- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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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.
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:
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:
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).
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:
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.
2dKevin Van Valkenburg