- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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We interrupt our continuous cork-o-mania coverage for a little 300th-win edition of the Useless Information Department:
When Roger Clemens allowed eight runs to the Red Sox on Memorial Day in his first attempt to win his 300th game, it was the most runs allowed by a pitcher trying for his 300th win since Phil Niekro (the only other man to win his 300th as a Yankee) gave up eight to the Tigers on Sept. 24, 1985. The only other pitcher to give up eight runs in an attempt to win No. 300, according to Retrosheet's Dave Smith: Early Wynn, on Sept. 18, 1962.
Then, in Clemens' next attempt, the Yankees blew a six-run lead in Detroit. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he's the first pitcher in history to have a lead of four or more runs disappear in a game in which he had a chance for his 300th win.
It was Antonio Osuna who blew the save for Clemens that day. And that made Osuna, according to Retrosheet, only the second relief pitcher since the invention of the modern save rule to blow a save for a pitcher attempting to win his 300th. The other: Terry Forster, who couldn't hold a one-run lead for Don Sutton on June 14, 1986.
Had Clemens' bullpen held on and he'd gotten the win Sunday in Detroit, his six runs allowed would have been the most by any pitcher in his 300th win since Lefty Grove gave up six against the Indians on July 25, 1941.
And those 14 runs Clemens allowed in his first two tries to win No. 300 were the most ever in back-to-back starts by a pitcher trying for his 300th. The previous high was 13, by Wynn, on Sept. 18 and 23, 1962.
Because Clemens' third shot at 300 came in a National League park (Wrigley Field), that gave him a chance to actually swing a bat in his quest for No. 300. In case you were wondering, the last AL pitcher to get a hit in his 300th win -- according to Rich Wescott's book, "Baseball's 300-Game Winners": Wynn, a single off Moe Drabowsky, on July 13, 1963. Clemens sacrificed and struck out in his two at-bats Saturday.
No pitcher has ever collected his 300th win and 4,000th strikeout on the same day. Clemens had a chance to do that Saturday, but at game's end he was still one win and four strikeouts from the double-double. Steve Carlton came closest. He had 319 wins the day he struck out his 4,000th hitter. Nolan Ryan, on the other hand, had only 239 wins the day he whiffed his 4,000th.
How could Sammy Sosa's suspension have had a direct impact on Clemens' 300th win? Troy O'Leary, the outfielder who normally replaces Sosa in the Cubs' lineup, is one of only three active players with a lifetime average of under .100 and at least 25 plate appearances against Clemens. O'Leary is hitting .097 (3-for-31) against him. The others: J.T. Snow (.079) and Greg Vaughn (.089).
That game in Detroit last Sunday would have matched the oldest starter in the big leagues (Clemens) against the youngest (20-year-old Jeremy Bonderman) -- except that the same day, Arizona started Edgar Gonzalez, who is 118 days younger than Bonderman.
Nevertheless, this was still the first time any pitcher had started against a pitcher 20 years younger than him, according to Elias, since May 28, 1998. That day, it was Dennis Martinez (age 43) vs. Carl Pavano (age 22).
Clemens also went into that game against Bonderman with a slight edge in career wins -- of 299-2. Last time one starting pitcher had 297 more wins than the opposing starter, according to Elias, was Aug. 15, 1993 (Nolan Ryan vs. Jose Mesa).
Had Clemens beaten the Red Sox for his 300th win, he would have been only the third pitcher in history to win No. 300 against a former team. The others were Gaylord Perry (vs. the Yankees) and Steve Carlton (vs. the Cardinals).
On the way to 300, Clemens has beaten three 300-game winners (Don Sutton, Phil Niekro, Nolan Ryan). He has beaten nine Cy Young award winners (Ron Guidry, Frank Viola, Mike Flanagan, Bret Saberhagen, Jack McDowell, Randy Johnson, Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser and Barry Zito). But he beat only one Perez brother (Melido).
The day Clemens won his first game (May 20, 1984), he wasn't the only pitcher to win that day who is still pitching now. Jesse Orosco also won for the Mets, in relief. But Orosco has slightly fewer wins since then than Clemens -- like 298 to 64.
