Johnson, Maddux struggling like never before
The first two pitchers to give up 10 runs in a game this year? Hint: they've won a combined nine Cy Youngs.
Boxscore line of the Week
OK, everybody who guessed that the first two pitchers to strike out 10 in a game this year would be Mark Redman and Jake Peavy, and that the first two pitchers to GIVE UP 10 runs in a game would be Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson, congratulations. In fact, take the rest of the month off. And tell your boss Wild Pitches said so.
Yep, here they are, the strangest 10-run boxscore lines WE'VE ever seen in the same week:
Maddux, Wednesday vs. the Phillies:
5 2/3 IP, 12 H, 10 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 2 HR by a guy with no previous career RBI vs. Maddux (Pat Burrell).
|WHAT THEY SAID|
"I feel bad for the guys behind me."
"I don't expect to give up ANY runs -- let alone 10."
And Johnson, Friday vs. the Brewers:
4 2/3 IP, 10 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP
The Facts: The 10 runs against Maddux were more than he has allowed in 15 different MONTHS since he became a Brave. ... It took Johnson SEVEN starts, and 53 innings, to allow 10 earned runs last year. ... Burrell became only the sixth player ever to hit two homers in a game off Maddux, according to SABR genius David Vincent. ... Johnson lost to the Brewers for the first time in 17 meetings, since Aug. 5, 1992 -- 180 wins, 11 win in a row against the Brewers, 29 shutouts and 3,064 strikeouts ago. ... Maddux gave up 10 runs one start after giving up nine, and became the first former Cy Young Award winner ever to allow 24 runs in his first three starts of a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Johnson gave up five runs in the first inning -- for the first time since July 9, 1992, when he allowed six against a Yankees lineup that included Andy Stankiewicz, Mel Hall and Danny Tartabull.
Other boxscore oddities
Arizona rookie Oscar Villarreal's major-league debut, on Opening Day:
1 pitch, 1 strikeout.
Mike Sweeney's numerically correct line, April 3 vs. the White Sox:
3 AB, 3 R, 3 H, 3 RBI, 3 BB, in the Royals' third straight win.
And from Farm Land, Nashville's John Wasdin, April 7 vs. Albuquerque:
9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 15 K
After watching Wasdin throw the second nine-inning perfect game in Pacific Coast League history, superstition-conscious Nashville manager Trent Jewett told the Nashville Tennessean's Jessica Hopp: "I can tell you this. I don't know what he was wearing, but it will stink next time he pitches."
Tag Team of the Week
In that aforementioned Maddux game Wednesday in Philadelphia, Burrell and fellow Phillies bopper Jim Thome each hit their first two home runs of the season in the same game.
So how bizarre is that? According to the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR's David Vincent, the Phillies' last serious swat team -- of Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski -- homered twice in the same game just once in eight YEARS together. And Burrell and Thome did it on the FIRST night together in which either of them hit a home run.
Burrell was still in shock the next day that his two homers had come off Maddux. He told ESPN's Willie Weinbaum: "I had to check the boxscores this morning to make sure it actually happened."
Thome, meanwhile, was stunned by having to do a curtain call for what might have been a record low number of people ever to elicit one -- a couple of thousand hypothermic fans who were still frozen to their seats late on a wintry evening. That included five who had their shirts off with T-H-O-M-E written on their respective chests.
Asked by Wild Pitches if he had any advice for those people, Thome replied: "Yeah, go home and drink some hot chocolate."
Simonizers of the Week
There's just about no player out there more entertaining than swingamatic Pirates first baseman Randall Simon. Here are two of his recent adventures:
"You always ask for the ball on big occasions," Simon told the Beaver County Times' John Perrotto.
"All he knows is swing the bat," said Brian Giles. "And hit the ball harder than anyone I've ever seen."
And then, hopefully, go homeward bound, of course.
Trifecta of the Week
Triple plays don't come much easier than the first trifecta in Rockies history, turned Thursday against the Cardinals. Full count. Runners going. Line drive at Todd Helton. Flip to second. Head for the dugout.
"That's exactly how I planned it," Rockies pitcher Shawn Chacon told the Denver Post's Troy Renck. "Go 3-0, throw two strikes, then get a jam shot to get out of the inning."
Human Omen of the Week
Two years ago, reliever Troy Brohawn pitched for the Diamondbacks, who went to the World Series. Last year, he pitched for the Giants, who went to the World Series. This year, he was just called up by the Dodgers. Draw your own conclusions.
Asked by the East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune's Ed Price if it's too early to put the Dodgers in the World Series, Brohawn replied: "Yeah, right. If it was that easy, I might have been here a little sooner."
We know spring training ended a while ago. But some spring-training moments are just too good to be left unreported.
In one of the Phillies' final minor-league spring training games, March 22 against Boston, they brought along minor-leaguer Vince Vukovich as an extra guy. Which gave him the opportunity to play in a game in which his father, the great John Vukovich, was the third-base coach, for the first time ever.
Then, in the seventh inning, it happened. They sent Vince Vukovich out to pinch-run. He was standing on second with one out, when Ricky Ledee hit a long fly to center field. Vince lurched toward third, stopped, went back to the bag, hesitated and then decided to stay where he was. Much to his dad's chagrin.
"`I didn't want to make the third out at third, and get yelled at," he alibied to the Courier Post of South Jersey's Kevin Roberts. "And then grounded."
'Injury' of the Week
During an April 2 game in frigid Shea Stadium, Cubs broadcaster Ron Santo was standing and hopping around for warmth when, according to the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan, he got a little too close to the overhead heaters in the booth -- and singed his toupee.
Late-show student of the week
After Cuban-born Yankees pitcher Jose Contreras made an appearance on a taped bit for David Letterman this spring, Letterman sent Contreras a thank-you note. It read: "Thanks for talking to Biff in spring training. You did a nice job."
Asked by the Newark Star-Ledger's Lawrence Rocca if he knew who Letterman was, Contreras said: "No, but I know who Biff is."
Speaking of which ...
Letterman-ism of the week
So howwww cold was it at Yankee Stadium during the home opener last week?
"It was so cold at Yankee Stadium yesterday," said David Letterman, "guess who threw out the first pitch? Ted Williams."
Leno-ism of the Week
We'll have plenty more spectacular Detroit Tigers coverage in the next Wild Pitches (once they finally win a game). But at least they've once again reached the rarified status of Official Tonight Show Comedy Fodder.
"Over the weekend I thought I was watching war footage," said Jay Leno. "A bunch of men in uniform were waving white flags and surrendering. It was the Detroit Tigers."
Piazza-to-go of the Week
Another year, another burst of wisdom from the deepest-thinking superstar around, Mets catcher Mike Piazza.
Asked for more details, Piazza revealed: "It's going to go against the trend. It's actually going to be readable. I'm going to calculate pi to the final decimal. And I'll deal with the alter ego and its influence on the methods of subliminal thought. By the way, what IS an alter ego?" And that's not all. ... "I think it's sort if important to define and examine the methodology of A) Alexander the Great; B) Caesar Augustus; C) King Richard the Lion-hearted; and D) Napoleon Bonaparte," Piazza said. "I'll examine the sins and good deeds that eventually led to their downfalls."
Asked what any of this had to do with his own life -- or baseball -- Piazza replied: "That will be the final chapter. I'm going to pull it all together."
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.