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CABRERA WINS FIRST TRIPLE CROWN SINCE 1967
From Elias: Miguel Cabrera wrapped up the first Triple Crown for a major league player in 45 years, ending the longest Triple Crown drought in major-league history. Since the major leagues began keeping track of RBI in 1920 - and thereby allowing for the concept of the Triple Crown - the longest previous drought had been nine years, between Mickey Mantle in 1956 and Frank Robinson in 1966.
Besides the big-three statistical categories, Cabrera also led the American League in total bases (377), extra-base hits (84), go-ahead RBI (34), multiple-hit games (64, tied with Derek Jeter) - and times grounding into double plays (28).
POSEY WINS BATTING TITLE, BUT VOTTO LEADS IN ON-BASE PCT.
From Elias: Buster Posey led the National League with a .336 batting average, and Posey alone prevented Miguel Cabrera from winning the major league Triple Crown (leading all players in both leagues in batting average, home runs and RBI). Posey won the title after a recent rule change making the final sentence of Rule 10.22(a) inapplicable to Melky Cabrera, who finished one plate appearance shy of qualifying due to his suspension. (The stricken sentence would have allowed Cabrera, because of the size of his lead over his nearest competitor, to win the title though finishing with fewer than the requisite 502 plate appearances.)
But as the old expression goes, Rule 10.22(a) giveth, and Rule 10.22(a) taketh away. Ironically, the application of that very sentence to Joey Votto allowed the Cincinnati first baseman to finish as the National League leader in on-base percentage, ahead of Posey, who had the highest on-base percentage among players with 502 plate appearances. Votto's on-base percentage of .474 in 475 plate appearances was so far ahead of Posey's .408 that Votto was still ahead, by a wide margin, even were the shortfall of 27 at-bats added to his total.
Similarly, through yet another application of that final sentence in 10.22(a), Giancarlo Stanton led the National League in slugging average, with a .608 mark over his 501 plate appearances. Ryan Braun, the leader among players who had at least 502 trips to the plate, finished with a .595 slugging average.
CANO JOINS YANKEE LEGENDS
From Elias: Robinson Cano went 4-for-4 with two home runs and six RBI in the Yankees' 14-2 win over the Red Sox in the Bronx. Cano finished the season with 24 hits over his last nine games, tying the Bombers' record over any nine-game span, shared by Earle Combs (1927), Lou Gehrig (1936) and Bernie Williams (2002).
Cano recorded at least two hits in each of his last nine games of the season. That ties Hall-of-Famer Ed Delahanty (1902 Senators) for the second-longest season-ending multi-hit-game streak in the modern era (since 1900). Billy Herman, also enshrined in Cooperstown, ended the 1935 season with 11 straight multiple-hit games for the Cubs.
A'S RIDE BALFOUR DOWN STRETCH
From Elias: Grant Balfour finished off the Athletics' comeback by pitching a perfect ninth inning in Oakland's 12-5 win over Texas. Balfour recorded exactly three outs without allowing a base runner in each of Oakland's last five games, over the last five days of the regular season. Balfour is the second pitcher in major-league history to pitch at least one inning without surrendering a hit, walk or hit batsman in each of five straight games. Dodgers' closer Eric Gagne did that (but over a six-day span, not on five consecutive days) in August 2003. Balfour is also the first relief pitcher to finish each of his team's last five games of the season.
EVAN LONGORIA: "MR. 162"
From Elias: Evan Longoria, one of the heroes from the Rays' Game 162 win last year, hit three home runs in Tampa Bay's last game of 2012, a 4-1 win over the Orioles. Entering 2012, only two other players had ever hit three homers in their team's final game of the season: Gus Zernial (1950 White Sox) and Dick Allen (1968 Phillies).
Longoria now has six career last-game home runs, tying Stan Musial for the most in major-league history.
DAN JOHNSON'S LATE-SEASON POWER
From Elias: Dan Johnson, like ex-teammate Evan Longoria a star of Tampa Bay's improbable last-game win in 2011, homered three times in the White Sox' 9-0 win at Cleveland. Johnson has hit 20 of his 56 career home runs in September and October (35.7 percent), the second-highest percentage by any player with at least 50 homers, trailing only Karim Garcia (24 of 66, for 36.4 percent).
SPARKLING FIRST START FOR SHELBY MILLER
From Elias: Shelby Miller allowed one hit and no runs over six innings in his first major-league start, a 1-0 Cardinals' win over the Reds. Miller is the first St. Louis pitcher to allow no runs and no more than one hit over 6-plus innings in his first major-league start since Hank Gornicki threw a one-hit shutout against the Phillies at Shibe Park on May 3, 1941.
