Elias Says: August 20, 2017

CC stymies Sox

CC Sabathia defeated the Red Sox, allowing two runs in six innings, as the Yankees pulled off a 4-3 win at Fenway Park. Sabathia is now 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA in three starts against Boston this season. Since earned runs became official in the American League in 1913, four other Yankees pitchers have won their first three starts against Boston in a season with a sub-1.00 ERA: Lefty Gomez in 1934 (0.33), Hank Borowy in 1945 (0.35), Whitey Ford in 1956 (0.67), and Scott Sanderson in 1991 (0.43).

Devers amazing through 20 games

In the loss, Rafael Devers hit the eighth home run in his 20th major-league game off Adam Warren. Devers’s eight home runs through 20 games broke a major-league record for players not-yet-21; the previous high was seven, by Orlando Cepeda in 1958 and Ron Swoboda in 1965. In fact, only eight other players hit 8-or-more homers in their first 20 games, including three who hit nine: George Scott in 1966, Alvin Davis in 1984, and Trevor Story in 2016. Devers has now homered in three straight games against the Yankees. Devers and Babe Ruth himself are the only players to homer in three straight games against the Bronx Bombers before turning 21. Ruth’s first three major-league homers all came at age 20 against the Yankees in 1915, his first three homers of 714 in the Babe’s career.

Marte ends home run drought; DeJong Reaches 20 in 70 games

Starling Marte hit a second-inning 2-run homer off Michael Wacha in the Pirates’ 6-4 win against the Cardinals. Prior to the at bat, Marte had been held homerless in his previous 129 at bats, including 119 at bats since returning from suspension on July 18. That was Marte’s longest home run drought of his career, eclipsing a 128 at bat drought in July-August 2016.

Paul DeJong hit his 20th career home run in his 70th major-league game in the Cardinals’ loss. DeJong is the 10th major-leaguer to hit 20-or-more homers in his first 70 games, a list that includes five other active players: Jose Abreu (the player with the most homers through 70 games, all time, 26), Cody Bellinger (25), Gary Sanchez (23), Ryan Braun (22), and Albert Pujols (20). DeJong tied Pujols for most home runs for a Cardinals player through 70 major-league games.

Trout & Halos’ homers shoot down O’s

Mike Trout hit two solo homers off Kevin Gausman in the Angels’ 5-1 win in Baltimore. Trout now has 26 homers in 2017, and has hit at least 25 home runs in each of six seasons since 2012, when Trout was a rookie. Trout is one of four active players who hit 25+ homers in six straight seasons starting from a rookie season: Albert Pujols did it in 12 straight seasons from 2001-2012, Prince Fielder did it in 8 straight seasons from 2006-2013, and Ryan Braun did it in 6 straight seasons from 2007-2012. (Fielder announced his retirement but is on the Rangers’ 60 day disabled list, thus rendering him an “active” player.) Trout’s sixth 25 homer season tied Tim Salmon for the most such seasons in Angels’ franchise history.

Luis Valbuena also homered twice off Gausman, who allowed four total home runs a game after Orioles’ starter Jeremy Hellickson allowed five homers. The Orioles are the first team since the 2001 Indians whose starters allowed at least four homers in back to back games. Dave Burba and Bartolo Colon each allowed four homers against the Royals on June 29 and 30 of that season. It was the fourth time in Angels’ franchise history that they’d smashed four homers in back-to-back games: they last did it in June 2003.

Cubs fans say “Aroldis Who?”

The Cubs defeated the Blue Jays 4-3 at Wrigley Field, with closer Wade Davis recording his 26th save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Davis has successfully converted all of his save attempts since joining the Cubs this season, and his 26th straight saves without a blown save tied a Cubs record, set by Ryan Dempster over the 2005 and 2006 seasons. For a leader of a team, a save streak of that length is not overly impressive: only six teams have a save streak leader with fewer attempts converted than the Cubs: the White Sox (20), Rays (22), Cardinals (23), Astros (24), Angels (25), and Blue Jays (25). But Davis’s streak is more impressive than that: he’s converted 32 consecutive save attempts since last September 3, 6 with the Royals last season and 26 with the Cubs this season, the second-longest current streak in the majors, trailing Zach Britton (59). Also, Davis’s streak of 26 saves to start his career with the Cubs is the third longest for a player from the beginning of his career with a team, trailing Brad Lidge with the Phillies (44 in 2008-2009) and Guillermo Hernandez with the Tigers (32 in 1984).

