Elias Says: June 19, 2017

Koepka wins first major, evokes Irwin and Tiger

Brooks Koepka shot a five-under-par 67 in Sunday’s final round of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills and completed the four rounds in 272 strokes (16 under par). He became just the third player over the last 30 years to win the U.S. Open and shoot 67 or better in the final round. Hale Irwin and Tiger Woods shot 67 in the final round of the 1990 and 2000 U.S. Opens, respectively.

MLB smashes 3-day homer record

A total of 153 home runs were hit during the 46 big-league games from Friday through Sunday: 47 on Friday, 56 on Saturday, and 50 on Sunday. That total emphatically smashed the major-league record for homers over a three-day span. The previous high was 141 home runs from August 12 to 14, 2016. Prior to the 2016 season, the high was 135 home runs, April 7-9, 2000.

Of course, in most years before 1961, there were no more than 16 major-league teams, meaning that a full day of action often consisted of only eight games. But not only did this weekend’s home-run barrage result in MLB setting a record for total homers over a three-game span, but this weekend’s average of home runs per game (3.3) also stands as an all-time high over a span of three consecutive days during which at least 24 games were played.

N.L. West? More like N.L. Best!

The Rockies swept the Giants in Colorado to improve to 46-26 (.639) over the weekend, but the D-Backs and Dodgers kept one game off Colorado’s tail, both teams improving to 44-26 (.629), with sweeps in Philadelphia and Cincinnati, respectively. This is the first time in the history of divisional play (that is, since 1969) that three teams in the same division had a .620-or-higher winning percentage on or after Fathers’ Day.

Arenado’s Sunday: one of a kind

Nolan Arenado stood a home run shy of a cycle against the Giants on Sunday until, with the Rockies trailing, 5-4, with one out in the ninth, he blasted a three-run walk-off shot off Mark Melancon, giving the Rockies a most dramatic 7-5 win. Arenado is the sixth player in major-league history to hit a walk-off home run in a game in which he hit for the a cycle. The others: the Cardinals’ Ken Boyer in 1961, the Twins’ Cesar Tovar in 1972, the Royals’ George Brett in 1979, the Red Sox’ Dwight Evans in 1984, and the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez in 2010. But Arenado is the only one of those six players whose walk-off home run was of the most sensational type: the behind-to-ahead variety.

The Rockies have now beaten the Giants nine straight times, tying their longest-ever winning streak against a particular opponent. Colorado won nine straight games against the Reds in 2008-2009 and against the Nationals in 2008-2009. The Mile High club is now 46-26, and stand 20 games above .500 for only the second season in team history (they finished 92-70 in 2009).

A’s sweep Yankees with 4 comeback wins

The A’s completed a thrilling sweep of the Yankees with a 4-3 victory. The Yankees had a lead in each game of the series. This was the fourth time in Yankees history that the team was swept in a series of four-or-more games in which the Yankees had held a lead in each game, but you have to go back to two weeks after victory was declared in Europe in World War II to find the last time! From May 18 to 20, 1945, the Yankees held a lead in each of the four games against the Browns in St. Louis, but lost each game. The other two occasions: four games at home against the Browns in September 1907, and four games in Philadelphia against the Athletics in September/October 1912.

The A’s have enjoyed only one other sweep of four-or-more games with all wins being comebacks since the team moved to Oakland in 1968. They swept the Angels in four games from April 11 to 14, 1977, a run that featured two walk-off wins, including one against Nolan Ryan.

Rizzo continues to own the first inning

Anthony Rizzo led off the game with a double and scored on a Willson Contreras double in the first inning in Pittsburgh. Rizzo now has hits in each of his last seven at bats in the first inning, the longest streak since Andrew McCutchen had an eight-at-bat streak of consecutive first-inning hits in August-September, 2015.

Rizzo’s streak consists of two singles, three doubles, and two home runs. Rizzo is the second player in the expansion era (since 1961) to have a 7-for-7 span in first inning at-bats that included at least five extra-base hits. The other was the Braves’ Matt Diaz, in August 2007 (7-for-7 with six extra-base hits, including 2 home runs).

