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Elias Says: Aug. 14, 2017

Rookies Devers and Benintendi pin loss on Chapman

Rookie Rafael Devers smoked a long, game-tying homer off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning and Andrew Benintendi knocked in what proved to be the game-winning run in the tenth as the Red Sox took a 3-2 decision in the Bronx. Devers, 72 days shy of his 21st birthday, is the second-youngest active major-league player, but he became just the second left-handed hitter ever to hit a major-league homer against the fire-balling southpaw. On June 26, 2011, Baltimore’s lefty-swinging Luke Scott hit the first major-league homer ever surrendered by Chapman, then a rookie with the Reds. Prior to Sunday night, Chapman had not yielded a regular-season homer of any sort since June 18 of last year, when Minnesota’s Eduardo Escobar and Kurt Suzuki both took him deep in the same inning. And prior to the Devers blast, the youngest major-league player to take Chapman deep had been Addison Russell (21 years, 220 days) on Aug. 31, 1915.Only three Red Sox players as young as Devers had ever homered against the Yankees in New York. Tony Conigliaro, then 19, homered at the original Yankee Stadium in 1964, as had Gene Stephens, four months after his 20th birthday in 1953. The other Red Sox player who homered against the Yankees in New York before his 21st birthday was Babe Ruth, who connected twice (in different games) at the Polo Grounds in 1915, some three and four months after his 20th birthday.It was the third time this season that Benintendi has produced a game-winning RBI in extra innings. He had previously stroked game-winning singles in the 12th inning against the Phillies and in the 11th inning against the Rangers. The only other major-league player who has as many RBIs of that type is Mark Trumbo, who has four.

Stanton of Swat hits 250th career homer, ties Marlins one-season record

Another day, another home run for “Southbeach Smasher” Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton hit a solo homer in the third inning at Marlins Park off German Marquez that tied the score, 3-3, and the Marlins went on to win, 5-3. Stanton’s homer was the 250th of his career and his 42nd of 2017, tying the single-season Marlins record set by Gary Sheffield back in 1996. Stanton this season and Sheffield in 1996 are the only 40-home-run seasons by Marlins players.Home run 250 came in Stanton’s 3405th at bat, making him the fifth-fastest to reach that milestone in major-league history, behind a trio of Hall of Famers—Harmon Killebrew (3,097 AB), Ralph Kiner (3,133) and Babe Ruth (3,145)—and Ryan Howard (3,166). (ICYMI… Howard just signed a minor-league contract with the Rockies.)Stanton has now hit 16 homers in his last 25 games, becoming only the second major-leaguer in the last three seasons to hit 16 homers over a 25-game span. Brian Dozier hit 16 in 25 games in August-September 2016. Stanton is the first Marlins player to club 16 homers in a 25-game span.

A first for Kendrick offsets a first for Stratton

Howie Kendrick’s grand-slam homer—the 99th home run and first grand-slam of his major-league career—supplied an exciting ending to a long day and a long weekend as the Nationals downed the Giants, 6-2, in 11 innings on Sunday night. Ninety-five other players in major-league history hit a walkoff grand-slam when they had never before hit a grand-slam of any sort in the majors. But only one of those 95 players had hit more major-league homers prior to executing the walkoff slam. That was Alex Rios, whose first major-league slam was a 10th-inning walkoff, the 115th homer of his career, enabling the White Sox to defeat the Indians on Sept. 10, 2011.

Earlier, Chris Stratton struck out 10 over six and two-thirds scoreless innings in the Giants’ 4-2 win in the first game of the day at Nationals Park. Stratton became the first rookie pitcher this season to reach double-digits in strikeouts in a game without allowing a run. Three rookies did that last season, most recently Jon Gray (16 K’s in a complete-game shutout) on Sept. 17, 2016 at Coors Field against the Padres. Stratton is the first Giants rookie to generate 10-or-more strikeouts in a scoreless outing since Chris Heston struck out 11 without allowing a run—or a hit!—against the Mets on June 9, 2015.

