- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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Mike Lowell could lead the league in triples. Snoop Dogg could be invited to sing with the Metropolitan Opera. A pack of raccoons could discover a cure for cancer.
That all seems as likely as three Cy Young Award winners combining to give up 30 runs and 31 hits in a span of four days.
The Useless Information Department has been looking into this development. Here's our full report:
We know what you're thinking. You're thinking: Have three former Cy Youngs ever given up 10 runs apiece (or more) in the same week before? And the answer is: Be serious.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is an all-time first. In fact, it happened more times in those four days (three) than it had occurred in the previous six seasons combined (two).
The only double-figure lines involving Cy Youngs from 1997-2002: Maddux gave up 10 runs (six earned) on April 25, 2002. And Pat Hentgen gave up 11 (all earned) on June 25, 1997.
It's bizarre enough to have three Cy Youngs give up 10 runs in a game in the same YEAR, let alone the same week. The only other SEASON in which that has ever happened, according to Elias, is 1996. The dates and perpetrators that year:
Frank Viola, for Toronto vs. Cleveland, on April 28, 1996 -- 4 IP, 10 R, 9 ER.
Dwight Gooden, for the Yankees at Milwaukee, on July 18, 1996 -- 4 2/3 IP, 10 R, 5 ER, 8 BB.
Orel Hershiser, for Cleveland at Baltimore, July 27, 1996 -- 5 2/3 IP, 10 R, 10 ER.
Now a little perspective: The 10 runs given up by Pedro last Saturday against the Orioles equaled the number he allowed in April and May COMBINED in the 2000 season (10 starts, 77 1/3 IP).
The 10 runs Maddux gave up April 9 in Philadelphia meant he'd allowed 24 runs just in his first three starts of the year (in three games in which the Braves were outscored, 43-5). Those 24 runs are more than he'd allowed by the ALL-STAR BREAK in 1995. And according to Elias, it's the most runs ever given up by any former Cy Young Award winner in his first three starts.
In fact, in the 46 seasons since the Cy Young award came into existence, only one other pitcher -- award-winning or otherwise -- ever gave up 24 runs in his first three starts of any season. That was Jack Morris, who was mugged for 24 on the nose in his next-to-last season, 1993.
And the Big Unit gave up more runs (10) in 4 2/3 innings against the Brewers (a team he'd beaten 14 times in a row) than he allowed all last April, when he gave up eight (in six starts and 46 innings) -- while going 6-0. His ERA is currently a mind-warping 8.31. The East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune's Ed Price reports that Johnson's ERA hadn't been that high at any point in any season since it hit 9.26 after his second start in 1998.
So now what? When pitchers this good have games this bad, they generally stop the bleeding in a hurry.
Johnson hasn't pitched since his 10-run nightmare. But Maddux and Pedro followed up their 10-run debacles by allowing just two HITS apiece in their next starts. Coincidentally, in 1996, Gooden and Hershiser boomeranged from their 10-run games and also gave up only two hits each in their next starts.
After Maddux gave up 10 last year, he did lose his next start. But after that, he went 10-1 in his next 18 starts.
Hentgen also lost his next start in 1997 -- but then went 5-1 in his first eight starts after the All-Star break.
Only Viola, who was in the final season of his career when he compiled his box-score fiasco, didn't return to form. He didn't make it out of the fifth inning six days later, and he won just one more game in the rest of his career.
So if history teaches us anything, there's not much cause for panic in the streets of Atlanta, Phoenix or Boston. And boy, are they glad to hear that.
Useless hot-start, cold-start information
It isn't every year a team loses the World Series, then roars out of the gates the way the Giants have. In fact, these Giants were just the second team in history to start a season 13-1 after losing the previous World Series. The only other was Heinie Zimmerman's 1918 New York Giants, a team that then faded to second place.
