Elias Says ...
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports.
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• Michael Young's two-run, two-out single produced the winning margin in the Rangers' 3-1 win over the White Sox. Young is now batting .429 this season (15-for-35) with two outs and runners in scoring position. That's the second-highest average in the majors this season in such situations (minimum: 25 at-bats) to Freddy Sanchez's .459.
And get a load of this -- Young is batting .727 (8-for-11) in the situations mentioned above when it's the potential tying or go-ahead run that is in scoring position. That's the highest batting average in the majors in those oh-so-clutch situations (minimum: 10 at-bats), ahead of Melvin Mora (.667, 10-for-15), Manny Ramirez (.636, 7-for-11) and David Ortiz (.600, 6-for-10).
And, of course, those statistics don't include Young's game-winning hit in the All-Star Game, which was produced in precisely that same situation.
• Derek Jeter drew a bases-loaded walk from Justin Speier with two outs in the seventh inning to give the Yankees the go-ahead and eventual game-deciding run in their 5-4 triumph at Toronto. It was the 12th time this season that the Bombers have scored with a bases-loaded walk, the highest total for any major-league team.
That was the 19th walk in 178 bases-loaded plate appearances in Jeter's career, only two fewer run-scoring walks than Barry Bonds has produced, despite Bonds having had 51 more bases-loaded plate appearances than has Jeter.
• Just five days after committing three errors in one game (and after two additional errors, each costly, in subsequent games), Alex Rodriguez found himself the designated hitter in the Yankees' starting lineup at Toronto -- and he struck out in all four of his plate appearances. It was only the second time in his career that A-Rod had struck out four times in a game; the other came 11 years and one month earlier -- on June 22, 1995 -- when the 19-year old Rodriguez, playing for Seattle, was fanned four times in four trips to the plate by Jim Abbott, then with the White Sox. A-Rod's team sent him to the minor leagues after that game Stay tuned.
Only one other major leaguer has had both a game of three-or-more errors and a game of four-or-more strikeouts this season: Arizona's Chad Tracy had one of the former and two of the latter. But you have to go back to April of 2000 to find the last time that a big-leaguer had one of each type of game within a span of six days: Jose Valentin had a four-error game playing shortstop for the White Sox on April 8 of that year at Oakland; three days later, he fanned four times in a game against the Devil Rays in St. Petersburg.
But just as the Yankees won both A-Rod's three-error game and his four-strikeout game, so did the White Sox win both of Valentin's nightmare games six years ago.
• Joe Blanton improved his record to 10-8 in the Athletics' 9-5 win at Detroit despite surrendering five runs in the first inning. That marked the third time this season that a big-league starting pitcher has won a game after allowing at least five runs in the first inning; Washington's Livan Hernandez gave up five first-inning runs on April 8, but stayed on to win at Houston, 12-8; and Mark Buehrle of the White Sox gave up seven runs in the first inning to the Twins on May 14, but eventually received credit for Chicago's 9-7 victory.
This is the first year since 1949 in which at least three starting pitchers have earned victories after allowing five-or-more runs in the first inning. In that season, Detroit's Hal Newhouser and Brooklyn's Ralph Branca joined Dick Fowler and Carl Scheib in winning games in that manner; the latter two both pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics.
Our favorite victory by a starting pitcher who had allowed five runs in the first inning was turned in by Allen Sothoron of the St. Louis Browns in 1919. He allowed five runs to the Indians in the top of the first, but righted himself and pitched all 14 innings in an eventual 6-5 win by St. Louis.
Oakland's win was its first this season in a game in which it had trailed by five-or-more runs, and it was the first game that Detroit has lost after leading by four-or-more runs.
• Placido Polanco went 4-for-5 in the Tigers' loss to Oakland. In 16 career games against the Athletics, Polanco is now batting .493 (33-for-67), the highest batting average against a particular team by any active major-leaguer with at least 50 at-bats against that team.
• Jeremy Sowers became the latest rookie to throw a complete-game shutout: he went all the way in the Indians' 11-0 win over the Twins, a day after the Mets' John Maine shut out the Astros, 7-0. Oddly, both pitchers had the same line: nine innings, four hits, no runs, one walk, four strikeouts.
