Elias Says: June 26, 2017

Dodgers keep it going with big come-from-behind victory

The Dodgers rallied from an early 5–0 deficit to defeat the Rockies, 12–6, for their 10th consecutive win. Over the last 15 seasons, only one other team extended a winning streak to 10 games or longer by erasing a deficit of five or more runs. That was San Diego in a 9–7 win at Arizona in 2009 in which Chase Headley hit a game-winning homer in the 10th inning.

During the second half of their epic 20-game winning streak in 2002, the Athletics won games in which they trailed by five runs against the Tigers (win #12) and the Royals (#19).

Bellinger driving in runs at nearly unprecedented rate

Cody Bellinger homered twice and drove in four runs in the Dodgers’ victory on Sunday. Bellinger has 53 RBIs in his last 50 games. That ties the highest 50-game RBI totals by rookies during the expansion era. Since 1961, the only other rookies with 53 RBIs over a span of 50 games were Billy Williams (1961), Fred Lynn (1975), and Albert Pujols (2001).

Volquez remains unbeaten by the Cubs

Edinson Volquez scuffled through five innings, but he pitched well enough to earn another victory against the Cubs, who lost, 4–2, at Miami. Volquez allowed two runs on five hits and five walks to improve his record against Chicago to 8–0. He is the first pitcher to win his first eight decisions against the Cubs since Randy Johnson finished his career with a 13–0 mark against them.

Ageless Ichiro sets a new standard

Ichiro Suzuki batted leadoff as Miami’s starting center fielder on Sunday. At age 43, Ichiro became the oldest starting center fielder in modern major-league history (that is, since 1900), a distinction previously held by Rickey Henderson. Some other mileposts by which to measure Ichiro’s feat:

  • He is the oldest player to start at any fielding position—excluding pitchers and designated hitters—since Omar Vizquel started at third base for the Blue Jays in their final game of the 2012 season. Vizquel was 45.

  • The only other players as old as Ichiro to start in the leadoff spot during the expansion era were Pete Rose and Rickey Henderson.

  • The only other player to start for the Marlins at age 43 or older was knuckleballer Charlie Hough, who started 55 games for Florida in 1993–94, the last of them at age 46.

Santana’s 7th “New Millennium Shutout”

It’s 2017 and we’re realists. Although we love a complete-game shutout as much as the next fan, we don’t expect to see them very often these days. But Ervin Santana has pitched three this season, a major-league high, and on Sunday he went six innings in the Twins’ 4–0 win at Cleveland—a “new millennium shutout,” if you will.

In fact, Santana didn’t allow a run in seven of his 13 starts this season. In the live-ball era, only four other pitchers made as many as seven starts without allowing a run by the end of June: Sandy Koufax in 1963, Don Drysdale in 1968 (when he set an MLB record, since broken, with 58 2⁄3 consecutive scoreless innings), Jeff Locke in 2013, and Adam Wainwright in 2014. The only other pitcher to do so in Senators/Twins history was the Big Train himself, Walter Johnson, with Washington in 1913.

Joey Bats solves a problem for the Jays

Jose Bautista went 2-for-5, including his 13th home run of the season, and drove in four runs in the Blue Jays’ 8–2 win over the Royals. It was Bautista’s fifth consecutive game batting in the leadoff slot, which had been a problem spot for Toronto this season. Prior to Sunday’s game, the Jays’ total of 21 RBIs from players batting first in their order was the lowest such mark in the American League. Toronto’s leadoff hitter had at least four RBIs in only three of the team’s previous 1759 games, dating back to 2006.

A super-sweep by the Mets at San Francisco

The Mets defeated the Giants, 8–2, on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep at AT&T Park, after winning the previous games by scores of 11–4 and 5–2. It is only the second time in the Mets’ 56 seasons that they swept a series of three or more games from the Giants with each of the wins by a margin of at least three runs. The first was at Shea Stadium in July 2008.