Best 14-game starts ever by other teams that lost the previous World Series:
1938 Giants 12-2 (finished 3rd)
1907 Cubs 12-2 (won 107 games and won World Series)
1997 Braves 11-3 (finished 1st, lost NLCS)
1943 Yankees 11-3 (finished 1st, won World Series)
1931 Cardinals 11-3 (finished 1st, won World Series)
1924 Giants 11-3 (finished 1st, lost World Series)
1922 Yankees 11-3 (finished 1st, lost World Series)
1909 Tigers 11-3 (finished 1st, lost World Series)
Oh by the way, the last team to lose the World Series, then win it the next year: the 1989 A's.
The Diamondbacks won't want to hear this, but seasons that start this way don't usually end up with any champagne being sprayed. It took them just 14 games to bury themselves 10 games out of first place. And according to Elias, just two teams in history ever made it to the postseason after getting that far out of first that fast.
The even worse news is that one of the teams that did that was the 1981 Royals -- but they only made the playoffs because of the players' strike that summer. They were 12 games out of first when the strike hit but got a second chance and "won" the AL West in the second half.
So if the D-Backs make it to the postseason this year, they'll be the first team to do it after falling 10 back this fast in a full season since the 1914 "Miracle" Braves, who were 10 out after only 13 games.
The only good news for Arizona is: There's a wild card now. So these guys were only six out in the wild-card race.
But the Diamondbacks didn't even mount the steepest challenge THIS YEAR to the record for quickest 10-game deficit. The Tigers needed only 12 games to fall 10 games out of first. But they were still two games short of the record -- which they equaled themselves just last year. The only other team to be 10 out after 10 games: those 1981 Royals.
Or, if you like to judge these things by the calendar, Useless Info emissary Ed Price reports that only three teams in history have ever awoken April 16 and found themselves at least 10 games out of first:
The 2002 Tigers, the 2003 Tigers and the 2003 Diamondbacks.
Of course, unlike these Tigers, the Diamondbacks weren't coming off a 100-loss season. They were practically coming off a 100-win season.
According to Ed Price, their 4-11 record after 15 games was the worst 15-game start for a team that had won 98 games the year before since the 1984 defending-champion Orioles also started 4-15. And had Arizona not scored three runs in the ninth to win Game 15, it would have been the first team to start 3-12 after a 98-win season since Joe Garagiola Sr.'s 1947 Cardinals did it. His son, Joe Jr., just happens to be the general manager of this team.
The good news for the Royals, meanwhile, is that they're just the sixth team in the division-play era to start a season with nine straight wins. The bad news is that the last American League team to do it (the 1987 Brewers) didn't even make the playoffs.
Here is how the other teams to do it since division play finished up:
Finally, we could write a whole book on the Tigers' gruesome start. But as the Detroit Free Press' John Lowe points out, they're just the 1984 Tigers in reverse.
The '84 Tigers won their first nine, lost one, then won the next seven -- on the road to starts of 16-1 and 35-5, and a World Series championship.
The '03 Tigers lost their first nine, won one, then lost the next five -- on the road to who knows where.
After 16 games, the '84 Tigers were outscoring their opponents, 97-47.
After 16 games, the '03 Tigers were being outscored, 89-31.
And all this happened in the year they brought back the three central offensive figures from '84 -- Alan Trammell, Kirk Gibson and Lance Parrish -- as manager and coaches. Too bad they can't play.
More useless info
Just as we all expected, before either Randy Johnson or Curt Schilling won a game this year, all these pitchers beat them to it:
No, that was no typographical error. Tim Hudson, Barry Zito and Mark Mulder really did lose starts in one turn through the A's rotation last week. Not to suggest it had been a while since that happened, but . . .
Last time it did, Jason Giambi was still in Oakland.
That was the final three games of April, 2001. It took another 312 regular-season games before it happened again.
One of the great duels of the season so far: Tigers hitters vs. National League pitchers.
Tigers hitters (through Friday) five home runs .172 batting average. NL pitchers: six home runs, .171 batting average.
Or we could go with this duel: Tigers vs. Yankees.
Through Friday, the Tigers had scored more than two runs in four GAMES this year.
The Yankees had scored more than two runs in 15 INNINGS this year.
No one has ever a schedule as strange as these Expos. But there is precedent for a team playing a bunch of games in a home away from home and winning the first four of them in a row.
