Elias Says: July 23, 2017

Cruz, in 10th, gets 10th walkoff RBI in 10th one-run win of the day

Nelson Cruz lined a 10th-inning single off Adam Warren, sending Ben Gamel home with the game-winning run in the Mariners’ exciting 6-5 win over the Yankees. It marked the 10th time that Cruz has delivered a walkoff RBI in his MLB career, his fourth with the Mariners and his second against the Yankees (the other coming on a 13th-inning homer while with the Rangers in 2010). The only other active players with multiple walkoff RBIs against the Yankees are Mike Napoli and Ryan Zimmerman, each of whom has two.

Among the 15 MLB games played on Saturday, the Mariners became the 10th team to win a game by the margin of a single run. That’s the most major-league games decided by the minimum margin on the same day since June 6, 2010, when 11 of the 15 big-league games were decided in that way.

Harper extends hitting streak, exceeds last year’s HR total

Bryce Harper wasted no time extending his hitting streak, walloping a first-inning home run off Anthony Banda, who was making his major-league debut for the Diamondbacks. Harper later knocked in another run and scored yet another and the Nationals came away the winners, 4-3. Harper has now hit safely in 15 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the majors.

Harper’s home run was his 25th this season, the second-highest total of his major-league career, as he surpassed the total of 24 homers that he hit during the entire 2016 season. There were 111 players who hit at least 20 home runs in the major leagues last season, but Harper and Giancarlo Stanton (27 last year, 30 this year) are the only ones from that group who have already exceeded their 2016 total this season.

Wainwright & Lester show their stuff, then Cubs prevail

In a tense scoreless battle between Adam Wainwright and Jon Lester, the Cardinals reached Lester for back-to-back homers in the eighth inning, only to see the Cubs score three runs in the last half of that inning and take a 3-2 decision at Wrigley Field. Lester (who had entered the game with a career record of 152-90) and Wainwright (145-81) produced the first major-league game in nearly 15 years in which a pair of opposing starters, each with more than 125 wins to his credit, each tossed seven scoreless innings. (The last such instance occurred on July 28, 2002, with the Angels’ Kevin Appier facing the Mariners’ Jamie Moyer.)

Kris Bryant’s looping single off reliever Matt Bowman tied the game in the eighth inning, and Anthony Rizzo’s looping double off Brett Cecil sent Bryant home with the go-ahead run. Bowman was the losing pitcher, which left St. Louis relievers with a 9-20 won-lost record this season, yielding a major-league-low winning percentage of .310. Cardinals relievers last finished a season with twice as many losses as wins back in 1909, when relief pitching barely existed (and specialty relievers certainly didn’t) and the team went 2-13 (.133) in games in which the starting pitcher did not get the decision.

Braun evokes the immortal Rajah as Brew Crew ends losing streak

Ryan Braun’s career-long torment of the Phillies continued on Saturday night, as he singled in the first inning, drove in the game’s first two runs with a double in the third, added a two-run homer in the fifth, and scored additional runs on a wild pitch and an error. All of that resulted in the Brewers taking an 8-1 lead and Braun taking the rest of the night off. With Braun out of the game, the Phillies rallied to tie the score, 8-8, but Domingo Santana’s RBI single in the ninth lifted the Brewers to a 9-8 victory, ending their losing streak of six games, all of which came against sub-.500 opponents. It was the longest streak of losses for a first-place team that had not clinched its division title, all against sub-.500 teams, since St. Louis had a streak of eight in July-August 2006.

Can we get back to Braun? His 3-for-3 performance lifted his career batting average against the Phillies to .379 in 65 games. That’s the highest batting average that any individual has put together against the Phillies (minimum: 250 at-bats) since Rogers Hornsby—the man with the second-highest overall career batting average (.358) in major-league history—concluded his major-league playing career in 1937 having batted .380 against the Phillies.

