Ryan Howard hit his 28th home run of the season off of Andrew Miller in the fourth inning of the Philadelphia Phillies' 10-6 win over the Florida Marlins. The blast was the 250th of Howard's career and came in his 855th career game. According to our friends at the Elias Sports Bureau, this makes Howard the fastest player in terms of games played to reach 250 career home runs in MLB history. The previous fastest was Ralph Kiner (871 games).
Fewest Games to 250 Career HR
• Howard also matched his season high with six RBI. He is the only player in baseball with multiple games with at least six RBI this season and the Phillies have now had a franchise-record four player games with six RBI this season.
• Howard's home run was already his fourth of September. This should come as no surprise. He now has 54 September home runs since 2005, which is easily the most in baseball. In fact, no other player has more than David Ortiz's 41 according to Elias.
• Phillies' starter Cole Hamels entered Wednesday's game winless in his last 10 starts against the Marlins. However, he pitched seven shutout innings in picking up the win. He has now tossed 25 consecutive scoreless innings, which is the longest such streak by a Phillies pitcher since Randy Wolf's 27-inning streak in August of 2002. Hamels now sports a 1.83 ERA in his last 12 starts and has limited opponents to a .203 batting average over that span. After allowing 19 home runs in his first 17 starts, Hamels has surrendered just five over his last 12.
Here were some of the keys to Hamels' success on Wednesday:
• 59 of his 106 pitches were out of the strike zone, and the Marlins went 0-for-10 (including four of Hamels' five strikeouts) against those. It was a good adjustment for Hamels, who surrendered three of his four hits to the first 11 batters. Florida didn't register a single swing-and-miss against a pitch in the zone.
• He kept his fastball up and had 'em reaching for it; Hamels threw the same number of offerings (44) high as he did low, and his percentage of pitches that hit the middle (16%) was his lowest in eight starts. Marlins went 1-for-12 against high pitches and grounded out 60% of the time.
• The Marlins were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, and four of Hamels' five baserunners came with two outs.
Let's take a look at some other notes from around baseball on Wednesday:
• The Atlanta Braves, now in second-place in the NL East, got a needed win against the Pittsburgh Pirates from a remarkably likely source: Derek Lowe. Lowe allowed one run over six innings to pick up the win, which improved him to 10-0 in his career against the Pirates. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other pitcher to win his first 10 starts against Pittsburgh was Hall of Famer Kid Nichols, who won his first 12 spanning the 1890 and 1891 seasons. The last pitcher to win his first 10 starts against any major league team was Jamie Moyer, who won his first 10 starts against the Marlins from 2006 to 2008.
Longest HR This Season
• Nelson Cruz' home run in the top of the ninth in Toronto was measured by our HitTracker tool at 467 feet (that's 142.3 meters for you Canadians out there). That makes it the longest home run at Rogers Centre this season, surpassing the 458 (139.6) that Vladimir Guerrero hit yesterday.
•In an afternoon game, the New York Yankees avoided getting swept by the Baltimore Orioles thanks to Nick Swisher's walk-off home run. It would have been Baltimore's first three-game sweep of the Yankees in New York since 1986. The Yankees remain the only team in baseball that has not been swept in a three-game series this season. Swisher now has three career walk-off home runs. The last one he had hit was exactly one year ago. The Yankees have an MLB-leading 44 comeback wins this season.