Elias Says: Sept. 16, 2017

All good things must come to an end

The Indians, seeking a 23rd consecutive win, held 1-0 and 3-1 leads early, but the Royals scored in the fourth, fifth and sixth and their bullpen held strong as Kansas City ended the longest winning streak in American League history with a 4-3 victory in Cleveland. The Indians put at least one runner on base in each of their last four innings, as 10 of their last 12 plate appearances that didn’t lead off an inning batted with at least one runner on base. But after batting .296 with runners on base during the 22 games of their streak, the Indians did not get a hit with a runner on base in any of those last four innings.

Francisco Lindor, who later would strike out to end the game, opened the game with a double, his ninth consecutive game with an extra-base hit. That tied the longest streak of that sort in franchise history; Hal Trosky had a nine-game extra-base-hitting streak in 1934, and Sandy Alomar, Jr. produced such a streak overlapping the end of the 1996 season and the start of the ’97 season.

Vargas and Minor send Tribe to defeat

Jason Vargas will go down in the books as the guy who defeated the Indians to end their 22-game winning streak. The victory was his 16th this season, tying Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz, Corey Kluber and the pitcher whom Vargas defeated, Trevor Bauer, for the most in the American League. But the pitcher who truly ended the streak was Kansas City’s closer for the night, Mike Minor. Minor, a former starting pitcher with the Braves, did not play in the majors in either of the past two seasons due to shoulder surgery and its aftermath. This year he emerged in the Royals bullpen—Friday’s game was his 60th appearance of the season—and after he allowed a bloop single to start the bottom of the ninth, Vargas fanned Yan Gomes, Francisco Mejia and Francisco Lindor to end the game and earn the first save of his major-league career.

Vargas joined Lefty Tyler in the Streak-Busting Encyclopedia. Who was Lefty Tyler? Tyler pitched the Braves to an 8-3 victory at the Polo Grounds in New York on Sept. 30, 1916, ending the Giants’ 26-game winning streak, the only other streak in MLB history that was as long as Cleveland’s 22-gamer. Tyler later pitched for the Cubs, and it was Tyler who dropped a 2-1 decision to the Red Sox in the sixth and final game of the 1918 World Series, the Red Sox’ last title for 86 years.

Red Sox go deep into the night to flatten Rays

The Red Sox, trailing by a 5-2 score heading to the ninth inning, took advantage of some loose Tampa Bay defense, scored three times to send the game into extra innings, and then scored seven runs in the 15th inning to outlast the Rays, 13-6. It was the first game this season that Boston has won after trailing by three-or-more runs in the ninth inning or later.

Friday night’s game was the fourth game of 15-or-more innings that Boston has played this season, and the second that they have won this month (the Sox defeated the Blue Jays in 19 innings on September 5). The last major-league teams to win a pair of such games (15 or more innings) in September were the Orioles and the Cardinals, both back in 1974.

Nine Red Sox pitchers combined to strike out 14 Rays batters a total of 24 times. That’s the highest total of strikeouts ever run up by Sox pitchers in a game of any length, breaking the mark of 23 strikeouts set in a 10-inning game at Tampa Bay last September and tied in a game against Toronto earlier this month. Chris Sale, who started the game, fanned nine in five and two-thirds innings, becoming the first major-league pitcher to crash through the 200-innings barrier this season. Sale also raised his major-league-leading season total to 287 strikeouts and lengthened his lead over second-place Max Scherzer (246).

Severino excels, while Judge can’t help making news

Luis Severino needed only 95 pitches to make it through eight innings, winning for the eighth time in his last 10 decisions as he earned credit for the Yankees’ 8-2 victory over the Orioles. It marked just the fifth time this season that a Yankees starter has won a game in which he pitched as many as eight innings. Masahiro Tanaka did it twice (including the Yankees’ only complete-game victory of the season), Severino has now done it twice, and C.C. Sabathia did it once.

Aaron Judge had a relatively quiet, contact-free night, striking out twice, walking twice, stealing a base and scoring two runs. But that doesn’t mean that he didn’t make it to Elias Says. It was the 11th game this season in which Judge has had multiple walks and multiple strikeouts, extending his own single-season major-league record. In addition, he has now scored 29 runs in 17 games against Buck Showalter’s squad this season, the most runs that any major-league player has scored against a team in one season since Mickey Mantle scored 30 runs in 22 games against the Kansas City Athletics in 1956.

Ray’s last 5 games place him with pitching royalty

Robbie Ray won his fifth straight start, striking out 10 Giants batters and walking none to lead the Diamondbacks to a 3-2 victory in San Francisco. Over those last five games, Ray is not only 5-0, but has amassed 55 strikeouts while walking only six batters. Only four other pitchers in MLB history have had a season in which, over a span of five games, they won each game and produced as many as 55 strikeouts while walking no more than six. The pitchers who did it: Pedro Martinez (1999), Randy Johnson (1999), Curt Schilling (2002) and Clayton Kershaw (2014 and 2016).

Wood’s six scoreless, Puig’s HR lead to Dodgers win

Alex Wood assuaged the worries of Dodgers fans worried about his recent outings, limiting the Nationals to three hits over six innings and striking out eight in the Dodgers’ 7-0 victory. Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig and Corey Seager reached Edwin Jackson for homers over the first two innings, and the Dodgers coasted the rest of the way. Wood lifted his record to 15-3 this season, and now stands fourth in the National League in victories, behind co-leaders Clayton Kershaw and Zach Davies (17 each) and Zack Greinke (16).