According to Elias, the Expos will be only the second team to play at least 10 games in a season in a temporary "home" park. But the other, the 1969 White Sox, got off to an even better start than Los Expos.
The White Sox played 11 games in Milwaukee's County Stadium that year -- and actually won their first five. Unlike the Expos, though, the Sox spread those games out -- playing one or two games per homestand in Milwaukee.
They wound up 7-4 in their 11 games in Selig-ville. That was better than their 34-36 record in Comiskey -- and way better than their 27-54 record in other portions of the hemisphere.
But it's amazing the Sox played ANY games in Milwaukee that year -- since they'd played nine games there the season before. And lost eight of them.
A spectacular feat by Kazuhiro Sasaki got way too overlooked on April 4. He became the first American League reliever in history to strike out four hitters in one inning on the way to a SAVE.
The only other pitchers to rack up saves with a four-strikeout ninth inning: Mark Wohlers for the Braves on June 7, 1995, and Derek Wallace for the Mets on Sept. 13, 1996. For Wallace, that represented 33 percent of all his career saves.
The Phillies scored 13 runs in one inning last Sunday in Cincinnati. Let's put that inning in a little perspective: At the time the Tigers had scored 13 runs in their previous 42 innings.
It was the 18,197th game in Phillies history. Which meant they'd played more than 160,000 innings. This was the FIRST inning they'd ever scored 13 runs.
It was the first time the Reds had allowed 13 runs in an inning since Aug. 8, 1954, against the Dodgers -- nearly 70,000 innings ago.
This was only the second time since 1900 that any team scored as many as 13 runs in an inning -- and then forgot to score in any other inning. The other time was on Sept. 20, 1972, when the Braves did it against the Astros. J.R. Richard, the fourth Astros pitcher of that inning, got the final out in relief.
The real trick for the Phillies, besides having 10 straight men reach base with two outs, was scoring 13 runs despite having more walks (seven) than hits (six). According to Elias, the Reds were only the fifth team in the last 10 seasons to walk seven men in one inning -- and just the second National League team. Well, believe it or not, in the ONLY two NL games where that happened, the same pitcher started both innings: Ryan Dempster. He started for Florida against the Braves on Oct. 5, 2001 -- and walked six in one inning. He walked five Phillies in this inning.
Last year in Tampa Bay, on the way to a 4-18 season, it took Tanyon Sturtze 26 starts to win two games. This year in Toronto, it took him TWO starts. To find the last time the league leader in losses began the next season by winning his first two starts, according to Elias, you have to go all the way back to . . . uh, 2001.
Over the last 12 seasons, there have been only four other games in which each starting pitcher whiffed 12 or more. The others, courtesy of Elias:
May 24, 2001 in Yankee Stadium -- Mike Mussina struck out 12 Red Sox and won. Pedro Martinez whiffed 12 Yankees and lost, 2-1.
July 6, 1995 in San Diego -- In the last NL game in which this happened, the unlikely men in the K corner were Shane Reynolds, who struck out 12 Padres and won, and Scott Sanders, who whiffed 12 Astros and lost, 5-4.
Sept. 6, 1992 in Seattle -- Mark Langston struck out 12 Mariners and won. Randy Johnson fanned 15 Angels but lost, 2-1.
Then the next day, the two teams struck out 21 more times. Which made 48 strikeouts in two days. But if you thought that was some kind of record, think again.
According to Elias, there were six times just last season when the same two teams combined for at least 48 strikeouts in two games. And three of them involved the Cubs, who led the league in whiffs by both their pitchers and their hitters. Those three Cubs games last year and the pitchers most responsible for all those K's:
There's nothing like consistency. Here are Brewers starter Glendon Rusch's last three starts: 11 hits allowed, one hit allowed, 11 hits allowed.
If you take away one series against the Tigers last June, Carlos Baerga had two home runs and 10 RBI all season for the Red Sox (in 69 games). Thursday, he had two homers and seven RBI in one GAME for the Diamondbacks, against the Rockies.
