Elias Says ...
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports.
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• Saturday was one weird day in Major League Baseball. Ten of the 15 games played were decided by margins of six or more runs -- the second-most games decided in that manner on any day in the history of the major leagues. Back on May 30, 1884 (a year in which there were three major leagues -- the National League, the American Association and the Union Association), President Rutherford B. Hayes no doubt was startled to learn that 12 of the 24 major league games that day had been decided by at least six runs.
Special mention goes to the Columbus team of the American Association: Bringing new meaning to the split doubleheader, Columbus lost a 10-1 decision at Washington in the morning and then suffered a 10-3 loss at Baltimore in the afternoon!
• OK, you watched all 15 major-league games on Saturday and saw all those lopsided games, four walk-off wins, home runs by 30-plus homer guys Ortiz, Pujols, Thome and Howard, and great mound performances by Schilling, Santana and Verlander. Still, you felt, something was missing. What was it? Saves!
There was not a single save in any of the 15 big-league games Saturday -- making it the first day in major-league history in which at least that many games were played with nary a save. The old record (since 1969, of course, when saves were first compiled by baseball): no saves in the 14 games (including one doubleheader) played on Sept. 15, 1978.
• The White Sox had to have confidence taking the field at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon, even following a one-run loss the previous night. After all, they had Mark Buehrle on the mound, and the Sox had been 6-0 this season -- with Buehrle the winning pitcher each time -- when Buerhle started the game following a Chicago loss. The last White Sox pitcher to start a season winning each of his first six starts following a team loss was Bob Keegan in 1954.
But all good streaks come to an end, as the Yankees slugged their way to a 14-3 victory. It had been nearly 70 years since the defending World Series champions had been defeated by so large a margin at Yankee Stadium. Back on Aug. 28, 1936, the Yankees pummeled the defending champion Tigers 19-4 in the second game of a doubleheader called after 6½ innings because of darkness (after winning the first game, 14-5; Yankees pitcher Johnny Murphy not only threw the abbreviated complete game, but went 5-for-5 at the plate, driving in five runs!)
• Erik Bedard picked up his sixth win in his last six starts in Baltimore's 8-1 win over Texas, and in the last five of those starts, he has gone at least six innings while allowing either no runs or one.
Bedard is the first pitcher this season to win five straight starts, going six innings and allowing no more than one run in each of them. In recent years, a pitcher to two every year has such a streak: Chris Carpenter (six starts) and Roy Halladay did it last year, Johan Santana (seven) in 2004, Mark Prior (six) in 2003, Cory Lidle in 2002 and Barry Zito in 2001.
But even though the Orioles have had some great pitchers during their years in Baltimore, you have to go back nearly 90 years -- to the early years of the St. Louis Browns -- to find the last pitcher from this franchise to have a streak of five starts like Bedard has had. The last pitcher to achieve that was a fellow named Dave Davenport, who did it in August 1917.
(Just for fun, we looked back at Bob Gibson's 1968 season, the one in which he had an ERA of 1.12 ... Gibby won 11 straight starts from June 6 to July 30, each a complete game: eight shutouts and three games in which he allowed a lone run.)
One more thing on Bedard: In Mark Buehrle-like manner, each of Bedard's last six starts has resulted in a victory that followed a team loss.
• Scott Rolen's game-winning 10th-inning single against the Dodgers came on an 0-2 pitch from Los Angeles reliever Danys Baez. Attention, National League pitchers: Rolen is dangerous when backed into a corner. He is now batting .389 this season (7-for-18) on 0-2 pitches.
It was only Rolen's second walk-off RBI since joining the Cardinals during the 2002 season. The other came off Kyle Farnsworth in a 1-0 victory over the Cubs on May 2, 2004.
• It wasn't David Ortiz's 32nd home run that raised eyebrows in Boston's 7-0 win over Oakland; rather, it was his two-run triple -- just the 10th triple in a major-league career that has now included 3,447 at-bats.
But Big Papi's rate of one triple for every 344.7 at-bats is hardly the lowest in big-league annals. Among the nearly 1,300 players who have had as many at-bats as Ortiz, the lowest rate belongs to former Orioles second baseman Rich Dauer, who collected just three triples in 3,829 at-bats, or one for every 1,276 at-bats. Second place overall, and first among active players, belongs to Mike Piazza, who has had six three-baggers in 6,434 at-bats (one every 1,072 at-bats).
• The Tigers' 6-0 victory over Kansas City made them 11-for-11 against the Royals this season, the first time that Detroit has ever won its first 11 games of a season against one opponent. Indeed, you have to go back to Ty Cobb's Tigers of 1909 to find the last season in which the team has won any 11 consecutive decisions from one opponent; that year, en route to the American League title, the Tygers won 11 straight games against the St. Louis Browns.
Coupled with the loss by the White Sox to the Yankees, the Tigers' win lengthened their lead in the American League Central to 4½ games. That's the Tigers' largest division lead since the morning of August 12, 1988, when, as members of the American League East, they held a margin of that size over the second-place Red Sox. (Boston bounced back to take the division title by a one-game margin over Detroit.)
• It was a memorable 26th birthday for Reds rookie Chris Denorfia, whose two-out, two-run single off Brian Fuentes in the bottom of the ninth produced the game-tying and game-winning runs in Cincinnati's 3-2 win over Colorado.
It was the first time since July 24, 2003 that a player had produced a walk-off RBI on his birthday. Who did it on that occasion? None other than Barry Bonds, with a ninth-inning home run off Arizona's Mike Myers. (Among the other Hall-of-Famers or Hall-of-Famers-to-be who did that: Joe Morgan, Paul Molitor, Cal Ripken and Alex Rodriguez.)
• Carlos Zambrano earned his ninth victory of the season, allowing three hits over the first six innings of the Cubs' 9-2 win over the Mets. Zambrano held the Mets' right-handed batters hitless in seven at-bats, lowering to .147 (that's 38 hits in 258 at-bats) the collective batting average of right-handed batters against Zambrano this season.
No major league pitcher in any season from 1990 onward has finished a season limiting right-handed batters to a batting average below .150 in 250-or-more at-bats. The last pitcher to do so was the hard-throwing right-hander Jose DeLeon with the Cardinals in 1989: in a 16-12 season, DeLeon limited righty batters to a .146 average.
• Don't look now, but Andy Pettitte is getting it together. Pettitte fanned 10 Marlins batters in seven innings on Saturday in Houston's 12-0 victory, the second straight game in which the lefty has had more strikeouts than innings. (He struck out eight Cardinals batters in seven innings in a no-decision start last Sunday.) He lowered his season ERA below 5.00 for the first time in two months.
Pettitte's gem vs. Florida marked the first time in 69 regular-season starts with the Astros that he has reached double digits in strikeouts.
• John Smoltz is also on the come. He shut the Padres out through seven innings on Saturday as Atlanta took an 11-3 decision -- the third straight start that Smoltz has won. He has now allowed only one earned run in 24S innings at Petco Park, an ERA of 0.37. Only one active National League pitcher has a lower ERA at a particular stadium (minimum: 20 innings): Zach Duke has allowed one earned run in 25 innings (0.36) at Wrigley Field.
No, it's Justin Morneau, who kept it up Saturday with three hits including a home run in Minnesota's 6-2 win over Cleveland.
• By moving into second place with a third-round 66 at the 2006 John Deere Classic, Heath Slocum extended his rounds-under-par streak to eight, the second longest such streak of his career. Slocum's longest was 10 straight rounds at about this time last season, starting with the second round of the 2005 Cialis Western Open (June 30) and extending through round three of the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee (July 21).
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