Elias Says: Aug. 27, 2017

Cole is the first Pirates pitcher to homer in a 1–0 win

Gerrit Cole hit a sixth-inning home run and threw seven scoreless, walk-free innings in the Pirates’ 1–0 win at Cincinnati. The Pirates have played over 20,000 games, but Saturday’s was the first in which they won, 1–0, on a home run by a pitcher. The only other time Cincinnati lost 1–0 on an opposing pitcher’s home run was on June 17, 1983, when Bob Welch connected at Dodger Stadium.

The last major-league pitcher to homer in a 1–0 game was the Rays’ Nate Karns at Philadelphia in 2015. And the only other hurlers in major-league history to do that without issuing a walk were the Yankees’ Red Ruffing at Chicago in 1938, and the Dodgers’ Odalis Perez against Arizona in 2002.

Rizzo and La Stella power Cubs offense

Anthony Rizzo and Tommy La Stella each produced three hits and two home runs in the Cubs’ 17–2 win at Philadelphia. It was the fourth time in team history that the Cubs have had two players provide at least three hits and two homers in a nine-inning game. The others were on Aug. 25, 1891 (Jimmy Ryan and Walt Wilmot vs. Brooklyn), June 11, 1967 (Randy Hundley and Adolfo Phillips vs. Mets), and Aug. 10, 2002 (Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou at Colorado.)

Another day, another Hoskins homer

Rookie Rhys Hoskins hit his 10th home run in his 17th game, but his Phillies lost 17–2 at home to the Cubs. You’ve probably seen elsewhere that Hoskins needed the fewest games in major-league history to reach 10 career homers. But Hoskins has now hit exactly one home run in seven of the Phillies’ last eight games. No other rookie in major-league history has ever hit at least one homer seven times in a span of eight team games.

Red Sox hit the skids

The Red Sox dropped their third straight decision Saturday, 7–0, to the Orioles at Fenway Park. In its previous two games, Boston lost 13–6 to Cleveland on Thursday and 16–3 to Baltimore on Friday. Still, the Red Sox maintain a three-and-one-half game lead over the Yankees atop the American League East. The only other team in the last 15 years to remain in first place after losing three straight games by at least seven runs was the Tigers in May 2014.

The only other time the Red Sox have done this was in September 1978, when they lost the first three games of a four-game home series (known as the “Boston Massacre”) to the Yankees by scores of 15–3, 13–2, and 7–0, as their lead in the AL East, once as large as 10 games, fell to just one. Boston lost the finale of that series by a score of 7–4, falling into a first-place tie. We probably don’t need to remind fans of either team how that race turned out, with the Bombers winning a one-game tiebreaker on Bucky Dent’s seventh-inning home run.

Washington’s infield provides offense

Even with Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, and Trea Turner all out of the starting lineup, the Nationals’ four starting infielders – Adam Lind, Adrian Sanchez, Wilmer Difo, and Anthony Rendon – all produced two hits and drove in at least one run in Washington’s 9–4 home win over the Mets. It was the fourth time this year that each member of the Nats’ starting infield had a game like that. No other team has more than two such games in 2017. Washington’s starting infield had only one such game in the team’s previous 12 seasons since relocating from Montreal in 2005 (Aug. 18, 2015.)

Gray continues solid work for new team

Sonny Gray improved his Yankees record to 2–3 by allowing one run in seven innings of his 6–3 home victory over the Mariners. Gray hasn’t been spectacular with his new team, but he has managed to allow two or fewer earned runs in each of his five starts for New York. Only one other Yankees pitcher in the last 25 years has started and allowed fewer than three earned runs in each of his first five appearances for the team. That was Michael Pineda, who allowed no more than two earned runs in each of his first nine games, all starts, for the Bombers in 2014.

