Elias Says: June 3, 2017

Kershaw reaches 2000 K’s

Clayton Kershaw became the 80th pitcher in major-league history to strike out 2000 batters when he set down Jonathan Villar in the second inning at Miller Park. Kershaw is the fourth pitcher to register at least 2000 strikeouts in a Dodgers uniform, joining Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Don Sutton. The only other major-league team that has had as many as four pitchers record 2000 strikeouts with the franchise is the Braves, who also had four pitchers reach that plateau – Warren Spahn, Phil Niekro, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine.

Kershaw among best of the best of strikeout artists

Kershaw’s career ERA of 2.37 at the time of his milestone punchout was lower than that of any of the 71 previous pitchers whose career started since 1913 (the first year that both leagues tracked earned runs) and who reached 2000 strikeouts. Tom Seaver had the previous low among that elite group; Seaver’s ERA stood at 2.44 after the game in which he reached strikeout #2000 in July 1975.

Only Pedro Martinez had fewer walks at the time of his 2000th strikeout than Kershaw, who has 488 bases on balls in his major-league career. Martinez had walked only 473 batters prior to his 2000th strikeout in 2002.

Dodgers set new NL mark with 26 strikeouts in a game

Pedro Baez, Grant Dayton, and Kenley Jansen racked up a dozen strikeouts in relief of Kershaw on Friday, bringing the Dodgers’ total for the game to 26, tying the major-league record (and establishing a new National League record) for most strikeouts by a team in a game. Three American League teams have racked up 26 strikeouts in a game – the A’s reached that total in 20 innings against the Angels in July 1971, the Angels struck out 26 in 17 innings against the Brewers in 2004, and the Yankees did that earlier this season in 18 innings against the Cubs.

The 42 combined strikeouts by the Dodgers and Brewers on Friday are the most for any game in National League history, besting the previous high of 40 done by the Giants and Padres on June 19, 2001. Both San Francisco and San Diego punched out 20 batters in that 15-inning affair.

Jansen sets a record of his own

Speaking of special accomplishments in the field of strikeouts, Kenley Jansen has struck out 39 batters this season without issuing a walk. That’s the most strikeouts before surrendering a base on balls by any pitcher to start a season since 1893, when the mound was first set at 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate. The previous record for most strikeouts before issuing a walk over that span was 35, done by Adam Wainwright in 2013.

But how many strikeouts did he have?

Cody Bellinger provided the game-winning hit for the Dodgers, hitting a solo homer in the top of the 12th inning. Bellinger, who was 21 years, 324 days old as of Friday, became the fourth-youngest player in Dodgers history to hit a go-ahead home run in extra innings. The top three on that list also did so at age 21: Tommy Davis in 1960 (21 years, 121 days), Dioner Navarro in 2005 (21 years, 184 days), and Pee Wee Reese in 1940 (21 years, 308 days).

Blach walks all over Phillies

Three walks by a starting pitcher isn’t terribly rare… that is, unless you’re looking at his batting statistics. The Giants’ Ty Blach accomplished that unlikely feat on Friday, drawing a base on balls in each of his first three plate appearances against the Phillies. Blach became the first pitcher since Aaron Cook in 2009 to walk three times in a game, and he’s the first pitcher since Joaquin Andujar in 1984 to draw a walk in each of his first three trips to the plate in a game.

Blach’s walks on Friday were strictly limited to his time in the batter’s box, as he did not throw ball four to any Phillies batter in a complete-game shutout victory. Blach became the first pitcher in 45 years to draw three walks in a game as a batter without issuing any bases on balls from the mound. Fred Norman pitched nine walkless innings for the Padres on Aug. 20, 1972 and drew a walk in three plate appearances against Pirates starter Bruce Kison. Norman took the loss in that game, a 5–2 win for the Pirates. And to put the cherry on top, Blach became the second pitcher in the last 100 years to coax three walks as a batter in a game without allowing a run or walk in a complete-game victory. Hall-of-Famer Robin Roberts had such a performance in 1951 for the Phillies against the Cubs, pitching a five-hit shutout with no walks allowed while drawing a free pass in each of his three plate appearances against Chicago’s starter Bob Rush.

Span the man for San Fran

Denard Span also had a productive night at the plate for the Giants against the Phillies, compiling five hits and three runs from the leadoff spot. That’s the fifth five-hit game for Span in his major-league career; he had two such games for the Twins in 2009 and two games for the Nationals, one in 2014 and the other in 2015. Span is the only active player to tally five hits in a game for three different franchises.

Mesoraco comes off bench to deliver walkoff blast

The Reds rallied late against the Braves bullpen, scoring two runs against Jim Johnson in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the score. Then Devin Mesoraco, who entered the game in the 10th inning on a double switch, completed Cincinnati’s 3–2 comeback win with a walkoff home run in the bottom of the 10th. Mesoraco is the second Reds player in the last 10 seasons to hit a game-ending homer for Cincinnati after not appearing in the first nine innings of the game. On May 3, 2010, Laynce Nix pinch hit for the Reds in the 11th inning and hit a walkoff homer against the Mets’ Manny Acosta.

Reds’ rally ends a long skid

The Reds had lost their last 225 games in which they trailed by multiple runs in the ninth inning or later, which was the longest active losing streak of its kind in the majors entering Friday. The Giants now carry that burden, having dropped their last 198 games in which they trailed by two or more runs in the ninth inning or later.

Fowler returns to Wrigley with a bang

After being presented with his World Series ring in a pregame ceremony, Dexter Fowler homered to start the top of the first inning for the Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Only one other player had ever homered against the Cubs after winning a World Series title with Chicago earlier in his career. Frank “Wildfire” Schulte spent his first 13 major-league seasons with the Cubs and notched at least one hit in each game of the 1907 and 1908 World Series to help Chicago win back-to-back titles. Schulte homered once against Chicago as a member of the Phillies in August 1917 at Baker Bowl.

