- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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And the Useless Info keeps on coming. We now present our Top 10 Useless Info Nuggets of the Week (plus a few bonus boxscore gems):
10. RED-HOT REDMAN: The big news in Pittsburgh is that Pirates pitcher Mark Redman has erupted for the first multi-hit season of his career. Except that isn't necessarily good. Redman actually has destroyed his place in history with all this offense.
He came into this season with two hits in 75 at-bats -- the lowest career batting average (.027) by any player at any position who had ever been to the plate that many times. But he screwed that up by going 2 for his first 15, rocketing his average all the way up to .044 (4 for 90).
So that means, among other things, that not only is Redman no longer No. 1 all-time. He isn't even No. 1 among active players.
Sweet-swinging Brewers pitcher Doug Davis (4 for 106, .038) now owns that distinction. But Washington's Claudio Vargas (2 for 54, .037) would take over that distinction if we lowered the bar to 50 at-bats. This, friends, is a race only Don Carman could appreciate.
9. UNCORKED AGAIN: Speaking of guys looking for a hit, Astros utilityman Eric Bruntlett will be the winner of this year's Last Guy To Get A Hit competition, once he takes care of one final formality -- actually getting a hit.
Bruntlett (0 for 12) and Twins catcher Corky Miller (also 0 for 12) were dueling for this honor last week -- until, for the second straight year, Miller's quest for the coveted LGTGAH trophy was rudely interrupted by a trip to the minor leagues. He was 0 for his first 15 last year when the Reds pulled the 0-fer out from under him.
Nevertheless, Miller is 1 for 51 (.020) the last two years. And that would be, by far, the lowest two-season batting average of any player in the expansion age (1961-present) who got to the plate that many times and batted in both seasons. The current leader in the clubhouse: Gerald Williams (4 for 48, .083 for the 2002 Yankees and 2003 Marlins).
8. ALL HAMPED UP: As an antidote to that Mark Redman-Doug Davis-Claudio Vargas news, we now turn our attention to a pitcher who CAN hit -- Mike Hampton. He's now up to 15 career home runs -- which is more than twice as many as the next-closest active pitcher/trot expert (Kerry Wood, with seven).
But the bigger story is that Hampton is now pulling away as the all-time leader among pitchers in the DH era (1973-present). Only five other pitchers have even gotten to double figures in those 33 seasons. Here's that cool leader list, according to Lee Sinins' ever-invaluable Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia:
1. Mike Hampton 15
2. Don Robinson 13
3. Bob Forsch 12
4. Larry Christenson 11
T5. Fernando Valenzuela 10
T5. J.R. Richard 10
7. ONE TEAM, ONE OUT, ONE ADVIL: Even by Cubs standards, it just doesn't get much more painful than the innovative plot lines the Cubbies employed to lose three straight games from May 4-6 -- since they managed to lose all three of them with two outs in the ninth inning.
Think that kind of thing happens every year or so -- even to LaTroy Hawkins? Think again.
The last time the Cubs gave up the game-losing run with two outs in the final inning in three straight games was almost half a century ago -- on Aug. 28, 30 and 31, 1957. The local villains in those three, according to the Elias Sports Bureau: Dave Hillman, Moe Drabowsky and Turk Lown, respectively. None of whom owned a billy goat, as far as we know.
6. RED ALERT: If it's any consolation to our friends in Chicago, there's a team in the Cubs' own division that just took bullpen disasters to an even more distinctive level all its own. That would be those always-creative Reds, who -- on back-to-back Mondays in May -- made ninth-inning leads of six runs, and then four runs, disappear.
How hard is it to blow two games in eight days that you lead by at least four runs after the eighth inning? Well, only one other team has ever done it, according to Elias.
That would be Mike Schooler's 1992 Mariners. On May 7, Schooler gave up a game-losing grand slam to Dave Winfield that finished off a messy five-run ninth. The next night, Schooler coughed up five more in the ninth, capped by a three-run homer by Lou Whitaker. (In an unrelated development, Harold Reynolds got three hits in both of those games.)
5. 98 DEGREES OF SEPARATION: Heading back to the Cubs, loyal reader Eric Santoro wonders if the Cubs could break yet another record this year -- by not winning the World Series for the 98th straight year. And the answer is: Sort of.
As Santoro correctly observes, the Phillies once played 97 consecutive seasons, from 1883 through 1979, without winning a World Series. So if you're just talking calendar years, those two franchises would share the record for longest all-time drought heading into this season.
Except there's one technicality:
There was no such thing as a World Series until 1903. So it would have been really, really hard -- even for the Phillies -- to have won one from 1883 to 1902.
Which means the correct way to measure this is by counting consecutive seasons in which a World Series was actually played. And by that measure, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Cubs had already long since splattered the record. The true Four Longest Droughts:
Cubs 95 seasons -- 1909-1993, 1995-2004
White Sox 86 seasons -- 1918-1993, 1995-2004
Red Sox 84 seasons -- 1919-1993, 1995-2003
Phillies 76 seasons -- 1903, 1905-1979
4. IN THE SLAMMER: It's always a thrill when two different loyal readers find themselves on the same wavelength. And it happened last week, when the Giants hit their fifth grand slam of the season and loyal reader Brad Liu wondered how many teams have ever hit five slams that fast (29 games).
