Elias Says: August 9, 2017

Last-second win for Indians

A leadoff home run by Charlie Blackmon looked like it would be enough for the Rockies, who were one out away from clinching a 1–0 victory at Progressive Field. The bottom of the Indians order had other plans, however, with number seven hitter Bradley Zimmer drawing a walk, Austin Jackson following with a game-tying single, and Yan Gomes finishing things off with a walkoff three-run homer. Gomes is the third player this season to start a game in the number nine slot of his team’s batting order and hit a game-ending home run, joining a pair of Red Sox catchers (Sandy Leon on April 5, Christian Vazquez on August 1). Entering play on Tuesday, the only Indians player to achieve that feat in the last 10 seasons was Gomes himself, who also hit a walkoff three-run bomb on May 20, 2013 against the Mariners.

Kluber goes all the way for Cleveland

Corey Kluber earned the win for the Indians despite the fact that his team trailed for nearly the entire time he was on the mound. Charlie Blackmon homered on Kluber’s second pitch and Cleveland failed to score until Kluber had finished nine innings. It had been more than 20 years since the last time a pitcher earned a win in a start in which his team trailed at the end of every half-inning before the bottom of the ninth. On June 22, 1996, Scott Erickson went the distance for the Orioles despite allowing two runs in the first inning and one more in the following frame. Baltimore made a winner out of Erickson by homering three times in the bottom of the ninth inning – a two-run homer by Rafael Palmeiro, a game-tying solo shot by Bobby Bonilla, and a walkoff two-run bomb by Mark Smith.

Including Tuesday’s 11-strikeout performance, Kluber has struck out at least 10 opposing hitters in each of his five starts since the All-Star break. No other pitcher since 1933, which was the first MLB season with an All-Star Game, compiled a streak of that length immediately following the All-Star break.

Stanton sets personal best with latest smash

Giancarlo Stanton smashed a three-run homer in the fifth inning to give the Marlins a lead they would not relinquish against the Nationals. The go-ahead bomb was the 38th home run for Stanton this season, setting a new career-high for the Marlins slugger. The only player to hit more home runs in a season for the franchise was Gary Sheffield, who hit 42 round-trippers for the Fish in 1996.

Stanton connected on the first pitch of his fifth-inning at-bat against A.J. Cole, which boosted Stanton’s batting average to .479 this season on at-bats that lasted exactly one pitch (he is 23-for-48 with five homers in those at-bats). The only National League player with at least 40 one-pitch at-bats and a higher batting average than Stanton’s is Corey Seager, who is 39-for-74 (.527) in that situation.

Donaldson powering up versus Yankees this year

Josh Donaldson hit a pair of two-run homers in his first two at-bats against CC Sabathia, accounting for all of the Blue Jays’ run production in their 4–2 win over the Yankees. Donaldson has slugged .846 against the Yankees this season despite registering only six hits in 26 at-bats (good for a .231 batting average). That’s because his six hits comprise of a double and five home runs. Donaldson’s career slugging average against the Yankees entering this season stood at .352, which was his second-lowest versus any American League team at that time.

Donaldson is one of five players who has registered at least six hits against a particular team this season, with all of those hits going for extra bases. The other four to do so also have exactly six hits for extra bases against their particular foes – Mookie Betts (versus the White Sox), Chris Davis (against Detroit), Joey Gallo (versus Seattle), and Aaron Altherr (also against Seattle).

Mets make history with latest leadoff bomb

Michael Conforto opened the bottom of the first inning for the Mets against the Rangers with his 23rd home run of the 2017 season. That was the 10th leadoff home run for New York this season – six by Conforto, three by Curtis Granderson, one by Jose Reyes – which is the most by any team this year. Not only did the Mets match their franchise record for leadoff homers in a season, which they set just last year, but they also became the first team in major-league history to hit at least 10 leadoff home runs in back-to-back seasons. The Astros are in prime position to match that feat before the end of the season, having led the majors with 14 leadoff longballs in 2016 and ranking second this season with nine.

