Elias Says ...
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports.
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• No doubt about the shocker of the night: The Bulls' dominating 108-92 victory over the Pistons in Auburn Hills.
The Bulls came into the game having a 1-11 all-time record when facing playoff elimination in road games -- the poorest record among any of the 20 NBA franchises that had played at least 10 such games. Their only such victory had come on May 7, 1989, when the Bulls took a 101-100 decision in Cleveland in a first-round winner-take-all Game 5. (Yes, that was the game in which Michael Jordan's buzzer-beater over Craig Ehlo was decisive. Maybe you've seen the video clip that plays at the end of most Gatorade commercials, or at least those that don't feature Keith Jackson.)
• The Bulls made 26 of their 36 field-goal attempts -- you read that right -- in the first half of Game 5. That's a rate of 72 percent, the highest by any NBA team in either half of a playoff game in more than nine years, since the Lakers shot 74 percent (23-for-31) in the first half of a playoff game at Seattle on May 12, 1998.
• The Jazz outrebounded the Warriors 59-35 and bumped Golden State out of the playoffs with a 100-87 victory in Game 5. For the series, Utah won the battle of the boards 269-171.
Think about that: the Jazz outrebounded its opponents in this series by the margin of 19.6 rebounds per game! That's the greatest per-game rebound advantage for any team in any best-of-seven series in the history of the NBA playoffs. The old record: the Celtics defeated the Syracuse Nationals 4-1 in the 1961 Eastern Division finals, keyed by a rebound advantage of 17 per game.
• Dirk Nowitzki was a decisive winner of the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award after leading the Mavericks to 67 regular-season wins. But Dirk was only the second player in NBA history to win the MVP Award despite not ranking in the league's top 10 in scoring average, rebounds per game or assists per game -- and the only other guy who did it might deserve an asterisk.
Bill Walton was the league MVP for the 1977-78 season. He played only 58 games that season, averaging 18.9 points per game, 13.2 rebounds per game and 5.0 assists per game. He would have ranked fifth in the league in rebounds per game had he qualified, but he did not have either the 70 games played or the 800 total rebounds needed to qualify.
• With David Wells starting for the Padres, savvy fans might have expected a Ken Griffey Jr. home run on Tuesday night. After all, Junior had homered eight times off Boomer -- the most homers that Griffey has had against any major league pitcher.
Well, Griffey hit a home run all right, but in the 12th inning, long after Wells had left the game. It was the ninth extra-inning homer of Junior's career; the only active major leaguers with more are Barry Bonds (11) and Sammy Sosa (10). (Jason Giambi, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome, like Griffey, have nine such home runs.)
• The Padres were held to just two hits in 12 innings in their 2-1 loss to the Reds. You have to go back more than 20 years to find the last major league team to be held to so few hits in a game that lasted at least 12 innings. On Aug. 26, 1986, the Expos were held to two hits in a 12-inning, 1-0 loss in San Francisco.
• Rafael Furcal had his third straight four-hit game to lead the Dodgers to a 9-7 win over St. Louis. The last few major leaguers to have three straight games with at least four hits in each: Marcus Giles with the Braves in July 2003, Brett Butler with the Mets in July 1995, and Mike Benjamin with the Giants in June 1995.
• Ichiro Suzuki has awoken. Batting .286 entering the game, Suzuki had five hits in the Mariners' 11-3 victory over the Angels. It's the sixth time in six seasons in the majors that Ichiro has had that many hits in a game -- the most games of five or more hits by any active player. Kenny Lofton and Johnny Damon have each had five such games.
• Magglio Ordonez loves to torment the Red Sox, and he went 2-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs in the Tigers' 7-2 victory at Fenway. Ordonez's career batting average vs. Boston is .367 (and in 256 at-bats, no less!).
Who was the last big-leaguer with such a high career batting average in at least 200 at-bats against the Red Sox? Ichiro? Molitor? Puckett? Nope, it was Johnny Grubb. Yes, the .278-career-hitting Johnny Grubb, who batted .370 against the Red Sox while playing for the Indians, Rangers and Tigers from 1978 to 1987.
What's so weird? Well, the only other walk-off homer that Turnbow has allowed in the majors came last July 14, when Johnny Estrada took him deep to win a game for the Diamondbacks. And Estrada, now with Milwaukee, figured mightily in Tuesday's drama: His home run in the top of the ninth tied the game at three, and he then went behind the plate and called for the pitch that turned out to be a game-winner for the Phils!
• It was a big night for the Carloses: Zambrano defeated the Mets, while Ruiz and Lee hit walkoff home runs. The last major league players with the same first name to hit walk-off home runs on the same day were Jeffs Cirillo and Bagwell on June 3, 1997.
• Tim Hudson's outstanding start to the season continued as he held the Nationals to three hits, one walk and one run in the Braves' 6-2 win in Washington. Even though Hudson won 14 and 13 games the last two seasons (his first two in the National League), his ERA last year (4.86) was a career high and his rate of baserunners allowed per nine innings over the past two seasons (12.6 in 2005, 13.3 in 2006) were the two highest rates in any season of his big-league career.
But through nine starts this season, Hudson is 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA and, perhaps most impressively, he has allowed an average of less than one baserunner per inning (48 hits, 13 walks and two hit batsmen for 63 runners in 66 innings).
• Jesse Litsch threw 8 2/3 innings in his big-league debut and was credited with the Blue Jays' 2-1 victory over the Orioles. Litsch was taken out after walking Miguel Tejada with two outs in the ninth, and he just missed becoming the first major leaguer in nearly 15 years to break into the majors with a complete-game victory in a game decided by one run.
The last pitcher to do that was Tim Wakefield, who made his major league debut on July 31, 1992 with a 3-2 complete-game victory over the Cardinals. Before Wakefield, you have to go back another 15 years to find another rookie who broke in that way: Don Aase with the Red Sox against the Brewers in 1977.
• Let's see if you've been paying attention to the Indians. If we told you that they scored 15 runs on Tuesday night, who would you say their starting pitcher was?
Paul Byrd, of course. Since coming to Cleveland at the start of last season, his teammates have averaged 6.27 runs in his 37 starts. That's the highest average run support generated for any of the 171 pitchers who have made at least 15 starts since the beginning of last year.
• Here's something you don't see every day: The Astros won a game on Tuesday in which each of the top three hitters in their lineup went 0-for-5 without a walk or a hit batsman -- a solid 0-for-15.
Over the last 10 seasons, only two other big-league teams had won games in which their starters in the top three spots in the lineup each had at least five plate appearances and finished the game without reaching base on a hit, a walk or a hit batsman. Detroit beat the Cubs like that in 2000, and Arizona beat the Marlins in that manner in 1998.
• The Red Wings' 5-0 shutout in Anaheim was the third largest shutout win in a road playoff game in team history. In 1966, the Wings won a 7-0 shutout in Chicago, while in 1988, they enjoyed an 8-0 romp in Toronto.
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