But fellow loyal reader (and researcher) Aneel Trivedi checked in with the answer before we could even ask. Only one other team in history whacked five slams in their first 29 games -- the 1996 Expos, who hit six. And the manager of both teams: Felipe Alou.
3. FUN WITH NUMBERS DEPT.: The Dallas Morning News' Ben Shpigel reports that, in each of the first two games of a Rangers-A's series on May 2 and 3, a starting pitcher took a no-hitter 14 outs into the game. That was Texas' Kenny Rogers in the first game, followed by Oakland's Kirk Saarloos the next day.
2. WALK THE WALKOFFS: The Red Sox have that walkoff-homer thing down these days. When Kevin Millar and Jason Varitek hit game-enders on back-to-back days Tuesday and Wednesday, it was the first time any Red Sox team had done that in consecutive games since Wes Ferrell (a pitcher) did it twice in a row in 1935.
But that's not all. The man who gave up those walkoffs -- Oakland's Octavio Dotel -- joined another exclusive group: Pitchers who allowed game-enders to the same team in back-to-back games. Just five other men have ever done that, according to the Sultan:
Rollie Fingers, 1971 A's vs. Orioles -- July 27-28: Brooks and Frank Robinson.
Elias Sosa, 1974 Giants vs. Dodgers -- June 21-22: Bill Buckner, Joe Ferguson.
Keith Atherton, 1986 Twins vs. Mariners -- Aug. 15-16: Alvin Davis, Alvin Davis.
Cecilio Guante, 1988 Yankees vs. Tigers -- June 20-21: Tom Brookens, Alan Trammell.
Mike Fetters, 1998 A's vs. Orioles -- July 22-23: Rafael Palmeiro, Lenny Webster.
1. FIRST AND 10 DEPT.: Out there in the great Midwest Last weekend, it sure wasn't a good idea to arrive at your seat late -- or you might already find a football score up on the old scoreboard.
First, the Dodgers scored 10 runs in the first inning against the Reds on May 6. Then, two days later, the Cardinals put up 11 against the Padres in the first. So when was the last time two teams scored that many runs that fast in games that close together? How about NEVER.
The previous closest gap between double-digit first innings, according to Elias, was four days. And even that was kind of a while ago -- on May 13-17, 1887, when Pretzels Getzien's Detroit Wolverines scored 10 in the first in Chicago and Toad Ramsey's Louisville Colonels matched them four days later in Baltimore.
Useless Boxscore Lines of the Week
Two different loyal readers -- Matthew Freitas and John Kreiser -- checked in with this almost-impossible boxscore creation by Giants reliever Scott Eyre, May 2 vs. Arizona:
0 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
So how'd that happen? Easy. Mike Matheny forgot to catch a third strike on Shawn Green that would have ended the inning. Instead, Green made it to first on a passed ball, scored on a Tony Clark double and manufactured one of the weirdest boxscore lines you'll ever witness.
Colorado's Shawn Chacon spun off another this-does-not-compute line in his May 7 start vs. the Dodgers:
5 2/3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 9 BB, 1 K, 1 throwing error, 104 pitches to get 16 outs
Yep, you read that right: Nine walks, 14 baserunners, just two runs. Last pitcher to walk nine and give up two runs or fewer: A.J. Burnett, in his still-mind-boggling no-hitter on May 12, 2001 (9-0-0-0-9-7).
QUOTE OF THE DAY: From Chacon's manager, Clint Hurdle: "It's Chinese water torture. It's not the first drop. But eventually, when that 100th drop hits you between the forehead, you scream."
When the Mets made Paul Wilson the first pick in the entire 1994 draft, they figured he'd carve a place in history. But not this way. Here's his May 6 start for the Reds against the Dodgers:
0 IP, 5 H, 8 R. 8 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2 HBP, 2 HR and the dreaded tag line: "Wilson pitched to 8 batters in 1st."
You know it's challenging to give up eight runs in the first inning without getting SOMEBODY out. But it's actually harder than you think. According to Elias, it has happened just five times in the last 75 years. And only one man has ever done it twice.
Yep, Paul Wilson -- on July 10, 2003, vs. Houston (0-6-8-7-1-0).
The other three men to do it, by the way: Oakland's Blake Stein on Aug. 31, 1998 (0-4-8-8-3-0); the Mets' Bobby Jones on Sept. 17, 1997 (0-3-8-4-4-0), and Oakland's Bill Krueger on June 25, 1984 (0-6-8-5-1-0).
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your Useless Information to: firstname.lastname@example.org
It's not his pitching that has included Mike Hampton in Jayson Stark's Top 10 Useless Info Nuggets of the Week.