BRAVES BULLPEN SHUTS DOWN BUCS
From Elias: Ben Sheets pitched a perfect inning in his final major-league start, and seven Braves relievers combined to shut out the Pirates, 4-0 in Pittsburgh. That tied the major-league record for pitchers in a nine-inning shutout; the Rays used eight in a 4-0 win at Kansas City two years and a day ago. No National League team had ever used more than six pitchers to blank an opponent in a regulation-length game.
LEE FINISHES UNLUCKY SEASON
From Elias: Cliff Lee allowed three runs in six innings, taking the loss for the Phillies at Washington. Lee finished the 2012 season with a 6-9 record despite posting a 3.16 ERA in 211 innings. Only two other pitchers in the "Live-ball" era (since 1920) have won so few games while pitching at least 200 innings to an ERA below 3.25: Bob Knepper (6-13, 3.19) for the 1983 Astros and Joey Hamilton (6-9, 3.08) for the 1995 Padres.
EVERTH CABRERA LOCKS UP SB TITLE
From Elias: Everth Cabrera stole his National League-leading 44th base in the Padres' 7-6 win at Milwaukee. That's the lowest total by the NL steals leader (excluding the 1994 strike-shortened season) since Maury Wills led the senior circuit by swiping 40 bags in 1963.
As late as August 15, Cabrera had just 19 stolen bases, which tied for 13th in the NL at the time.
VIZQUEL CALLS IT A CAREER
From Elias: Omar Vizquel went 1-for-3 in his final major-league game, a 2-1 Blue Jays win over the Twins. Vizquel is one of 19 players to play 24-or-more seasons in the majors; nine of them are Hall-of-Famers and four are not (or not yet) eligible (Pete Rose, Roger Clemens, Jamie Moyer and Vizquel). The six eligible players with at least 24 major-league seasons who are not in the Hall are Deacon McGuire, Jim Kaat, Tommy John, Rick Dempsey, Charlie Hough and Jesse Orosco.
Vizquel made his major-league debut as the starting shortstop for the Mariners on April 3, 1989. Another player debuted for Seattle in that game: center fielder Ken Griffey, Jr.
A BAD SEASON ENDS WELL FOR CUBS
From Elias: The Cubs ended a down season on a high note, as Bryan LaHair's ninth-inning single drove in the winning run in their 5-4 win over the Astros at Wrigley Field. Chicago, which finished the season with a record of 61-101, is the first team with triple-digit losses to end its season with a walk-off win since the Pirates capped off a 50-104 season with a Preston Ward two-run homer against the Giants in 1953.
GONZALEZ ENDS SEASON ON 15-GAME STREAK
From Elias: Adrian Gonzalez extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a sixth-inning RBI single in the Dodgers' 4-1 home win over the Giants. Only two other Dodgers in the modern era have ended a season with a batting streak that long: Willie Keeler (16) in 1900 and Pedro Guerrero (17) in 1987.
METS LIKE IKE'S POWER
From Elias: Andres Torres, Scott Hairston and Ike Davis all homered for the Mets in their season-ending win over the Marlins on Wednesday. Ike's homer came on the first pitch he saw in the sixth inning, which seems apropos in that Davis led the majors with 12 first-pitch home runs this season. It was also his 20th home run after the All-Star break, second-most among National League players, behind Chase Headley's 23. Davis is the sixth player in Mets history to slug 20 or more homers after the All-Star break in one season. The other who did that are Dave Kingman (1975), Gary Carter (1985), Darryl Strawberry (1985), Mike Piazza (1999) and Carlos Delgado (2008). Each of those five players hit exactly 21 post-All-Star Game home runs.
WELLS DRIVES IN FIVE FROM #2 SLOT
From Elias: Casper Wells went 2-for-3 and drove in five runs in the Mariners' 12-0 home win over the Angels. Wells became only the second player to drive in five runs from the #2 lineup slot for Seattle at Safeco Field, which opened in 1999. Randy Winn had six RBI against the Tigers on July 30, 2003.
PACHECO FINISHES FINE ROOKIE CAMPAIGN
From Elias: Jordan Pacheco went 3-for-4 in the Rockies' 2-1 win at Arizona. Pacheco finished his rookie season with a .309 batting average, the second-best average by a Colorado rookie with at least 400 at bats. Todd Helton hit .315 in 1998.