Elias Says ...
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports.
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• There have been more than 180,000 games played in major league history, but Wednesday's Rangers-White Sox game stands unique among them. It was the first game in major league history in which one player (Mark Buehrle) threw a no-hitter, another (Jermaine Dye) hit a grand-slam home run, and a third (Jim Thome) had a multiple-homer game.
• Mark Buehrle faced the minimum 27 batters in his no-hitter against the Rangers. All that stood between him and a perfect game was a fifth-inning walk to Sammy Sosa -- whom Buehrle promptly picked off.
The last two big-leaguers to throw non-perfect-game no-hitters in which they faced the minimum 27 batters were Terry Mulholland and Sandy Koufax. In 1990, Mulholland, pitching for the Phillies against the Giants, allowed only one baserunner (who reached on a Charlie Hayes error; the next batter hit into a double play); back in 1964, Koufax threw a no-no against the Phillies in which he walked rookie Richie Allen, who was then caught stealing.
• Buehrle, long one of the majors' fastest workers, completed his no-hitter in just two hours and three minutes. It was the fastest no-hitter since 1988, when Tom Browning threw a perfect game for the Reds against the Dodgers in one hour, 51 minutes.
• Buehrle's mound opponent on Wednesday night, Kevin Millwood of the Rangers, threw a no-hitter five years ago this month. Only two other no-hitters over the past 30 years came in games in which the opposing starter had himself previously fired a no-hit game.
In 1999, Cardinals rookie Jose Jimenez no-hit the Diamondbacks in a game started by Randy Johnson; and in 1980, the Dodgers' Jerry Reuss tossed a no-hitter against the Giants, whose starting pitcher was Vida Blue.
• MAINE BEATS FLORIDA... a headline that you're unlikely to see anytime soon in college basketball or college football, certainly, but it was apt as the Mets beat the Marlins, 9-2.
John Maine pitched no-hit ball until Miguel Cabrera's seventh-inning single ended the drama. It was the Mets' 7,171st regular-season game over 46 seasons -- and the team has still never had a no-hitter. That's the second-longest streak of games with nary a no-no by any team in major-league history; the Phillies went 8,944 games between no-hitters, from Johnny Lush in 1906 to Jim Bunning's perfect game -- against the Mets, of course -- in 1964.
Maine, though, retains this distinction: Other than players named Washington, he's the only player in big-league history whose surname is the name of a state. (And yes: spelling counts -- thereby eliminating former catcher Brent Mayne, among others.)
• Alex Rodriguez belted his ninth home run of the season in his team's 13th game -- a feat that was accomplished last season by both Albert Pujols (who finished the season with 49 homers) and Detroit's Chris Shelton (who spent more than a month in the minors later in the season and finished with 16 homers). The major-league record for fewest team games needed to reach nine homers is 10, shared by Mike Schmidt (1976 Phillies) and Luis Gonzalez (2001 Diamondbacks).
A-Rod has hit nine homers within a 13-game span once previously in his major-league career, with the Rangers in August 2002.
• The Royals defeated the Tigers 4-3 in a game in which Gary Sheffield -- the American League champions' prime offseason acquisition -- went 0-for-5. That leaves the one-time batting champ with four hits in his last 40 at-bats -- his lowest total of hits over any 40 at-bat slice of a season since he went 4-for-40 for the Braves in April 2002. (By the way, Sheff finished that 2002 season batting .307 with 25 home runs.)
• The Phillies lost 5-4 in 13 innings at Washington, going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position a night after going 0-for-13 in those at-bats in a loss to the Mets.
The Phillies have left 131 runners on base in 13 games this season, the highest total for any big-league team over its first 13 games since the Tigers stranded 132 runners in their first 13 games back in 1970. (But while those Tigers went 10-3 despite stranding all of those runners, the Phillies stand at 3-10.)
• The Rangers won their opening-round series with the Thrashers with a 4-2 victory in Game 4. It was only the third time in the New Yorkers' 80-season history that they have swept a best-of-seven playoff series -- and both of the other times, they wound up in the Stanley Cup finals.
In 1972, the Rangers swept Chicago to advance to the Stanley Cup finals, where they lost to Boston; and in 1994, the year that the Rangers hoisted the Cup for the only time since 1940, they got things rolling with a first-round sweep of the Islanders.