Kluber pitching himself into Cy Young contention

The Indians clawed out a 4-3 win over the Rays to take the final three games of a four-game series in St. Petersburg. Corey Kluber continued his potential Cy Young march, earning a win while pitching seven innings in which he allowed three runs and struck out nine. In 14 starts since June 1, Kluber is 8-1 with a 1.85 ERA, and has allowed just 59 hits in 102⅓ innings, striking out 151! No other pitcher in Indians history has struck out 150 batters over a span of 14 starts. Kluber’s 1.85 ERA since June 1 is the lowest in the majors among pitchers with at least 12 starts in that span. (Max Scherzer, who allowed two earned runs in seven innings against the Giants on Sunday night, stands second at 1.95.) The Indians-Rays game was tied, 3-3, through seven innings when Austin Jackson led off the top of the eighth with a solo homer off Tommy Hunter. That was the first of Jackson’s 59 major-league home runs that gave his team a lead in the eighth inning or later.

Rally Cat no match for Old Dog Dickey

The Cardinals’ eight-game winning streak could not stand up to R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball. The 42 year, 288 day old Dickey quieted the Cardinals bats and ended the purring of their recent good-luck charm. Dickey allowed one run in seven innings to improve to 8-7 this season, lowering his ERA to 3.89. It was the longest winning streak that a Dickey victory has ever terminated: he stopped a seven-game Rays winning streak on Sept. 27, 2013. Dickey is the oldest starting pitcher to end a winning streak of eight-or-more games since 48-year-old Indians knuckleballer and future Hall of Famer Phil Niekro snapped an Angels eight-game streak on June 30, 1987. The win was the 316th of Niekro’s 318 career wins.

A good day for Matts in Oakland

Matt Chapman, Matt Joyce, and Matt Olson all homered for the A’s in their 9-3 victory over the Orioles. It was the second time in major-league history that three Matts homered for the same team in the same game. A group of much more well-known Matts—Holliday, Carpenter and Adams—all went deep for the Cardinals in a 12-8 win over the Diamondbacks on June 6, 2013.

Bull Dozier steamrolls in Detroit

Brian Dozier led off Sunday’s game at Comerica Park with a homer off Matthew Boyd, and the Twins went on to win, 6-4, to take the rubber game of the series. It was Dozier’s 25th home run leading off the first inning over the last five seasons, second-most in the majors behind Charlie Blackmon (27). Dozier now has 10 home runs since the All-Star break; only two other American League players have as many: Joey Gallo (11) and Nelson Cruz (11). Over the past two seasons, Dozier has 38 post-All-Star break homers; no other player has more than 31.

Bridwell improves to 7-1 as Angels sweep Seattle

Parker Bridwell allowed one run in six innings in the Angels’ 4-2 win in Seattle, which completed a four-game Halo sweep. Birdwell is now 7-1 with a 2.88 ERA this season; in starts, he is 7-1 with a 3.03 ERA. Only one other Angels rookie was 7-1 or better with a sub-3.50 ERA in his first 11 starts in a season: Jered Weaver in 2006 (8-0, 2.14 ERA). The Angels’ sweep of the Mariners was the fourth four-game road sweep this season. The three other sweeps of that type were achieved by teams currently in first place in their divisions: The Indians swept in Minnesota and the Astros swept in Oakland in June, and the Nationals swept in Cincinnati in July.

Sunday = Domingo

The Brewers defeated the Reds, 7-4, with Domingo Santana hitting his 19th home run of the season. Domingo, whose name means “Sunday” in Spanish, has now hit 11 homers on Sundays in his big-league career, besting Wednesday (8) and Saturday (6) for his most homers on any day of the week. Santana’s home run was the Brewers’ 33rd homer in 13 games against Cincinnati this season, the most for any team against an opponent. The 33 homers also ties the Brewers record for home runs against a team in one season, with six more games remaining between the teams! Milwaukee also homered 33 times against the Astros in 2007 and against the Pirates in 2010, both in 18 games.

Big Day for third base in L.A.

