Cubs' Gonzalez proving to be walkoff wonder
Who do you want up if you need a homer to win? Believe it or not, it's Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez.
As Bill Mazeroski, Joe Carter and Kirk Gibson would be glad to tell you, there's nothing in baseball more cool and dramatic than a game-ending home run. Unless -- as Carlton Fisk and Kirby Puckett might testify -- it's an extra-inning, game-ending home run.
So in case you hadn't caught on, it's time for our Useless Information topics du jour -- walkoff homers and extra-inning homers. Here goes:
Frank Secory, 1946 Cubs -- 3 HRs, 2 in extra innings
Ross Youngs, 1923 Giants -- 3 HRs, 2 in extra innings
Jack Coombs, 1911 A's -- 2 HRs, both in extra innings
Birdie Tebbetts, 1937 Tigers -- 2 HRs, both in extra innings
Only six men, according to David Vincent, have ever hit more extra-inning homers than Gonzalez in a whole season than Gonzalez has hit just this month. It's quite a list:
|World of Walkoffs|
Other cool walkoff lists from the Sultan:|
MOST CAREER WALKOFFS
Babe Ruth 12
Jimmie Foxx 12
Stan Musial 12
Mickey Mantle 12
Frank Robinson 12
Tony Perez 11
Dick Allen 10
Reggie Jackson 10
Mike Schmidt 10
Harold Baines 10
MOST CAREER WALKOFFS BY ACTIVE HITTERS (entering this year)
Jim Thome 9
Sammy Sosa 8
Rafael Palmeiro 7
Juan Gonzalez 7
Larry Walker 7
Barry Bonds 6
Robin Ventura 6
Fred McGriff 6
Vladimir Guerrero 6
MOST CAREER WALKOFFS ALLOWED (all time)
Elroy Face 17
Rollie Fingers 13
Randy Myers 12
Lindy McDaniel 11
Jim Brewer 11
Rich Gossage 11
Ron Davis 11
(Active leader: Dan Plesac 9)
MOST WALKOFFS ALLOWED IN A SEASON
Murry Dickson, 1952 -- 4
Don Elston, 1959 -- 4
Elroy Face, 1960 -- 4
Elroy Face, 1961 -- 4
Jim Brewer, 1973 -- 4
Tom Buskey, 1979 -- 4
Guillermo Hernandez, 1986 -- 4
Calvin Schiraldi, 1987 -- 4
Randy Myers, 1989 -- 4
IN A SEASON (team)
1995 Indians 9
1986 Padres 8
1968 Tigers 7
1983 Brewers 7
1971 Braves 7
(The Reds and Expos are already up to four this year)
Since division play began in 1969, only four players have led the big leagues (or tied for the lead) in game-ending home runs for two straight years: 1972-73 Bobby Bonds. (Tied with Dick Allen, Carlos May and Joe Rudi in 1972. Led outright in '73.)
1987-88 Cory Snyder. (Tied with Will Clark in '87. Tied with Alan Trammell, Steve Balboni and Claudell Washington in '88.)
1994-95 Albert Belle. (Tied with Bob Hamelin and Ray Lankford in '94. Led outright in '95.)
2000-01 Jim Thome. (Seven-way tie in 2000. Led outright in 2001.)
Cal Ripken, 16 years (7/13/1984 - 4/19/2000)
Gabby Hartnett, 15 years (8/11/1923 - 9/28/1938)
Andres Galarraga, 14 years (8/5/1987 - 8/3/2001)
Edd Roush, 14 years (8/22/1915 - 8/24/1929)
Carl Yastrzemski, 14 years (9/14/1965 - 5/9/1979)
Useless Yankees Information
'72 Brewers (62-91, .405)
'94 Athletics (34-46 .425)
'58 Tigers (23-29, .442)
'68 Twins (51-59, .464)
Useless Braves Information
Since then, the Braves were an insane 72-0 in games Smoltz had pitched in, through Tuesday -- a streak 19 games longer than Dennis Eckersley's previous-record 53-0 streak with the 1991-92 A's.
On the one hand, obviously, this streak is partly a tribute to how Smoltz has been used. According to ESPN research maven Mark Simon, he has been brought into just three tie games in that stretch -- and no games in which the Braves were trailing when he left the bullpen.
On the other hand, Smoltz has blown only two saves (Aug. 6 and May 2, both in Arizona) in which the Braves had to scramble back and win anyway. And Smoltz's numbers in that streak are downright scary: 1.44 ERA, 75 IP, 47 H, 84 K, 59 saves in 61 opportunities.
Useless Tigers Information
Larry Parrish, 4/25/1980, 3 HRs, 7 RBI, Expos lost, 8-7, to Braves.
Mickey Brantley, 9/14/1987, 3 HRs, 7 RBI, Mariners lost, 11-8, to Indians.
