Orioles’ loss to Boston; Machado has hit a home run in six of his last 10 games vs. Boston. He is the only Orioles player — since the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954 — to hit at least one home run in six of 10 games against the Red Sox within a single season.

Tigers have been relentless with extra-base hits

The Tigers crushed the White Sox, 10-1, in a game in which they stroked seven extra-base hits (three doubles and four homers), a day after they blasted 12 extra-base hits in a 15-5 win over the visiting Pale Hose. Moreover, in their previous game on Wednesday in Kansas City, the Big Cats won, 6-5, in a game in which they produced seven extra-base hits. The Tigers’ total of 26 extra-base hits over three games broke a franchise record, the previous high being 25, from May 5 to May 8, 2007.

Six Astros combined to whiff Rangers 18 times

Six Astros pitchers combined to strike out 18 Rangers batters in Texas, with each pitcher recording at least one strikeout. It was the first game of nine-or-fewer innings in major-league history in which six pitchers on one team recorded a strikeout, and they all combined for at least 18 whiffs.

Firm Reed delivers 2 scoreless in save for Mets

With the Mets’ bullpen stretched thin, Terry Collins called upon Addison Reed to record a six-out save, and Reed responded with two scoreless innings in a 4-2 win over the Pirates. It was Reed’s 114th career save, and his first of more than four outs. Only two other pitchers started their careers with 100 straight saves of at least four-or-fewer outs: Craig Kimbrel has a current streak of 272 saves of four outs or fewer, and Kenley Jansen started his career with a streak of 144 such saves, from 2010 to 2016.

Lively gets ‘em to hit it where they are in MLB debut

Ben Lively earned a victory in his major-league debut, allowing only one run and four hits over seven innings as the struggling Phillies topped Johnny Cueto and the Giants, 5-3. Prior to Saturday night’s contest, Philadelphia had won only six of its last 32 games. Remarkably for baseball in 2017, Lively got 21 outs without striking out a single batter, becoming the first major-league pitcher this season to earn a win in which he pitched more than five innings without achieving a single strikeout. In fact, it had been more than a calendar year since a big-league pitcher had won a game in which he had no strikeouts in an outing of at least seven innings; Gerrit Cole delivered the last such win, on May 20 of last year against the Rockies.

Colorado rocks on the road

The Rockies crushed the Padres, 10-1, in San Diego to improve to 35-23 overall and 20-10 on the road. The 20-10 road start is the team’s best through 30 road games in any season in team history. In only one other season have the Rockies possessed a 20-10 (or better) span on the road: they had a 21-9 road span from June to August of the 2009 season en route to a Wild Card berth.

Nolan Arenado hit his 14th home run of the season; he has now hit 97 since the beginning of 2015, tied with Chris Davis for the second most in the majors over that time, behind Nelson Cruz (100).

Merry times for Merrifield

Whit Merrifield extended his hitting streak to 18 games with a two-run double in the fifth inning, providing the first two runs of what turned out to be a 12-5 victory by the Royals over the visiting Indians. Merrifield’s hitting streak is the longest in the major leagues this season; Mike Trout and Jean Segura had both put together 17-game streaks extending from April into May. The Royals second baseman, who batted leadoff in 10 games early this season, has fashioned his hitting streak while batting from sixth through ninth in the lineup.