Aguilar is Brewers’ messiah in dramatic win in Colorado

Jesus Aguilar belted a two-out, pinch-hit, go-ahead homer off Rockies closer Greg Holland in the top of the ninth inning, supplying what proved to be the winning runs as the Brewers took a 6-3 decision over the Rockies. It was the third pinch-homer that Aguilar has produced this season (the two others came against the Cardinals); that ties John Jaso, Adam Lind, Hector Sanchez and Pat Valaika for the most pinch-homers in the majors.

Only two other Brewers players have hit as many as three pinch-homers in one season: Gabe Gross hit three in 2006, and one-time American League Rookie of the Year Bob Hamelin set the franchise record that still stands when he hit four in 1998.

If a team opened on the moon, Clippard would save a game for them

Tyler Clippard saved the game for the Astros in their 3-0 win against Oakland. It is the third different team for which Clippard has saved a game this season: he notched one for the Yankees and two for the White Sox. Clippard became the third major-leaguer to save games for three teams in the same season: Juan Pizarro had saves for the Red Sox (2), Indians (4), and A’s (1) in 1969 and Ted Abernathy had saves for the Cubs (1), Cardinals (1) and Royals (12) in 1970. Journeyman Clippard also set a major league record with saves for six teams in a 3-season span (A’s, Mets, D-Backs, Yankees, White Sox, Astros) and 7 teams in 4-season span (all of the previously listed teams plus the Nationals.)

Mariners on Cruz control

Nelson Cruz hit a 2-run homer in the Mariners’ 7-6 win against the Rays in St. Petersburg. Cruz reached the 100 RBI mark for the third time in his career with the blast, becoming the second player to reach the milestone this season. (Nolan Arenado leads the majors with 105.). Cruz also had 100+ RBI seasons in Baltimore in 2014 (108) and with the Mariners in 2016 (105). Cruz is the first Mariners player since Raul Ibanez to string together back-to-back 100 RBI seasons. Ibanez did that in three straight seasons from 2006-2008. Cruz’s 100th RBI came in his 118th game of the season; the last time a Mariners player reached 100 RBIs in as few games was in 2001, when Bret Boone reached 100 in 106 games and Edgar Martinez did it in 108.

Bauer takes out Cleveland’s enemies

Trevor Bauer improved to 12-8 in the Indians 5-0 win at Kansas City. Bauer scattered 7 hits and 2 walks over 6⅓ scoreless innings, striking out 4. Bauer is now 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA in his last 6 starts. It’s the most wins over any six-start span of his career. His ERA in his last five starts is 1.54, which is his lowest ERA over any five starts of his career. It’s not only Bauer that is torturing Cleveland’s enemies but the whole Indians’ pitching staff: they’ve allowed 36 runs in their last 16 games (2.25 runs per game), and during the span they are 11-5. Only the Dodgers have allowed as few runs over 16 games this season, their best span being 35 runs allowed in 16 games. Since the D.H. rule came into play in 1973 the Indians have only had two other spans of 16 games with 36-or-fewer runs allowed: in 1988 (best span: 34 runs in 16 games) and in 2008 (best span: 34 runs in 16 games).

Dodgers battery charges win in MoTown

The Dodgers recorded their major-league-leading 13th shutout in a 3-0 victory against the Tigers at Comerica Park. The only other teams with 10-or-more shutouts this season are the Indians (12) and Cardinals (10). Yasmani Grandal, batting left-handed against righty Shane Green, hit a ninth-inning opposite-field solo homer to provide the game’s final run. Grandal is the fourth visiting catcher to hit an opposite-field homer batting left-handed at the spacious Comerica Park, which opened at the start of the 2000 season. The A’s Adam Melhuse was the first to do it in 2004, the Twins’ Joe Mauer has had seven such blasts, all between 2006 and 2012, and Matt Wieters did it twice for the Orioles, in 2014 and 2016.

