Useless Information Dept.
The Useless Information Dept. breaks down a rare week of implosions for three Cy Young winners.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
The 2002 Tigers, the 2003 Tigers and the 2003 Diamondbacks.
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.
Here is how the other teams to do it since division play finished up:
|Team||Start||Rest of year||Finish|
|1987 Brewers||13-0||78-71||Third, 7 games behind|
|1982 Braves||13-0||76-73||Lost NLCS|
|1981 Athletics||11-0||53-45||Lost ALCS|
|1990 Reds||9-0||82-71||Won World Series|
|1984 Tigers||9-0||93-58||Won World Series|
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
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.
Tigers hitters (through Friday) five home runs .172 batting average. NL pitchers: six home runs, .171 batting average.
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.
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.
|GOING THE EXTRA MILE|
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.
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.
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.
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:
55 -- July 30-31, Cubs vs. Padres (Mark Prior 10, Oliver Perez 10)
49 -- July 12-13, Cubs vs. Marlins (Kerry Wood 10, Matt Clement 9)
48 -- July 31-Aug. 1, Cubs vs. Padres (Oliver Perez 10)
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
6. Frank Thomas .567
7. Jim Thome .566
8. Ken Jr. Griffey .562
9. Juan Gonzalez .561
10. Jeff Bagwell .553
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.
The Sultan's Corner
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
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)
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
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)
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
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.
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