<
>

Kernels: Father's Day's scorching hitters ... and much more

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The sun reached its northernmost point of the year about a half-hour before first pitch, meaning the "boys of summer" are now officially in season. Our weekly roundup of baseball's interesting and unusual is a "father's and sun's" tribute, so to speak, as we bring you notes on blazing performances, and a promise that baseball will (with a few extreme exceptions) never give you a tie.

Gordon Beckham's homer in the 11th inning defeated Texas on Father's Day. He's the first White Sox batter with two walk-off hits this year, and the other one (a ninth-inning single) came six weeks ago... on Mother's Day. As far back as full play-by-play is available (generally to about 1950), no other player has ever had a walk-off hit on both holidays in the same season.

• The Nationals exploded for nine runs in the first inning Sunday, their biggest frame in five years, and the first time the Washington/Montreal franchise has ever scored nine times in the first. And then they stopped. They won 9-2, but in the process became the first team to score nine or more runs in the first, but none for the remainder of the game, since 1988. The Yankees did it to the Orioles on June 5 of that year -- at Memorial Stadium!

• Speaking of the Orioles, they knocked Scott Copeland out of Sunday's game with a seven-run second inning, their biggest this season. Chris Tillman, handed a 7-0 lead, promptly made it a 7-6 lead, and he was removed after four outs. It's been a quarter-century since both starting pitchers gave up six or more runs while getting four outs or fewer. Toronto was involved in that game also; on June 23, 1989, they traded seven and six with the Athletics in the first, with starters Frank Wills and Curt Young both recording two outs.

• Sunday's Orioles-Jays game also marked the first game time both teams posted six runs in the same inning since June 19, 2008, when the Pirates and White Sox pulled it off. The Jays have already dropped a five-spot (or more) 14 times this season, three more than any other team (Oakland is second).

• The Diamondbacks scored all seven of their runs in the second inning Sunday. That was the second time in franchise history that Arizona scored seven or more runs with all of it coming in one inning. The other was May 5, 2006, also in the second.

A busy week for 'PPP'ers'

Big innings early become big blowouts late, which leads to that great late-game phenomenon known as "PPP"-- position players pitching (not to be confused with Dick Vitale's "PTP" for prime-time players). Not one, not two, but seven position players climbed up 10 inches this week and tried their hand. That's the most in any five-day span in the live-ball era.

Trailing 13-1, the Rays gave the ball to third baseman Jake Elmore, who got through an inning but allowed a solo homer to Wilson Ramos. Elmore then went back to his hot corner, and Nick Franklin pitched; he also gave up a home run to Ramos. The last time any team had two PPPs in a nine-inning game was July 20, 1990, when the Expos used Dave Martinez and Junior Noboa in a loss at Houston. Elmore and Franklin are the first position-player teammates in the live-ball era to each give up a homer in the same game, and Ramos is the first to hit two homers off position players since Toronto's Mickey Klutts did it against Mariners infielder Manny Castillo in 1983.

• Not to be outdone, the Indians handed things over to Ryan Raburn and David Murphy on Wednesday when they trailed 10-0. An inning later it was 17-0 Although all seven runs were unearned thanks to a two-out error, they became the first PPP teammates to each give up two runs since Craig Reynolds and Greg Gross of the Astros on May 21, 1989. Murphy was the first to give up five unearned runs since the Yankees' Gene Michael in 1968.

• While the Orioles were piling up 19 runs (an MLB season high and their most since 2000), Jeff Francoeur "got to" pitch a second inning for the Phillies because the bullpen phone was off the hook. He ended up throwing 48 pitches, the most by a position player since David Howard of the Royals on April 12, 1994. The Phillies hadn't had a PPP in a nine-inning game since Tomas Perez got the final out of a 17-3 loss to the Astros in 2002.

• After the Tigers fell behind 13-0 early Saturday, it seemed inevitable. On to pitch the eighth was infielder Josh Wilson. Wilson has been with nine teams in his eight-year career and has also taken the hill for the Rays in 2007 and both the Diamondbacks and Padres in 2009. He gave up a homer in that Padres game, and another one Saturday, making him the first positon player to give up homers in two games since Paul Janish in 2009. But more notably, Wilson is now the first position player in the live-ball era to pitch for four teams in his career.

• Honorable mention to Alexi Amarista, who got the Padres' final out in Wednesday's blowout loss. He rounds out the seven PPP's this week, and he turns out to be the first PPP for San Diego since... Josh Wilson gave up that home run on June 7, 2009.

Other honorable mentions from the week:

Francisco Liriano, Monday: First Pirates pitcher to work eight scoreless innings with two hits, zero runs, zero walks, and 12+ strikeouts since Bert Blyleven (vs. Expos), Aug. 16, 1980.

• Chris Young, Friday: Sixth pitcher in Royals history with 3 RBIs in a game and first in the designated hitter era (Steve Busby, September 1972). Second AL pitcher since DH began with two hits and 3 RBIs (Mike Mussina for Orioles, 1999).

• A.J. Burnett: First pitcher to allow 14 hits and record seven strikeouts since Mark Mulder on July 5, 2000. Last Pirates pitcher to do it was Ken Brett in 1974.

Joe Ross and Max Scherzer: First Nationals/Expos pitchers with 10 strikeouts and the win in consecutive games since 1997 (Pedro Martinez and Jeff Juden)

Brett Gardner: Second player to have four hits in a game where a teammate recorded career hit 3,000. The other was Tigers outfielder Bobby Veach, who batted behind Ty Cobb on the day he got 3,000, Aug, 19, 1921.

Anibal Sanchez: Walk-free shutout with two hits and seven strikeouts, first such game for Tigers since Milt Wilcox came one out from a perfect game on April 15, 1983.

• Dodgers: First game in live-ball era to end with a balk that broke a scoreless tie. In Rangers/Senators franchise history, only other game where they allowed the only run on a balk was June 17, 1963, versus Cleveland.

Stephen Vogt: Hit Oakland's first grand slam in a National League ballpark since Matt Stairs (at San Francisco) on June 24, 1998.

Jay Bruce: First Reds batter with five hits out of cleanup spot since Dante Bichette on May 24, 2000.

• Red Sox: Three triples in Tuesday's game in which Brock Holt hit for the cycle, their most since Sept. 7, 1985 (Wade Boggs, Bill Buckner, Tony Armas).

Steven Souza Jr.: Played entire game Monday and went 0-for-0 thanks to five walks. First in major league history with a complete-game 0-for-0, five unintentional walks, no runs scored and zero RBI in a game his team won.