Way too intentional

Barry Bonds is accumulating astonishing stats this year, such as having nearly as many intentional walks as hits.

Originally Published: June 27, 2004
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

  • Useless Barry Bonds Info: We now present what might be our man Barry's most amazing stat of the year. He has almost as many intentional walks (56) as hits (58). So how unprecedented is that? Well, it's almost hilarious to even ask.

    Barry Bonds

    Among hitters who have drawn 30 intentional walks in a season, no one else has even come within (ready?) 100 of accumulating as many intentional walks as hits. Willie McCovey once got within 103 (143 H, 40 INT BB), in 1970.

    Here are the closest, if we even lower the bar to 25 intentional walks:

    77 Willie McCovey, 1972 -- 102 H, 25 INT BB
    77 Spike Owen, 1989 -- 102 H, 25 INT BB
    89 Howard Johnson, 1988 -- 114 H, 25 INT BB
    91 Adolfo Phillips, 1967 -- 120 H, 29 INT BB
    100 Willie Stargell, 1967 -- 125 H, 25 INT BB

    Even Barry has never come closer than 72 (133 H- 61 INT BB last year). Amazing.

  • Useless Billy Wagner Info: It took a couple of months, but the great Billy Wagner finally walked his first hitter of the season June 19 (Tony Graffanino doing the honors). But before he did, Wagner racked up an incredible 30 strikeouts this season before his first walk.

    So who's the last reliever to kick off a season with that many whiffs before his first walk? Who else? The inimitable Dennis Eckersley, who -- according to Elias -- also struck out 30 before finally doling out his first walk in 1990.

  • Useless Deja Vu Info: How goofy is the schedule in the NL Central? Two Cardinals starters -- Woody Williams and Chris Carpenter -- both went five weeks without making any starts in St. Louis but did start twice apiece in Wrigley Field between home starts.

  • Useless Save-Man Info: Has there ever been a closer quite like the Brewers' Danny Kolb? He's 21 for 22 in saves -- despite averaging 2.60 strikeouts per nine innings. In the history of the modern save rule, there have been only two pitchers who saved 20 games in a season with a strikeout rate under 3.0 -- one of them (the great Dan Quisenberry) doing it twice:

    Pitcher Year SO/9 IP Saves
    Dan Quisenberry 1980 2.59 33
    Rick Camp 1980 2.74 22
    Dan Quisenberry 1984 2.85 44

  • Useless Hit-Streak Info: When Carlos Lee broke the record for the longest hitting streak in White Sox history (28 in a row), he literally couldn't have done it without working overtime -- because he didn't extend the streak in Game 28 until the 10th inning. He's the first player to keep a hitting streak of 25 games or more going with an extra-inning hit, according to Elias, since Aug. 15, 1989, when Jerome Walton needed a 12th-inning single in Game 25.

  • Useless Workin' Overtime Info: Speaking of extra innings, Alfonso Soriano hit a walkoff home run in the 18th inning Thursday. Well, you sure don't see that much. Elias reports it's only the sixth walkoff in the last 30 years in any inning after the 17th. The others:

    6/5/01 Shea Hillenbrand, Red Sox 18th
    8/1/00 Mike Cameron, Mariners19th
    8/31/93 Pedro Munoz, Twins 22nd
    8/6/89 Jeff King, Pirates 18th
    5/8/84 Harold Baines, White Sox 25th

    Strange, But True Useless Info

  • In a June 14 game in Philadelphia, Sean Casey hit two home runs in the same game -- on two different days (thanks to nearly four hours in rain delays).

    Carlos Guillen

  • Four days later, another rain-delayed game in Philadelphia almost allowed Detroit's Carlos Guillen to get game-winning hits in two different cities on the same day. He knocked in the game-winner after midnight in Philadelphia, then came to bat 22 hours later in New York with the tying and winning runs in scoring position in the ninth -- but flied out to center.

  • In a June 8 game in Tampa Bay, Marquis Grissom stole third base after a walk. He was running on a 3-2 pitch to Barry Bonds, which was called ball four. Then he rounded second, saw nobody between him and third base -- thanks to The Barry Shift -- and successfully outraced Aubrey Huff to third.

