Elias Says: May 19, 2017

Hurdle fills a huge void in Pirates’ lineup

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle got immediate payback on a switch to his lineup on Thursday. Hurdle moved rookie first baseman Josh Bell into the fourth spot in Pittsburgh’s batting order. In 68 previous starts (half of them this season), Bell had batted everywhere in the Pirates order except last and cleanup. His first-inning home run gave Pittsburgh a 2–0 lead, and the Pirates defeated the Nationals, 10–4. Bell was the first Pirates player since 1900 to homer in the first inning of his first major-league start in the number-four slot.

Coming into Thursday’s game, Pirates cleanup hitters had driven in the fewest runs of any major-league team (10), and their total of two home runs tied Detroit and Kansas City for the MLB low in that category by number-four hitters.

J-Mart and V-Mart do it again

J.D. Martinez and Victor Martinez both homered off Dylan Bundy in the Tigers’ 6–5 victory over the Orioles. And yes, we’re going there. But first, we will note that the younger Martinez has hit five home runs in six games since making his 2017 debut last Friday; Martinez the Elder homered twice and drove in five runs in the three-game series against the O’s.

Now for the good stuff. It was the 16th time that the Martinezes homered in the same game for Detroit. Only two pairs of teammates who shared the same last name homered in the same game as often as J-Mart and V-Mart: Andruw and Chipper Jones (59 times), and Brooks and Frank Robinson (24 times).

Another 4-for-4 game by Sogard

Eric Sogard went 4-for-4 in the Brewers’ 4–2 win at San Diego, matching his performance of just two nights earlier at Petco Park. Only three other Brewers players had a pair of four-hit games in the same series. Cecil Cooper did it three times (1977, 1981, and 1982), Ryan Braun did it in 2008, and Casey McGehee in 2010.

Prior to Sogard, the last player to go 4-for-4 or better twice in the same series for any team was Andre Ethier for the Dodgers against the Marlins in 2012. (Of course, by that we mean two games with a hit on every at-bat and at least four hits in each game.)

Blue Jays battery makes history

Luke Maile and Marcus Stroman, the Blue Jays’ starting catcher and pitcher, both homered in Toronto’s 9–0 victory at Atlanta, and that’s one for the books. There have been 2618 regular-season interleague games in which the American League team did not use a designated hitter. This was the first of those games in which the AL team’s starting catcher and pitcher both homered.

Utley’s first game of its kind

Chase Utley turned back the clock, providing a little of everything in the Dodgers’ 7–2 win over the Marlins. At age 38, Utley is the oldest player to start a game in the leadoff spot this season. He went 2-for-2 with a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a sacrifice fly, and he stole a base too. Utley became the first leadoff batter with a sac bunt, a sac fly, and a stolen base in one game, while getting a hit on each of his at-bats since the sac fly rule was implemented in 1954.

Texas completes 8–0 home stand

The Rangers capped an undefeated eight-game home stand with an 8–4 victory over the Phillies. By sweeping two games from San Diego and three-game series against Oakland and Philadelphia, Texas matched the longest undefeated home stands in franchise history, including 11 seasons in Washington D.C. (1961–71). The Rangers previously went 8–0 on one home stand only in 2005 (May 20–29).

Cubs continue to dominate the Reds as Lester extends Wrigley winning streak

The Cubs completed a three-game sweep of the Reds with a 9–5 win at Wrigley Field, continuing their recent mastery over Cincinnati. For the first time in 70 years, Chicago has won 37 times over a span of 50 games against the Reds (dating back to 2014). Prior to this week’s series, the last time the Cubs amassed 37 wins over 50 games versus Cincinnati was from 1945 to 1947. During that run, Chicago’s leading run producer was Phil Cavarretta, with 37 RBIs; Hank Wyse earned the most wins for the Cubs (9–3, 2.19 ERA).

Jon Lester allowed three runs over six innings on Thursday, which was good enough to even his record at 2–2 this season and extended his winning streak at Wrigley Field to 11 consecutive decisions, dating back to last May. That is the longest winning streak ever compiled by a left-handed pitcher at Wrigley.

Duffy stymies the Yankees

Danny Duffy struck out 10 batters without allowing a run over seven innings to earn the victory in the Royals’ 5–1 win over the Yankees. Duffy was the first Kansas City pitcher in 26 years to strike out as many as 10 Yankees batters in one game and not allow a run. The only Royals pitchers to do so were Mark Gubicza in 1986 and Tom (Flash) Gordon in 1991. Gordon pitched in 159 games over two seasons for the Yankees, mainly as a set-up reliever for Mariano Rivera (2004–05). He is the father of Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon.

Berrios pitches deep into another victory

Jose Berrios allowed two hits over 7.2 innings to earn his second win is as many starts this season as the Twins defeated the Rockies, 2–0, to gain a split of their doubleheader. Berrios, who allowed only one run in 7.2 innings in his season debut against the Indians last weekend, is only the third Twins pitcher in the last 30 seasons to pitch into the eighth inning and win each of his first two appearances of a season. The others were Brad Radke (2001) and Andrew Albers (2013).

The A’s can’t stop Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak against the Athletics to 21 games, going 2-for-4 in the Red Sox’ 8–3 loss at Oakland. That tied Marcel Ozuna’s 21-gamer against the Rays as the longest current hitting streaks against one particular opponent. It’s the second-longest hitting streak Pedroia has had against one team; he hit safely in 30 consecutive games against the Blue Jays (2014–16).

Dyson turns on the power

Jarrod Dyson hit his second home run of the week in the Mariners’ 5–4 win over the White Sox. Dyson also homered last Sunday against Toronto. Prior to his recent power surge, Dyson had never homered twice in the same calendar month. During seven seasons with Kansas City, Dyson hit seven home runs in 1365 at-bats.

Forsberg’s crucial goal extends his scoring streak

Filip Forsberg has scored a goal for the Predators in all four games of the Western Conference Finals, including the tying goal with 34.5 seconds left to play in the third period in Game 4. Forsberg is only the second NHL player in the last 25 years to score at least one goal in each of the first four games of a Conference Final. The other player to do that since 1992 is Dustin Byfuglien, who scored a goal for the Blackhawks in every game as they swept the 2010 Western Conference Final from the Sharks.

Perry ties NHL record with overtime game-winner

Corey Perry tied an NHL record when he scored the overtime goal that earned the Ducks a 3–2 victory at Nashville in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final. It was Perry’s third overtime goal of the 2017 playoffs, tying the mark for OT goals by an NHL skater in one playoff year set by Mel “Sudden Death” Hill with the Bruins in 1939 and equaled by Maurice Richard for the Canadiens in 1951. Perry, who scored in overtime in Game 3 of the Ducks’ first-round series against the Flames and in Game 5 of Anaheim’s second-round matchup versus the Oilers, is the first NHL player to score an OT goal in three different series in one playoff year. In 1939, Hill scored all of his overtime goals in one series against the Rangers. In 1951, Richard scored a pair of overtime goals in the Semi-Final against the Red Wings and one in the Stanley Cup Final versus the Maple Leafs.