Your leader in the clubhouse for Cheapest Save of the Year is just-recalled Cub Alan Benes, who nailed down a dramatic 16-3 win over the Reds on Thursday. But Benes isn't even in the top two in the cheapest-save-of-the-2000s competition.
The leaders in that derby: Willie Banks, who saved a 22-4 win for the Red Sox last July 23, and Todd Erdos, who saved a 16-1 game for the Padres on Aug. 22, 2000.
· Next to Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa would be most people's choice as the Greatest Active Slugger. Except for one thing. Loyal reader Dan Heisman reports that on the list of top 10 active players in slugging percentage (5,000 plate appearances or more), Sammy ranks ... er ... NOWHERE.
OK, so he's actually 11th (at .547). Because he hits so few doubles, all these guys ranked ahead of him through Friday:
1. Manny Ramirez .597
2. Barry Bonds .596
3. Alex Rodriguez .580
4. Larry Walker .575
5. Mike Piazza .574
Now that Lance Berkman and Mike Piazza have finally gotten a chance to work on their home-run trots, only two players who hit 30 home runs last year have hit NONE this year. One is Brian Giles, who got hurt. The other is Ellis Burks, who was batting .303 through Friday -- but still hadn't homered in 58 at-bats with nobody named Thome around him in the lineup.
But Berkman became just the second player in history to have a 40-homer, 120-RBI season and then make it through the first 10 games of the next season without a homer or RBI. The other, according to Elias: Mo Vaughn in 1997.
It's still boggling many minds that Ivan Rodriguez walked five times in one game (April 8) and walked in six straight trips to the plate over two days. Last year, he played in 42 games after the All-Star break -- and walked EIGHT times (in 169 plate appearances).
Loyal reader Lee Sinins, creator of the sensational Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia CD-rom, reports that that five-walk game shoved Pudge out of his all-time lead for fewest walks by any catcher in history compared to the other catchers of his era. The new leader is another active hackmaster -- Benito Santiago.
The Devil Rays may have headed into the weekend still looking for their first win by a starting pitcher. But their trusty public-relations genius, Rick Vaughn, reports that at least they became the first team since the 1998 Mets to collect their first three wins of a season on some kind of walkoff hit.
Somebody buy the Twins an electric sweeper. If you've followed them at all this season, you know their first five series of the season all ended in a sweep. They swept the Tigers, then got swept themselves by the Blue Jays and White Sox, then swept the Blue Jays and swept the Tigers again.
According to the Detroit Free Press' John Lowe, the last team to open its season with five straight series sweeps was the 1997 Cubs. But that's the only way the Twins want to emulate them -- because those Cubs LOST all five of their series sweeps, on the way to an 0-14 start.
Down in Farm Land, Edmonton third baseman Luis Figueroa deserves some kind of trophy. He became the first man this year to get a hit against A's phenom Rich Harden. Harden retired the first (gulp) 47 hitters he faced this year, and was up to 57 in a row (the equivalent of two straight perfect games, plus an inning) until Figueroa singled to center field against him last Sunday.
Your minor-league blown lead of the month: High Desert reliever Aaron Dean came on to pitch April 10 with a 5-1 lead over Modesto. His next five hitters went: walk, walk, walk, walk, grand slam.
And your minor-league wild thing of the week is Sean Tracey of Kannapolis, of the South Atlantic League. His line Tuesday vs. Greensboro: 3 1/3 IP, 6 wild pitches. He had one wild pitch all last season. He's up to 10 this year.
The Sultan's Corner
Not much has gone right in Cincinnati, but 22-year-old Austin Kearns (eight) and 23-year-old Adam Dunn (six) are first and third, respectively, in the NL in home runs through Saturday. At that pace, they'll break the all-time record for homers by teammates under 24 -- by 60.