Both third basemen, Cory Spangenberg and Justin Turner, homered twice in the Dodgers’ 6-4 win over the Padres. It was the fourth game this season in which both starting third basemen produced multi-homer games. Entering 2017, that had happened just four times in the modern era (since 1900)! It happened on June 27, 1973, Expos at Cubs (Bob Bailey/Ron Santo); April 4, 1996, Tigers at A’s (Travis Fryman/Scott Brosius); April 12, 2000, Braves at Cubs (Chipper Jones/Shane Andrews); and Aug. 8, 2004, Red Sox at Tigers (Kevin Youkilis/Eric Munson).

Arrieta’s ERA keeps going down

Jake Arrieta and the Cubs defeated the D-Backs, 7-2, to take the rubber game in Arizona. Arrieta has lowered his ERA in each of his last six starts, his first six starts after the All-Star break, from 4.35 entering the break to where it stands now at 3.73. Arrieta last had a streak of lowering his season ERA in that many consecutive starts to end the 2015 season, when he lowered his ERA in each of his last nine straight starts to end the season at 1.77, en route to the National League Cy Young Award.

Royals and Vargas, 14-6, Merrifield dazzles

The Royals defeated the White Sox in Chicago, 14-6, with Jason Vargas also improving to 14-6 on the season, allowing three runs in six innings. Vargas, in his 12th major-league season, has already matched his career high in wins: he went 14-11 with the Mariners in 2012. Vargas is the only active pitcher who has pitched in at least eight seasons, with at least eight wins this season, who has already matched his previous career-high in wins. Leadoff hitter Whit Merrifield went 3-for-6 with a home run, triple, and five RBIs in the win. Five other players have had a game of five-or-more RBIs from the leadoff spot this season: George Springer (two such games), Ender Inciarte, Brett Gardner, Mookie Betts and Brian Dozier.

Happ and Donaldson are back on the right track

J.A. Happ earned a win, allowing one run on four hits (all singles) and three walks in six innings in the Blue Jays’ 7-1 defeat of the Pirates. Happ has won his last three starts, allowing only one run in each, with a 1.45 ERA over the span. Happ is the first Blue Jays pitcher this season to have three consecutive starts with no more than one run allowed in each.After the Pirates scored a run in the top of the first, Josh Donaldson put the Blue Jays up for good with a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning, Donaldson’s 16th home run of the season. Entering play on July 27, Donaldson had nine home runs and an un-Donaldson-like .424 slugging average. In 15 games since July 27, Donaldson is slugging .755 with seven home runs, raising his overall slugging average to .490.

Keuchel and Giles stymie Rangers

The Astros’ salvaged the final game of the Silver Boot Series with a 2-1 win in Arlington, snapping a five-game losing streak. Keuchel allowed one run in six and two-thirds innings, lifting his record to 10-2 and lowering his ERA to 2.77. It was the third victory of Keuchel’s career that ended an Astros’ losing streak of five-or-more games. He snapped losing skids of seven and five games during the 2014 season.

Ken Giles completed a two-inning save in which he allowed one hit (a single) and no walks, striking out two; Giles had never recorded more than four outs to earn a save prior to Sunday. The only other Astros pitcher with a save of six-or-more outs over the past three seasons is Chris Devenski, who had a 10-out save last season and a seven-out save this season.

Conforto: 5 consecutive hits are homers

Michael Conforto hit a two-run first inning homer off Zach Eflin and the Mets never looked back in their 6-2 win in Philadelphia, taking the series, three games to one. Conforto is only 5-for-29 (.172) in his last eight games, but all five hits have been home runs! That’s tied for the longest streak of hits leaving the yard for any major-league player this season. Five straight hits were also home runs for Yonder Alonso (May 6-9) and Ian Happ (June 4-14). Conforto is the fifth Mets player who had a streak of going the distance on each of five-or-more consecutive hits: Bobby Bonilla had a streak of five in 1992; Ike Davis, a streak of five in 2012; Lucas Duda, a streak of eight in 2015; and Neil Walker had a streak of five last season.