Donaldson’s extra-base hits lead Jays to win

Josh Donaldson homered in the fifth inning and doubled in the eighth frame of the Blue Jays’ 10–9 home win over the Twins. It was the 55th time since 2013 that Donaldson has rapped at least two extra-base hits in a game. That ties Mike Trout for the third most such games over the last five seasons behind Nolan Arenado (57) and Anthony Rizzo (56.)

Brewers find offense near the bottom of the order

Eighth-place batter Orlando Arcia’s two-run home run in the fifth inning gave the Brewers the lead for good in their 3–0 win at Dodger Stadium. Entering Saturday, opposing batters in the eighth slot were batting just .204 against Los Angeles this season, the lowest average versus any team.

The Brewers have shut-out the Dodgers in two of their five meetings this season, having also done so at Milwaukee on June 4. All other teams combined have blanked Los Angeles five times in 123 tries.

Angels are 2017’s comeback kids

Andrelton Simmons hit an eighth-inning home run to cap the Angels’ comeback from a 6–1 deficit to defeat the Astros, 7–6. It was the Halos’ eighth win this season in a game they trailed by at least four runs. That’s the most such wins by any major-league team since the 2011 Diamondbacks had eight, and the most by a team before the end of August since the Angels themselves had nine in 2009.

LeMahieu has first two-homer game

DJ LeMahieu had his first career multi-homer game in the Rockies’ 7–6 win at Atlanta. LeMahieu, not known as a power hitter, has 32 major-league home runs, all for Colorado. And those 32 homers are evenly divided between home (16) and road (16). Of the 34 players with at least 30 career home runs for the Rockies, the only others to have hit at least as many on the road as they have at altitude are Garrett Atkins (48 home, 50 road), Ian Stewart (25 home, 29 road), and Jay Payton (18 home, 18 road.)

Rojas provides walkoff despite not collecting a hit

Miguel Rojas hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Marlins a 2–1 win over the Padres. Rojas, who started at shortstop, entered his final plate appearance 0-for-3 with a walk in four plate appearances. Two other players this season have delivered a walkoff RBI in a game they started and didn’t collect a hit: San Francisco’s Hunter Pence against the Dodgers on April 26 and Kansas City’s Alex Gordon versus the Tigers on July 19. Pence and Gordon, like Rojas, hit game-ending sacrifice flies.

There are a lot more games like this than there used to be

A.J. Pollock and J.D. Martinez each hit solo home runs for Arizona to counter Jarrett Parker’s blast for San Francisco as the Diamondbacks beat the visiting Giants, 2–1. It was the sixth game this season that ended with that exact score and all runs coming on solo homers. That ties 2015 for the most such games in one year in major-league history. To get a sense of how much offenses rely on home runs more than ever before consider this: over the first 59 years of Major League Baseball (1876–1934), there were a total of six such games combined.

Pinder homers first two times up against Texas

Rookie Chad Pinder hit solo home runs in the first and third innings of the Athletics’ 8–3 win over the visiting Rangers. It was the second time this season that Pinder homered in his first two plate appearances of a game, having also done so on May 31 at Cleveland. Before 2017, no Oakland rookie had homered his first two times up in one game since Ben Grieve on June 16, 1998 at Texas.

Pham’s walkoff homer might not be the biggest sports story in Las Vegas Saturday

Las Vegas native Tommy Pham’s two-run home run in the bottom the ninth inning gave the Cardinals a 6–4 win over the Rays. The only other players born in Nevada who have hit walkoff homers are Bryce Harper (5), Kris Bryant (2), Joey Gallo (1), and Nate Schierholtz (1.)

Roberto Perez is on a hot streak after starting the season cold

Roberto Perez’s two-run home run broke a scoreless tie in the sixth inning and the Indians went on to beat the visiting Royals, 4–0. Perez is 5-for-9 with two home runs over his last three games. Before that, he’d homered just once in 147 at-bats, and his .177 batting average through August 17 was the fourth lowest by any player with at least 125 at-bats this season behind Ryan Schimpf (.158), Chris Herrmann (.158), and Danny Espinosa (.164.)