  • The Royals won three straight games June 16-18 by exactly the same score (10-4, 10-4, 10-4). And how often do you see that? Well, never. Elias reports they were the first team in history to win three straight games by precisely the same score while scoring at least 10 runs. Over and out.

  • Thanks to the wild inning June 10 in which nine straight Cubs got a hit, the Cubs and Cardinals played a game that day in which every Cubs starter got a hit before any Cardinals starter got one. Hard to do.

  • That creative Tigers outfield has more errors (20) than homers (13), according to Booth Newspapers' Danny Knobler.

  • And that June 8 duel between the Marlins and Indians pitted a 73-year-old manager (Jack McKeon) versus a 36-year-old manager (Eric Wedge) -- the biggest age difference between managers, according to Elias, since Sept. 21, 1950, when Connie Mack (age 87) led the A's against the Tigers of Red Rolfe (age 41).

    Useless Box Score Line Info

  • First prize, welcome to the show dept.: The White Sox called up Arnie Munoz June 19 to make his first big-league start. By the fourth inning, he undoubtedly felt the major leagues weren't as much fun as they were cracked up to be -- thanks to this gruesome box-score line, vs. Montreal:

    The Sultan's Corner
  • Nothing we love more than a good home run duel. And here's the best one of the year (so far): Manny Ramirez vs. Bartolo Colon.

    Bartolo Colon

    Manny Ramirez

    Ramirez may lead the American League in homers (with 20). But Colon, the AL gopherball leader, is actually ahead of him, with 21.

    Well, it isn't often you find the guy throwing the most home runs with a lead on the guy hitting the most home runs this deep into a season. In fact, we've only had three years in the live-ball era where that lead even lasted as long as the All-Star break, according to the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR's David Vincent:

    Pedro Ramos 27
    Hank Aaron 23

    Fergie Jenkins 20
    Jim Wynn 19

    Bert Blyleven 27
    Wally Joyner 19

  • After Scott Rolen and Reggie Sanders hit back-to-back homers recently, loyal reader Jonathan Bohall was curious how often players with opposite initials have gone back-to-back. Only the Sultan could answer that question. It actually has happened 23 previous times. Here are the combos for the previous 10 years:

    7/21/1994 (Brewers) Matt Mieske, Mike Matheny
    4/4/1997 (Marlins) Jeff Conine, Charles Johnson
    5/9/1999 (Phillies) Rob Ducey, Desi Relaford

    4/30/2000 (Dodgers) Gary Sheffield, Shawn Green
    5/21/2000 (Dodgers) Shawn Green, Gary Sheffield
    6/28/2001 (Dodgers) Gary Sheffield, Shawn Green

    7/24/2001 (Dodgers) Gary Sheffield, Shawn Green
    7/25/2001 (Dodgers) Gary Sheffield, Shawn Green
    8/29/2002 (Cubs) Mark Bellhorn, Bill Mueller

  • The Phillies and White Sox played a two-game June series in Chicago in which the home runs just kept on coming. They hit 17 of them in two games -- tied for the third-most in back-to-back games by any two teams in history. Here are the other three, courtesy of the Sultan:

    6/29/1996-6/30/1996 -- Dodgers at Rockies 19
    9/4/1999-9/5/1999 -- Reds at Phillies 18
    9/12/1998-9/13/1998 -- Brewers at Cubs 17

  • The first of those two White Sox-Phillies games (June 8) featured nine homers. Which ties the most ever in an interleague game not played in Colorado. The literally mountainous leaderboard, courtesy of the Sultan:

    6/9/1999 -- Seattle at Colorado 10
    7/17/2000 -- Oakland at Colorado 10
    6/12/2001 -- Seattle at Colorado 9
    7/12/2001 -- Minnesota at Milwaukee 9

    And if you were wondering about the most in a World Series Game:

    10/27/1989 -- Oakland at San Francisco 7

  • In a June 13 game against the Padres, the Yankees mugged Trevor Hoffman and became the fourth team in history to tie a game on back-to-back homers with two outs in the ninth. The others:

    6/10/1998 -- White Sox (Albert Belle, Robin Ventura)
    4/22/2001 -- Devil Rays (Russ Johnson, Greg Vaughn)
    7/6/2001 -- Red Sox (Trot Nixon, Manny Ramirez)

  • Tampa Bay's Rey Sanchez just hit maybe the most exciting kind of home run possible -- a game-ending inside-the-parker (in the 10th inning) to beat the Rockies, 8-7.