• The Thrashers' first foray into the playoffs was a quick one, becoming only the second NHL team to suffer a four-game sweep in its first-ever playoff series. Ironically, the only other team to suffer such a fate in its first trip to the playoffs was Atlanta's first NHL team, the Flames, who were swept in 1974 by the Flyers. True, many teams made their first playoff appearance in the long ago, when preliminary-round series were contested in a best-of-three or best-of-five format. But we thought you'd like it.
• Zach Parise scored a pair of goals in the Devils' 4-3 overtime win in Tampa. The goals were the fifth and sixth of the series for Parise -- tying a franchise record for most goals in a playoff series. Claude Lemieux had six goals in five games in the second round of the 1995 playoffs for the Devils against the Penguins.
• Chris Drury scored two goals, including the game-winner early in the second period, in Buffalo's 4-2 victory over the Islanders. It was Drury's second game-winning goal in this series and the 14th of his playoff career.
Drury's first playoff game came in 1999 with the Avalanche, and his total of 14 game-winning goals in the playoffs is the highest by any NHL player over that span -- even though he has appeared in the playoffs in only six of his eight seasons in the league.
• The Islanders' loss was their sixth straight home loss in playoff competition, and they haven't scored more than two goals in any of those games. That ties an NHL playoff record for consecutive home losses scoring no more than two goals in each defeat. Three teams recorded six-game streaks: the Bruins (1949-51), Maple Leafs (1952-55) and Flyers (1968-73).
• The Warriors nailed down the NBA's final playoff berth with a 120-98 victory at Portland. Baron Davis had 14 assists and 10 rebounds in the game, and his three steals enabled him to eke past Sacramento's Ron Artest to finish as the NBA leader in steals for the season. Davis averaged 2.14 steals per game to Artest's 2.129 and Caron Butler's 2.127.
Golden State's victory put the team in the playoffs for the first time since 1994, ending the NBA's longest current playoff drought. That distinction now belongs to the Hawks, who last made it to the second season in 1999.
• Dwight Howard shot 5-for-8 from the floor while collecting 14 rebounds in the Magic's 94-68 win over the Shaq-and-Dwyaneless Heat, finishing the season with 1,008 rebounds (the only NBA player in four figures) while making 60.3 percent of his field-goal attempts.
He became only the second player in NBA history to amass 1,000 rebounds and shoot 60 percent from the floor in the same season. Wilt Chamberlain was the other, and the Big Dipper did it three times: in 1966-67, 1971-72 and 1972-73.
• Jason Kidd shot only 1-for-8 from the floor but had 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the Nets' 106-97 victory over the Bulls that clinched the sixth seed for New Jersey. Kidd finished the season with 16 games in which he reached double-digits in both rebounds and assists.
No other NBA player had more than three such games this season (Kevin Garnett and Andre Iguodala had three apiece). The last player with as many as 16 of those games in an NBA season was Magic Johnson, who had 17 in the 1988-89 season.
• LeBron James led the Cavaliers to the second seed in the East with 24 points and nine assists in a 109-96 win over Milwaukee. But with the nine assists, King James nudged his season average to 6.03 assists per game -- and he qualified for yet another distinction.
It was the third straight season in which James has averaged at least 27 points, six rebounds and six assists per game. The only other player in NBA history who has done that is Oscar Robertson -- but The Big O did it in each of his first eight seasons as a pro!
• The Bucks' loss at Cleveland left them with a 1-15 mark against Central Division opponents this season, tying the second-worst mark in NBA history in intra-division games. The Celtics posted a 1-23 record within the Atlantic Division in 1996-97, and the Rockets went 1-15 in the Southwest Division last season.
• The Wizards won 98-95 in Indianapolis, clinching the seventh seed in the East and leaving the bewildered Pacers with an unwanted distinction. Indiana had a 28-24 record at the All-Star Game break, but went 7-23 (.233) thereafter.
That's the lowest post-break winning percentage in NBA history by a team that stood above .500 going into the break. The old record had been set by the Lakers two years ago: 26-24 going into the All-Star Game, and 8-24 (.250) afterwards.