Elias Says ...
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports.
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• The Phillies defeated the Nationals 10-6 on Tuesday night, game one of a schedule over the final six weeks that's so favorable it's nearly unprecedented. All of Philadelphia's last 32 games are against teams with records currently below the .500 mark.
Obviously, some of Philadelphia's opponents could improve their records to .500 or better by the time they meet. For example, the Phillies have three series remaining against the streaking Marlins, who are currently 65-66. But if that doesn't happen, the Phillies would be the first National League team ever to conclude its schedule with that long a streak of games against opponents with losing records.
The longest such streak in NL history was 26 games in 1973 by the Pittsburgh Pirates, who failed to take advantage by posting a 13-13 mark during that stretch. The only streak of more than 30 games was recorded by the White Sox in 1983. Chicago played sub-.500 teams in each of their last 36 games, going 29-7 to pull away from their AL West opponents and win the division by 20 games.
• Ryan Howard drove in three runs in the Phillies' win, raising his MLB-leading total to 125 RBI, including 38 during August. That's the most RBI by any player in any month since Jim Thome drove in 39 runs for the Indians in July 2001.
Incidentally, Howard has already passed Mike Schmidt's former single-season high for RBI (121 in 1980). Among the other players who never reached the 125-mark in any season: Eddie Murray, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Jose Canseco and Fred McGriff.
• Only one pitcher in major-league history was the first in his league to reach 15 wins while playing for a team whose record was at least 15 games below .500 (at the time of his 15th victory): Steve Carlton, who was 27-10 for the last-place Phillies in 1972. Carlos Zambrano was on the verge of joining Carlton on Tuesday night, but he blew a 4-0 lead in the Cubs' 7-6 loss in Pittsburgh. Zambrano has a career record of 34-0 with six no-decisions when given a lead of four or more runs.
• The Marlins bottomed out on May 21 when their record fell to 11-31. Tuesday's 9-1 victory over the Cardinals was Florida's ninth straight win, equaling the longest winning streak in major-league history by a team that lost at least 31 of its first 42 games. Amazingly, the Marlins set that record with nine straight wins earlier this season (June 10-20).
• Scott Olsen earned his 11th victory of the season in the Marlins' win, the 43rd win by a Marlins rookie this season, surpassing the total of the 1984 Mets. Dwight Gooden (17-9), Ron Darling (12-9) and Sid Fernandez (6-6) were all rookies on that team. The last NL team with a higher total than Florida's was the 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers (51).
• Tomo Ohka found a way to stop Willy Taveras: He hit Taveras with a pitch twice, limiting the Astros' leadoff hitter to three at-bats despite the fact that Houston scored 10 runs. It was the second time this month that a long hitting streak ended in a game in which the player's team scored at least 10 runs. Manny Ramirez's 27-game streak was snapped in an 11-9 Red Sox victory. Prior to that, the last streak of 25 or more games to end in such a manner was Wade Boggs' 25-gamer in 1987.
• The end of Taveras' streak means we'll miss what would have been an event even rarer than Halley's Comet. Had Taveras extended his streak to 31 games, Wednesday night's game would have been only the second in major-league history in which a pitcher with at least 300 wins -- Roger Clemens is scheduled -- started with a teammate on a single-season hitting streak of 30 games or longer. The only such game was played 82 years ago, on Sept. 26, 1924. Walter Johnson started for the Senators, and his 13-game winning streak was snapped, as was Sam Rice's 31-game hitting streak.
• The Red Sox's loss in Oakland dropped their record to 8-20 during August. Boston led the AL East by one game over the Yankees at the end of July and thus becomes the first American League team to lose 20 games in a month after starting that month in first place since the 1983 Rangers posted an 8-20 mark in July 1983.
The Red Sox last lost 20 games in a month in August 1985 (8-21) and prior to that in June 1966 (10-21).
• Frank Thomas is getting frisky. For the second time in 10 days, Thomas scored from first base on a double -- in this case, the first run in Oakland's 2-1 victory. He hadn't done that in his previous 131 games, dating back to June 2005.
• Jermaine Dye hit a three-run homer before Casey Fossum retired a batter in the White Sox' 12-9 win over the Devil Rays. Dye is batting .439 in the first inning this season, with seven home runs and 24 RBI in 41 at-bats. Dye, who was moved to the third spot in Chicago's batting order last week after Jim Thome was sidelined, has homered in his first plate appearance in five of his last 12 games.
• It didn't take Delmon Young long to get an Elias Says shout-out. Young made his major-league debut on Tuesday and homered in the sixth inning. But our standards are high, and it takes more than that to merit a place in E-Sez. Young earned his mention by becoming the first player to be hit by a pitch on his first MLB plate appearance and then homer later in that same game since Johnny Ellis of the Yankees did it in 1969.
• How quickly the wheels have fallen off for Mark Mulder. For a third consecutive start, Mulder failed to retire a batter beyond the third inning. That's the longest streak of its type by a pitcher coming off five consecutive seasons of 15 or more wins since Larry Jansen of the Giants in 1952. Over his last three starts, Mulder has allowed 25 hits and 23 runs, all earned, in 7.0 innings (29.57 ERA).
• What does Todd Linden have in common with Dante Powell, Stan Javier and Marvin Benard? All pinch-hit for Barry Bonds in games in which Bonds had hit a pair of home runs. Linden got the call in the Giants' 13-8 loss to the Braves on Tuesday night.
• It was like the good ol' days at Coors Field. The Mets defeated the Rockies 10-5, ending Colorado's team-record streak of 39 home games without allowing their opponent to score in double-figures. During one stretch from September 1998 to May 2000, the Rockies didn't record even a 10-game streak holding their opponents to 10 runs or less in each.
• Carlos Delgado hit his 25th double of the season on Tuesday to clinch his 11th consecutive season with at least 25 homers and 25 doubles. That's the third-longest such streak in major-league history. Manny Ramirez extended his streak to 12 straight seasons last week, tying the record set by Lou Gehrig from 1927-38.