High fives for the Birds
The Orioles can hit, but they sure can't pitch. If they keep up the routine, they could be in for an historic year.
How hard is that to do? Well, no American League team has ever had an ERA that high and finished the season at .500 or above. And no National League team outside of the picturesque state of Colorado has done it since 1900.
You really have to go back to the 19th century to find any kind of precedent for these Orioles. Here are the six teams in history to avoid a losing record despite an ERA that high, according to Lee Sinins' Sabermetric Encyclopedia:
Among other things, that game made second baseman Jamey Carroll a walking trivia question (i.e., who hit ninth?). Because it isn't every day you see a position player batting behind the pitcher.
In fact, according to loyal reader Dave Smith -- founder of the invaluable retrosheet.org -- this was only the fourth time, under normal circumstances, in the 35-year division-play era that a pitcher had batted anywhere except ninth. We're not counting the 77 times Tony La Russa did it in St. Louis in 1998 when he was trying to manufacture extra at-bats for Mark McGwire.
The three other times it happened:
Aug. 26, 1973 -- (Expos) pitcher Steve Renko (2-for-3) batted 7th, 2B Pepe Frias (2-for-4) 8th, catcher Terry Humphrey (0-for-3) 9th.
Sept. 23, 1976 -- White Sox pitcher Ken Brett (0-for-3) batted 8th, catcher Jim Essian (0-for-2) 9th.
June 1, 1979 -- Phillies pitcher Steve Carlton (0-for-3) batted 8th, SS Bud Harrelson (1-for-3) 9th.
Like Brett and Carlton, Ohka went hitless Sunday. But unlike all three of those guys, at least he was the winning pitcher. The other three all got a loss.
The reason Rivera is an automatic Hall of Famer has to do with a month when none of those 300 saves were accumulated -- October. Here are Rivera's October numbers, compared with the six other 300-save men with eight postseason saves or more:
|Rollie Fingers||9||33 1/3||1.35|
|Goose Gossage||8||31 1/3||2.87|
|Randy Myers||8||30 2/3||2.35|
Ward had had five previous big-league seasons with 100 or more at-bats. He'd hit for the cycle for the season in only one of them (2000).
Moeller, meanwhile, was an unlikely candidate just because he was a catcher. He was only the second NL catcher to hit for the cycle in the division-play era (joining Jason Kendall) and only the sixth overall. But he was the first catcher to hit for the cycle who had never previously had more than one triple in a season since Randy Hundley went cycling for the Cubs on Aug. 11, 1966.
|The Sultan's Corner|
According to the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR home run historian David Vincent, these are the only remaining letters that still haven't been responsible for back-to-back trots:
E, N, Q, U, X, Y, Z
And the letters with the most back-to-backers:
July 25, 1993 (Brewers) -- Tom Lampkin and Tom Brunansky
Gary Sheffield, Fred McGriff (Padres) Aug. 6, 1992
-- Moises Alou (Astros) vs. Felipe Alou (Expos) 4/24/1998
Mel Ott (1932) 5
And with both of those men this close, it means they have a chance to set the record for smallest gap between two 500th homers. The three current closest:
Harmon Killebrew (Aug. 10, 1971) and Frank Robinson (Sept. 13) 34 days
May 12, 1962, Mets sweep Braves (Hobie Landrith, Gil Hodges)
And according to SportsTicker's Wally Kent, Ramirez was the first player to be called up from A-ball in any month before September in at least the last 20 seasons. The only four position players to earn a call-up from a Class A league in that time were also recalled in September:
Only 10 other teams ever went 40 games into a season without winning two consecutive games. But just one of the previous 10 busted up that streak with a winning streak as long as Tampa Bay's. That was Pretzels Getsien's pesky 1889 Indianapolis Hoosiers, who needed 42 games to win two in a row, then won seven in a row.
And just one of the other nine -- Pinky Hargrave's 1926 Browns -- even went on to have a five-game winning streak at any point in that season.
The closest any of those players ever came to a second 50-hit month was 47, by Damon in August, 2000. But A-Rod nearly had two 50-hit months in a row, in July (46) and August (54) of 1996. And your best bet to join this 50-50 Club is actually Pujols, who has spent 20 full months in the big leagues -- and had one 50-hit month, plus three other 40-hit months.
Cubs pitchers somehow nailed Pirates hitters with a pitch an amazing 10 times in that series. They'll be honored to know that the Elias Sports Bureau reports that in the expansion era (all 44 seasons of it), that's the first time any team has ever been plunked 10 times in the same series. Send those guys a congratulatory ice pack.
Strange But True Useless Info Of The Week
How does all this happen?
