Elias Says: Sept. 23, 2017

Verlander is making an immediate impact with the Astros

Justin Verlander tossed seven scoreless innings and earned the win for the Astros at Minute Maid Park against the Angels. Over his first four starts with the Astros, Verlander is 4-0 with a 0.64 ERA. In the live-ball era (since 1920), only four other pitchers went 4-0 with an ERA of 0.70 or lower in their first four starts with a team: Boo Ferriss (1945 Red Sox, 0.50 ERA), Fernando Valenzuela (1981 Dodgers, 0.25 ERA), Tim Wakefield (1995 Red Sox, 0.54 ERA), and Jordan Zimmermann (2016 Tigers, 0.35 ERA). For Ferriss and Valenzuela, those were their first four major-league starts.

Gennett sets new Reds record with fourth slam

Scooter Gennett hit his fourth grand slam of the season, a first-inning blast off Rick Porcello, in the Reds’ 5-4 loss to the Red Sox. That is the most grand slams for a Reds player in a season in the 128-year history of the franchise. The previous high was three, first accomplished by Frank Robinson in 1962 and later matched by five others (Lee May in 1970, Ray Knight in 1980, Eric Davis in 1987, Chris Sabo in 1993, and Devin Mesoraco in 2014).

Over the last 10 seasons (since 2008), only two other players had four-or-more grand slams in a season: Alexei Ramirez in 2008 (four) and Albert Pujols in 2009 (five).

Gennett added his name to the history books earlier this season, hitting four homers in a game on June 6 against the Cardinals. He is the only player in major-league history with a four-homer game and at least four grand slams in the same season.

Dodgers win fifth straight NL West crown

Rich Hill allowed one run over six innings and Cody Bellinger hit his 39th home run of the season as the Dodgers won their fifth straight National League West title, defeating the Giants, 4-2. The Dodgers are the sixth team in the Divisional Era (since 1969) to win their division in five consecutive seasons, joining the Athletics (five straight, 1971 to 1975), Braves (14, 1991 to 2005), Indians (five, 1995 to 1999), Yankees (nine, 1998 to 2006), and Phillies (five, 2007 to 2011).

Olson stays hot

Matt Olson hit a two-run home run in the second inning to give the Athletics the lead for good over the Rangers on Friday night. That was Olson’s 13th home run since September 1, tying the most home runs for a rookie in a calendar month over the last 30 seasons (since 1988). Earlier this season, Cody Bellinger hit 13 homers in June.

Judge scores a run in 12th straight game

Aaron Judge’s first-inning solo home run against the Blue Jays on Friday night extended his streak of consecutive games scoring a run to 12. Over the last 65 years, only two other rookies had such a streak of this length: Albert Pujols in 2001 (13 straight games) and Mike Trout in 2012 (15). Judge’s current streak is the longest for any player, rookie or not, at any point in the 2017 campaign.

No one can stop Goins with the bases loaded

Ryan Goins’ sixth-inning grand slam gave the Blue Jays an 8-1 lead over the Yankees, and they would go on to win by that same score. Goins is 10-for-14 (.714) with the bases loaded this season, the highest batting average in the majors in those situations (minimum 10 at-bats). He entered 2017 batting 3-for-15 (.200) with the bases full.

Williams with 52 RBIs in 75 MLB games

Nick Williams drove in both of the Phillies’ runs in their 7-2 loss to the Braves on Friday. Williams has had quite the start to his major-league career, with 52 RBIs in 75 games. Over the last 80 years, only one other Phillies player had that many runs batted in over his first 75 major-league games: Pat Burrell with 56 RBIs in his first 75 games, spanning from May to August of the 2000 season.

Cruz walks it off

Nelson Cruz hit a walk-off, two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Mariners defeated the Indians, 3-1. Cruz has 11 walk-off RBIs in his major-league career, with 10 of those coming since the start of the 2010 season (and that is not counting his walk-off grand slam for the Rangers in Game 2 of the 2011 ALCS against the Tigers). Over the last eight seasons (since 2010), Cruz’s 10 walk-off RBIs are tied for the most in the majors with four other players (Jay Bruce, Josh Donaldson, Justin Upton, and Joey Votto).

