Elias Says: July 28, 2017

Nats blast their way to home-run history

The Nationals tied a franchise record with eight home runs, including five in the third inning off Michael Blazek, in a 15–2 rout of the Brewers. The record was set in 1978 when the Montreal Expos hit eight homers in a 19–0 victory at Atlanta, including three by Larry Parrish and two by Andre Dawson.

Washington, which had hit only one home run in its previous five home games, became the eighth team in major-league history to homer on four straight plate appearances. Three teams did it in the first 130 seasons of major league baseball (all in the 1960s), and five more have done it since then (2006 to present).

Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman each hit two home runs for the Nats. It was Harper’s third multiple-homer game since July 1, tying a team record for one calendar month, set by Rusty Staub of the Expos in August 1970 and previously tied by Vladimir Guerrero (September 2000). On the other hand, prior to Thursday’s game Zimmerman had hit only one home run in his last 121 at-bats,

Blazek surely won’t forget his first major-league start

Michael Blazek of the Brewers allowed six of the Nationals’ eight home runs on Thursday, setting an all-time major-league record by throwing five gopher balls in the third inning. The record of four home runs allowed in one inning had stood for 123 years, having been set by Henry Lampe of Boston in a 27–11 loss against Pittsburgh.

Like Lampe, Blazek was making the first start of his major-league career. Unlike Lampe, who had pitched in relief only once before, Blazek has a considerable history as a reliever, making 108 appearances out of the bullpen before Thursday’s ignominious start. It’s worth noting that Blazek recorded more than six outs in only two of those relief appearances, both more than two years ago.

Among the many pitchers who shared the record that Blazek broke are three Hall of Famers. Catfish Hunter, John Smoltz, and Randy Johnson all allowed four homers in an inning—lines that, thanks to Blazek and Nationals, will be removed from the 2018 edition of the Elias Book of Baseball Records.

Padres rookies (and others) rake the Mets

Manuel Margot hit a first-inning leadoff home run and Dusty Coleman added one in the fifth inning in the Padres’ 7–5 victory over the Mets. At least one San Diego rookie homered in each of the four games of this series, including two by Hunter Renfroe on Monday, one each by Renfroe and Allen Cordoba on Tuesday, and one by Margot on Wednesday.

But there’s more: Matt Chapman of the Athletics homered in each of the Mets last two games prior to the series at San Diego. They are the first National League team to allow home runs to rookies in six consecutive games since the rookie rule was formalized in 1957. And yes, there’s even more: Last month, rookies homered in eight straight games against the Orioles, which is the longest such streak in the majors since 1957.

A rare grand slam in a 4–0 win

J.D. Martinez hit a grand-slam home run in the fourth inning of the Diamondbacks’ 4–0 win at St. Louis. It was the first such game in nearly four years. The last grand slam in a 4–0 win was hit by Justin Maxwell of the Royals in 2013. It was the first such homer in Arizona’s 20 seasons of play, which isn’t bad considering two National League teams from the 1800s—the Phillies and Pirates—have never hit a grand slam in a 4–0 victory.

Gardner wins it with a homer, but Judge sets record with mere single

Brett Gardner set a career high with his 18th home run of the season, an 11th-inning walkoff blast that gave the Yankees a 6–5 win over the Rays. But on an otherwise quiet night by his lofty standards, Aaron Judge managed to make Yankees history with a modest two-out single in the seventh inning. That extended Judge’s home-game hitting streak to 16 games, tying the Yankees record for rookies. Hideki Matsui set that mark in 2003.

After a long production drought, Dietrich delivers

Derek Dietrich, who had five RBIs in Wednesday’s rout of the Rangers, drove in three runs, including a solo home run, in the Marlins’ 4–1 win over the Reds. Dietrich had only one RBI in his last 80 plate appearances coming into Wednesday’s game. He hadn’t had back-to-back multiple-RBI games since early in the 2016 season (April 30–May 1), and he never before drove in at least three runs in each of two consecutive games.

It only takes one ...

Steve Pearce turned a bad day good with a 10th-inning grand-slam home run that gave the Blue Jays an 8–4 victory over the Athletics. Pearce was 0-for-4 prior to his game-winning blast. He became the first player in nearly three years to hit a game-ending, extra-inning grand slam after going hitless to that point in the game. Two players did it in 2014: Nick Swisher for the Indians and Ramon Santiago for the Reds.

How to make the most of a .184 batting average

Kyle Schwarber hit two home runs and a triple in the Cubs’ 6–3 win over the White Sox. Even with Thursday’s 3-for-4, Schwarber has batted only .184 since May 1. But 24 of his 33 hits during that time have gone for extra bases: 9 singles, 9 doubles, 1 triple, and 14 home runs.

An unbeatable trip home for the Tribe

The Indians tied a team record by capping a perfect home stand with a 2–1 victory over the Angels. Cleveland finished its stay with a 7–0 record, matching the longest undefeated home stands in team history. The Indians previously went 7–0 on home stands in 1951, 1954, 1994, 1995, and 2013.