Elias Says ...

A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:


" Joe Mauer became the first catcher to win an AL batting title. In fact, no other AL catcher had even ranked second. Four catchers finished third in the AL batting race (in a season in which their primary fielding position was behind the plate): Bill Dickey (1936), Elston Howard (1964), Thurman Munson (1975), and Brian Downing (1979).

" Mauer won the batting crown with a .347 average, holding off charges by Derek Jeter (.344) and Robinson Cano (.342). It's the fourth season in which a pair of Yankees finished second and third in the AL batting race. It happened previously in 1930, with Philadelphia's Al Simmons over Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth; in 1937, with Detroit's Charlie Gehringer over Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio; and in 1999, with Boston's Nomar Garciaparra over Jeter and Bernie Williams.

Jeter posted the highest single-season batting average for a player with at least 100 games at shortstop since Nomar Garciaparra batted .372 in 2000, and Cano's average was the highest for a player with that many games at second base since Rod Carew batted .359 in 1975.

Jeter and Cano became the second pair of keystone-position teammates in major-league history to post a batting average of .340 or higher in the same season (minimum: 100 games at shortstop and second base, respectively). Do any of you remember when Ed McKean (.357) and Cupid Childs (.353) did it for the 1894 Cleveland Spiders?

" The Twins will be the first team ever to participate in the postseason after taking sole possession of first place for the first time all season on the final day.

" The Tigers were the 18th team since 1900 to fall out of first place on the final day of the regular season. Detroit was the first to so by losing a game in which it led by more than three runs (the Tigers led the Royals, 6-0) and the second to do so by losing to a last-place team. The other was the 1944 Tigers, who were defeated by the last-place Senators on the final day of the season and overtaken for the American League pennant by the St. Louis Browns.

" On Saturday, the Royals became the first team in major-league history to score seven runs in the first inning of a game after having already lost at least 100 games in that season. On Sunday, they became the fourth team to overcome a deficit of six or more runs to win a game after already having reached the 100-loss mark. The other teams to do that were the 2003 Tigers, 1969 Montreal Expos, and 1897 St. Louis Browns (of the National League).

" Freddy Sanchez became the first player to win the NL batting title for the Pirates since Bill Madlock in 1983. The teams with the longest gaps since last having a player win its league's batting crown are the Athletics (since Ferris Fain in 1952), Indians (Bobby Avila in 1954) and Phillies (Richie Ashburn in 1958).

" John Smoltz won his 16th game of the season to tie Aaron Harang, Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Carlos Zambrano and Brandon Webb for the league lead in victories. Webb lost to the Padres on Sunday in a last-gasp effort to break the logjam. Prior to this year, no more than four pitchers had ever finished a season tied for either the AL or NL lead in wins.

" Carlos Zambrano became the third pitcher in major-league history to lead his league in wins (either tied or outright) in a season in which his team lost at least 90 games (the Cubs had a 66-96 mark). The others were Phil Niekro, 21-20 for the 1979 Braves (66-94) and Steve Carlton, 27-10 for the 1972 Phillies (59-97).

" Trevor Hoffman allowed ninth-inning homers to Chad Tracy and Conor Jackson, but still notched his 46th save of the season to clinch the NL West title for the Padres. Only seven pitchers have ever earned a save in a game in which they pitched no more than one inning and allowed at least two home runs. Hoffman is the only one of those pitchers to do it twice (the other was Sept. 25, 2001 at Colorado).

" The Dodgers' victory in their regular-season finale at San Francisco extended their winning streak to seven games. Over the past 31 years (1975-2005) only four teams entered the postseason after winning their final seven games during the regular season. The 2002 Giants won their last eight games; the 1998 Yankees, 1998 Braves and 2004 Astros each ended the regular season with a seven-game winning streak.

" In his second major-league appearance, Boston's Devern Hansack was credited with a complete game and a shutout -- but according to baseball's rules, not a no-hitter -- for holding the Orioles hitless in the Red Sox's five-inning, rain-shortened, 9-0 victory. If we were playing "Can You Top This?" Leon Ames would be a winner. Ames threw a five-inning "no-hitter" (again, technically not a no-hitter) in his major league debut -- a 5-0 win for the New York Giants in the second game of a doubleheader at St. Louis on Sept. 14, 1903.

" The Red Sox limped to a third-place finish after placing second in the AL East in each of the past eight seasons (1998-2005). Not only was that the longest streak of consecutive second-place finishes for any team in major-league history, but it's also longer than any such streak in the NFL, NBA and NHL.

The longest current streak of consecutive second-place finishes in the majors now belongs to the Astros, whose loss in Sunday's season finale gave them runner-up status in the NL Central for the fifth straight season. Houston's streak matches the Giants (from 1965-69) for the second-longest of its kind in big-league history.

" Houston's loss eliminated the need for the Giants and Cardinals to make up a rainout from Sept. 17. It's been 25 years since it was necessary to play a postponed game after the scheduled end of the regular season. The last time it happened was in 1981, when the Royals beat the Indians, 9-0, to clinch the second-half championship of the AL West.

" The Mets won the NL East by 12 games (over the Phillies) and led by at least 10 games for their last 91 games of the season (since June 22). Only five other teams in major-league history held a double-digit lead in their division or league over their final 91 games of a season: the 2001 Mariners (their last 128 games), 1999 Indians (102), 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers (101), 1998 Yankees (92) and 1986 Mets (91).


" Jerious Norwood (106 yards) and Michael Vick (101) both rushed for 100-plus yards in the Falcons' 32-10 win over the Cardinals. Vick and Warrick Dunn (twice) previously reached the 100-yard mark this season. Only one other team in NFL history had three different 100-yard rushers in its first four games of a season: the 1951 Browns (Emerson Cole, Dub Jones, and Marion Motley).

" The Falcons lead the NFL with 937 yards rushing after four games. The last team with that high a total through its first four games of a season was the 1980 Detroit Lions (1001), led by rookie Billy Sims (539).

" Morten Andersen kicked five field goals in the Falcons' win, the ninth time he has kicked five or more FGs in one game. The only player in NFL history with more such games is John Carney (11).

" Santana Moss' 68-yard TD catch in overtime equaled the fourth-longest overtime TD pass play in NFL history. The longer ones: Ron Jaworski, 99 yards to Mike Quick (1985); Tom Brady, 82 yards to Troy Brown (2003); and Troy Aikman, 76 yards to Rocket Ismail (1999). Danny Kanell had a 68-yarder to Chris Calloway in 1997.

Moss was the first player in NFL history to catch two TD passes of 50 yards or longer in the same game, including one in OT.

" It took Herm Edwards only three games as head coach of the Chiefs to match the total number of shutout victories during Dick Vermeil's five seasons with Kansas City. The Chiefs' 41-0 victory on Sunday was the largest margin ever in a shutout win over the 49ers.

" Brad Childress of the Vikings is the third head coach in NFL history -- and the first in 71 years -- to debut with four consecutive games decided by five points or less. The others: Milan Creighton (1935) and Paul Schissler (1933), both with the Chicago Cardinals.

" The Patriots rebounded from a 17-7 loss at Denver to defeat the Bengals, 38-13. New England has now played 53 consecutive games, dating back to 2002, without a two-game losing streak. That ties the 1976-1979 Denver Broncos for the second-longest such streak since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. The 49ers had a streak of 60 games from 1995-99.

" The Texans trailed, 6-3, entering the fourth quarter, but defeated the Dolphins, 17-15. That ended Houston's streak of 21 consecutive losses in games in which it trailed entering the fourth quarter, which had been the longest current streak in the NFL.