Elias Says ...

A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:


• The Cardinals are the first defending World Series winners in 64 years to start a season by losing their first two games and scoring a total of two or fewer runs in those games. The last team to start a world championship defense in that manner: the 1943 Cardinals, who lost consecutive extra-inning 1-0 decisions at Cincinnati during the middle of World War II. (Oh, yes, the '43 Cardinals recovered just fine, finishing 105-49 and winning the National League pennant by an 18-game margin before losing the World Series to the Yankees.)

The last defending world champions to start 0-2 and score two or fewer runs while playing both games at home? The 1915 Boston Braves, who dropped their first two games at home to the Phillies.

• The Mets continued to play crisp defensively as they again defeated the Cardinals 4-1. Willie Randolph's crew has turned seven double plays over the season's first two games, becoming the first major league team to do that since the Indians in 1960. (And the Indians not only had the benefit of a 15-inning opening game that season, but they lost both of those games.)

• The score after their first two matchups of the season: Pirates 2; Astros bullpen 0. For the second day in a row, the Pirates won in Houston in a game in which they trailed going into the eighth inning.

Now that's noteworthy: In the 132-year history of Major League Baseball, this marks only the second time that a team has started a season with a pair of road wins in which it trailed going into the eighth inning. The 1994 Phillies were the other team (think Len Dykstra, Darren Daulton, Dave Hollins); they started defense of their National League title with a pair of late-inning comeback wins over the Rockies at Mile High Stadium in Denver.

And, yes, the Astros joined the '94 Rockies as the only major league teams to open a season with a pair of losses, both at home, in games in which they led going to the eighth inning.

Randy Wolf Wolf
Randy Wolf's Dodgers debut was spoiled by a pair of Milwaukee long balls. Kevin Mench and Prince Fielder homered off Wolf in the Brewers' 4-3 victory.

The Brewers recognized Randy, though disguised in Dodger Blue, as a Wolf in sheep's clothing. This marked his seventh consecutive start against Milwaukee, dating back to 2003, in which he had yielded at least one home run; over those seven starts, he has now allowed 10 homers in 39 1/3 innings.

Oddly, prior to 2003, Wolf had made six career starts against the Brewers and hadn't allowed a home run in any of them.

Jake Peavy Peavy
• On April 3, 2006, Jake Peavy allowed one run over seven innings in the Padres' 6-1 Opening Day win over the Giants in San Diego. A year later to the day, Peavy improved on his performance, throwing six scoreless innings in the Padres' 7-0 victory in San Francisco. Peavy became just the second Padres pitcher to start and win on Opening Day in each of two consecutive years; Elias Says kudos to anyone who knows that the other guy was Clay Kirby in 1972 and 1973.

One thing changed from last year to this: San Diego's manager for the past 12 seasons, Bruce Bochy, is now the skipper of the Giants. Bochy became the first big-league manager to face his former team in his first game elsewhere after a tenure of 10 years or longer. Honorable mention: Mike Hargrove, who managed the Indians from 1991 to 1999 and faced them in his Orioles debut in 2000.

Oh, one other cool thing from this game: The first two hitters in San Diego's lineup were Marcus Giles and Brian Giles. It was the first big-league game since July 7, 1965 in which two brothers appeared atop the starting lineup for a major league team. On that date, the Giants' Matty Alou and Jesus Alou topped their order in a game at St. Louis.

• The Mariners defeated the A's for the second straight day, matching the total of wins that they were able to achieve in last year's 19-game season series vs. Oakland.

Only three other major league teams started a season with consecutive wins against a team that had beaten them at least 17 times the previous season: 1951 Cubs vs. Reds (4-17); 1914 Yankees vs. Philadelphia Athletics (5-17); and 1911 St. Louis Browns vs. Cleveland Naps (4-18).