Vargas first to 10 W’s in 2017

Jason Vargas improved to 10-3, permitting three runs in six innings as the Royals’ offense had another big day in a 7-3 triumph in Anaheim. Vargas became the fourth Kansas City pitcher to be the majors’ first 10-game winner of a season; the others were Bret Saberhagen in 1987 (10th win on June 4), David Cone in 1994 (June 12, tied with Greg Maddux), and Kevin Appier in 1995 (June 19). None of those three Royals pitchers reached 20 wins in that particular season.​

deGrom does it all

Jacob deGrom deserved two wins in the Mets’ 5-1 defeat of the Nationals at Citi Field. On the mound, he allowed only one unearned run in eight innings of work; at bat, he belted his first major-league homer down 1-0, an opposite-field shot off the Nats’ Joe Ross, in the third inning. DeGrom is the fourth pitcher in the last five seasons (since 2013) to hit a home run in a game in which he pitched at least eight innings and did not allow an earned run. The others were Clayton Kershaw (April 1, 2013, against the Giants), the Reds’ Mike Leake (April 30, 2015, at Atlanta), and Madison Bumgarner, who was the last to do it (Aug. 16, 2015, against the Nationals).

DeGrom became just the second pitcher to hit an opposite-field home run this season: the Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman hit the other, on May 18 in Atlanta (it was also his first career home run). DeGrom became the first left-handed-hitting pitcher to go “oppo taco” since the Pirates’ Francisco Liriano took the Dodgers’ Mat Latos deep the other way on Aug. 8, 2015, in Pittsburgh.

The Mets have now won the last 17 games in which one of their pitchers homered, the longest current streak in the majors, ahead of a 16-game streak of that sort by the Indians.

Phillies snakebit by D-Backs’ pen

The Diamondbacks’ bullpen came through again, big time, in their 5-4, 10-inning victory in Philadelphia. Arizona’s relievers threw 4⅔ innings, allowing no runs on three hits while striking out eight, including Fernando Rodney striking out the side in order for his 20th save of the season. The win went to Archie Bradley, who pitched a scoreless ninth to improve to 3-1 and lower his season ERA to 1.13. The D-Backs now own a seven-game winning streak, during the course of which their bullpen is 3-0 with five saves and a 0.78 ERA, allowing only two runs in 23 innings.

The D-Backs are the only team this season that has won seven consecutive games over which the bullpen has produced a sub-1.00 ERA, with at least 21 innings pitched. They have had one other span like that in franchise history (7-0, 0.36 ERA in September-October of 2005).

Fernando Rodney’s 20th save came in Arizona’s 70th game. He’s the second-fastest to 20 saves in team history: Jose Valverde reached 20 saves in 58 games in 2007, en route to a 47-save season.

Bogaerts has lift off in Houston

Xander Bogaerts went 3-for-4 with two home runs and 4 RBIs in the Red Sox 6-5 win in Houston. The home runs, hit in the first and sixth innings, came off Astros’ starter Joe Musgrove, the first giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead and the second being a 2-run shot that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 Boston lead! But Xander wasn’t finished: he added an RBI single in the 7th inning for a much needed sixth insurance run. Bogaerts is the first Red Sox player since Adrian Beltre in 2010 to have at least 3 hits including 2 go-ahead homers in the same game. Beltre did that in a four hit game in Tampa on May 26 of that season.

EE has huge game, is officially on fire

Edwin Encarnacion drove in all five runs in the Indians’ 5-2 win in Minnesota, with a solo homer in the fourth off Kyle Gibson, a two-run shot off Gibson in the sixth, an RBI single in the seventh for some insurance, and a sac fly for some ninth-inning supplemental insurance. Encarnacion is the first Indians player in nearly 12 years to have a game in which he drove in all the team’s runs, with at least 5 RBIs. Ben Broussard last did that in a 5-2 win vs. Oakland on Sept. 13, 2005.

Encarnacion has six home runs and a .441/.556/1.029 (batting/on-base/slugging) slashline over his last 10 games. It’s the first 10-game span of his career win which “EE” has produced as slashline of .440+/.550+/1.000+.

