Elias Says: Sept. 27, 2017

Grand old game for McCutchen

For the first time in nine seasons with the Pirates, Andrew McCutchen delivered four runs with a single swing, hitting a grand-slam home run off Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. The clutch hit for “Cutch” removed him from the top of the list of most career home runs without a grand slam (he had 201 homers entering play on Tuesday). Glenn Davis now resides atop that list – the two-time All Star hit 190 home runs for the Astros and Orioles from 1984 to 1993, but none of them came with the bases juiced. The most home runs without a salami among active players is 166 by Freddie Freeman.

Only five players in major-league history prior to McCutchen hit their first grand-slam home run after having hit at least 200 homers. Sammy Sosa had 246 round-trippers at the time of his first bases-loaded bomb in July 1998. Sosa apparently enjoyed the experience as he hit his second career slam the very next day. The four other players with more than 200 homers at the time of their first bases-loaded homer were Jeff Bagwell (217), Bob Horner (209), Kirk Gibson (202), and Eric Karros (202).

McCutchen finished his night with an incredible statline, going 4-for-4 with four runs scored and a career-high eight RBIs. McCutchen became the third Pirates player since 1920, when RBIs were first officially recorded, to record at least four hits, four runs scored, and eight RBIs in a single game. The first two to do so for Pittsburgh were Johnny Rizzo in 1939 (5-for-6, four runs, nine RBIs) and Ralph Kiner in 1950 (5-for-6, four runs, eight RBIs).

Two other players have totaled at least four hits, four runs, and eight RBIs in a single game this season. Anthony Rendon did so against the Mets on April 30 (six hits, five runs, 10 RBIs), and Scooter Gennett did so versus the Cardinals on June 6 (five hits, four runs, 10 RBIs).

Sale serves up four gopher balls

Chris Sale served up four home runs at Fenway Park, tying the most homers he’s allowed in any of his 180 major-league starts. No team had hit four “over-the fence” home runs against Sale before the Blue Jays on Tuesday. The Rangers touched Sale for four homers on Aug. 23, 2013, but that total included a controversial inside-the-parker. In the top of the third inning, Ian Kinsler lined a pitch from Sale down the left-field line, and the ball came to rest under the fence in foul territory. By the time White Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo located the baseball and threw it in, Kinsler was already on his way home.

One-two punch works for Blue Jays at Fenway

Blue Jays leadoff hitter Teoscar Hernandez and number-two hitter Josh Donaldson both homered twice on Tuesday night, accounting for the first three homers surrendered by Sale (the fourth was hit by Kendrys Morales). Hernandez and Donaldson became the third duo in major-league history to start in the top two spots of a team’s batting order and hit multiple home runs in the same game. The first such occurrence took place 126 years ago on the South Side of Chicago. On Aug. 25, 1891, Jimmy Ryan and Walt Wilmot each hit a pair of home runs to lead the Chicago Colts (the current-day Cubs) to victory over the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (the present-day Los Angeles Dodgers). Wilmot’s second home run came in the ninth inning with the Colts already up by more than 20 runs (Chicago chose to bat first that day, as did many teams of that era).

The other instance of a team’s top two hitters homering multiple times in the same game also occurred in Chicago, this time on the North Side. On Aug. 22, 2010, leadoff hitter Omar Infante and number-two hitter Jason Heyward each homered twice for the Braves at Wrigley Field. That was the only multi-homer game for both Infante and Heyward that season.

The road looks promising for Angels rookie

Parker Bridwell pitched into the seventh inning to earn his ninth win of the season in the Angels’ 9–3 victory over the White Sox. The rookie right-hander has enjoyed his best work away from Angel Stadium, going 5–0 in nine road starts this season. In the past 60 seasons, only two other rookie pitchers won five or more road starts in a season without losing any. Dave LaPoint went 6–0 on the road for the 1982 Cardinals, and Steve Trachsel went 8–0 away from Wrigley Field as a rookie for the Cubs in 1994.

Pujols matches A-Rod with 14th 100-RBI season

Albert Pujols capped the scoring for the Angels with a two-run single in the seventh inning. Those two RBIs brought Pujols’s total for the season to 100, marking the 14th time he reached triple digits in that category. The only other player in major-league history with as many 100-RBI seasons as Pujols is Alex Rodriguez, who also had 14 seasons of that kind.

Astros blast off versus Rangers

The Astros will start the postseason at home after earning their 97th victory of the season, a 14–3 drubbing of the Rangers. Houston has scored 106 runs against Texas this season, which is the team’s second-highest run total versus any opponent this year (107 versus Oakland). Another 14-run outburst versus Texas on Wednesday would give the Astros their highest run total versus any team in a single season; Houston crossed the plate 119 times versus San Francisco in 1984.

