Elias Says: Sept. 3, 2017

Pujols’ last three games: 8-for-13 with 10 RBIs

Albert Pujols was 2-for-4 with a couple of run-scoring singles in the Angels’ extra-inning win over the Rangers, increasing his totals to eight hits and 10 RBIs over the last three games. It is the first time in Pujols’ 17-year major-league career that he has produced at least that many hits and RBIs over a three-game span.

Tanaka looking better than ever

Masahiro Tanaka allowed one run over seven innings to earn credit for the Yankees’ 5–1 win over the Red Sox. Tanaka has now made three starts since returning from a stretch on the disabled list, and he has won all three of those starts, defeating the Tigers, the Mariners and the Red Sox, and allowing only five runs over 21 innings. Considering all of the pitchers who have spent time on the disabled list this season, only one other, besides Tanaka, has started and won his first three appearances after being activated. That was another veteran, the Cubs’ John Lackey, who won his first five starts after coming off the DL, from July 18 to August 11.

Holliday provides biggest blow for Yanks

Matt Holliday, making his first appearance since coming off his own stretch on the disabled list, supported Tanaka with a three-run homer in the sixth inning. It was the 94th inning this season in which the Yankees have scored three-or-more runs, the most in the majors, and it was the team’s 35th homer that generated at least three runs, tying the Rangers for the most in the majors.

Kluber shuts down Tigers (except Alex Presley)

Corey Kluber scattered eight hits over eight innings on Saturday to lead the Indians to victory over the Tigers and extend Cleveland’s winning streak to 10 games. Kluber struck out seven Tigers hitters in the win, marking his 20th outing this season with at least that many strikeouts. Only three other pitchers this season have as many games as Kluber with seven or more strikeouts––Chris Sale (24), Max Scherzer (22), and Chris Archer (20).

Half of Kluber’s eight hits allowed were produced by Alex Presley, who singled in all four of his at-bats on Saturday. The only other player to produce at least four hits against Kluber in a single game did so earlier this season. On July 29, Melky Cabrera rapped three singles and a double in his final game for the White Sox, and all four hits came against Kluber.

It takes a village for Cubs to declare victory

Jon Lester departed with a comfortable six-run lead after pitching five innings at Wrigley Field, but protecting that lead was anything but comfortable for the Cubs’ bullpen. Seven relievers were needed for Chicago to finally close out the Braves, by a final score of 14–12. The eight pitchers used by the Cubs tied a team record for their highest total in a nine-inning game. The North Siders also matched that mark earlier this season, using eight pitchers in a win at Washington on June 26. So to recap, the Cubs are 2–0 in regulation-length games this season when using eight pitchers. The franchise was 1–8 in such games entering the 2017 campaign.

Grand display by Cubs this season

Rene Rivera kicked off the scoring in grand style, homering with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning at Wrigley. That was the first grand-slam home run for Rivera in 460 major-league games. Prior to his salami, Rivera had produced just four hits in 24 at-bats with the bases full in his major-league career, with none of the hits going for extra bases. Rivera also became the sixth Cubs player this season to hit a grand slam, joining Willson Contreras, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, and Anthony Rizzo. That sextet tied the franchise record for most players with a bases-loaded homer in a single season. The Cubs’ other seasons with six players hitting a grand slam include 1929, 1974, and 2008.

Donaldson goes deep at Camden Yards

Josh Donaldson’s two-out three-run homer highlighted the Blue Jays’ 7–2 victory at Baltimore. Donaldson entered that seventh-inning trip to the plate 0-for-his-last-10, including six strikeouts, in at-bats with two outs and men on base. With Saturday’s home run, Donaldson is now batting .204 (10 for 49) in that situation this season.

Springer stars in sweep

George Springer was 5-for-8 with a home run in the Astros’ two-game sweep of the Mets on Saturday. The home run was Springer’s 30th this season, and all have been hit from the first slot in the batting order. Charlie Blackmon has cracked 32 home runs this year, also all as a leadoff man in the lineup. Before this season, no first-place hitter had clubbed 30 homers in a season since Mike Trout in 2012, and the last time that two top-of-the-order players did so was in 2008 (Grady Sizemore and Hanley Ramirez).

Twins take turns battering Royals

The top half of the Twins’ lineup struck early and often in Minnesota’s 17–0 victory over the Royals. The first five batters in the Twins lineup––Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer, Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, and Eduardo Escobar––each finished with multiple runs scored and multiple runs batted in. It is the second time this season that five or more players did that in a game for the Twins; six players produced at least two runs and two RBIs for Minnesota on June 13 versus the Mariners. No other team in the majors has had even one game of that kind since the start of last season.

