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McCANN MAKES HISTORY vs. PHILLIES
From Elias: Brian McCann's three-run homer off Cole Hamels ripped open a close game and led the Braves and Ben Sheets to a 6-1 victory over the Phillies. McCann has played six games against Philadelphia this season and has homered in each of them; he's the first player ever to hit home runs in each of six straight games against the Phillies.
GRANDAL: BASES-LOADED TRIPLE, FIRST THIS YEAR FOR MLB CATCHER
From Elias: Yasmani Grandal belted a three-run triple in the sixth inning to give the Padres a 4-2 lead and to propel them to a 7-2 victory in Miami. Grandal became the first major-league catcher to hit a bases-loaded triple this season; in fact, catchers have hit only four three-run triples over the past five seasons. The only other Padres catchers to do it? Fred Kendall in 1974 and Benito Santiago in 1989.
Rather improbably, that makes nine straight wins for the Padres against the Marlins in South Florida, which matches the longest current road winning streak by one big-league team over another. Doubly improbably, the Padres also account for the only other instance of a team winning its last nine road games against a particular opponent; they have done that at Pittsburgh.
VIZQUEL: A DOUBLE, A TRIPLE, AND A FIRST
From Elias: So what's rarer than a bases-loaded triple by a catcher? How about any kind of a triple by a 45-year-old anything! Omar Vizquel doubled and scored in the first inning, then produced an RBI triple in the seventh, in the Blue Jays' 8-3 triumph over the Tigers.
Vizquel became the oldest big-leaguer to hit a triple since Julio Franco hit his last one, less than two months shy of his 47th birthday, for the Braves in 2005. Disregard the incorrect information being distributed elsewhere that Franco is the all-time record-holder in that category; that would come as news to Nick Altrock, who hit a triple at the age of 48 on the final day of the 1924 season for the old Washington Senators (who would go on to beat the New York Giants in that year's World Series).
But take this one to the bank: Vizquel became the oldest player in major-league history to hit both a triple and a double in the same game.
GRANDERSON'S GRAND SLAM
From Elias: Curtis Granderson's eighth-inning grand-slam home run sealed the deal as the Yankees opened a three-game series with a 10-3 win over the Red Sox. When Granderson stepped to the plate, he hadn't driven in a run in 24 at-bats over seven games vs. Boston this season; last year, his total of 28 strikeouts vs. Boston was the highest single-season total by any opponent in Red Sox history.
It was the Red Sox' 100th game this season but their first at Yankee Stadium. It's the latest into a season, in terms of games played, that the Red Sox have made their season debut in the Bronx.
REDBIRDS PLAY HOME RUN DERBY AT WRIGLEY
From Elias: The Cardinals belted five home runs - one in each of the first five innings - and went on to take a 9-6 verdict over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. It was the sixth time that the Cardinals have hit five-or-more home runs in a game against the Cubs - and all six of those games have been played within The Friendly Confines. (Consider that over their first 100 seasons in the National League, from 1892 to 1991, the Cardinals hit as many as five homers in a game played in St. Louis only five times!)
Friday's game was the first in Cardinals history in which they homered in each of five consecutive innings, and it was the first in Cubs history in which they permitted a homer in each of the first five innings. And Cubs starter Travis Wood became the first pitcher in major-league history to allow a home run in each of the game's first five innings.
CHAPMAN FINISHES OFF SHUTOUT
From Elias: Bronson Arroyo, Alfredo Simon and Aroldis Chapman combined to throw an eight-hit shutout at Coors Field and the Reds walked away with a 3-0 victory. Chapman faced four batters in the ninth inning, allowing one hit and striking out three, to earn his 20th save of the season. It was the eighth time this season that Chapman has had three strikeouts in a game that he saved, surpassing Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel for the major-league lead. And the Cuban left-hander lowered his season ERA to 1.48 while lifting his strikeout rate to 17.2 per nine innings. Among relievers who threw at least 50 relief innings in one season, the highest single-season strikeout rate in major-league history was Kenley Jansen's 16.1 per nine innings last year.
FIERS LEADS MAJORS IN ERA SINCE JUNE 24
From Elias: Mike Fiers tossed six and one-third innings of shutout ball, striking out nine, in the Brewers' much-needed 6-0 blanking of the red-hot Nationals. Over his last six starts, Fiers has allowed three earned runs in 40 innings, allowing no runs in four of those six starts; the resulting ERA of 0.68 is the lowest in the majors over that span (since June 24), ahead of Paul Maholm (0.94) and Jordan Zimmermann (0.95).
DIAMOND BLANKS INDIANS
From Elias: Scott Diamond needed only 98 pitches to complete a three-hit, no-walk shutout over the Indians, with the Twins winning, 11-0. We've said it before, we'll say it again: Diamond may be the most underappreciated rookie pitcher in the majors this season. He's one of four rookies with at least nine victories (Yu Darvish and Wade Miley have 11 apiece, and Tommy Milone has nine), but Diamond is the only one of that group with an ERA (2.88) below 3.00.
Ready for a couple of "first sinces"? Diamond was the first Twins rookie to throw a shutout since Joe Mays blanked the Cubs back in 1999, and he was the first rookie left-hander to toss a shutout for the Twins in 30 years. Back in 1982, the year that the Metrodome opened, Frank Viola (on August 24) and Jack O'Connor (on August 28) did so within a five-day span.
SETH SMITH, SUPER SUB
From Elias: Seth Smith knocked in five runs with a pinch-hit, go-ahead, three-run double in the sixth and a cherry-on-the-top, two-run double in the ninth as the Athletics won a 14-9 struggle in Baltimore. Smith is only the second major leaguer this season, and just the third over the past five seasons, to amass at least five RBIs in a game he didn't start. On May 11 of this year, the Cubs' David DeJesus had five RBIs off the bench in a 13-inning loss at Milwaukee; and on April 9 of last year, the Phillies' Carlos Ruiz had five RBI after entering the game in the seventh inning.
PIRATES WIN ANOTHER IN SIGNATURE STYLE
From Elias: Scoring the tying and winning runs in the ninth inning on a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch, the Pirates produced yet another come-from-behind victory, beating the Astros, 6-5. It marked the 19th time this season that Pittsburgh has won a game in which it trailed by two-or-more runs, the most such wins in the majors. And 11 of those 19 comeback wins have come on the road - that's one more than the total of road victories of that type than the Pirates had in the previous three seasons combined.
ASTROS LOSE AGAIN IN 9TH INNING
From Elias: Another day, another loss for the Astros, who suffered their 11th straight loss on Friday night and for the third time in a four-game span, lost a game in which they took a lead into the ninth inning. It was only the second time in Houston's 51-year major-league history that the team has lost three times within a four-game span in that manner; Harry Walker's 1969 team did that in late August.
RIOS HOTTER THAN THE JULY WEATHER
From Elias: Alex Rios drove in three runs with a sacrifice fly, a fielder's choice and a ninth-inning double and the White Sox defeated the Rangers, 9-5. Rios now has 16 extra-base hits and 22 RBIs in 21 games during July; the last White Sox player to have as many long hits and as many RBIs in one month was Carlos Quentin, who had identical figures while playing 25 games in July 2008.
JASO IS THE MAN WITH DUCKS ON THE POND
From Elias: John Jaso's three-run homer in the first inning gave the Mariners a lead they never relinquished in Seattle's 6-1 victory over the Royals. Jaso, in his first season with the team, has been a big hitter for the Mariners with multiple runners on base: he's batting .435 (10 for 23) with at least two runners on base this season.