Elias Says: October 30, 2017

Astros ride wave of homers to Game 5 win

World Series Game 5 was a gem. The Astros defeated the Dodgers, 13–12, in 10 innings and became only the second team in major-league history to erase two deficits of three or more runs in one playoff game. The first was Toronto in a 15–14 victory over the Phillies in Game 4 of the 1993 World Series.

Of course Houston did most of its damage with the longball, hitting five home runs, including one each in the fourth and fifth innings to erase those deficits. The first of those homers, by Yuli Gurriel, was the eighth allowed by Clayton Kershaw in the 2017 postseason, an all-time single-postseason high.

Gurriel, Altuve in the fifth, and Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers all hit three-run homers. There was only one other postseason game in which three different players homered with two runners on or the bases loaded: Willie McCovey of the Giants, and Richie Hebner and Al Oliver of the Pirates in the final game of the 1971 NLCS.

The home runs by George Springer and Carlos Correa in the seventh inning were hit off Brandon Morrow, who pitched 43.2 innings during the 2017 regular season and didn’t allow a homer. The only other pitcher to allow two home runs in a World Series game following a season in which he surrendered none was Babe Adams of the Pirates in Game 5 in the 1909 Series against the Tigers. Adams pitched 130 innings during the 1909 regular season.

Bregman victimizes Jansen again

Alex Bregman delivered the game-winning hit off losing pitcher Kenley Jansen in the 10th inning. That marked the third consecutive game in this series in which Jansen allowed a run (the first two on homers by Marwin Gonzalez and Bregman). In a career spanning eight seasons and 474 regular-season games, Jansen allowed runs in three consecutive appearances only twice before, both during the 2015 season.

With his game-winner last night, Bregman extended his RBI streak to a fifth consecutive game. The only other player to drive in at least one run in each of the first five World Series games of his career was Amos Otis of the Royals (1980).

Youth will be served gopher balls

This is the first World Series in which four different players age 23 or younger hit a home run. Cody Bellinger, who is 22 years old, homered on Sunday night, following Alex Bregman (Game 1), Corey Seager (Game 2), and Carlos Correa (Game 2 and Game 5), who are all 23 years old.

The only other World Series with homers by even three players age 23 or younger was played in 1934. The young home-run hitters included a pair of future Hall of Famers: Joe Medwick of the Cardinals and Hank Greenberg of the Tigers. The other was Bill DeLancey, the Cardinals’ rookie catcher.

Wilson tops Watson in historic QB duel

Russell Wilson passed for a career-high 452 yards and four touchdowns, outdueling Deshaun Watson in the Seahawks’ 41–38 victory over the Texans. It was only the sixth game in NFL history in which a player on each team passed for at least 400 yards and four TDs. The others, with the winning quarterback listed first, were Ken O’Brien vs. Dan Marino (1986), Dan Marino vs. Drew Bledsoe (1994), Matt Flynn vs. Matthew Stafford (Jan. 1, 2012), Peyton Manning vs. Tony Romo (2013), and Tom Brady vs. Ben Roethlisberger (2013).

Watson’s October ranks among the best

Deshaun Watson passed for 402 yards and four touchdowns in Houston’s loss at Seattle. Only five other rookies had at least 400 passing yards and four TD passes in one game: Matt Leinart (2006), Matthew Stafford (2009), Cam Newton (twice in 2011), Andrew Luck (2012), and Ryan Tannehill (2012). Of those, only Stafford threw at least four touchdown passes, as Watson did; Stafford threw five TDs in his 422-yard performance as a rookie.

Watson’s four touchdown passes on Sunday extended his rookie record for one calendar month to 16 TDs in October. Two weeks ago, Watson broke a mark that had stood since October 1983, when Dan Marino threw 11 TD passes as a first-year quarterback for Miami.

Actually, Watson’s 16 touchdown passes in October was historic for any quarterback, rookie or veteran. The record for one calendar month is 20 TD passes, set by Tom Brady in October 2007. But most of the highest monthly totals were compiled in months of five games. Because of the Texans’ bye last week, Watson attained his 16 touchdown passes in four games. The only other player with as many as 16 TD passes in a month of four games was Peyton Manning, with 19 in November 2004 and 16 in September 2013.