Puig’s home run was his 26th this season, and the Dodgers have a 20-3 (.870) won-lost record in the 23 games in which The Wild Horse has gone deep. That’s the highest winning percentage this season for any major-leaguer in games in which he has homered (minimum: 20 games with HR).

Milestone for Arenado

Nolan Arenado launched a solo home run, his 34th of the season, toward the end of the Rockies’ 6-1 victory over the Padres—not normally something to be noted in our column. But the homer lifted Arenado’s career RBI total to 500. The Colorado third baseman reached that mark in hjs 706th major-league game, making him the quickest player to reach 500 RBIs in the last five years, since Josh Hamilton attained that plateau in his 667th game in July of 2012.

At 33, Morton is producing big-time

Charlie Morton allowed one run and struck out seven batters over six innings as the Astros inched closer to clinching the American League West with a 5-2 triumph over the visiting Mariners. Morton lifted his won-lost record to 12-7, including a 9-3 mark in Houston. With his win on Friday, he tied Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber and Drew Pomeranz for the most home wins in the American League.

Over the first nine seasons of his 10-year big-league career, Morton had averaged 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings. This season, at age 33, his average is 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings. Put it another way: Prior to this season, Morton had produced at least one strikeout per inning in 44 of his 161 starts; this season, he has produced at least one strikeout per inning in 15 of his 23 starts, including each of his eight starts in August and September.

Maddon pulls a sequence not seen since ’31 from his playbook

Kris Bryant homered to tie the score in the fourth inning against the Cardinals on Friday at Wrigley Field; then, in the sixth, his leadoff single launched a seven-run rally and his second hit on the inning drove in the last of those seven runs. When all was said and done, Chicago won it, 8-2, and in that one big inning, the Cubs matched the highest total of runs (seven) that they had produced in any of their 12 previous games against St. Louis this season.

Joe Maddon has pulled a new wrinkle out of his playbook this week. The Cubs have won each of their last four games, and in each game, they have overcome an early deficit and won going away, by final scores of 8-3, 17-5, 14-6 and 8-2. Believe it or not, that makes the Cubs the first major-league team to win each of four consecutive games within one season by a margin of five-or-more runs, despite trailing at some point of the game, in the last 86 years. The last team to pull that trick was the Ruth-and-Gehrig Yankees, who finished the 1931 season with four straight wins of that kind over the Washington Senators and Philadelphia Athletics.

Mengden is brilliant in blanking Phils

Daniel Mengden, who brought a 2-10 career won-lost record into the game, tossed a complete-game two-hit shutout at Philadelphia. Mengden’s gem marked only the sixth time this season that a major-league pitcher has thrown a complete-game shutout while allowing two-or-fewer hits. Edinson Volquez still has the season’s only no-hit, no-run game; Ervin Santana and Dylan Bundy tossed one-hit shutouts; and Tyler Chatwood, Santana and Mengden have blanked the opposition on two hits. At the age of 24 years and 208 days, Mengden is the youngest big-leaguer to pitch a shutout this season.

Mengden took to the National League rules, as he singled and scored in the second inning, sacrificed in the seventh and walked in the ninth. Over the last 25 years, only two other major-league pitchers have singled, scored, sacrificed and walked in a game in which they pitched a complete-game shutout, allowing no more than two hits. Two of baseball’s best-hitting pitchers—Adam Wainwright and Madison Bumgarner—turned in those performances, both in 2014.

Brewers toss 8-ball at Marlins

Eric Thames belted his 31st home run of the season to snap a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning, then Neil Walker added a grand-slam homer and Domingo Santana a three-run blast later in the inning as the Brewers downed the Marlins, 10-2, in Milwaukee. That was the Brewers’ fourth eighth-run inning this season; only the Astros (five) have generated eight-or-more runs in more innings this season.

Secret Weapon Petit wins again

Yusmeiro Petit, the secret weapon out of the Angels bullpen, threw two hitless and scoreless innings against the Rangers and earned the win (his fifth without a loss this season) after his team’s five run, sixth-inning rally that led to a 7-6 victory. Petit has thrown 81 innings this season, the most by any relief pitcher in the majors, during which he has compiled a 2.22 ERA and has held opponents to a .197 batting average. Since the All-Star break, including one four-inning start, his ERA is 1.05, and he has accumulated 37 strikeouts and four walks in 34⅓ innings.

Big dose of Donaldson too much for Twins

It was just a case of too much Josh Donaldson on Friday night in Minneapolis, as the Toronto third baseman contributed a single, a double and a home run to the Blue Jays’ 4-3 victory. Donaldson finished the game with a .375 career batting average, a .799 career slugging average, 15 homers and 41 RBIs in 38 games against Minnesota.

Reds: 4 homers, 4 runs

Zack Cozart homered twice, and Scott Schebler and Joey Votto once each, accounting for all of the Reds’ runs in their 4-2 win over the Pirates. Sound familiar? It’s the second game this season in which Cincinnati has scored four runs, all on solo homers. The Reds lost the earlier game of that sort, 9-4, at Milwaukee on April 26. No other major-league team has had two such games this year.