Elias reports that no team had gone that deep into the season without being shut out and then got shut out twice in a row, since the 1996 Yankees (by the Angels, in game started by Jason Grimsley and Chuck Finley).
2003 Brewers, 10 straight, started at 48-75, .390
1999 Padres, 14 straight, started at 25-39, .391
1993 Dodgers, 11 straight, started at 14-22, .389
Longest scoring streaks in the division-play era, according to retrosheet.org's Dave Smith: 18 games by Kenny Lofton (2000) and 16 games by Paul Molitor (1987).
The only longer streaks by Phillies since 1969: 15 games by Lenny Dykstra (1993), 12 by Mike Schmidt in 1976 and 12 by Abreu in 2001.
Useless 1-0 Information
We recently saw two 1-0 games about as different as 1-0 games ever get. In one, (Mets at Diamondbacks, on May 12), the only run scored on a homer by the first batter in the game (Kazuo Matsui). In the other (May 28, A's at Indians), the only run scored on a walkoff homer by the last batter in the game (Casey Blake).
April 26, 1981 -- Denny Walling (Astros) vs. Mario Soto
Aug. 7, 1991 -- Darren Lewis (Giants) vs. Charlie Leibrandt
June 19, 1992 -- Greg Briley (Mariners) vs. Kevin Tapani
Sept. 14, 1993 -- Carlos Garcia (Pirates) vs. Chris Hammond
June 16, 1997 -- Jeromy Burnitz (Brewers) vs. Alan Benes in 9th
Sept. 26, 1998 -- Alex Gonzalez (Marlins) vs. Ricky Bottalico in 13th
Sept. 20, 2000 -- Eric Karros (Dodgers) vs. Byung-Hyun Kim in 9th
May 12, 2001 -- Gary Sheffield (Dodgers) vs. Matt Whiteside in 9th
Sept. 2, 2001 -- Ryan Klesko (Padres) vs. Byung-Hyun Kim in 13th
Sept. 27, 2002 -- Paul Lo Duca (Padres) vx. Jeremy Fikac in 10th
Last AL player to do it: Scott Brosius (A's) vs. Chuck Finley on June 29, 1994.
Aug. 19-20, 1968 (Yankees lose to Twins, Mets lose to Giants)
Aug. 25-26, 1973 (Mets lose to Giants, Yankees lose to A's)
The Yankees' loss (to Anaheim in 11 innings) marked the first time they had lost an extra-inning 1-0 game since Sept. 19, 1990. And the same night, the Mets won -- for the first time since Aug. 31, 1990 -- a game in which they trailed with two outs in the home half of the final inning, then tied and won it on hits by back-to-back hitters (Matsui and Cliff Floyd).
And the Randy Johnson perfect-game trivia keeps on coming.
|Useless Bobblehead Info|
May 16 was a vastly historic day in the history of bobblehead dolls.
Our tireless bobblehead czar, David Hallstrom, reports that when Roy Halladay outdueled Pedro Martinez on Roy Halladay bobblehead day, it was the first time ever that a pitcher had beaten a former Cy Young on a day when he was a bobblehead nominee. Very cool.
Sept. 20, 1970 -- Dodgers beat Astros after trailing in 9th and 14th
July 15, 1971 -- Pirates beat Padres after trailing in 9th and 17th
May 30, 1984 -- Reds beat Pirates after trailing in 9th and 14th
April 12, 1986 -- Phillies beat Mets after trailing in 9th and 14th
Sept. 28, 1986 -- Giants beat Dodgers after trailing in 9th and 16th
April 26, 1995 -- Rockies beat Mets after trailing in 9th and 14th
Useless Boxscore Information
6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR.
|Useless Mike Hampton Info|
Until he finally won a game this year, on May 23, Mike Hampton had gone 10 straight starts without a win, dating back to last September. Which made him the first Braves pitcher to go 10 in a row without winning since Marty Clary (11) did it in 1990.
According to Elias, only three other teams in the live-ball era (since 1920) have gone at least 13 years between 10-start winless streaks by any of their pitchers. The others:
Baltimore from 1970 (Tom Phoebus) to 1986 (Mike Flanagan).
May 15 vs. Cleveland -- 1 1/3 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 7 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 72 pitches to get 4 outs.
May 20 vs. Boston -- 4 2/3 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 9 BB, 8 K, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 132 pitches to get 14 outs.
So over two starts, this guy ...
Useless Hinterland Information
On May 3, Tiffany pitched five hitless innings in a combined no-hitter against the not-very-aptly name Bats. Then, on May 20, in his next start against them, he threw a 12-strikeout perfect game. They were Tiffany's first two professional wins. But he's really slipping. In his third win, Tuesday vs. Charleston, he gave up one hit (in five innings).
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