Wentz erases a 64-year-old Eagles mark

Carson Wentz threw two touchdown passes in the Eagles’ 33–14 win over the 49ers. Wentz’ total of 14 TD passes in five games during October broke a 64-year-old Eagles record for one calendar month. The previous record of 13 was set by Bobby Thomason in five games November 1953. One big difference: Wentz threw only three interceptions in October; Thomason’s total of 14 INTs in November 1953 is a team record for one month that still stands.

Elliott is Cowboys’ star in rivalry game vs. Redskins

Ezekiel Elliott gained 150 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries in the Cowboys’ 33–19 victory over the Redskins. In the 113 regular-season games between these longtime rivals, only four other players had at least 150 rushing yards and two TD runs in the same game: Calvin Hill (1969), John Riggins (1979), Emmitt Smith (1996), and Alfred Morris, then of the Redskins but now a member of the Cowboys (2012). Elliott fell one short of the record for carries in a Cowboys-Redskins game, set by Smith in 1991 (34 carries for 132 yards).

Young Steelers receiver has big night

JuJu Smith-Schuster caught six passes for 189 yards, including a 97-yard touchdown reception from Ben Roethlisberger, in the Steelers 20–15 victory at Detroit. Smith-Schuster, who will turn 21 years old in three weeks, nearly doubled the NFL record for receiving yards in a game by a player age 20 or younger. The only other 20-year-old receiver with a 100-yard game was Aaron Hernandez, who caught six passes for 101 yards against the Jets in the second game of his NFL career in 2010.

Smith-Schuster’s touchdown was also the longest by a player age 20 or younger. The previous mark was an 86-yard kickoff-return TD by 20-year-old Andy Livingston of the Bears in 1964.

New Orleans turnaround could foreshadow big things

The Saints, who started the season with double-digit losses to Minnesota and New England, improved to 5–2 with a 20–12 victory over the Bears. Only the last 30 years, only three other teams won five straight games immediately after an 0–2 start. The 2014 Colts ultimately lost the AFC Championship Game; the others, the 1993 Cowboys and 2007 Giants, won the Super Bowl. The Giants also won the NFL Championship in 1934 after starting the season 0–2 and then winning their next five games.

Brady keeps his receivers involved

Tom Brady completed 32 of 47 passes for 333 yards in the Patriots’ 21–13 win over the Chargers. It was only the third regular-season game in which Brady completed at least five passes to each of five different receivers. He also did it at Seattle in 2012 (including 10 to Wes Welker) and against Detroit in 2014 (11 to Julian Edelman).

Gordon’s long run ties records on both sides

Melvin Gordon opened the scoring in the Chargers’ loss at Foxborough with an 87-yard touchdown run. That matched the longest run from scrimmage in team history, set by Paul Lowe in the Chargers’ first game representing San Diego—at Dallas in 1961, after one season in Los Angeles; and it also tied the longest run against the Patriots, by Jack Larscheid of the Raiders in 1960 (the fifth game in Pats history).

A late, game-winning pick-six for the Bengals

Carlos Dunlap returned a Jacoby Brissett interception 16 yards for a touchdown with 7:05 remaining in the fourth quarter, and Randy Bullock’s point-after-TD was the Bengals’ margin of victory in a 24–23 win over the Colts. Dunlap’s touchdown was only the second fourth-quarter game-winning pick-six in team history. The first was by Ken Riley against the Browns in 1983. (Corey Sawyer had one in overtime against the Lions in 1998.)

The skinny on three key Vikings players in win over Browns

The Vikings held their position as NFC North leaders with a 33–16 victory over the Browns. We will highlight three individual performances:

Case Keenum, who passed for 288 yards in Minnesota’s win, has been the passing-yards leader in each of his last six games. That’s the longest single-season streak by a Vikings quarterback since 2003 when Daunte Culpepper was the leader in eight straight games.

Adam Thielen finally scored, after catching 50 passes without a touchdown this season. Thielen was the first Vikings wide receiver to reach the 50-reception mark in any season without a TD. The last WR to do that for any team was Dwayne Bowe of the Chiefs in 2014.