Mike Stanley, 8/10/1995, 3 HRs, 7 RBI, Yankees lost, 10-9, to Indians.
Really Useless Information
We've heard people suggest that Nate Cornejo ought to be the Tigers' All-Star Game representative, since he is their only starting pitcher without a losing record (3-3). But let's just say he's not exactly Kerry Wood.
Over Cornejo's last five starts, he has faced 129 hitters -- and struck out one of them (Brook Fordyce, on May 5). For the season, he's at three wins and seven strikeouts. But over those last five starts, he's got two wins, one strikeout. So we wondered if any starting pitcher has ever had as many wins as strikeouts in a season, without having a losing record.
We checked pitchers with three wins or more and three starts or more in every season since 1901. And the answer is ... it's happened exactly twice:
1928 Stan Coveleski (5 strikeouts, 5-1 record, 8 starts)
1918 Jake Northrop ((4 strikeouts, 5-1 record, 4 starts)
Closest calls in the last 50 years:
1997 Mark Thompson (9 strikeouts, 3-3 record, 6 starts)
1976 Mark Lemongello (9 strikeouts, 3-1 record, 4 starts)
(Source: Lee Sinins' Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia CD-rom)
On June 13, 1993, Expos catcher Tim Laker stole a base against the Cardinals. It was the third of his career. Little did he know that by the time he stole his fourth, there would be a whole lot more channels on his local cable package.
|Mystery Bopper of the Week|
How would a team of nine Mark Priors do if you could roll them out there for 162 games? That's a question some fantasy-game programmer somewhere can answer. But all we know is that this is one pitcher who takes that old saying, "Drive in more than you let in," seriously.
Opposing hitters against Prior in his career (through Tuesday): .221 batting average, .286 on-base percentage, .355 slugging percentage.
Prior the hitter against opposing pitchers in his career: .246 batting average, .270 on-base percentage, .410 slugging percentage.
If Prior, who is batting a ridiculous .346 this year, keeps up this pace over his first 500 at-bats, he'd have 73 RBI and (gulp) 57 doubles.
This month, in a May 3 game against Texas, Laker finally stole again, against his old pal, Einar Diaz. So that's 10 years between SBs in the box score, if you're keeping track. And you might say that hadn't been done in a while.
The Elias Sports Bureau's Kevin Hines reports that Laker was the first player to go 10 years in between stolen bases since (ahem) 1926. Frank Emmer and Merwin Jacobsen were the perpetrators back then. But neither of them even played in the major leagues in the seasons between 1916 and 1926. So it isn't quite the same thing.
In between Laker's steals, he played in 12 different cities, changed organizations six times, was released three times, claimed on waivers once, traded once, pitched once, tried to steal (without success) twice, threw out 25 runners who tried to steal on him and stole 29 bases in the minor leagues (which we can conveniently ignore).
And in between Tim Laker's steals, Kenny Lofton stole 417 bases. So way to go there, Tim.
In our last edition of Useless Info, we chronicled the exploits of Zach Day in day games. Now it's time for the Knights -- or knights -- to get equal time.
It's now nearly a month since Orioles pitcher Sidney Ponson and Tigers outfielder Eugene Kingsale were knighted in their native Aruba. So we know what you're thinking: Is knighthood good for a guy's career? Sure is. Check it out.
Ponson this year since being knighted: 2-1, 2.57 ERA.
Ponson this year before being knighted: 2-2, 4.80 ERA.
Kingsale this year since being knighted: .276, 3 doubles, 1 triple.
Kingsale this year before being knighted, .241, 0 extra-base hits.
The Twins were six games out of first place entering May -- and were in first place 18 days later. And that, friends, is hard to do. According to Elias, they're only the second team in the division-play era to be that far out heading into May and make it all the way back into first place before June 1. But nobody ever did that faster.
The other team to do it was the 1984 Braves, who were six out at the end of April and moved into first place May 26.
According to Elias, he's only the second pitcher since the dawn of the modern save rule to pitch a shutout after racking up 100 career saves. The other: the legendary Bob Stanley, who mysteriously gave up closing after 123 saves (and the 1986 World Series), then shut out the Royals on April 22, 1987.
Curt Schilling just knocked off a 10-strikeout, four-hit shutout of the Pirates and a 14-strikeout, two-hit shutout of the Phillies in back-to-back starts. And if you thought that looked familiar, well, you were wrong.
Schilling was only the second pitcher since 1970 to throw back-to-back road shutouts featuring double-digit strikeouts. The other, according to Elias: Fernando Valenzuela, on April 18 (San Diego) and 22 (Houston), 1981 -- thus launching Fernandomania with the third and fourth starts of his career.
The Devil Rays and Diamondbacks came into existence at the same time, in 1998. The Devil Rays just won three straight road series for the first time in franchise history. The Diamondbacks have won three or more in a row on the road seven times (including a streak of 11 straight in 1999).