    Here are the last 10 game-ending extra-inning inside-the-parkers, according to the Sultan:

    Paul Schaal, Angels -- 8/2/1966 (11th)
    Ted Sizemore, Cardinals -- 8/7/1972 (13th)
    Richie Hebner, Pirates -- 9/3/1973 (13th)
    Toby Harrah, Rangers -- 4/11/1977 (10th)
    Willie Wilson, Royals -- 6/9/1979 (13th)

    Bill Almon, Pirates -- 5/11/1986 (12th)
    Bob Dernier, Phillies -- 5/15/1989 (12th)
    Marquis Grissom, Expos -- 8/1/1994 (10th)
    Bobby Abreu, Phillies -- 8/27/2000 (10th)
    Ken Griffey Jr., Reds -- 8/20/2001 (11th)

  • Finally, hardly a week goes by when Julio Franco doesn't make some kind of history. Well, his June 3 grand slam was his first in seven years. But he would have had to wait until 2013 if he wanted to break the record for the longest gap between slams. Here's the top five, courtesy of the Sultan:

    Max Carey 1912-27 (15 years)
    Chris Speier 1972-87 (15 years)
    Tommy Corcoran 1891-1905 (14 years)
    Willie McGee 1982-1996 (14 years)
    Paul Molitor 1981-1994 (13 years)

  • 3 IP, 10 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 2 HR, 2 WP, 1 HBP, 91 pitches to get 9 outs.

    Fact of the day: The Elias Sports Bureau reports that Munoz was only the second pitcher in the 36-season division-play era to give up 11 runs or more in his big-league debut. The other was Mike Busby, who gave up 13 for the Cardinals in Atlanta on April 7, 1996 (4-9-13-8-4-4, and 4 HR).

  • First prize (wining streak dept.): We doubt any team in history has extended an 11-game winning streak to 12 in a game in which its starting pitcher didn't make it out of the first inning. But the Devil Rays did Tuesday, in a game started by Chad Gaudin vs. Toronto:

    2/3 IP, 0 H, OR, O ER, 4 BB, 0 K, 29 pitches, 10 strikes, only six swings and one very fortuitous double-play ball which made this whole goofy line possible.

  • First prize (softball dept.): In case you missed your National Pro Fastpitch League scores last Monday out there in women's-softball land, the New York-New Jersey Juggernaut and the New England Riptide got mixed up in a truly endless 27-inning game. It lasted a mere six hours, 10 minutes, and featured zero runs between the second and 13th innings (when each team scored), and then no more runs till the 27th, when the Juggernauts finally won it, 3-2.

    So we present two lines. First, Juggernaut starter Kacy Clark:

    22 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K.

    And now the classic line score:

    New England... 010 000 000 000 100 000 000 000 000 - 2 14 5 NY/NJ........ 100 000 000 000 100 000 000 000 001 - 3 23 8

  • First prize (farm land dept.): It isn't every day a guy strikes out 12 hitters in a row, or gets all 15 of his outs in a game on strikeouts. But Orioles farmhand Luis Martinez put on that astonishing and historic show last Wednesday for Aberdeen of the New York Penn League. Here's his truly unbelievable box-score line:

    5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 15 K

    Fact of the day: According to Jim Keller and Joe Barbieri of SportsTicker, only one other pitcher in the last 10 years has even struck out 10 hitters in a row. And it just happened, this year, in the same league. Only five even got to nine in a row. Here they are:

    Derek Roper, New Jersey (NY-Penn) -- 6/19/04 vs. Hudson Valley (10).
    Ryan Rupe, Pawtucket (Intl.) -- 7/14/03 vs. Rochester (9).
    Rick Ankiel, Johnson City (Appalachian) -- 7/6/01 vs. Kingsport (9).
    Shawn Estes, San Jose (Calif.) -- 4/12/00 vs. Bakersfield (9 -- in a rehab start).
    Carlos Hernandez, Martinsville (Appalachian) -- 8/28/99 vs. Elizabethton (9).
    Carlos Medina, Delmarva (South Atlantic) -- 7/27/98 vs. Columbia (9).

