Elias Says: August 21, 2017

Dominant Dodgers find Verlander nearly unhittable

Justin Verlander allowed two hits over eight innings to beat the Dodgers, who entered Sunday with a record of 87 wins and 34 losses. The last pitcher to allow no more than two hits while throwing at least eight innings in a win over an opponent that was at least 50 games over .500 was the Expos’ Bob Sebra, in a complete-game two-hit shutout over the 103–53 Mets on Sept. 30, 1986. The last pitcher to do that to defeat a team at least 53 games over the breakeven point was the St. Louis Browns’ General Crowder, who tossed a two-hitter against the 96–42 Philadelphia Athletics on Sep. 16, 1929.

Verlander, who won his 182nd major-league game on Sunday, had never before beaten an opponent that had won at least 35 more games than it had lost.

Rosario hits a grand slam in his second first-inning AB

After grounding out as his team’s second batter, Eddie Rosario then capped the Twins’ nine-run first inning with a grand slam as Minnesota went on to rout Arizona, 12–5. Only one other first-, second-, or third-place batter in franchise history had ever hit a bases-loaded home run in the first inning. On June 28, 1933, Hall of Famer Heine Manush, batting second in the Washington Senators’ lineup, hit a first-inning grand slam in a 15–2 win at Cleveland.

Colon completes his bingo card against a team that didn’t exist when he debuted

Bartolo Colon allowed four runs in six innings, but that was good enough to earn the victory in the Twins’ 12–5 win over the visiting Diamondbacks. Entering Sunday, Arizona was the only one of the 30 current major-league teams that the 44-year-old righty had never beaten. In fact, Colon made his major-league debut in 1997, one year before the D-Backs played their first game. Two other active pitchers have beaten all 30 teams – John Lackey and Max Scherzer.

Colon’s task was made easier when his teammates scored nine times in the first inning. Before Sunday, the most first-inning runs Colon had ever benefitted from in his previous 519 major-league starts was six, in an A’s win over the Astros on April 17, 2013.

Bradley drives in three from the bottom of the lineup

Ninth-place batter Jackie Bradley hit a two-run triple and an RBI single in the Red Sox’ 5–1 home win over the Yankees. It was the 10th time in his five major-league seasons that Bradley has driven in at least three runs out of the ninth slot. The only other Boston player with as many such games is Butch Hobson, who had 11. No other active player has more than six three-RBI games from the bottom of the lineup.

Conley’s strikeouts go from zero to 11

Adam Conley established a new personal high with 11 strikeouts in his 6–4 road win over the Mets Sunday. In his previous appearance, on Monday against the Giants, Conley did not strike out a batter in six and one-third innings. The last pitcher to ring up more than 10 strikeouts immediately following a game in which he went at least six innings without a single “K” was the Cardinals’ Joe Magrane, who fanned 11 in a three-hit shutout at Wrigley Field on June 22, 1990.

A's score three, drive in none

The A’s scored two first-inning runs on throwing errors, and then added another on a sixth-inning passed ball in their 3–2 win at Houston. The Athletics hadn’t scored as many as three runs in a game without the benefit of an RBI since Aug. 16, 1966, two years before the team moved to Oakland. In that game, a 4–2 win over the White Sox at Comiskey Park, Bert Campaneris scored all of Kansas City’s runs, on a first inning steal of home, a third inning wild pitch, a fifth-inning “Little League home run” after hitting a single, and an eighth-inning passed ball.

Cubs rally from two runs down in 10th

Alex Avila’s two-run walkoff single capped a three-run 10th inning as the Cubs rallied to beat the Blue Jays, 6–5. Chicago hadn’t won a game after trailing by multiple runs in extra innings since a 4–3 win over the Diamondbacks on Aug. 1, 2003. In that game, Troy O’Leary hit a two-run, game-tying double in the 11th inning and Aramis Ramirez hit a walkoff single in the 14th.

Hoskins hits his fifth homer in his 11th game

Rhys Hoskins’ ninth-inning home run, his fifth in the majors, capped the scoring in the Philadelphia’s 5–2 win at San Francisco. Hoskins, who was playing in his 11th career game, needed the second fewest career games to reach five home runs by any Phillies player. Bobby Estalella hit his fifth homer in his 10th big-league contest (a three-homer game at Montreal) in 1997.

Left side of infield produces for Royals

Third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert and shortstop Alcides Escobar each had two hits and drove in three runs in Kansas City’s 7–4 home win over Cleveland. It was the third time that both starters on the left side of the Royals’ infield produced at least two hits and three RBIs. George Brett (2 H, 4 RBI) and Freddie Patek (3 H, 5 RBI) did that in a 16–12 win at Toronto on Aug. 6, 1979, and then Craig Paquette (2 H, 5 RBI) and Jay Bell (2 H, 5 RBI) repeated the trick in a 16–3 home victory over the Brewers on June 27, 1997.

Aguilar hits two more homers after connecting for late game-winner

Jesus Aguilar was once again the hitting star for the Brewers, blasting two home runs in their 8–4 win at Colorado Sunday. On Saturday, Aguilar hit a tiebreaking home run in the ninth inning of Milwaukee’s 6–3 victory. Only one other Brewers player has hit multiple homers in the next team game after connecting on a game-winning home run in the ninth inning or later. Corey Hart hit a walkoff homer against the Mets on May 28, 2010, and then the next day hit two more home runs in another win over New York.

Gonzalez extends dominant streak

Gio Gonzalez allowed one unearned run in six and two-third innings as the Nationals won, 4–1 at San Diego. Gonzalez has won his last four starts, over which he’s thrown 27⅔ innings and allowed just one earned run (0.33 ERA.) The only other pitchers in Expos/Nationals history to have posted an ERA below 0.50 over four straight starts within one season, all wins, are Charlie Lea (0.28 in 1981), Pedro Martinez (0.30 in 1997) and Javier Vazquez (0.28 in 2001.)

Bell homers in first inning of Little League Classic

Josh Bell hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning of the Pirates’ 6–3 win over the Cardinals in the first major-league game played at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport, PA. Five other players in the last 50 years have homered with at least one runner on base in the first inning of the first game played at a particular venue: Mack Jones at Montreal’s Parc Jarry in 1969, Hank Aaron at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium in 1970, Charlie Hayes at Denver’s Mile High Stadium in 1993, Steve Finley at Monterrey Stadium (Mexico) in 1996, and Sean Casey at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park in 2001.

Atlanta’s infield contributes at the plate

Each of Atlanta’s starting infielders – first baseman Freddie Freeman, second baseman Ozzie Albies, third baseman Brandon Phillips, and shortstop Dansby Swanson – produced at least two hits and scored at least one run in the Braves’ 8–1 win over the visiting Reds. The last time Atlanta’s starting infield all had games like that was in an 11–0 victory at Miami on June 5, 2012. Freeman started at first in that game too, along with second baseman Dan Uggla, third baseman Martin Prado, and shortstop Andrelton Simmons.

Kiermaier’s leadoff homer is all the Rays need

Kevin Kiermaier’s home run leading off the first inning provided the Rays with all the offense they needed in their 3–0 home win over the Mariners. The last Tampa Bay player to hit a leadoff homer in a shutout win was Matt Joyce, at Yankee Stadium on Sep. 24, 2013.

Calhoun and Valbuena each walk thrice

Cole Calhoun and Luis Valbuena each drew three walks in the Angels’ 5–4 win at Baltimore. The last pair of Halos teammates to each walk three times in a nine-inning game were Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera, in an 11–2 win at Seattle on June 5, 2010.