Finally, speaking of the day Clemens won his first game, it's time for a 300th-win edition of Six Degrees of Separation, connecting Clemens to the third pitcher in modern history to win 300 games in a career beginning after 1900.
The day Clemens won his first game, Milt Wilcox also won.
The day Wilcox won his first game (Sept. 5, 1970), Don Cardwell also won.
The day Cardwell won his first game (April 26, 1957), Warren Spahn won.
The day Spahn won his first game (July 14, 1946), Johnny Vander Meer won.
The day Vander Meer won his first game (June 2, 1937), Red Ruffing won.
And the day Ruffing won his first game (May 14, 1925), the winning pitcher for the Cubs was Grover Cleveland Alexander.
Useless Interleague Information
The A's have gone 66 straight games against American League teams without being shut out (since the Angels did it last Sept. 17). But they were shut out in their third interleague game of the year, by Dontrelle Willis and the Marlins on Thursday.
Garrett Anderson hit seven home runs in 54 games against AL teams this year. He then hit five home runs in his first 10 at-bats against the National League (courtesy of Hiram Bithorn Stadium and Los Expos).
Then there's Orioles starter Jason Johnson. In 10 starts and 57 2/3 innings against the AL, he's given up two home runs. In his first start against an NL team, Tuesday in Houston, he gave up three home runs in 4 1/3 innings.
The Royals in Kyle Snyder's six starts against AL teams: 0-6. The Royals in Kyle Snyder's only start against an NL team (the Dodgers): 1-0.
Maybe Bob Hope recalls that Brian Boehringer just became the first Pirates pitcher to beat an AL team from Boston since Deacon Phillipe outdueled Bill Dinneen in Game 4 of the 1903 World Series. Phillipe's win gave the Pirates a 3-games-to-1 lead -- in a Series in which they never won another game.
On the other hand, Jason Varitek just became the first member of his franchise to homer against the Pirates since Game 2 of that World Series, when Boston Americans catcher Patsy Daugherty had the first two-homer game in World Series history.
Since the Yankees got swept by the Reds the last time they met -- in the 1976 World Series -- Jose Contreras' win Thursday in Cincinnati was the first by a Yankees starter against the Reds since since Whitey Ford did it in Game 4 of the 1961 Series.
Interleague play causes some strange geographical phenomena. Pat Hentgen now has made three straight starts against teams from Texas -- and lost them all (two to the Rangers, one to the Astros). He's undefeated (1-0) against teams from all the other states, though.
But maybe our favorite only-in-interleague note of the week comes from loyal reader Doug Greenwald, who reports that Twins pitcher Joe Mays' single Tuesday at Pac Bell was the first hit by a Mays in San Francisco since Willie Mays thumped a pinch double for the Mets at Candlestick, off Elias Sosa, on Aug. 11, 1973.
Useless Hitting-Streak Information
Nomar Garciaparra, Kenny Lofton and Eric Byrnes all recently strung together hitting streaks that made it beyond 20 games. But we've still had only two players in this millennium who have had a streak that got them halfway to Joe DiMaggio (i.e., 28 or more). And naturally, they were not Ichiro Suzuki, Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez or Todd Helton. Those two were (who else?) Luis Castillo (35 games last year) and Gabe Kapler (28 games in 2000).
Besides Castillo and Kapler, only seven active players have had a streak that got them halfway to DiMaggio -- Vladimir Guerrero (31), Luis Gonzalez (30), Shawn Green (28), Garciaparra (a 30-gamer in 1997), Sandy Alomar Jr. (30), Marquis Grissom (28) and Benito Santiago (34).
But then, seven teams have never had a player make it halfway to DiMaggio in franchise history -- including two franchises that have been around for more than a century (the Pirates and White Sox).
We think of even a 20-game hitting streak as lead-story-on-SportsCenter material nowadays. But since DiMaggio, only three players have had a streak long enough that they were within 20 of DiMaggio -- Pete Rose (44), Tommy Holmes (40) and Paul Molitor (39).