But the Devil Rays have done something Arizona has never done: They've now made it through two nine-inning games without any of their fielders recording an assist. They did it first last May, then duplicated that feat last Friday, making them the first team in history to go assist-less twice.
Which led ESPN research genius Jeff Bennett to compare them to a guy you could always count on for a good assist -- Magic Johnson.
Devil Rays Magic Johnson Games played 850 906 All-time assists 8,890 10,141 Games with 0 assists 2 1
The Padres sent catcher Wiki Gonzalez to the minor leagues over the weekend. That'll teach him to show up the pitchers -- by throwing a shutout inning against the Braves last Thursday, in a game in which the real Padres pitchers gave up 15 runs.
Gonzalez's line: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB (Chipper Jones), 1 K, 1 fastball clocked at 87 mph.
|500 Club of the Week|
While we kill time between 500th homers, let's contemplate 500th hits.
Ichiro Suzuki got his 500th last Friday, in just his 1,503rd at-bat.
Last guy to get to 500 hits that fast, according to Elias: Wade Boggs, who got his 500th hit on Sept. 9, 1984 -- in his 1,463rd at-bat.
Stat of the day: Gonzalez became the first player to catch and pitch in the same game since Shane Halter played all nine positions for the Tigers on the final day of the 2000 season.
Quote of the day: "Gonzalez has got good (stuff)," said Braves first baseman Robert Fick. "They should probably put him in their rotation."
It took 44 games and an unbelievable 191 trips to the plate, but the Pirates finally became the last team in baseball to get a home run from their cleanup hitter, when Aramis Ramirez homered Sunday off Mike Koplove at the BOB. The team with the most homers from its cleanup hitter: (surprise) Toronto, with 14 (13 of them from Carlos Delgado).
If you're trying to determine the Mets' most bizarre moment of the season, you have many, many candidates. But we might pick last Saturday, when a $120-million baseball team ran out an entire lineup that was earning less money than Mo Vaughn. You can look it up.
Loyal reader Jerry Beach, Mets beat man for ESportsNY.com, reports that the Mets' lineup that day -- featuring Marco Scutaro, Raul Gonzalez and Jason Phillips as the 1-2-3 hitters -- was earning a mere $12.22 million ($9.5 million of it by Cliff Floyd and Steve Trachsel).
Even more amazingly, that lineup entered the day with a combined 6,544 career at-bats -- nearly half as many as the lineups the Devil Rays (12,766) and Tigers (11,318) rolled out that day. Who'd have thunk it?
When Carlos Baerga homered Friday off Pirates left-hander Joe Beimel, you might not have realized what a fascinating little boxscore entry that was. The East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune's Ed Price reports it was Baerga's first home run while batting right-handed since 1998. And only one other player on either team was in attendance for both of those homers.
That, naturally, was the man who gave up the previous homer, Baerga's current teammate, Mike Myers.
On the way to his record 12-team journey, it took Morgan until age 32 to pitch for seven teams. And Chen, who was just cut loose by his sixth NL team, is already just one short of the all-time record for most National League teams pitched for. Mike Maddux holds that record, with seven. But he didn't pitch for his sixth NL team until age 36.
Useless Minor-League Information
The Sultan's Corner
Indians -- 3 (Babe Ruth off Willis Hudlin, Ted Williams off Wynn Hawkins, Palmeiro off Dave Elder)
Braves -- 3 (Mel Ott off Johnny Hutchings, Ernie Banks off Pat Jarvis, Willie McCovey off Jamie Easterly)
2 Giants (Eddie Mathews; Hank Aaron)
2 Orioles (Mickey Mantle, Harmon Killebrew)
2 Tigers (Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray)
Kieschnick allowed a home run May 12 to Damian Miller in the fourth inning, but then homered off Mark Prior in the bottom of the fourth. He's only the fifth active player (if we count the designated-for-assignment Esteban Yan) to do both in the same inning. The others, courtesy of the Sultan:
Esteban Yan, Devil Rays June 4, 2000 second inning (to Jay Payton, off Bobby Jones)
Larry Parrish 3 (May 29, 1977, July 30, 1978 and April 25, 1980)
Mike Schmidt 3 (April 17, 1976*, July 7, 1979 and June 14, 1987)
Pinky Higgins 2 (June 27, 1935 and May 20, 1940)
George Brett 2 (July 22, 1979 and April 20, 1983)
Doug DeCinces 2 (Aug. 3, 1982 and Aug. 8, 1982)
Darnell Coles 2 (Sept. 30, 1987 and July 5m 1994)
Vinny Castilla 2 (June 5, 1999 and July 28, 2001)
Aaron Boone 2 (Aug. 9, 2002 and May 8, 2003)
(* - 4 HR game)
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your Useless Information to: email@example.com
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