Big night for Escobar

Eduardo Escobar did the most damage for the Twins, driving in six runs with a triple and pair of home runs. Escobar’s 11 total bases were more than the Royals compiled as a team (seven). Escobar became the third Twins player to total more than 10 bases in a game this season, joining Eddie Rosario (13 total bases on June 13) and Byron Buxton (13 on August 27). Two other teams this season have had at least three games in which a player finished with more than 10 bases. Five Nationals players have had such a game this season (Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth, Michael Taylor, Ryan Zimmerman), while the Braves have had three such games (two by Freddie Freeman, one by Matt Kemp).

Historic score for Minnesota

The 17 runs scored by the Twins on Saturday are the most by any major-league team in a shutout victory this season. Saturday’s win also marked the first time in Twins/Senators franchise history that the team scored at least 17 runs in a game while keeping its opponent off the scoreboard––an impressive feat considering the franchise has posted more than 1100 shutout wins in its 117 seasons.

While 17–0 looks more like the final score of an NFL game, consider that the Chiefs have never scored fewer than 10 points in any of their 12 matchups against the Vikings. And only one of the Vikings’ 901 games––including the regular season and postseason––ended 17–0. Minnesota defeated Chicago by that score on November 3, 1974.

Stanton, Ozuna power Marlins to victory

Each of the Marlins’ three outfielders crossed the plate in the first inning of Miami’s 10–9 victory over the Phillies. Giancarlo Stanton started things off by hitting his 52nd home run of the season, and after a single by Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna went deep for his 32nd round-tripper of the year. Including both of those first-inning home runs, the Marlins outfielders this season have combined for 100 homers, easily the most in the majors this year (no other team’s outfielders have combined for 90). Only one team in the last 10 seasons has gotten at least 100 home runs from its outfielders. White Sox outfielders combined for 101 homers in 2008, led by Carlos Quentin (36) and Jermaine Dye (34).

Stanton and Ozuna have both homered in 11 games this season, the most such contests for any duo in 2017. Two pairs had more than 10 such games last season, and Chris Davis was part of both sets. There were 11 Orioles games in 2016 in which Davis and Manny Machado both homered, as well as 11 games in which Davis and Mark Trumbo both went deep.

Marlins are kryptonite for Nola this year

Aaron Nola made three starts against the Marlins prior to this season, all three of which were “quality starts” (i.e. starts with at least six innings pitched and no more than three earned runs allowed). Nola recorded one win with two no-decisions and compiled a 1.35 ERA in those games. This season, Nola has lost all three of his starts versus Miami while compiling a 10.67 ERA. Excluding his bloodbaths against the Marlins, Nola is 10–7 this season with a 2.95 ERA. The only three starts in which Nola finished with more runs allowed than innings pitched this season have come against the Marlins.

Solarte says “so long” to Dodgers

Yangervis Solarte homered over the right-field fence at Petco Park to finish off a 6–5 win for the Padres over the Dodgers. Solarte had been the hero in a walkoff win for the Padres one other time, coaxing a walk with the bases loaded to clinch a victory over the Dodgers in 2016. Besides that game-ending walk, Solarte had almost no success in potential walkoff situations entering Saturday, producing just one hit in 17 at-bats for an .059 batting average, including 11 hitless at-bats in that situation for the Padres. Solarte’s other hit in a potential walkoff situation prior to Saturday was an 11th-inning single for the Yankees in 2014 against the Rays, but New York failed to score in that frame.

Another extra-inning walkoff win for Giants

Nick Hundley opened the bottom of the 10th inning with an opposite-field home run, clinching a 2–1 victory for the Giants over the Cardinals. San Francisco has seven walkoff wins this season, all of which finished in the 10th inning or later. It’s been 30 years since the last time a team finished a season with at least seven extra-inning walkoff wins and no nine-inning wins of that kind. The California Angels required at least one extra inning in each of their seven walkoff wins of the 1987 campaign.

Saturday’s contest also marked the second time this season that the Giants won a game in which they entered the ninth inning with no runs scored. Their other win of that kind this year also came against the Cardinals. On May 20, the Giants waited until the 13th inning to post their first run of a 3–1 triumph at Busch Stadium. Three other teams have won multiple games this season in which they scored no runs in the first eight innings. The Yankees have three such wins this year, while the Dodgers, Rangers, and Red Sox each have two.