You've gotta love this list of the top five sub-24 homer duos of all time, courtesy of the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR's David Vincent:
66 -- Johnny Bench and Bernie Carbo, 1970 Reds
62 -- Del Crandall and Eddie Mathews, 1953 Braves
57 -- Pete Incaviglia and Ruben Sierra, 1987 Rangers
56 -- Gary Carter and Ellis Valentine, 1977 Expos
55 -- Tony Conigliaro and George Scott, 1966 Red Sox
Another great feat by Kearns: Last weekend, he became the first man to hit a walkoff homer at the new Great American Ballpark. The Sultan reports that allows Kearns to join all these men in the First-Walkoff Club at the 14 other current parks that have opened since 1992:
Jason Kendall -- PNC Park, Pittsburgh (April 22, 2001)
Richie Sexson -- Miller Park, Milwaukee (Sept. 1, 2001)
Juan Gonzalez -- Comerica Park, Detroit (June 17, 2000)
Jeff Kent -- Pac Bell Park, San Francisco (May 3, 2000)
Richard Hidalgo -- Minute Maid (nee Enron) Park, Houston (April 4, 2001)
Tom Lampkin -- Safeco Field, Seattle (Sept. 8, 1999)
Bobby Smith -- Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg (April 13, 1998)
Yamil Benitez -- Bank One Ballpark, Phoenix (June 28, 1998)
Andruw Jones -- Turner Field, Atlanta (April 26, 1997)
Dante Bichette -- Coors Field, Denver (April 26, 1995)
Rusty Greer -- Ballpark at Arlington, Arlington (June 2, 1995)
Kenny Lofton -- Jacobs Field, Cleveland (April 29, 1994)
Chuckie Carr -- Pro Player (nee Joe Robbie) Stadium, Miami (Aug. 9, 1994)
Jeffrey Hammonds -- Camden Yards, Baltimore (July 9, 1994)
Marlins first baseman Derrick Lee performed one of our favorite feats last weekend, joining the Mr. Inside-Mr. Outside Club with an inside-the-park and outside-the-park home run in the same game. Here are the last 10 members of that club, according to the Sultan:
Bobby Abreu, Phillies, Aug. 27, 2000
Bret Boone, Padres, May 11, 2000
Scott Rolen, Phillies, July 2, 1999
Rusty Greer, Rangers, July 21, 1994
Ken Caminiti, Astros, July 3, 1994
Paul Molitor, Blue Jays, April 25, 1994
Sean Berry, Expos, Aug. 22, 1993
Tim Bogar, Mets, Aug. 14, 1993
Fred McGriff, Braves, July 27, 1993
Ken Caminiti, Astros, May 22, 1993
When Gary Sheffield, Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones went back-to-back-to-back April 7, they inspired another classic list from the Sultan -- of three members of the same outfield who hit back-to-back-to-back homers (pick your favorite):
Sept. 19, 2002 -- Eli Marrero, Jim Edmonds, Albert Pujols (Cardinals)
June 29, 2001 -- Jermaine Dye, Raul Ibanez, Carlos Beltran (Royals)
May 13, 2000 -- Michael Tucker, Ken Griffey Jr., Dmitri Young (Reds)
June 29, 1993 --Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom, Larry Walker (Expos)
April 13, 1987 -- Marvell Wynne, Tony Gwynn, John Kruk to start game (Padres)
July 4, 1977 -- Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski
May 13, 1947 -- Charlie Keller, Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Lindell (Yankees)
Barry Bonds is now up to 72 home runs against the Padres in his career. Which puts him within reach of the expansion-era record for most home runs against one team. The leaders, courtesy of the Sultan:
Mike Schmidt vs. Cubs -- 78
Barry Bonds vs. Padres -- 72
Willie McCovey vs. Braves -- 67
Hank Aaron vs. Reds -- 66
Willie McCovey vs. Reds -- 65
Carl Yastrzemski vs. Tigers -- 65
Finally, when Pat Burrell hit two home runs April 9 off Greg Maddux , he did something only five other players have ever done -- go deep twice in the same game against Maddux. And three of them, mysteriously, have been Phillies. The others, according to the Sultan:
Question: Kevin Millwood is the only active pitcher under 30 with at least three seasons of 17 wins or more. Only two other active National League pitchers under 30 have even had TWO seasons of 17 wins or more. Can you name them?
Answer:Matt Morris and Russ Ortiz.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.