The game featured a pitching duel between starters Hyun-Jin Ryu, who threw 5 scoreless in a no decision, and Michael Fulmer, who took a tough-luck loss, allowing one unearned run in 7 innings. It was the second interleague game this season in which both starting pitchers did not allow an earned run. The first was in Boston on April 5, in which the Pirates’ Jameson Taillon and Chris Sale both threw 7 scoreless innings in a 3-0 Red Sox win.

Odor & Napoli pound White Sox in 17-7 Rangers’ win

Rougned Odor hit two home runs and Mike Napoli hit one as both players reach 26 dingers on the season in the Rangers’ 17-7 win against the White Sox. Both Odor and Napoli drove in five runs, becoming the third pair of teammates with five-plus RBIs in the same game this season. The Nationals’ did it on April 25, at Colorado (Trea Turner 7, Daniel Murphy 5), and the Marlins did it on July 26, at Texas (Marcell Ozuna 5, Derek Dietrich 5).

Sweet Berrios poisons D-Backs

23-year-old Jose Berrios defeated Zack Greinke and the Diamondbacks, with the Twins winning the game 5-0. Berrios pitched seven brilliant innings in which he allowed just 2 hits and 1 walk, fanning 7. Berrios is now 11-5 in 18 starts this season. Only three other pitchers in Twins/Senators history, 23-or-younger, started a season with as many wins in their first 18 starts of a season: 22-year-old Joe Boehling in 1913 (11-5), 23 year old Scott Erickson in 1991 (13-3), and 22-year-old Francisco Liriano in 2005 (11-3).

Nationals’ wood no match for Padres’ Wood

Travis Wood outdueled Stephen Strasburg, pitching seven strong innings, allowing only one run, and unearned at that, earning credit for the Padres’ 3-1 win over the visiting Nationals. For Wood, making his eighth start of the season after spending more than two years used primarily out of the bullpen, it was his longest outing in a game since he threw seven innings for the Cubs back on April 28, 2015, nearly 28 months ago. Wood was the first left-hander to throw seven innings without allowing an earned run to beat the Nationals since the Mets’ Steven Matz did it on May 25 of last year.

The year of Scooter Gennett

The Year of Scooter Gennett had another highlight on Saturday night, when the Reds second baseman hit a ninth-inning grand-slam at Atlanta, and then the Reds survived a four-run Braves rally to emerge with an 11-8 victory. It was the third grand-slam of the season for Gennett, who also hit four homers in a game against the Cardinals on June 6. Gennett tied three other players for the major-league lead in jackpot homers; Chris Taylor, Justin Upton and Manny Machado have also hit three grannies this season. Gennett also tied the Reds single-season record for grand-slams in a season, shared by Frank Robinson (1962), Lee May (1970), Ray Knight (1980), Eric Davis (1987), Chris Sabo (1993) and Devin Mesoraco (2014).

Ty Kelly pinch-hit grand slam lifts Phillies in S.F.

Ty Kelly belted a pinch-hit, grand-slam home run to highlight a seven-run sixth inning in the Phillies’ 12-9 victory in San Francisco. With home runs of every conceivable type flying out of major-league parks this season, we were surprised to see that Kelly’s was only the second grand-slam homer produced by a pinch-hitter this season. The other one was hit by Cleveland’s Lonnie Chisenhall off Detroit’s Francisco Rodriguez on April 14, but the Indians lost that game, 7-6. Among past Phillies players who have hit a PH-GS-HR were Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Matt Stairs, but the last to do it was Hector Luna at Wrigley Field in 2012.

Flores showing he’s not just a one-trick Pony

Wilmer Flores hit a two-run home run off right-hander Drew Steckenrider in the Mets’ 8-1 win against the Marlins. In the last calendar month (since July 20), in 24 games, Flores has 8 home runs in 72 at bats (1 HR per 9 at-bats). That is the fourth-highest home run rate in the majors since that date among players with at least 70 at bats, trailing Joey Gallo (1-per-6.7 at bats), Giancarlo Stanton (1-per-6.9), and Josh Donaldson (1-per-8.7). Entering the 2017 season Flores had a .374 SLG average against righties and a .509 SLG against lefties. This season those marks are higher and less lopsided: .472 against righties and .548 against lefties.