Steve Nash Nash
• We're used to seeing special stuff from Steve Nash, but we'll have to watch him for a while before he surpasses his performance in the Suns' 116-111 win at Memphis. Nash was credited with 17 assists and he did not miss a shot himself: He was 4-for-4 from the floor (including a trio of 3-pointers) and 4-for-4 from the foul line.

Nash tied the NBA record for most assists in a game in which he missed neither a field-goal attempt nor a free-throw attempt. In 1983, Magic Johnson had a 17-assist game against the Bucks in which he made all three field-goal attempts and did not take a foul shot; and in 1994, John Stockton handed out 17 assists in a game vs. Portland in which he was 4-for-4 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the line.

Tyson Chandler Chandler
Tyson Chandler may not win the NBA rebounding title, but he's not going to give up gently. Chandler, second to Kevin Garnett in that category, had 20 rebounds in the Hornets' 119-101 win at Milwaukee. It was Chandler's fifth game this season with a score of boards, a league high (Dwight Howard has had four games with 20 or more rebounds).

Garnett had 12 rebounds in Minnesota's 101-88 loss to Cleveland, so Chandler has narrowed the distance between them: Garnett is averaging 12.8 rebounds per game to Chandler's 12.5.

• The Spurs rolled to yet another easy victory, this one by a 110-91 score over the Sonics. And, as Gregg Popovich prepares his veteran team for the playoffs, once again no San Antonio player logged as much as 30 minutes of playing time.

Tuesday's game marked the fifth since Feb. 7 in which no Spurs player has played 30 or more minutes in a game (and the Spurs have won each of those games by at least 15 points). All other NBA teams combined have played only two such games over that span!


Alexander Ovechkin Ovechkin
Alexander Ovechkin's 44th goal of the season was the only score as the Capitals beat the Panthers.

That ended a streak of 100 home games in which Washington had not shut out its opponent; the Caps' last shutout in front of the hometown fans came back on Jan. 11, 2004, also a 1-0 victory, over Edmonton. Some symmetrical perspective on the Capitals' streak of 100 home games without a shutout: It was exactly 100 games shy of the NHL record. From 1981 to 1986, the Maple Leafs had a run of 200 consecutive home games without blanking an opponent.

• The Rangers may have thought that they had the edge when they went to a shootout with Henrik Lundqvist in goal against Wade Dubielewicz. After all, Lundqvist had been 8-3 in shootout tie-breakers this season, allowing only eight scores on 47 opposing tries. But Dubie beat him, improving his career shootout record to 2-0 (one win last season), having stopped all six shots that he has faced.

Dominik Hasek Hasek
Dominik Hasek made 35 saves to lead the Red Wings to a 3-0 win over Columbus. It was the 16th time that the Blue Jackets have been shut out this season, the third-highest single-season total in NHL history.

The only other teams to get blanked that many times in one season did so prior to the introduction of the center-ice red line, in an era in which forward passing was not permitted in the offensive zone. Those teams both did it in the 1928-29 NHL season, when the schedule was only 44 games long: the Chicago Black Hawks (20 times) and a team called the Pittsburgh Pirates (18 times). (The Waner brothers apparently weren't good skaters.)

Martin Brodeur Brodeur
Martin Brodeur beat the Bruins in a shootout on Tuesday night to earn his 47th victory of the season and tie Bernie Parent's NHL record for wins by a goaltender in one season. Parent set the mark with the Flyers in 1973-74.

But in order to comply with federal truth-in-sports-statistics standards (your tax dollars at work!), we must note that Parent's record was established in an era in which there were no regular-season overtimes or shootouts to decide games tied after 60 minutes. Apples to apples: Only 34 of Brodeur's wins this season have come in regulation time; he has won three times in overtime and 10 times via a shootout.


Olindo Mare Mare
• The Dolphins traded veteran kicker Olindo Mare to the Saints for a sixth-round draft choice, the 199th overall choice in this month's draft. So what, you say? Who can you get with the 199th pick?

Hmmm. With the 199th choice in the 2000 NFL draft, the Patriots selected Tom Brady.