Elias Says: July 17, 2017

Quintana wows his new team

José Quintana paid an immediate dividend, striking out 12 batters over seven scoreless innings in his debut with the Cubs, who defeated the Orioles, 8–0. Only two other active pitchers won a team debut with at least 12 strikeouts: Stephen Strasburg in his first major-league appearance, with the Nationals in 2010 (14 strikeouts), and Collin McHugh in his Astros debut in 2014 (12 SO).

Quintana, who struck out 10 batters in his final appearance for the White Sox, became only the second pitcher since 1900 with at least 10 strikeouts in each of two consecutive games, pitching those games for different teams. Randy Johnson did it for the Mariners and Astros in 1998.

Webb starts poorly for Brewers

On the other side of that Quintana coin is the likeness of Tyler Webb. Webb joined the Brewers during the All-Star break and commemorated his debut with Milwaukee by allowing a grand-slam home run to Nick Williams that gave the Phillies a 5–2 win at Miller Park. Webb is hardly the first pitcher to surrender a game-winning grand slam in his debut for a new team. The list includes some familiar names: Andy Messersmith (to Hawk Harrelson), Pete Harnisch (to Jim Rice), and Jeff Weaver (to Brian McCann). But Webb was the first pitcher in the expansion era to allow a game-winning slam to a rookie in his team debut.

Murphy cleans up in the #4 slot

Daniel Murphy went 3-for-4 with two home runs and five RBIs in the Nationals’ 14–4 win at Cincinnati. Murphy continues to clean up when batting in the fourth slot in the order, a trend that predates his time in Washington. His career statistics as a number-four hitter, with nearly half of those 155 games for the Mets, are outstanding: a .325 batting average with 20 home runs and 101 RBIs.

Houston can win without the long ball

The Astros defeated the Twins, 5–3, on Sunday and they did it the hard way: without hitting a home run. It was Houston’s ninth homerless win this season; the ‘Stros are the only team with a winning record in games without a four-bagger (9–7). Even the Dodgers, whose recent 29–4 run has grown their lead in the NL West to 10.5 games, have been less than ordinary when failing to produce a “circuit clout” (5–17).

Dodgers pitchers take a starring role

With Cody Bellinger going hitless in the wake of his cycle on Saturday and Justin Turner still short of qualifying for the NL batting-average lead, Dodgers pitchers shone brightest in Sunday’s 3–2 win at Miami. Led by Rich Hill, who fanned nine batters in five innings, five LA pitchers combined for 16 strikeouts and no walks. There have been 52 such games since 1900—that is, a team total of at least 16 strikeouts and no bases on balls. Nearly half of them—25 to be exact—have occurred since 2010.

Incidentally, Turner went 2-for-3 with a home run on Sunday, raising his batting average to .374. With five plate appearances in the Dodgers’ next game (Tuesday against the White Sox), Turner would qualify and take over the major-league lead.

Sabathia solves the Sox

CC Sabathia allowed two hits over six innings to earn the victory in the Yankees’ 3–0 win at Fenway Park. Sabathia held the Red Sox scoreless over eight innings on June 7. Over the last 40 years, only two other Yankees pitchers held the Sox scoreless in consecutive starts against Boston: Ron Guidry in 1978 and Roger Clemens in 2000.

LeMahieu takes NL lead in 4-hit games

DJ LeMahieu went 4-for-6 as part of the Rockies’ 18-hit attack in their 13–4 win over the Mets. It was the seventh time over the last two seasons that LeMahieu had at least four hits in a game, the highest such total in the National League during that time. Jose Altuve leads the majors with 10 games of four or more hits since 2016.

Sierra returns to Cardinals, resumes his streak

Magneuris Sierra, who went 4-for-4 in the Cardinals’ 4–3 loss at Pittsburgh, has hit safely in all nine games of his major-league career. Since 1900, Sierra is the 38th player to start his career with a nine-game hitting streak. Of those players, five others had four or more hits in one of those games. The most famous was Ted Williams; the others were Andy Pafko (1943 Cubs), Gordy Coleman (1959 Indians and 1960 Reds), Akinori Iwamura (2007 Rays), and Gregory Polanco (2014 Pirates).

Adams keeping pace with the stars

Matt Adams and Matt Kemp homered in the Braves’ 7–1 win over the Diamondbacks. Adams hasn’t generated as much attention as the prodigies, Clay Bellinger and Aaron Judge. But Sunday’s home run was Adams’ 14th since his debut for Atlanta on May 21. Adams is tied for fourth in the National League in homers during that time, behind three 2017 All-Stars: Bellinger, Giancarlo Stanton, and Joey Votto.

Cruz brings the lumber in overtime

Nelson Cruz homered leading off the 10th inning to give the Mariners a 7–6 win over the White Sox. Cruz hit five extra-inning homers in 2010, the highest single-season total since Charlie Maxwell of the Tigers hit five in 1960. Cruz has hit five more home runs in 68 overtime at-bats since then, and his career total of 11 ranks second among active players to Albert Pujols (15).

Sánchez picks up where he left off

Héctor Sánchez, who hit a walk-off home run for San Diego on Saturday night, hit a three-run first-inning homer in the Padres’ 7–1 victory on Sunday. Sánchez was the third player this season to follow a walk-off homer with a home run in the first inning of his team’s next game. The others were George Springer and Bryce Harper. No player did that over the three previous seasons (2014–16), and the only other Padres player to have done it was Scott Hairston in 2007.

Estrada blows the lead, Cabrera’s walk wins it for Tigers

Toronto took a 3–0 lead on first-inning home runs by Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales. But Marco Estrada squandered it immediately, and the Tigers ultimately won a back-and-forth contest on a bases-loaded walk by Miguel Cabrera in the 11th inning. A three-run lead is usually sufficient for Estrada, who has a 32–0 record with eight no-decisions when staked to a cushion that big.

Cabrera had gone 333 games without a walk-off RBI before delivering a game-ending homer against the Rays last month. But Sunday’s game-winning walk marked the 13th time that he drove in a walk-off run. Seven have come via the homer; this was his first walk-off walk.

Cron rewards Scioscia’s hunch

C.J. Cron’s eighth-inning pinch-homer proved to be the game-winner in the Angels’ 4–3 victory over the Rays. It was only the sixth game-winning home run by an Angels pinch-hitter during Mike Scioscia’s 18 seasons as the team’s manager. Their SoCal rivals, the Dodgers, have an MLB-high total of 23 pinch-GWHR’s during that time.