Two other players homered against the Cubs after exceedingly brief tenures with the franchise in 1907 and 1908, but neither played in a World Series for Chicago. Bill John Sweeney played three games for the 1907 Cubs before a midseason trade to the Boston Doves (the former moniker of the Atlanta Braves), and Vin Campbell had one at-bat for the 1908 Cubs.

Nothing but zeroes for Vargas

Jason Vargas went the distance for the Royals, pitching a seven-hit shutout to lead Kansas City to victory over the Indians. Vargas allowed seven hits on the night while striking out three, making him the first Royals pitcher in 14 years to twirl a complete-game shutout despite compiling half as many strikeouts as hits allowed. Brian Anderson blanked the Angels for Kansas City on Sept. 5, 2003 in Anaheim, allowing seven hits and striking out two.

Vargas has seven complete-game shutouts in his major-league career – three with the Mariners, two with the Angels, and two with the Royals. The only other active pitcher to compile multiple shutouts with three different franchises is CC Sabathia (seven with the Indians, three with the Brewers, two with the Yankees). All seven of Vargas’s complete-game shutouts have occurred in home games. The last pitcher before Vargas whose first seven shutouts in the majors took place in front of his home crowd was Tim Hudson. Hudson’s first seven shutouts in an A’s uniform took place at Oakland from 2000 to 2004; his eighth and final shutout with the A’s occurred at Baltimore.

Extra special night for Miggy, Tigers

Twelve of the Tigers’ 18 hits went for extra bases in Detroit’s blowout victory over the White Sox at Comerica Park. Friday’s game marked the first time the Tigers produced at least a dozen extra-base hits in a regulation-length home game. Detroit compiled 12 extra-base hits at Tiger Stadium against the Twins on June 3, 1994, but they needed 13 innings to reach that final total. The Tigers have rapped 12 or more extra-base hits in six road games, including a franchise-record 13 against the Browns in St. Louis on May 5, 1925.

Miguel Cabrera contributed two of the Tigers’ 12 extra-base hits with a pair of doubles. Cabrera’s second hit marked the 1000th extra-base hit of his major-league career, making him the 40th player to reach that mark. Three other active players have accumulated at least 1000 extra-base hits: Albert Pujols (1223), Adrian Beltre (1074), and Carlos Beltran (1052).

Bottoms up for Mariners

The bottom of the Mariners order handled all of the run production in Seattle’s 12–4 victory over the Rays. The final four hitters in the Mariners lineup drove in all 12 runs for Seattle, led by Danny Valencia who drove in five runs from the sixth slot and Taylor Motter who capped a five-run first inning with a grand slam. The only other time in the liveball era – that is, since 1920 – that a team scored at least 12 runs in a game with all of the runs driven in by the starting 6–7–8–9 hitters in the lineup was on Aug. 10, 1986, when the Royals scored 13 runs at Yankee Stadium. Steve Balboni drove in five runs from the sixth slot in the Royals order, while Jim Sundberg and Darryl Motley each notched four RBIs batting seventh and eighth, respectively.

Career night for Diaz

Elias Diaz – no relation to this column – drove in six of the Pirates’ 12 runs in their comeback victory over the Mets at Citi Field. Diaz, who had one RBI in nine major-league games entering Friday, hit a bases-clearing double in the fourth inning and a three-run homer his next time up. Since 1920, when RBIs were first officially tracked in the majors, only one other Pirates player produced six or more RBIs in a game within his first 10 major-league games. On Sept. 15, 1951, Jack Merson drove in six runs for Pittsburgh in just his second major-league game.

Diaz joined Starlin Castro and Hunter Renfroe as the only active players to drive in six or more runs in a game after entering that game with no more than one RBI in the majors. Castro produced six RBIs in his major-league debut for the Cubs in 2010, while Renfroe increased his RBIs total from one to eight after driving in seven runs for the Padres on Sept. 27, 2016.

Situational hitting eschewed in Toronto

The Blue Jays defeated the Yankees 7–5 in a game that featured a surprising amount of run scoring despite a lack of clutch hitting. Both teams failed to record a hit with runners in scoring position at Rogers Centre, with Toronto going 0-for-9 in that situation and New York finishing 0-for-7. There has been only one other nine-inning game in the last 12 years in which two teams combined for 12 or more runs and no hits with runners in scoring position. On Sept. 4, 2015, the Dodgers defeated the Padres, 8–4, in Los Angeles; the runs resulted from five solo homers, three home runs with a runner on first, and one RBI-groundout.

Rough opening dooms Porcello

Rick Porcello allowed homers to Seth Smith and Manny Machado in the first inning, putting the Red Sox behind early in their 3–2 loss to the Orioles. Friday’s game marked the second time this season that Porcello allowed multiple homers in an inning; he gave up back-to-back homers to the Rays’ Brad Miller and Steven Souza in the fifth inning on April 14 at Fenway Park. Porcello had no multi-homer innings in his Cy Young-campaign last year, and he had not allowed multiple homers in an inning twice in a season before this year.

United Nationals

All nine batters in the Nationals starting lineup scored a run and drove in a run in Washington’s big win over the A’s in Oakland. Friday’s game marked the third time in Nationals/Expos history that nine or more players produced at least one RBI and scored one or more runs in a game. 10 players for Montreal achieved that feat on June 17, 1979 against the Astros, and nine Expos did so on April 11, 1993 at Colorado. In both of those games, however, at least one of Montreal’s starters posted zeroes in both the runs and RBIs columns, making Friday’s win the first time in franchise history that every one of the nine players in the starting lineup notched a run and RBI.