With less than 3 minutes to play, Everton Griffen sacked DeShone Kizer, extending his season-long streak to eight consecutive games with a sack. Since 1982, only two other players were credited with at least one sack in each of their team’s first eight games, both for the Colts: Robert Mathis in 2005 and Dwight Freeney in 2009.

Carr’s INTs fuel Buffalo’s victory

The Bills intercepted Derek Carr twice in a 34–14 victory over the Raiders. Coming into the 2017 season, Carr’s interception rate of one every 56 passes was the third lowest in NFL history. But Carr has thrown six INTs this season—on average, once every 40 throws. Oakland has lost all 10 games in which Carr was picked off at least twice.

A freak indeed

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 33 points in the Bucks’ 117–106 win at Atlanta. It was the sixth time in six games this season that Antetokounmpo outscored all players—that is, teammates and opponents. Over the last 10 seasons, the only other player to do so in each of his first six games was Stephen Curry in 2015.

Sabonis is perfect from the field in Pacers’ win

Domantas Sabonis scored 22 points, including 9-of-9 shooting from the field, in the Pacers’ 97–94 win over the Spurs. Sabonis was the second player in the Pacers’ NBA history to make at least nine field goals without a miss in one game. The first two were Vern Fleming, who was 9-for-9 from the field in a 1990 victory over Charlotte; and Dale Davis, also 9-for-9, against Cleveland in 1997.

Knicks pull a stunner in Cleveland

The Knicks defeated the Cavaliers, 114–95, at Cleveland, “just like we all expected,” as ESPN.com’s Tim Begley wryly wrote. New York had lost 19 of its 20 previous games against teams that were coming off an appearance in the NBA Finals.

The Knicks had also lost 13 of their last 14 games against LeBron James, who scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds in the Cavs’ loss on Sunday.

Tim Hardaway Jr. (34) and Kristaps Porzingis (32) were the first Knicks teammates to score more than 30 points each in the same game in any of the last five seasons. The last players to do that for the Knicks were Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, and ironically it was in a victory at Cleveland (April 12, 2013).

Howard slams home his points against Orlando

Dwight Howard scored 22 points, including five dunks, in the Hornets’ 120–113 win over the Magic. It was the seventh time that Howard dunked at least five baskets in a game against one of his former teams. Over the last 20 years, the only other player with that many five-dunk games against former teams was Shaquille O’Neal (10).

A record-setting first half for Washington

The Wizards built a 63–32 halftime lead and cruised to a 110–83 win at Sacramento. It was the first time in 35 years that Washington led by at least 30 points at the intermission, their last such game being a 127–96 home win over the Pistons after a 66–36 halftime lead (March 30, 1982). It was the first 30-point halftime lead in team history in the Pacific time zone.

Harris is key to Nuggets’ win at Brooklyn

Gary Harris scored 14 points in the Nuggets’ 124–111 win at Brooklyn, but his plus-minus was eye-popping. Denver outscored the Nets, 91–57, with Harris on the court. The Nuggets were outscored, 54–33 with Harris on the bench. His plus-minus (+34) was the highest for a Nuggets player in a game in which the team with minus-20 or worse without him since March 24, 2008. Kenyon Martin was plus-35 in a 120–106 win over Memphis.

Wheeler fires Jets’ fast start vs. Pens

The Jets outscored the Penguins, 5–0, in the first period of their 7–1 win at Winnipeg on Sunday, with Blake Wheeler tallying three of the Jets’ five goals. Wheeler is the first player in Thrashers/Jets history to record a first-period hat trick, and only the second player in club history to score three goals within one period. Ilya Kovalchuk posted four single-period hat tricks for the Atlanta Thrashers: three times in the second period and once in the third period.

Miller’s impressive hello to Anaheim

Ryan Miller’s debut for the Ducks was a memorable one as he made 34 saves, including nine in overtime, while recording a 4–3 shootout win against the Hurricanes in Raleigh. Miller, who signed with Anaheim as a free agent last summer but suffered a wrist injury during the preseason, is the first NHL goaltender to make nine overtime saves in a regular-season game since Dec. 9, 2016, when Edmonton’s Cam Talbot did so in a shootout loss at Minnesota. Miller is the first NHL netminder to make nine OT saves in a regular-season victory since the Islanders’ Jaroslav Halak did that in a shootout win against the Panthers on Nov. 14, 2014.