A familiar sight as d’Arnaud has another two-homer game against the Nats

Travis d’Arnaud blasted a pair of home runs, a solo shot in the second inning and a three-run homer in the fifth, in the Mets’ 7-6 win over the Nationals. That is d’Arnaud’s second multi-homer game of his major-league career, having previously done so earlier this season on April 28, also against the Nationals. Only one other player has had two multi-homer games as a catcher against one team in the 2017 season: Welington Castillo versus the Blue Jays (two such games). The only other Mets catchers with two such games versus a particular team within one season were Gary Carter in 1985 against the Padres and Todd Hundley in 1997 versus the Reds.

Cubs win another one in extras; Jay fuels comeback with long at-bat

With the bases loaded in the 10th inning of a tie game, Tommy La Stella walked, bringing home what proved to be the game-winning run in the Cubs’ 5-4 victory over the Brewers. That win came just a day after Chicago downed Milwaukee in extra innings on Thursday. The last time the Cubs won two consecutive games, with both coming against the same team in extra innings, was in April 2011 against the Padres at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs, who at one point trailed by three runs on Friday, were able to climb back and ultimately tie the game in the fifth inning. Jon Jay led off that inning in what proved to be a key moment in the game, as he singled on the 15th pitch he saw in that at-bat. Later in that inning, Jay came around to score the tying run. Before delivering his leadoff single, Jay fouled off 10 consecutive pitches! Over the last 10 seasons (since 2008), the only other player to connect on a hit after fouling off 10-or-more consecutive pitches was Dee Gordon of the Marlins against the Mets on April 12, 2016. Leading off the eighth, Gordon hit a single after fouling off 11 straight pitches and scored the game-winning run later in that inning.

A win was in the cards

The Cardinals rallied to score two runs in the ninth inning to come out on top over the Pirates, 4-3, on Friday night at PNC Park. Over the last 10 seasons (since 2008), the only other game in which St. Louis won in Pittsburgh after trailing entering the ninth inning was on September 6, 2016. In that matchup, the Cards entered the top of the ninth down by a 6-5 score. St. Louis then hit three ninth-inning home runs, solo shots by Matt Carpenter and Jhonny Peralta and a two-run dinger by Randal Grichuk, all off Tony Watson.

Friday’s matchup was the eighth game this season between the Cardinals and Pirates that was decided by one run. That tied the most one-run games in a season between these two teams over the last 52 seasons (eight such games in 1966 and eight in five more seasons after that entering 2017). St. Louis is 6-2 in those eight one-run games this season.

Iannetta knocks in eight in high-scoring game

The Diamondbacks and Marlins had a wild back-and-forth affair on Friday night, with a strong showing on offense from both sides and Arizona ultimately winning, 13-11. Diamondbacks catcher Chris Iannetta led the way, going 3-for-4 with two home runs and eight RBIs. The only other catcher with at least eight RBIs in a game over the last 10 years is Yasmani Grandal of the Dodgers on May 7, 2015 at Milwaukee (4-for-4, two home runs, eight RBIs).

Ramos comes through with bases full

Wilson Ramos connected on a grand slam to give the Rays an early 4-0 lead over the Orioles, and they never looked back, winning by an 8-3 final score. Entering Friday’s games, Tampa Bay was batting .228 with the bases loaded this season, the second-lowest mark in the majors (Athletics, .226). The Rays struggled in those situations last year as well, hitting .247 with the bases full, ranking 21st in the majors.

Arenado puts an end to scoreless streak

Nolan Arenado’s fifth-inning home run at Petco Park on Friday ended the Rockies’ streak of 23 consecutive innings without putting a run on the board. That tied the longest streak of its type for Colorado over the last four seasons (since 2014); the team also had 23-inning streaks without a run in May 2014 and August 2015.

Sox storm back to stomp Royals

The White Sox scored five fourth-inning runs, including two-run homers by Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada, to come back from four runs down to defeat the Royals in Chicago. That was the third game this season in which the White Sox won after trailing by four-or-more runs, and the previous two wins both came at their home park (June 30 vs. Rangers and July 31 vs. Blue Jays). The last season in which Chicago had three home wins of this type was in 2010 (three).

Gibson turns it around against Tigers

Kyle Gibson allowed three runs over seven innings to earn the win for the Twins over the Tigers. Entering Friday, Gibson had struggled mightily in four starts versus Detroit this season. Gibson sported an 8.20 ERA (17 earned runs in 18⅔ innings) with a .289 opponent batting average (22 hits in 76 at-bats).