Flores and Reyes: Mr. Walkoff and Mr. Triples

Wilmer Flores belted a two-out homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to provide the winning run as the Mets overcame a 5-0 deficit to defeat the Athletics, 6-5. It was the second walkoff homer for Flores in his big-league career; the first, against the Nationals on July 31, 2015, was generally credited as the regular-season pivot point in the Mets’ surprise run to that year’s World Series. Overall, it was the sixth walkoff RBI of the 25-year-old’s major-league career, the highest total for any major-league player since Sept. 8, 2014, the date on which Flores delivered his first walkoff RBI on a sacrifice fly against the Rockies. Flores stands ahead of a quartet of All-Stars and future Hall-of-Famers who have produced five walkoff RBIs since that date—Josh Donaldson, Carlos Correa, Bryce Harper and Albert Pujols!

Earlier, Jose Reyes hit two triples, marking the ninth multiple-triple game of his big-league career. That’s as many multiple-triple games as the combined total of the two active players with the next-highest totals: Curtis Granderson (five) and Dexter Fowler (four). In fact, only three other players who debuted in the live-ball era (since 1920) have as many multi-triple games as does Reyes: Hall of Famers Willie Mays (10), Arky Vaughan (10) and Pie Traynor (9). This was the first game of Reyes’s big-league career in which he hit two triples while batting right-handed.

Luis Perdamo, triples machine

Nick Hundley knocked in the game-winning run with a 12th-inning single in the Giants’ 5-4 win over the Padres. It was the eighth walkoff RBI of Hundley’s major-league career, and the first six of those walkoff RBIs came while he played for the Padres.

San Diego starter Luis Perdomo allowed only one earned run over six innings, but the three unearned runs that he surrendered in the fourth inning proved crucial. In the top of that inning, Perdomo had blasted a two-run triple—his third triple in just 24 at-bats this season. Remarkably, Perdomo has hit more triples in his 24 at-bats than have all other major-league pitchers combined in their 2,837 at-bats this season! Jake Arrieta and Jeremy Hellickson, one apiece, are the only other pitchers who have produced a three-base hit this season.

Dodgers’ Taylor does something really cool, and rare

Chris Taylor came off the bench and contributed a solo home run and two-run triple to the Dodgers’ 6-2 win over the Braves. He became just the second major-league player over the past four seasons to hit a triple and home run in a game that he didn’t start; the Cardinals’ Jeremy Hazelbaker did it at Arizona on April 25, 2016. Moreover, Taylor became just the second Dodgers player since 1900 to come off the bench and produce both a triple and home run. Gordon Windhorn did it against the Phillies on Sept. 12, 1961, getting what proved to be the only triple and the last of the two homers of his 95-game major-league career.

What does 20-13-23 mean? Ask Blackmon

Charlie Blackmon drove out a pair of extra-base hits—a double and a triple—in the Rockies’ 7-3 triumph over the Pirates. Blackmon’s extra-base tally now reads 20 doubles, 13 triples, 23 homers. He still has a shot at becoming the majors’ first 20-20-20 player since Curtis Granderson (38-23-23) and Jimmy Rollins (38-20-30) both did it in 2007. For now, though, let’s just celebrate that Blackmon on Saturday became MLB’s first 20-13-20 player since Granderson (26-13-22) in 2008.

By the way, there were 10 triples hit in the majors on Saturday after there were 11 hit on Friday. That matches the total of days with double-digit triples totals (two) that we had seen over the first 106 playing days of the season (there were 10 on May 17 and 14 on June 16), and it’s the first time that MLB has reached a double-digit triples total on each of two straight days since July 4-5, 2010.

Marwin for the win, off the bench

Marwin Gonzalez’s three-run, pinch-hit homer off Darren O’Day in the sixth inning erased a 4-3 deficit and launched the Astros to an 8-4 victory at Baltimore. Gonzalez was batting for Colin Moran, who left the game after fouling a ball off his face. For Houston, which hasn’t had the need to do all that much pinch-hitting this season, it was the first pinch-hit homer of the season. For Baltimore, it was the third round-tripper allowed to a pinch-hitter this season, tying Detroit and Kansas City for the highest total in the American League. And for Gonzalez, it was the second pinch-hit homer of his major-league career. He’ll never forget the other one: It was the first major-league homer of any type, hit against the Phillies’ Joe Blanton on May 14, 2012.