    Really, Really Useless Information

  • Those 40 runs the Reds gave up in their three games in Oakland were the most any Reds team has allowed in a three-game series since they coughed up 40 to the Boston Braves in 1950. That's three cities ago for both the Braves and A's, and three ballparks ago for the Reds.

  • When the Brewers ascended to the lofty heights of four games over .500 last week, it was the first time they'd been that far above Mt. .500 since June 24, 2001, after a sweep of the hated Cubbies. After that game, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Drew Olsen reports, they angered the baseball gods by hauling out a bunch of wild, colorful "sweep suits" to wear on the plane ride to Pittsburgh. Where, of course, they promptly got swept in a four-game series -- and went back to being the Brewers. In between their visits to that scary fourth game over .500, they were 80 games under .500 (86-166).

  • When the Diamondbacks faced Roy Halladay on June 12, the East Valley Tribune's Ed Price reports, it was the first time any reigning Cy Young award-winner had started against them since June 20, 1999 (Tom Glavine). Of course, it's easier to dodge those Cy Youngs for five years when the guy who wins it every year pitches for your team (i.e., some guy named Johnson).

  • Speaking of Johnson, when the Big Unit faced David Wells last weekend, it was, amazingly, the first time they'd opposed each other since Aug. 31, 1993. In between, according to Ed Price, Johnson went 169-50, and Wells went 145-89 against all those other pitchers who got in their way.

  • That Johnson-Wells duel also happened to be a meeting of two one-time authors of perfect games. And you don't see that much. In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was just the fifth meeting of perfect-game pitchers since 1900:

    Jim Bunning vs. Sandy Koufax (July 27, 1966 and October 2, 1966)
    Tom Browning vs. Dennis Martinez (August 28, 1991)
    Dennis Martinez vs. Kenny Rogers (June 22, 1996)
    Kenny Rogers vs. David Wells (April 8, 2000; May 6, 2001; May 11, 2001)

  • On June 15, 16 and 17, the Diamondbacks had one player a night hit his first big-league homer (Andy Green, Tim Olson, Juan Brito). According to Elias, that made Arizona the fifth team in history to have a player hit his first career homer in three consecutive games. The others:

    May 21-23, 1980: Yankees: Bobby Brown, Joe Lefebvre, Dennis Werth.
    Sept. 2-4, 1963: Senators: Don Rudolph, Ed Hobaugh, Claude Osteen.
    June 14-16, 1935: Senators: Ed Linke, Sammy Holbrook, Belve Bean.
    April 14-16, 1933: Athletics: Pinky Higgins, Lou Finney, Bob Johnson.

  • And after we reported earlier this month that Phillies rookie Elizardo Ramirez was the first pitcher to go straight from A-ball to the big leagues before September in the last 20 years, a few readers begged to differ.

    So our friends at SportsTicker re-ran the data and determined they'd somehow missed some names. Here are all the pitchers they found who were called up from A-ball at any point in the last 25 years:

    -- Dave Stieb went from Dunedin to Toronto in June, 1979.

    -- Eric Bell went from Hagerstown to the Orioles in September, 1985.

    -- Chuck Finley went from Quad City to California in mid-April, 1986.

    -- Greg Swindell went from Waterloo to Cleveland in mid-August, 1986.

    -- John Smiley went from Prince William to Pittsburgh in September, 1986.

    -- Sergio Valdez was a September call-up by the Expos from West Palm Beach in 1986.

    -- Jeff Granger went from Eugene to the Royals in September, 1993.

    -- Chad Cordero went from Broward County to the Expos last June.

    Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Click here to send Jayson a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

    Jayson Stark | email

    Senior Writer, ESPN.com