Rookie Faria joins a short list of names

Jacob Faria earned the victory in the Rays’ 9-1 win over the Tigers in Detroit, striking out nine and allowing just one walk. Faria, who debuted just 11 days ago, has now won each of his first three big-league starts, totaling 22 strikeouts and just four walks. Only three other pitchers who debuted in the modern era (since 1900) have won their first three career starts with 20-or-more strikeouts and fewer than five walks allowed: the Yankees' Russ Ford in 1910 (22 SO, 4 BB), the Reds’ Mel Queen in 1967 (20 SO, 4 BB), and the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 (22 SO, 4 BB).

MoPo from LoMo

Logan Morrison hit home runs number 20 and 21 in Detroit, off Buck Farmer and Chad Bell. It was LoMo’s first multi-homer game since June 5 of last season, in Minnesota. Morrison has hit 15 homers in his last 40 games, tying Cody Bellinger for the most home runs since May 6. Morrison is the fifth Rays player to have hit 15 home runs in a “quarter-season” 40-game span. The others were Jose Canseco in 1999 (18), Carlos Pena in 2007 (20) and 2009 (15), Melvin Upton, Jr. in 2012 (15), and Brad Miller in 2016 (15).

Phillips delivers back-to-back walk-off RBIs

Brandon Philips played the hero again against the Marlins; the day after he provided a 10th-inning walk-off single, Phillips came through again with a 9th-inning walk-off single off the Marlins’ Drew Steckenrider.

Phillips is the first player this season to generate walk-off RBIs in back-to-back games. One player did that in 2016—the Indians’ Tyler Naquin last August 18-19 against the White Sox and Blue Jays, and one did it in 2015—the Cubs’ Starlin Castro, June 13-14, both against the Reds.

Phillips is the first Braves player since Ozzie Virgil, Jr. in 1988 with walk-off RBIs in back-to-back games. Since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966 the only other Braves players besides Virgil and Phillips to do it were Denis Menke in 1966 and Dusty Baker in 1972.

Cards and O’s treat fathers and fans alike at Camden Yards to homer explosion

The Cardinals and Orioles each hit four home runs in the O’s 8-5 win at Camden Yards. The visitors had two shots from Stephen Piscotty and one apiece from Dexter Fowler and Yadier Molina, and the home team added four longballs from Seth Smith, Trey Mancini, Mark Trumbo, and Welington Castillo. The total of eight home runs tied for the second-most on Father’s Day. The Father’s Day record of 11 home runs was set in a 12-3 Tigers win at Wrigley Field on June 18, 2006.

Nelson ends long CG drought for Brewers

The Brewers’ Jimmy Nelson threw a complete game against the Padres, allowing one run on six hits and two walks, striking out 10. Before Nelson, the last Brewers’ complete game came on July 11, 2015, when Taylor Jungmann threw one in Los Angeles. Nelson ended a 305-game drought without a complete game for Milwaukee, which had been the longest current streak in the majors, and the fourth-longest drought in major-league history. The longest current drought now belongs to the Tampa Bay Rays (200 games).

Nelson is the first Brewers pitcher in seven years to strike out 10-or-more batters in a complete game. Gallardo struck out 12 in a shutout against the Twins on June 24, 2010.

Seager like a rock vs. Rangers

Kyle Seager’s first-inning RBI double opened the scoring, and the Mariners never relinquished the lead in a 7-3 win in Texas. Seager finished the game 3-for-5 with three doubles and as many RBIs. In 113 games against the Rangers, Seager had batted .321 with a .388 on-base percentage and a .540 slugging average (.928 OPS) against them. The only Mariners player with at least 50 games played and a higher OPS against Texas was Ken Griffey, Jr. (.979).

Reds drop 9th straight… again

The Reds, who were down 8-1 to the Dodgers entering the bottom of the sixth inning, mounted a comeback but fell a run short in an 8-7 loss, their ninth loss in as many games. Since the start of the 2015 season, the Reds have now lost nine consecutive games on five distinct occasions. No other team has more than two such losing streaks over that span.