Injuries, box score lines ... and funny quotes
Top five injuries of the half year
Fifth prize (TKO division): Phillies third baseman Abraham Nunez was minding his own business in the batter's box May 23 when Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo unleashed a throw to second base, inadvertently conked Nunez in the jaw and knocked him out of the next two games with a concussion.
Amazingly, Mariners rookie Ryan Feierabend cranked out these three lines in back-to-back-to-back starts: • June 22 vs. the Reds: 2 2/3 IP, 6 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 5 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 84 pitches to get 8 outs (final score: Reds 16, Mariners 1) • June 27 vs. the Red Sox: 5 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (final score: Mariners 2, Red Sox 1) • July 3 vs. the Royals: 1 1/3 IP, 8 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 2 HR, 61 pitches to get 4 outs (final score: Royals 17, Mariners 3) As innovative as it was to allow nine runs, zero runs and 10 runs back-to-back-to-back, it was just as challenging to give up 10 earned runs in a game without getting even five outs. Feierabend was the first Mariner in history to do that -- and just the eighth pitcher to do it for any team in the last 50 years. Deja vu division
What's rarer than a 14-hitter? How about the same pitcher throwing two 14-hitters in the same season?
The wildest minor league game of the year (Lake Elsinore 30, Lancaster 0) gave us two memorable box-score lines. In the individual competition, Lancaster's Mario Pena had the most action-packed relief outing of his lifetime: 1 1/3 IP, 8 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 1 HR, 1 HBP. But it's the combined tag-team line by his whole pitching staff that gives you the full flavor of this madness: 9 IP, 28 H, 30 R, 29 ER, 8 BB, 7 K, 6 HR, 2 HBP, 2 WP, 1 balk, 9 doubles. Try duplicating that on your Xbox sometime. Mystery-man division
Last season, not one manager in baseball could summon up the courage to let even one of his position players make it to the mound to finish up a blowout. So we salute the Devil Rays' Joe Maddon and the Cardinals' Tony La Russa for allowing these box-score gems to unfold this season: • Tampa Bay's Josh Wilson, June 8 vs. Florida: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, in a game in which he pinch hit in the eighth inning, then stayed in the game to pitch. • St. Louis' Scott Spiezio, June 15 vs. Oakland: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 20 pitches, 10 strikes. The St. Louis Post Dispatch's Rick Hummel reports that the next day, Spiezio was the starting DH in Oakland, walked in the first inning and scored. After he arrived back in the dugout, he imparted this valuable lesson on his teammates: "Shows you what can happen when you walk the pitcher." Now here's our valuable lesson to those 28 other managers out there: What was the combined ERA of Wilson and Spiezio in those games? It was 0.00, of course. And what was the ERA of all the real pitchers who pitched for their teams in those two games: 17.36. Any more questions? No-hit division
There's no box-score-perusing experience cooler than the sight of a no-hit box-score line. So relive those chills and thrills by basking in these two lines one more time:
It isn't often you can look at a hitter's line in a game in which his team gets no-hit and say, "Wow." But Bill Hall's line during Verlander's no-hitter was an all-timer: 0 AB, 0 R, 0 H, 0 RBI, 3 BB After way too much time poring through way too many no-hit box scores, we determined that Hall was only the second man since 1900 to play a whole game during a no-hitter, come to bat at least three times and not make an out. The other: Dale Long, for the Pirates, against the Cubs' Sad Sam Jones, on May 12, 1955. More spectacular offensive box-score lines
• 4 AB, 0 R, 4 H, 1 RBI, 3 BB -- by Prince Fielder, April 10 vs. the Marlins. So what's so tough about that? How about reaching base seven times in one game -- and not scoring a run. Fielder was just the fifth player to do that in the last 50 years. • 6 AB, 1 R, 6 H, 3 RBI, 1 walk-off triple -- by the Angels' Chone Figgins, June 18 against the Astros (during one of those aforementioned Chris Sampson 14-hitters). Figgins was the first man to end a 6-for-6 game with a walk-off hit of any kind since Jim Northrop in 1969. "I don't think I've gone 6-for-6 in a video game, let alone a big league game," he said. More great moments in pitching lines
• Yankees reliever Colter Bean, May 4: 0 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 17 pitches, 4 strikes. • Royals starter Jorge de la Rosa, May 24: 4 1/3 IP, 6 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 7 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 98 pitches, 44 strikes. • Tampa Bay's Jae Seo, May 24: 5 IP, 13 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3 doubles, 1 triple -- in a game he actually won (13-12). • Oakland's Lenny DiNardo, June 5: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 6 BB, 0 K. How hard is it to walk six, strike out nobody and give up no runs in an outing that long? Only one other pitcher in the last 30 years (Omar Olivares, in 1999) has managed that trick. • Yankees rookie Chase Wright, April 22 in his second career start: 3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K and (in the big news of the day) 4 HR in a row. If you count his starts in the minor leagues, Wright had allowed four home runs to the previous 673 hitters he'd faced, then gave up four in 10 pitches. What a sport.