Garciaparra's two longest streaks are now 30 and 26 -- which means he can at least say that his two longest streaks put together are as long as DiMaggio's. Only four other players in the division-play era could say that: Rose, Molitor, Ron LeFlore and Castillo.
This was Garciaparra's fourth hitting streak of over 20 games. That's the most of any active player. The only two players with three are Castillo and (surprise) Juan Gonzalez.
Players with the most streaks of 20-plus:
Pete Rose 7
Ty Cobb 5
Tris Speaker 5
Heinie Manush 5
Chuck Klein 5
Really Useless Information
Back-to-back boxscore lines of the century
Poor Jeff Austin. He didn't mean to put together possibly the worst back-to-back starts in modern history. But he had two all-timers.
His May 23 start for the Reds against the Marlins:
0 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 0 K and the scary tag line: Austin pitched to 7 hitters in the first inning.
Then five days later in Atlanta:
2/3 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 4 HR -- and he became the second pitcher in history (joining Roger Mason) to give up home runs to the first three hitters of a game.
The grim totals
All told, Austin faced 14 hitters, didn't get an out until the 11th batter he faced, allowed 10 to score, got two outs, and, of the 50 pitches he threw that weren't whacked for hits, he threw only 18 strikes. Yikes.
Fact of the day
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Austin was only the second pitcher in the last 30 years to get gonged in the first inning in back-to-back starts and allow at least five runs in each of them. The other: Woodie Fryman, on April 7 and 17, 1974. But Woodie got four outs (one of them on a caught-stealing).
Quote of the day
From Austin, on being sent to the minors immediately: "This team is better off without me on it."
Sacrificial lambs of the week
More proof that bunts are overrated:
The Blue Jays made it all the way from Opening Day to Memorial Day without a sacrifice bunt -- the longest sac-free streak to open a season in history, according to Elias. And they lead the major leagues in runs scored.
Reunion of the week
What made May 30 one of the coolest box scores of the year? It was the first game ever --regular season or postseason -- in which Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz all pitched.
Rotation of the week
The Padres recently went from April 26 through May 23 without a win from any of their starting pitchers. That's 26 straight starts, no wins. Last team to have a streak that long: the 1996 Tigers, who went the last 27 games of the season (including the entire month of September) without a win by a starter.
One-man offense of the month
In Geoff Jenkins' three-homer game May 21 against the Padres, not only did he hit all three homers off the same pitcher (Jake Peavy), he hit more homers off Peavy (in three at-bats) than the rest of his team had hits off Peavy (two, in 17 at-bats).
Last time a pitcher gave up three homers to one man in a lineup and fewer hits than that to the rest of that lineup, according to Elias: April 2, 1997, when Seattle's Scott Sanders served up three homers to Tino Martinez in five innings -- but only two other hits.
Corkage of the week
It's time for the mandatory cork note of the week -- most home runs hit in a season after being caught for bat-tampering (since 1970):
Albert Belle 50 -- 1995
Albert Belle 49 -- 1998
Albert Belle 48 -- 1996
Albert Belle 37 -- 1999
Graig Nettles 37 -- 1977
Reloaders of the week
The Phillies drew three bases-loaded walks last weekend in their May 30 game against the Expos. Believe it or not, it's the second time this year they've walked three times with the bases loaded in the same game. (The other came in one inning -- their 13-run inning in Cincinnati, on April 13).
Last team to draw three bases-loaded walks in a game twice in the same season, according to Elias: those ever-patient 1997 Mets.
Sweepers of the week
The Blue Jays just swept the Red Sox and Yankees on back-to-back weekends. And while you'd think you wouldn't see that much, the A's swept the Sox and Yankees in back-to-back series, from Aug. 7-12, 2001.
Deja vu-doo of the week
If Angels GM Bill Stoneman thought something looked kind of familiar Thursday in San Juan, when Expos rookie Julio Manon threw four shutout innings of relief against Stoneman's Angels, he wasn't hallucinating.