Albert leads Angels to another comeback win

Albert Pujols contributed three hits, drove in two runs and scored twice as the Angels roared back to win, 7-3, after having spotted the visiting Red Sox an early 3-0 lead. Over his six seasons with the Angels, Pujols has cuffed around Boston pitching to the tune of a .336 batting average (48 for 143) with nine home runs. No other player has so high a batting average and so many home runs against the Red Sox since the 2012 season.

The victory was the ninth this season for the Angels in a game in which they had trailed by three-or-more runs, tying the Royals for the second-most victories of that type in the majors this season. The Astros lead with 10 such wins, including one at Baltimore on Saturday night.

Royals smash 5 homers over 3 innings

The Royals were held to two singles by Mike Pelfrey over the first five innings of Saturday night’s game against the White Sox. But once Big Pelf left the scene, the bombardment commenced. Mike Moustakas slammed a pair of homers while Salvador Perez, Brandon Moss and Jorge Bonafacio each hit one as Kansas City moved out to a rollicking 7-2 victory. It marked only the second game in the Royals’ 49-year history in which they belted five homers over a three-inning span. On June 30, 2001 at Cleveland, in innings two through four, Carlos Beltran and Mike Sweeney each hit a pair and Raul Ibanez added another. (Four of those homers were surrendered by Bartolo Colon.)

Lindor walks off against Jays

Francisco Lindor hit a 10th-inning, walkoff homer off the Blue Jays’ Danny Barnes, with the Indians winning by a 2-1 score. Lindor, at 23, became the youngest Indians player to hit a walkoff home run since the once-young Brandon Phillips hit one at age 21 on May 20, 2003, against the Tigers. Over the last 40 seasons, the only other Indians player as young as Lindor and Phillips to hit a walkoff homer was Manny Ramirez, who had two in 1995 at age 23.

It’s not the first time this season that Lindor has hit a last-inning, game-winning home run. In the Indians’ third game of the season, Lindor stroked a game-winning grand slam in the top of the ninth off Sam Dyson. (Yes, that was the grand slam that resulted in a distraught Rangers fan weeping in the stands, sparking a social media meme-fest.) Five other players this season have hit a pair of last-inning, game-winning homers: Eric Thames, Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado, Addison Russell, and Mike Moustakas.

Andrus: one-man wrecking crew against Rays

Elvis Andrus went 3-for-4 with a double and home run in the Rangers’ 4-3 win over the Rays on Saturday night, after he had gone 3-for-5 with a homer in the Rangers’ 10-inning win on Friday. In fact, Andrus has produced at least two hits in each of his five games against Tampa Bay this season, going 14-for-23 with three home runs and a .609/.625/1.174 slashline. Andrus is the first player in since 2009 to have 14 hits and three home runs over his first five games of a season against an opponent. The Rangers’ Ian Kinsler went 14-for-25 with three homers over his first five games against the Orioles during the 2009 season.

Realmuto hits a pair in Cincinnati

J.T. Realmuto delivered a pair of go-ahead home runs in the Marlins’ 5-4 victory in Cincinnati. It was Realmuto’s second two-homer game of his career, the first one coming against the Brewers on Sept. 8, 2015. Marlins players have produced five multi-homer games this month, one by Marcell Ozuna and the other three by Giancarlo Stanton. That’s the highest total for any team this month, ahead of Nationals players, who have four (two by Bryce Harper and one apiece by Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy).

Twins hold on to beat Tigers

Kyle Gibson took a 6-0 lead over the Tigers into the eighth inning when Detroit exploded for five runs, but All-Star reliever Brandon Kintzler and left fielder Eddie Rosario closed the door in the ninth inning and the Twins won, 6-5. Kintzler pitched an inning and one-third to earn his 27th save of the season, but only the third in which he induced four-or-more outs. The first out of the ninth inning came when Rosario threw out Jose Iglesias trying to stretch his down-the-line leadoff single; it was the first assist for Rosario since May 11.