It isn't every day a pitcher can wind up, throw a pitch and have it land in the stands between the plate and first base. But Nationals rookie Matt Chico did that April 21 -- when he lost the grip on a changeup and instantly entered it in the Wildest Pitch of All Time Derby. Afterward, we asked catcher Brian Schneider and first baseman Dmitri Young which of them had a better chance of catching that pitch. Young's reply: Neither of them. "Dontrelle Willis had a better chance of catching it than I did," Young chuckled. "And he was in the on-deck circle." Debut of the half year
The good news for Cardinals rookie Brendan Ryan was, his first career home run was an extra-inning game winner against the Mets on June 26. The bad news was, the day before, he'd tried to take a taxi to Shea Stadium -- and his cab driver took him to Yankee Stadium instead. Eventually, he finally got to the right park. But when he did, he discovered that all the clothes hanging in his locker had been frozen by his always-hospitable teammates. So he tried warming up his clothes with a hair dryer -- and blew a circuit in the clubhouse, shorting out all the power in the office of his friendly neighborhood manager, Tony La Russa. All of which proves it's better to be a hot hitter than a cool dresser. Trifecta of the half year
Since we live in an era of raging do-it-yourself madness, it was only fitting that Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki pulled off the 12th unassisted triple play in history April 29. But it was the way Tulowitzki did it that got our attention. With Braves on first and second, Tulowitzki scarfed up a Chipper Jones line drive for one out. Then he stepped on second to double up Kelly Johnson. That was two outs. Tulowitzki then looked up and saw Edgar Renteria heading his way, so he tagged Renteria. That was three outs. And at that point, Tulowitzki was enjoying himself so much, he fired the baseball to first baseman Todd Helton for Uh what exactly was he firing that ball to first for? "I guess," Tulowitzki confessed, "I was trying to be the first person to get four outs." Walk-a-phobiac of the half year
Unlike Tulowitzki, we know one guy in baseball who has no desire whatsoever to count to four.
Only the Devil Rays could crank up four straight double-figure strikeout games in one four-game series -- and still get swept (by the White Sox). No team had done that, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, since the '72 Astros did it against the Big Red Machine. But hey, it could have been worse. Because those four games took place at home, it meant that every fan who showed up for that series got a free pizza. We can't vouch that they were in any mood to eat it, but at least the price was right. But for the White Sox, their work wasn't done. After feeding the masses in Tampa Bay, they moved on to Kansas City, where they were informed that if they struck out 12 times, all the Royals fans in the house would get free doughnuts. "I told the guys, 'We go from pizza to doughnuts,'" calorie-conscious manager Ozzie Guillen told the Chicago Sun Times' Joe Cowley. "I don't know which one is worse for your health." Rafter blaster of the half year
Only the Devil Rays, Part 2. If Carlos Pena hadn't figured out that there's no ballpark in the world quite like Tropicana Field, he learned all he needed to know on May 2 and 3. Three times in two days, he hit balls that clattered off the Trop's ever-lurking dangling catwalks -- including one gravity-defying popup that became the fourth baseball in Trop history to go up but not come down. "That's what -- three rafters in two games?" noted gravity fan (and manager) Joe Maddon told the St. Petersburg Times' Marc Topkin. "I think that's a modern-day baseball record. You probably want to check that with the Elias Sports Bureau."
For the first time in 15 years, John Smoltz got to pitch against his buddy, Greg Maddux, May 9 in Atlanta. And while Smoltz got the win, Maddux got the last laugh -- by lining a hit off Smoltz in his first at-bat. No one understands the magic of a moment like that better than Smoltz. So he took off his cap, doffed it at Maddux and bowed in salute. Asked afterward if the sight of Smoltz's nearly bald dome had shaken him, Maddux quipped: "No. It was great. I saw the ball better." Human fireworks show of the half year
He's the Santa Claus of baseball. Or possibly the Easter Bunny. OK, forget all that. But Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is definitely a one-man parade. Matt Holliday ought to be the big leaguer most likely to celebrate every holiday on the calendar. Instead, Nationals public-relations whiz John Dever reports that Zimmerman's 4th of July homer this week makes five different holidays that he's commemorated by hitting a game-ending or go-ahead home run over the last two years. For the record, that's two straight Father's Days, two straight Fourth of Julys and one Mother's Day, thanks to a game with the Marlins that started the day before Mother's Day but didn't end until Zimmerman whomped a game-winning grand slam at 1:42 a.m. "I wish every day was a holiday," Zimmerman said. To which we can only say: Hey, don't we all? Quotes of the half year
Top three Ichiro quotes of the half year (courtesy of the Seattle Times' Larry Stone):
• Fifth prize: From Cubs closer Ryan Dempster, on what Lou Piniella said to him during an especially brief April trip to the mound: "'He said I looked good in my pants, which was nice. I hadn't noticed." • Fourth prize: From Giants manager Bruce Bochy, after witnessing the hero's welcome that one-time Red Sox October icon Dave Roberts got on his return to Boston: "I was hoping to get on his float from the hotel to the ballpark."
• From the Mets' Carlos Delgado, on his reaction to being informed that his May 9 homer into San Francisco's McCovey Cove gave him more Cove shots than any visiting player (three): "Useless information." Late-night quote of the half year
• No. 7 on David Letterman's list of Top Ten Ways Paris Hilton Is Preparing For Jail: "Attending Tampa Bay Devil Rays games to get used to solitary." Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. His new book, "The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History," has been published by Triumph Books and is now available in bookstores. Click here to order a copy.
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