The Mets lost their first 12 regular-season games at AT&T Park, which opened in 2000. But they have a 28–20 record there since then.

Ramos’ travails evoke fonder memories for Phillies

The Diamondbacks pieced together a two-out, game-winning rally against Edubray Ramos in the bottom of the 11th inning for a 2–1 victory over the Phillies. Ramos, whose record fell to 0–7 this season, is only the second pitcher in major-league history to lose seven decisions without a win as a reliever before the end of June. The first was Roger Mason with San Diego in 1993. Ironically, Mason was then traded by San Diego to Philadelphia, where he went 5–5 over the remainder of the season. Mason then pitched six games for the Phillies in the postseason (including four in the World Series), allowing only one run on 10 2/3 innings.

Astros’ bullpen comes to the rescue

With Brad Peacock on paternity leave and his deputy, Francis Martes, struggling, the Astros’ bullpen came up big. Four Houston relievers combined for seven scoreless innings, allowing only three hits, as the Astros erased an early 2–0 deficit in an 8–2 win at Seattle. It was only the second game in the 12 seasons in which the Astros bullpen pitched at least seven innings and didn’t allow a run. The other was a 13-inning win over the Orioles in May 2016.

Scooter masters the big fly

Scooter Gennett went 4-for-5 with a home run in the Reds’ 6–2 win at Washington. Gennett has hit eight home runs in 57 at-bats since snapping a 93-AB homerless drought with a 4-HR game on June 6. With eight homers in June, Gennett has doubled his previous high for one calendar month.

Rangers capitalize on Pineda’s early struggles

The Rangers scored three runs in each of the first two innings, including home runs by Adrian Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo, and held on for a 7–6 win at Yankee Stadium. Michael Pineda was on the receiving end of Texas’ early outburst, and that’s been an ongoing problem for the Yankees pitcher. Over his last 10 starts, Pineda has allowed 20 runs in the first and second innings. His total of nine homers allowed in the first two innings this season is one short of the major-league high shared by Masahiro Tanaka and Ariel Miranda.

Bottom of Angels’ batting order delivers a victory

Albert Pujols went 0-for-4 and Mike Trout remains sidelined. But Danny Espinosa (1 RBI), Kaleb Cowart (2), Juan Graterol (1), the bottom three hitters in the Angels’ lineup, drove in all of LA’s runs in a 4–2 win at Fenway Park. It was the fifth time this season that each of the Angels’ starters in the 7–8–9 slots drove in a run and no other Angels player did. Los Angeles won all five of those games.

Longoria tags Tillman again

Evan Longoria’s home run in the Rays’ 8–5 loss to the Orioles was his ninth in 66 at-bats against Baltimore’s starting pitcher, Chris Tillman. Only one other matchup of active players has produced nine homers: Brian McCann has tagged Rick Nolasco nine times (73 AB). Longoria’s total of nine homers versus Tillman is the highest by any Rays player, active or otherwise, against any opposing pitcher.

Brewers’ Shaw shows Red Sox what he can do

Travis Shaw hit his 15th home run of the season in the Brewers’ 7–0 victory at Atlanta. Shaw is the seventh player to hit at least 15 homers by the end of June after finishing the previous season with the Red Sox (Boston players excluded, of course). The first was Babe Ruth with the Yankees in 1920 (24); the most recent were Carlos Pena for Tampa Bay in 2007 (17), Josh Reddick for Oakland in 2012 (18), and now Shaw.

White Sox can’t seal the deal

The Athletics rallied for five runs over the final three innings to earn a 5–3 win over the White Sox. After a strong start by Derek Holland, three different Chicago relievers were charged with at least one run, as the Sox lost a home game in which they shut out their opponent through six innings for the first time since 2015. The White Sox had won 17 straight at Guaranteed Rate Field (formerly U.S. Cellular Field) in which their opponent failed to score over the first six innings.