Lots of runs are in the Cards versus K.C.

The Cardinals defeated the Royals, 10–3, at Kauffman Stadium. Tuesday’s win marked the 15th time that St. Louis reached double-digits in runs against Kansas City since their first regular season matchup in 1997. That’s the most games scoring at least 10 runs for any team against an interleague opponent. The next-highest total for a team versus a particular opponent from outside its league is 11, done by the Marlins versus the Rays and the Indians against the Reds.

Kepler and Rosario are twins in home run column

The Twins powered up against Matt Garza and company, slamming five home runs in their 11–4 victory over the Brewers. Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario, who each homered twice for Minnesota, became the first Twins duo in just over six years to hit multiple homers in the same game. Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young each hit a pair of four-baggers for Minnesota on August 3, 2011 at Angel Stadium.

Clutch grand slams for both Dozier and Lamb

Brian Dozier also homered for the Twins on Tuesday, with his grand slam turning a one-run deficit into a three-run lead for Minnesota. Jake Lamb replicated that feat for the Diamondbacks later in the night, homering off Dodgers reliever Tony Watson with the bases loaded to give Arizona a 6–3 lead (the D-Backs won by that same score). There was one other day this season in which multiple players hit a go-ahead grand-slam home run with his team trailing at the time. And on that day – June 3 – there were four players that hit home runs of that kind! Those trailing-to-leading salamis were produced by Matt Adams, Kyle Schwarber, Travis Shaw, and Chris Taylor.

Double duty for Kuhl in Pittsburgh

Pirates starting pitcher Chad Kuhl helped his own cause at the plate by blooping in a two-run single in the fourth inning against Tigers hurler Matthew Boyd. Kuhl is the third Pirates pitcher to drive in multiple runs on a base hit this season, joining Tyler Glasnow (May 2) and Gerrit Cole (July 5), both of whom coincidentally also drove home two runs with a single in the fourth inning of their respective games. Those were the first two RBIs of Kuhl’s major-league career; he had driven in zero runs in 60 plate appearances entering Tuesday. Kuhl’s teammate Ivan Nova holds the dubious distinction among active players by totaling the most career plate appearances without a run batted in, having registered 94 plate appearances without a RBI.

Phillies phan-tastic versus Braves

The Phillies have not posed much of a threat to most Major League Baseball teams this season… except the Braves, that is. Philadelphia defeated Atlanta, 5–3, on Tuesday, marking the Phillies’ 10th win over the Braves this season. That means that the Braves have been personally responsible for 10 of the Phillies’ 41 wins this season, equivalent to 24.4 percent. That’s by far the highest percentage of wins against a particular opponent for any team this season; no other team is as high as 20 percent versus an opponent. The last team to finish a season with at least 20 percent of its wins against one opponent was the 2008 Nationals, who earned 12 of their 59 victories against – you guessed it – the Braves.

Posey’s first (inning) impressions are looking good

Buster Posey’s three-run homer in the first inning gave the Giants an early lead in their 6–3 victory over Jose Quintana and the Cubs. Posey has been red-hot in the first inning since the All-Star break, batting .636 (7-for-11) in the opening frame while driving in eight runs. Prior to the Midsummer Classic, Posey had only four hits in 34 at-bats in the first inning, good for a .118 average over that span.

Bregman’s extra-special streak continues

Alex Bregman provided an early spark for the Astros in his first game as Houston’s starting leadoff hitter, hitting a bases-clearing triple in the second inning against White Sox starter Derek Holland. Tuesday’s game marked the ninth consecutive game in which Bregman produced an extra-base hit, tying Ryan Zimmerman (April 23 – May 3) for the longest such streak this season. Bregman also matched Jeff Bagwell (1997) for the second-longest streak in Astros history with an extra-base hit. The only player with a longer streak for Houston was Richard Hidalgo, who compiled a 10-game streak of that kind in 2000.