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 Brewers defeated the Nationals 3-1 on Wednesday, improving their record to 24-10 (.706). That marks the first time that any Milwaukee team has been at or above .700 this late in a season. Previously, the latest that any Milwaukee team had a winning percentage of .700 or higher was exactly 20 years ago to the day, when the 1987 Brewers had a 20-8 record (.714).
For the record, six different franchises have played a total of 55 seasons in Milwaukee: the current Brewers (since 1970) and Braves (1953-65), and four teams that played only one season there more than a century ago.
• Francisco Cordero earned his 15th save of the season in the Brewers' win, and in so doing he tied two records. Cordero tied the National League mark for fewest team games needed to reach 15 saves (34), set by John Smoltz in 2003. The major-league record is 30 games by Lee Smith with the Orioles in 1994.
• Wednesday's two most noteworthy pitching matchups were John Smoltz vs. Greg Maddux at Atlanta and Randy Johnson vs. Jamie Moyer at Arizona. Smoltz hadn't started against Maddux since 1992. Johnson hadn't started against Moyer since 1989, when the Big Unit was a 26-year-old rookie with the Mariners.
The span of 17 years, 230 days between head-to-head starts by Johnson and Moyer is by far the longest in major-league history. No other pair of pitchers went even 15 years between starts. The span of 14 years, 303 days by Smoltz and Maddux is the fourth longest, behind Ferguson Jenkins vs. Don Sutton (1967-82) and Tom Seaver vs. Doyle Alexander (1971-86).
• When Johnson faced David Wells two weeks ago, it was the first game in major-league history in which both starting pitchers were 43 or older. On Wednesday, at age 44, Moyer trumped the 43-year-old Wells.
• But Johnson's start was significant for more than his age and longevity. The Big Unit struck out the first six batters he faced, becoming the first pitcher in modern major-league history (that is, since 1900) to do so twice. Johnson also struck out the first six opposing batters on August 5, 2002, against the Mets.
• Pinch-hitter Ryan Howard hit Brandon Medders' first pitch for a go-ahead grand-slam home run in the seventh inning of the Phillies' 9-3 win over the Diamondbacks. It was the first pinch-hit homer by the major leagues' defending home-run champion since Mark McGwire hit one in 2000. The last pinch-hit grand slam by the defending champ was hit by Ralph Kiner in 1948. It was the 39th homer of the season for Kiner, who didn't start due to a stomach ailment.
• The Cubs defeated the Pirates 1-0 on Alfonso Soriano's leadoff home run in the bottom of the first inning. There have been 7,168 regular-season games played at Wrigley Field. This was the first-ever 1-0 Cubs victory on a first-inning home run at Wrigley. In fact, they have only one such win on the road -- May 8, 1985, at Candlestick Park on a one-out homer by Ryne Sandberg.
• The Orioles defeated the Devil Rays 1-0 on a 10th-inning walkoff home run by Aubrey Huff. It was the second game in four weeks in Camden Yards that was scoreless through nine innings. There were only two such games among the 1,180 played there over the stadium's first 15 years (1992-2006).
• Huff was the first player to hit a walkoff home run against a team for which he had played in the previous season since Carlos Pena blasted a game-winner for the A's against the Rangers in Oakland's second game of the 2002 season.
• Brett Tomko held the Marlins hitless for the first 5 1/3 innings in the Dodgers' 5-3 victory. It was the fourth time in 33 games this season that Florida failed to record a hit in the first five innings. Over the past 30 years, the only other team to be no-hit through five innings four times in its first 40 games was the 1984 Astros.
• Who needs the Rocket anyway? The past five Yankees starting pitchers -- Chien-Ming Wang, Darrell Rasner, Matt DeSalvo, Andy Pettitte, and Mike Mussina -- have posted a 4-0 record with a 1.34 ERA, allowing 18 hits and only one home run in 33 2/3 innings.
• The Cardinals routed -- yes, you read that right -- the Rockies 9-2 on Wednesday. It was the first time in seven games that St. Louis scored in more than one inning. The Cardinals' streak of six games scoring in just one inning -- if that -- equaled the team's longest during the live-ball era. Their only other six-game streak since 1920 was recorded in 1992.
• The Cardinals climbed out of last place in the N.L. Central, moving ahead of the Reds, who lost to the Astros. St. Louis had spent the last seven days in sole possession of the division cellar, equaling the total number of days they'd been alone in last place over the first nine seasons since the N.L. Central expanded to six teams (1998-2006).
• The White Sox scored four runs in the top of the first in their 6-3 win at Minnesota, and John Danks returned the favor, retiring the Twins on seven pitches in the bottom of the inning. It was the first time since 2004 that a pitcher set down his opponent on seven or fewer pitches after his own team batted around in the top of the first.
• The way we figure it, if you're gonna try to steal second base with two outs and Barry Bonds at the plate, you better make it. Omar Vizquel did not. Vizquel was caught stealing -- with Bonds batting -- to end the bottom of the first in the Giants' 5-3 loss to the Mets. It had been 10 years since anyone had done that in the first inning, the last player being Glenallen Hill (April 19, 1997).
• Carlos Boozer (30 points) and Mehmet Okur (18 rebounds) posted the gaudy numbers in the Jazz's 127-117 overtime win over the Warriors. But don't overlook Andrei Kirilenko's six blocked shots after he recorded seven blocks in Game 1.
Kirilenko is the first player to block 13 shots over the first two games of an NBA playoff series since Hakeem Olajuwon had 13 in the first two games of a first-round series between the Rockets and Clippers in 1993.
• Six of Kirilenko's 13 blocks -- three in each game -- were against Stephen Jackson, who made only nine of 32 field-goal attempts in those games (28 percent).