Expos public-relations whiz John Dever reports that Maroon was only the second Expo ever to throw at least four shutout innings in relief in his major-league debut. The other was the unforgettable Craig Caskey, who twirled 4 2/3 shutout innings against the Reds on July 19, 1973 -- in relief of (oui) Bill Stoneman.
Good news, bad news
The bad news for Hank Blalock on May 16 was that he struck out four times, in a game against the Yankees. The good news was, he drove in six runs (with two bases-loaded triples).
Many readers were dying to know the last guy to drive in that many runs in a game in which he whiffed that many times. And the answer is: You've got us.
Retrosheet's Dave Smith dug through every game back to 1972 -- and found no four-strikeout, six-RBI games. In fact, he found just one four-strikeout, five-RBI game -- by Devon White against the Phillies, on Aug. 20, 1998. White's line: 7 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 5 RBI, 4 K.
Useless factoids of the week
Jose Mesa can be scary, all right. But until he served up a game-winning three-run homer to Mike Cameron on Thursday, loyal reader Michael Blake reports that the Phillies had gone 93-1 in games in which Mesa entered with a lead of two runs or more.
Giants rookie Jesse Foppert this week became the first pitcher to whack a triple for his first career hit since an American League pitcher, Toronto's Chris Michalak, did it in 2001.
We know Cubs rookie Todd Wellmeyer doesn't mind working overtime. He has one save this year (in a 17-inning game) and one win (in a 16-inning game).
Brian Kingman definitely wasn't ecstatic to hear the Elias Sports Bureau report that Mike Maroth was only the second pitcher in the last 110 years to lose 10 games before June 1. The other: Dolf Luque, for the 1922 Reds.
The bad news for the Yankees was that they just lost 12 of 13 at home last month for the first time in franchise history. The worse news is that, according to Elias, no team has ever lost eight home games in a row (which they also did) and gone on to win the World Series.
The East Valley Tribune's Ed Price reports that Luis Gonzalez went 4-for-7, with six RBI, against Padres pitcher Adam Easton last month -- and hit .213, with nine RBI, against all pitchers not named Adam Eaton.
Steve Avery last month won his first game since July 9, 1999. In between Avery's wins, his old friends, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz combined to win 140 games.
But Avery's really big feat lately was his pinch double Wednesday in San Diego -- because it was the first pinch hit by a Tigers pitcher since Joe Niekro had a pinch single against the Red Sox on Sept. 2, 1970. The same inning, Padres pitcher Adam Eaton also got a pinch hit.
Retrosheet's Dave Smith checked all games back to 1972 and found this was the only time since that year that pitchers even got pinch hits in the same game, let alone the same inning. According to Retrosheet, there have been only 79 pinch-hits by pitchers during that span, including three by reformed outfielder-turned-pitcher Brooks Kieschnick this year. So that averages slightly more than two a season, let alone two in the same inning.
The first four hitters in the Texas lineup -- Hank Blalock, Carl Everett, A-Rod and Rafael Palmeiro -- hadn't gone hitless in the same game all year until May 27. Then they were held to 0-fors in back-to-back games -- in games started by two Devil Rays (Carlos Reyes and Jeremi Gonzalez) who had been out of the big leagues since 2000 and 1998, respectively. Who knew?
Minor league name of the week
And the winner is: electrifying Inland Empire outfielder Sheldon Fuse.
Bobbleheads of the week
The least-reported losing streak of the year was uncovered by our bobblehead czar, David Hallstrom. When the Devil Rays lost last Sunday on Lou Piniella Bobblehead Day, it made the three bobblehead managers (Frank Robinson, Bobby Cox and Piniella) a scary 0-3 on their bobblehead days this year.
So will the bobbleheaded leaders go 0 for the year? We regret to report the only team that can save them is (of course) the Tigers. Alan Trammell's bobblehead day is coming up Aug. 23.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your Useless Information to: firstname.lastname@example.org
14hAnthony Witrado, Special to ESPN.com
20hAnthony Witrado, Special to ESPN.com