Of course, we shouldn't be surprised that both of those games were blowouts. The manual for Major League Managing, 2006 Edition, mandates that saves take precedence over shutouts (the only exception: potential no-hitters); accordingly, in games in which a potential save situation exists, closers will get the call over starters just about every time (especially rookie starters).
The shutout by Sowers was the sixth by a rookie this season; the others were tossed by Matt Cain of the Giants (6-0 at Oakland), Taylor Buchholz of the Astros (5-0 vs. Texas), Justin Verlander of the Tigers (8-0 at Kansas City), Alay Soler of the Mets (5-0 at Arizona), and Maine -- nary a missed save opportunity among them!
In fact, since the year 2000, only one rookie has pitched a complete-game shutout of nine-or-more innings in which his team scored three-or-fewer runs. In June 2003, Dontrelle Willis was permitted by Jack McKeon (someone who, to his credit, definitely didn't read any managing manuals) to stay in and complete a 1-0 win over the Mets.
Incidentally, all last season, only one major-league rookie threw a complete-game shutout: Ervin Santana of the Angels defeated the White Sox, 4-0, on May 23.
• Many of you may have seen the Mets' 4-3 victory over the Astros on Saturday afternoon, in which Xavier Nady fought back from an 0-2 count to blast a three-run homer in the fourth inning to overcome an early 3-1 Houston lead.
But even if you saw the game, you're unaware of this: Nady is the major leagues' leading hitter this season (minimum: 50 at-bats) on at-bats during which he has fallen behind in the count, 0-2. In those at-bats -- in which the overall big-league batting average hovers just above .180 -- Nady has collected 19 hits in 52 at-bats for a .365 batting average. But Saturday's homer marked the first time this season that the X-Man had battled back from a no-balls-two-strikes count to connect for a four-bagger.
• The Devil Rays scored ten runs in the fifth inning and three in the sixth to take a 13-3 lead over the Orioles, but were forced to hold on for dear life after Baltimore scored nine in the seventh. Hold on they did, however: the Rays won, 13-12.
It was only the fourth game in major league history in which each team posted an inning of nine-or-more runs. The last time was on June 3, 1933, when the Philadelphia Athletics, with a lineup featuring future Hall-of-Famers Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Cochrane, scored 11 runs in the third inning at Yankee Stadium, only to see the Ruth-and-Gehrig Yankees respond with 10 in the fifth and go on to a 17-11 victory.
The Orioles amassed the most hits by a major-league team in a nine-inning loss since the Cubs accumulated 22 hits while dropping a 15-12 decision to the Reds in 2002. Before that, you have to go back an additional 22 years until you find the Athletics getting 22 hits while losing, 20-11, to the Twins at old Metropolitan Stadium in 1980.
• Luis Gonzalez's eighth-inning home run proved to be a game-winner in the Diamondbacks' 4-3 victory over the Rockies. It was Gonzo's ninth game-winning RBI this season, a team high, but it was the first of the nine that came in the eighth inning or later.
• The Mariners bested the Red Sox, 5-2, with Kason Gabbard taking the loss in his big-league debut. Gabbard was the third pitcher this season to make his major-league debut starting a game for the Red Sox, joining David Pauley and Jon Lester. The last season in which the Red Sox had three pitchers make their major-league debuts as starters was 1963 (Bob Heffner, Dave Morehead and Jerry Stephenson).
• Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia will play together in the last group of the final round of the British Open on Sunday. It's not the first time that these two have played in the final group in the last round of a major tournament; in the 2002 U.S. Open held at Bethpage, Woods and Garcia were paired up in the final group. Woods held a four-stroke lead over Garcia going in and shot a 72 to earn a three-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson; Garcia, meanwhile, posted a 74 to finish in a tie for fourth place.
• Through the first three rounds of the British Open, Royal Liverpool has surrendered 10 rounds of at least six-under-par. That's the most rounds of at least six-under-par through 54 holes at the British Open since 1992, when 10 players also recorded rounds of at least six-under-par, at Muirfield.