Elias Says: July 15, 2017

A wild ending in Boston

Aroldis Chapman walked Andrew Benintendi to force in the winning run in Boston’s 5–4 victory over the Yankees on Friday. The Red Sox hadn’t defeated the Yankees on a walkoff walk since Ted Williams drew one in the 11th inning to give Boston a 1–0 win on August 7, 1956. According to John Drebinger’s game story in the New York Times, Williams “started heading for his dugout. But Del Baker, the first base coach, finally made himself heard above the noise of the crowd and got Williams headed toward first.”

Also of note, it was the first time that Chapman has walked a batter to force in the game-ending run in the major leagues. And it was the second walk that Benintendi has drawn against Chapman this season. No other left-handed batter has walked against him this season.

Puig’s huge night

Yasiel Puig hit two go-ahead home runs on Friday, one in the fourth inning to give the Dodgers a 2–1 lead and another in the ninth to turn a 4–3 deficit into a 6–4 lead. It’s the first time that Puig has hit two go-ahead home runs in a major-league game. The only other major-league player who hit two go-ahead homers in a game, including one in the ninth inning with his team trailing and down to its last out this season, was Bryce Harper against the Phillies on April 16. No other Dodgers player has done that in a game since the team moved to L.A. in 1958.

Astros have the Twins’ number

The Astros defeated the Twins on Friday, 10–5, scoring in double digits for the fifth time in their last seven games. Houston has scored 73 runs in that stretch, the third-highest total for a major-league team this season. Washington scored 77 runs over the last seven days of April and had 76 runs from April 25 to May 2.

The Astros have won their last seven games against the Twins, the last six of which they’ve won by at least five runs. That ties the longest streak of that kind over the last 89 seasons (1929 to date); the most recent instance was by the White Sox against the Tigers spanning the 1995 and 1996 seasons.

Marwin Gonzalez has driven in at least one run in each of his last eight games, the longest RBI streak for any major-league player this season. The only player with a streak as long last season was Bryce Harper (eight games, April 14–21).

Pujols extends major-league record

Albert Pujols’ home run on Friday was his ninth in his team’s first game after the All-Star break, extending his own major-league record. He now has two more of those home runs than any other player in major-league history.

Cubs have a roller-coaster win

The Cubs jumped out to an 8–0 lead in Baltimore then allowed eight unanswered runs before Addison Russell’s ninth-inning home run gave Chicago a 9–8 win. It’s the second time this season that a team has won a game after surrendering a lead of eight or more runs; the Rockies did that against the Giants on June 15. There were only two such wins over the previous six seasons (2011–16). The Cubs’ have had only one other win like that in the last 87 seasons (1931 to date), against the Brewers in 2000.

National League teams have now won 22 of the 31 interleague games played since June 28. For the season, American League teams still hold a 93–83 advantage; the A.L. has won the interleague series in each of the last 13 seasons.

Cano picks up where he left off

Robinson Cano, fresh off his All-Star Game heroics, slugged a three-run home run off James Shields on Friday night. Since 2005, the only other All-Star Game MVP to homer in his team’s first game out of the break was Mike Trout, in 2015.

Cano now has 38 hits off Shields, the highest total for any active batter against a current pitcher. He had been tied with Ichiro, who has 37 hits against John Lackey.

Mets come out swinging

The Mets defeated the Rockies on Friday, 14–2. Over the last 35 seasons, since 1982, only one other team won by a dozen or more runs in its first game after the All-Star break. In 2006, the Rangers won at Camden Yards, 15–1, in their “second-half” opener.

The Rockies won their final game before the break, beating the White Sox 10–0. Colorado is the first team to win its last game before an All-Star break by at least ten runs and then lose its first game after the break by at least ten runs.

Freeman rakes vs. snakes

Freddie Freeman went 2-for-4 with a home run in the Braves’ win over the Diamondbacks on Friday, and he’s now slugging .759 in 35 games against Arizona. That’s the highest slugging average by any active player with at least 150 plate appearances against one team.

Bell rings in second half with walkoff blast

Josh Bell slammed a three-run walkoff home run to give the Pirates a 5–2 win over the Cardinals on Friday, and making him the first Pirates rookie ever to hit a walkoff homer against the Cardinals. Bell’s blast was the first walkoff homer by a Pirates rookie since Pedro Alvarez in 2010. Three teams have gone longer since their last rookie walkoff homer: the Red Sox (Shea Hillenbrand in 2001), Phillies (Carlos Ruiz in 2007) and Giants (Daniel Ortmeier in 2007).

Braun sets a Brewers record

Ryan Braun’s grand slam was the big blow in the Brewers’ 9–6 win over the Phillies on Friday. It was Braun’s sixth salami in the major leagues, setting a Brewers record; he had been tied with Cecil Cooper, John Jaha and Jeromy Burnitz. Braun is the only active player who is his current team’s all-time leader in grand slams.

Banister pushes the right button

Mike Napoli’s pinch-hit home run gave the Rangers a 5-3 win over the Royals on Friday. Napoli entered the day with only seven hits in 53 at-bats as a pinch hitter, a .132 batting average, which was tied for fifth-lowest among active players with at least 50 plate appearances as a pinch hitter.

Harper slugs two homers at GABP

Bryce Harper slugged two home runs in the Nationals’ win in Cincinnati on Friday. Harper entered the game with one home run in 55 at-bats at Great American Ball Park, which was his second-poorest home run rate at any National League stadium. He has hit one homer in 61 at-bats at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Bautista not scared of Tigers

Jose Bautista hit a home run and drove in two runs in the Blue Jays’ win in Detroit in Friday. Bautista is hitting .348 against the Tigers, his highest against any major-league team.

A’s get first home shutout

The Athletics blanked the Indians on Friday, 5-0, for their first home shutout of the season. That leaves their cross-bay rivals, the Giants, as the only major-league team that has not had a home shutout this season.

Posey homers at Petco for 10th time

Buster Posey’s home run on Friday was his 10th at Petco Park, tying six others for the highest total for any visiting player. Todd Helton, Adam LaRoche, Mark Reynolds, Pablo Sandoval, Justin Upton and Chris Young also hit 10 homers there against the Padres.