Elias Says: May 14, 2017

Betts delivers from the top of the order

Mookie Betts drove in three runs from the leadoff slot in the Red Sox’s 6–3 win over the Rays. It was Betts’ 12th game as Boston’s leadoff batter with at least three RBIs over the last three seasons, tying Charlie Blackmon for the most in the majors during that time.

Betts was installed as Boston’s leadoff hitter last Saturday, and he has 12 RBIs in six games since then. He is the first player with three games of three or more RBIs from the leadoff slot over a span of five days since Alfonso Soriano did it for the Cubs in 2008. The only other Red Sox players ever to do so were Tommy Harper (1973) and Darren Lewis (1998).

Wood strikes out 10, gets home in time for SNL

Alex Wood struck out 10 batters in six innings in the Dodgers’ 4–0 victory at Coors Field, following a start in which he defeated the Pirates while striking out 11 in five innings. Since 1893, only two other pitchers won consecutive starts, striking out at least 10 batters in each despite pitching no more than six innings in either: Andy Benes (2000) and Jon Lester (2010).

Teheran says enough is enough, stymies the Marlins

Julio Teheran finally gave Atlanta a strong pitching performance, throwing six scoreless innings to earn a victory in the Braves’ 3–1 win at Miami. It was the first game this month in which the Braves held their opponent to fewer than four earned runs; Atlanta came into the game with a 6.75 ERA for its first nine games of May. The last time the Braves went nine games into a calendar month without allowing fewer than four earned runs in any of those contests was June 1958, when the team was playing in Milwaukee.

Karns fans 12, but Pena takes him deep twice

Nate Karns struck out 12 batters in five innings in the Royals’ 4–3 win over the Orioles. But in a sign of the times, Francisco Pena hit a pair of home runs off the Kansas City starter. It was the second time this season that a player hit two homers in a game against a pitcher who struck out at least 12 batters. The other was Khris Davis against Charlie Morton. There wasn’t a single such game in any of the four previous seasons (2013–16).

First-pitch home runs in consecutive games

Our most-asked question of Saturday night concerned the first-inning, first-pitch leadoff home runs that Matt Szczur and Manuel Margot hit for San Diego in consecutive games on Friday and Saturday. That was the first such instance in team history, but not in major-league history. The last team to hit a home run on the first pitch to its first batter in consecutive games was the Cubs in 2008. Alfonso Soriano homered on the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning on Sept. 19 against the Reds and Sept. 21 against the Pirates.

The White Sox prevailed, 5–4, on Saturday night when Yolmer Sanchez plated Tyler Saladino in the bottom of the ninth. It was the first game since 2009 on which the first pitch was hit for a home run, and the last pitch resulted in a walkoff hit.

Bautista hits another game-winning blast

Jose Bautista hit a three-run, tie-breaking homer in the seventh inning to lead the Blue Jays to a 7–2 victory over the Mariners. That extended Bautista’s team record to 16 game-winning home runs in the seventh inning or later. He broke a tie with George Bell when he hit #15 last month against the Angels.

It’s a new year and a new Berrios

Jose Berrios, making his 2017 major-league debut, allowed one run on two hits over 7.2 innings to earn the victory in the Twins’ 4–1 win at Cleveland. Last season, Berrios’ total of 14 starts was the highest by any AL pitcher who did not face a batter in the seventh inning or later as a starting pitcher.

Martinez is back, and he’s still hitting clutch home runs

Playing in only his second game of the season, J.D. Martinez hit a pair of home runs, including a game-winner leading off the ninth inning, to give the Tigers a 4–3 victory at Anaheim. Martinez hit six home runs in Late-Inning Pressure Situations in both 2014 and 2015, and he hit five HR in LIPS last season. During the expansion era, the only other Tigers player to hit at least five home runs in Late-Inning Pressure Situations in each of three consecutive seasons was Miguel Cabrera (2008–12).

Giants ride early homers to win over Reds

“You’ve got to start somewhere,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said following his team’s 3–1 win over the Reds. If he was looking for signs of an awakening by his team’s offense, home runs by Brandon Belt in the first inning and Justin Ruggiano in the second surely sufficed. It was the first time in five seasons that the Giants hit homers in each of the first two innings of a home game. The last time that happened was on June 13, 2012, when Melky Cabrera and Belt delivered. Of course, those homers became only a footnote when Matt Cain completed a perfect game.

Sierra extends hitting streak to five games

Magneuris Sierra went 2-for-3, extending his hitting streak to five games, in the Cardinals’ 5–3 win over the Cubs. Sierra is the second Cardinals player in the last 10 seasons to start his major-league career with a five-game hitting streak.

Brewers’ big inning overwhelms Mets

Travis Shaw hit a three-run home run in an eight-run fifth inning in the Brewers’ 11–4 victory over the Mets. That was the highest-scoring inning that Milwaukee has posted in any of its 129 games against the Mets. In fact, the Brewers had only one seven-run inning against New York, on April 26, 2001 in the final game of the Mets’ first series at Miller Park.

Rangers erase another deficit against A’s

The Rangers rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh to take a 6–5 decision from the Athletics. It was the fourth time in the last 20 games between these teams, dating back to last July, that Texas won a game in which Oakland held a multiple-run lead in the seventh inning or later.

Ryan propels Sens with second OT goal of 2017 playoffs

Bobby Ryan’s goal at 4:59 of overtime gave the Senators a 2–1 victory over the Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final. It was the second overtime goal of the 2017 playoffs for Ryan, who also scored the OT winner in Ottawa’s 4–3 victory in Game 3 of its first-round series against the Bruins. Ryan, a Cherry Hill, New Jersey native, has tied the NHL record for most overtime goals in one playoff year by a U.S.-born player. The other Americans with two OT goals in one playoff year were John LeClair (1993 Canadiens), Chris Chelios (1995 Blackhawks), Patrick Kane (2014 Blackhawks), Alec Martinez (2014 Kings), and David Backes (2016 Blues).