Regardless of Wednesday’s result, this is the first season in Astros history in which they scored at least 100 runs against multiple opponents. Three other teams have done that this season – the Diamondbacks have scored at least 100 runs versus the Padres and Rockies, and the Twins and White Sox both topped the century-mark against the Royals and Tigers.

Another huge game for J.D. Martinez

J.D. Martinez needed just two innings to accumulate six RBIs in the Diamondbacks’ 11–4 shellacking of the Giants. Martinez brought home two runners with a double in the first inning and cleared the bases with a grand slam his next time up. Including Tuesday’s win, Martinez has produced at least five RBIs in four games this season – two games with five RBIs for the Tigers and two games with six RBIs for the Diamondbacks. Since RBIs were first officially recorded in 1920, no other player totaled five or more RBIs in more than one game for multiple teams within a single season.

One big winner in Kansas City

Jason Vargas joined Corey Kluber and Clayton Kershaw atop the wins leaderboard for the year after earning his 18th win for the Royals on Tuesday. Vargas is the only pitcher with more than 10 wins for Kansas City this season, whose record stands at 77–80 after Tuesday. It has been 20 years since the last time a pitcher led the majors (or tied for the lead) in wins while pitching for a team that finished the year with more losses than wins. Roger Clemens racked up 21 wins for the 1997 Blue Jays, who finished 10 games under .500.

E.E. reaches 100 RBIs

Edwin Encarnacion drove in four runs for the Indians on Tuesday, bringing his RBI total for the season to 103. Encarnacion has breached the century mark in RBIs in five of his last six seasons, falling just shy of doing so in 2014 (98 RBIs). Encarnacion, who has 653 RBIs since 2012, is one of three active major-leaguers that has driven in at least 650 runs over a six-season span. Albert Pujols produced 758 RBIs over his first six major-league seasons (2001–06), and Miguel Cabrera plated 737 runs from 2008 to 2013. Those are the highest six-year totals for Pujols and Cabrera; both players have had multiple six-year spans with at least 650 RBIs.

Yankees walk it out versus Rays

A pair of bases-loaded walks issued by Rays starter Blake Snell gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish in their 6–1 victory in the Bronx. Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge were the lucky recipients of the gift RBIs, walking with the bases loaded in consecutive plate appearances in the second inning. It had been a little more than two years since the last time that the Bronx Bombers drew consecutive bases on balls with the bases full. Greg Bird and Chase Headley did that for New York in the second inning on Aug. 28, 2015 at Atlanta.

Leadoff homer dooms Cubs

Matt Carpenter homered off Jake Arrieta to start the bottom of the first inning, helping the Cardinals take control early in their 8–7 win over the Cubs. Carpenter became the eighth different player to lead off a game against the Cubs with a home run. The only National League team to allow more leadoff round-trippers this season is the Padres, who have allowed nine such home runs (four AL teams have given up at least 10 leadoff homers).

Rockies turning Coors Field into a pitchers park

Tyler Anderson and two Rockies relievers combined to shut out the Marlins, 6–0, to inch closer to locking up a spot in the NL’s Wild Card game. Tuesday’s victory marked the seventh time this season that Colorado held its opponent scoreless in the thin air of Coors Field. That’s the most shutout victories at home for the Rockies in any of their 25 major-league seasons. Colorado’s previous high for shutout wins at home was six in 2006.

First impressions are good for Santana

Domingo Santana’s three-run homer in the top of the first inning put the Brewers on the scoreboard early in their 7–6 win over the Reds. Santana has batted .351 in the first inning this season, with 17 runs scored and 17 RBIs. Only three other players this season have compiled a batting average of .350 or better in the first inning with at least 15 runs scored and 15 RBIs, and all three are MVP candidates – Jose Altuve, Nolan Arenado, and Jose Ramirez.

Rookie sends Mets fans home happy

Travis Taijeron capped a comeback win for the Mets over the Braves with a game-ending RBI-single in the bottom of the ninth inning. Taijeron became the first Mets rookie since Wilmer Flores in September 2014 to produce a walkoff RBI, and he’s the fourth rookie in franchise history to do so against the Braves. The other three to do so were Bruce Boisclair (1976), Steve Henderson (1977), and Alex Trevino (1979).

The Mets, who trailed 3–0 at the end of six innings, had lost their last 37 games in which they trailed in the seventh inning or later, the longest current losing streak of its kind in the majors. The Tigers now have the longest active skid in that category, having lost their last 32 games in which they trailed in the seventh or later.

Seager’s not short on power

Corey Seager recorded his first multi-hit game in over a month, helping the Dodgers clinch their 101st win of the season and the best record in the National League. Seager drove in four runs on the evening with an RBI-single in the sixth inning and a three-run homer in the seventh. The four-bagger for Seager was his 51st home run with the Dodgers, 50 of which he’s hit while batting as a shortstop. Since Sep. 3, 2015, when Seager made his major-league debut, the only player with more home runs as a shortstop is Francisco Lindor, who has 52 homers over that span while manning short.