Elias Says: May 12, 2017

No Leonard, no problem for Spurs

For the second time in the last two years, the Rockets were dismissed from the playoffs in a loss by a margin of 30-plus points to a team that was playing without its leading scorer from that season. In April 2016, the Warriors defeated Houston in five games in the first round, winning Game Five without Steph Curry, 114–81. On Thursday night, Kawhi Leonard sat out, but the Spurs clinched their series with Houston by virtue of a 114–75 blowout in Game Six. Those were the ninth and tenth instances in NBA history in which a team clinched a series by winning a game in which its leading scorer from that season did not play––although none of the previous eight was decided by more than 25 points.

The most famous game of that kind came in the 1980 NBA Finals, when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar missed Game Six against the 76ers, and rookie Magic Johnson stepped up to the tune of 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, to win the championship for the Lakers.

Justin smokes his old team

Justin Smoak collected three hits in three at-bats, homered and drove in four runs to help the Blue Jays defeat the Mariners. Only one other former Mariners played had a 3-for-3 (or better) game with a home run against Seattle. Danny Tartabull did that in 1988 when he was playing for the Royals, going 4-for-4, including a grand slam, against his old team.

Keuchel comes up big in the Bronx again

Dallas Keuchel threw six innings and allowed just one unearned run in Thursday night’s win against the Yankees. Keuchel is now 3–0 with a 0.90 ERA over his last three regular-season starts in the Bronx. In the past 25 years only two other pitchers won three consecutive road starts against the Yankees while posting an ERA below 1.00 during that stretch: Felix Hernandez (0.38 ERA, spanning 2010-2011) and Carlos Carrasco (0.48 ERA, 2011-2015).

Yankees lose when Ellsbury is thrown out at the plate

Jacoby Ellsbury was thrown out trying to score on Gary Sanchez’s hit with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning in the Yankees’ 3–2 loss. The last time that the Yankees lost a game in which the final out came when the potential tying run was thrown out at home plate was nearly 30 years ago. On August 12, 1987, the Yankees lost at Kansas City, 2–1, when Wayne Tolleson was thrown out trying to score from first on Roberto Kelly’s double.

Greinke’s no-hit bid ends in eighth inning

Zack Greinke’s bid to become the first major-league pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Jake Arrieta on April 21, 2016 ended in the eighth inning when he allowed a home run to Gregory Polanco. We are in the longest stretch without a no-hitter in the majors in more than a decade––since there were none from Randy Johnson’s perfect game in May 2004 to Anibal Sanchez’s no-hitter in September 2006.

Ryu tagged for 10 runs at Coors

Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed 10 runs in the Dodgers’ loss at Colorado on Thursday night. It was the 40th time that a pitcher allowed 10 runs in a game at Coors Field since it opened in 1995. That is more than double the total at any other ballpark over those 23 seasons; next-most: 18 times at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

Vargas lowers ERA to 1.01

Jason Vargas improved to 5–1 and lowered his ERA to 1.01 with seven shutout innings against the Rays on Thursday. Vargas, at age 34, is the oldest major-league pitcher to fashion such a low ERA through his first seven starts since 36-year-old Tom Glavine had a 0.93 earned-run average to that point for the Braves in 2002.

Napoli homers in consecutive innings

Mike Napoli homered in the eighth inning and connected for a three-run walkoff shot in the ninth inning to give the Rangers a 5–2 win over the Padres. Napoli is the first player in Rangers history to hit a home run in each of back-to-back innings, with the second clout ending the game.

Winning Betts

Mookie Betts hit a three-run game-winning homer in the ninth inning at Milwaukee on Thursday afternoon, and he is now 10-for-17 with nine runs batted in over his last four games. Betts had never before collected at least 10 hits with more than five RBIs over any four-game span of his major-league career.

Hamilton extends streak

When Billy Hamilton crossed the plate on Joey Votto’s groundout in San Francisco he extended his streak with a run scored to 11 games. That ties the longest such streak by a Reds player in the last 63 seasons (1955 to date). The other 11-game run-scored streaks for Cincinnati in that time were by Pete Rose in 1965 and Bip Roberts in 1992.

Sano homers on his birthday in consecutive years

Miguel Sano hit a home run on his birthday last year and did it again on Thursday night against the White Sox. Six other active players homered on their birthday in consecutive seasons: Dustin Pedroia (2007–08), Mark Reynolds (2009–10), Mike Trout (2012–13), Trevor Plouffe (2012–13), Brandon Phillips (2014–15) and Nelson Cruz (2014–15).