Elias Says: June 5, 2017

Warriors extend winning streak to tie multi-league record

• The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers, 132–113, in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, extending their playoff winning streak to 14 games, which spans the entire 2017 postseason. That ties the longest such streak in any of the major North American pro leagues, a mark that was set by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992 and 1993.

Two triple-doubles in one playoff game

Stephen Curry scored 32 points and contributed 10 rebounds and 11 assists in the Warriors’ win in Game 2, but LeBron James also had a triple-double for the losing side (29 points, 11 rebounds, and 14 assists). It was only the second playoff game in NBA history in which more than one player recorded a triple-double, whether teammates or opponents. The first was a 1970 Eastern Conference Finals game in which the Knicks defeated the Bucks, with Walt Frazier and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar providing the TDs. That was Abdul-Jabbar’s rookie season.

James’ triple-double on Sunday was his eighth in the NBA Finals, tying Magic Johnson’s record. James has accounted for eight of the last 10 TDs in the Finals since 2011. Draymond Green and Curry have the others.

A historic performance by a leadoff hitter

Ender Inciarte went 5-for-5 and drove in five runs in the Braves’ 13–8 victory at Cincinnati. RBIs have been compiled on an official basis since 1920. During those 98 seasons, Inciarte was the first leadoff hitter to deliver five hits and at least five RBIs in a game of only five at-bats.

For the record, eight other leadoff hitters had at least five hits and five RBIs in one game, albeit in more than five official ABs. Two did so for Atlanta: Denis Menke in 1966 (5-for-6, 5 RBIs), and Willie Harris in 2007 (6-for-6, 6 RBIs).

Ellis’ long AB ends with a GW-RBI

• A.J. Ellis fouled off eight two-strike pitches before delivering a two-out seventh-inning RBI single that proved to be the game-winner in the Marlins’ 6–5 victory over the Diamondbacks. Only two other players in this century drove in the winning run of a game on an at-bat of at least 14 pitches: Jose Lopez of the Mariners against the A’s in 2009 (9th inning), and Kevin Youkilis of the White Sox against the Royals in 2012 (14th inning).

Upton gains revenge on Renteria and his White Sox

• Justin Upton’s walkoff home run gave the Tigers a 7–4 victory after White Sox manager Rick Renteria chose to intentionally walk J.D. Martinez to face Upton. That was a questionable move, considering that Upton’s total of 20 home runs in Late-Inning Pressure Situations over the past four seasons (2013–16) was tied for the second highest in MLB during that time, trailing only Chris Davis (28).

Incidentally, over the last three seasons, only one other player hit a walkoff home run immediately following a intentional walk: Yonder Alonso of the A’s, after Astros manager A.J. Hinch chose to walk Coco Crisp (April 29, 2016).

As scant consolation, Rays retire Valencia after 9 hits

• The Mariners completed a three-game sweep of the Rays with a 7–1 victory, but at least Tampa Bay managed to get Danny Valencia out before leaving Seattle. Valencia went 9-for-10 in the series, fouling out in his final at-bat after nine straight hits. The last player to start a series 9-for-9 was Dustin Pedroia against the White Sox in August 2008.

McCutchen celebrates his anniversary with a big game

• On the eighth anniversary of his major-league debut, Andrew McCutchen went 3-for-5 and capped the scoring with a three-run homer in the ninth inning of the Pirates’ 11–1 win over the Mets. Since McCutchen’s debut (June 4, 2009), he is one of only three players with at least 150 homers and 150 stolen bases. The others are Ryan Braun and Mike Trout, who didn’t make his MLB debut until 2011.

The secret to Chris Sale’s recent success

• It’s amazing what a little run support can do for a pitcher’s record. Chris Sale had a 1.19 ERA in five starts during April, but he finished the month with a 1–3 record. Since May 1, Sale’s earned-run average has risen in each of his seven starts. Despite a 4.27 ERA in those games, he is 6–0. The explanation: The Red Sox scored a total of 10 runs in Sale’s five starts in April, compared to 59 runs in seven starts since May 1.

On Sunday, the Sox picked Sale up after he allowed three runs in the first inning. Boston rallied for a 7–3 win at Baltimore, extending Sale’s winning streak to six.

Houston reaches a milestone

• The Astros defeated the Rangers, 7–2, and they have now outscored their opponents by 102 runs in 57 games this season (312–210). Over the last 15 seasons, only three other teams reached the plus-100 milestone that early in a season: the Rays in 2010 (44th game), A’s in 2014 (51st game), and Cubs last season (29th game).

Jays out-homer Yankees 2–0, win game 3–2 …and so it goes

• Live by the homer, die by the homer. On a day when the Yankees failed to hit a home run, they were unable to nurse a 2–0 lead to the finish line. Justin Smoak’s two-run home run tied the score in the sixth inning and Josh Donaldson’s solo homer in the eighth was the game-winner in the Blue Jays’ 3–2 victory. That’s how it’s gone this season for the Yankees, who have a 30–11 record in games in which they have hit at least one homer, but are 2–11 when they are homerless.

Welcome to baseball in the twenty-tens. Toronto is now six games above .500 in games with a home run (25–19), compared to its 3–10 mark in games without a homer. In fact, only one American League team has either a losing record in games with a home run or a winning record in games without one: Houston (34–11 and 7–5, respectively). There were only two such AL teams in the three previous seasons: Oakland in 2015 (46–49 when hitting a HR), and Minnesota in 2016 (49–61 when hitting a HR).

Franco’s HR ends Phillies’ streak of losing series

Maikel Franco hit a tie-breaking home run in the bottom of the eighth that gave the Phillies not only a 9–7 win over the Giants but a 2–1 victory in their three-game weekend series. That snapped Philadelphia’s streak of 10 consecutive series losses, matching their longest such streak since the early 1940s. The Phillies last lost 10 straight series in 1997. But the last time they lost more than 10 in a row was 1941, when Philadelphia dropped a team-record 14 consecutive series.

Francona mixes and matches, Indians relievers deliver

• Five Cleveland relievers combined to throw 7.1 scoreless innings after a long rain delay ended Travis Bauer’s start, and the Indians routed the Royals, 8–0. It was only the second time in team history that as many as six Indians pitchers participated in a shutout in a game of nine or fewer innings. The previous instance was in 2006, with starter Jason Johnson going six innings before manager Eric Wedge got busy. Sunday’s game was the first in which Terry Francona used as many as six pitchers in a nine-inning shutout.

An exciting finish, ultimately disappointing for the home team

• What an ending that was in Oakland. The Nationals scored five runs in the top of the ninth to take an 11–4 lead on the A’s. But the home team rewarded those who stuck around for the bottom of the inning by making things hot for the Nats. The Athletics didn’t prevail, but they scored six times before Shawn Kelley retired the last two batters to nail down Washington’s 11–10 victory.

It had been 10 seasons since both teams scored at least five runs in the ninth inning of one game. The last such game was the White Sox’ 11–10 victory over the Twins on September 7, 2007. The last involving the Athletics was played in 1939 at Shibe Park, their longtime home in Philadelphia. It was a 12–8 loss to the Indians, in which Cleveland scored nine in the ninth.