Kernels: Catch them if you can

Our weekly statistical review of the interesting and unusual in the major leagues.

Theme of the Week: A Good & Wacky Week for Catchers

There were a pair of three-homer games last Wednesday afternoon—one was by Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro.

Navarro became just the fourth catcher in team history to do that, joining George Mitterwald (1974), Clyde McCullough (1942), and Ned Williamson (1884).

Navarro also came just shy of the elusive "home run cycle", hitting a solo shot in the 2nd, a two-run shot in the 4th, and a three-run homer in the 7th. The last player to get those three-fourths of the cycle, in order, was Andrew McCutchen on August 1, 2009.

And no Cubs player-- at any position-- had hit three homers, scored four times, and driven in six runs since Dave Kingman did it in one of the highest-scoring game in major-league history, a 23-22 loss to Philadelphia on May 17, 1979.

Minor League Kernel of the Week:

Meanwhile, Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy recorded a 5-for-5 with two homers as the Brewers beat the Phillies 8-5.

He is just the second catcher in Brewers history with a five-hit game. Charlie Moore knocked out five singles in a win over the Red Sox on July 11, 1980. Lucroy homered again Saturday, doubling his season total to six and marking the first time in his career he's homered in back-to-back games.

On Sunday, with bases loaded, Lucroy hit a fly ball down the left-field line in Philadelphia that bounced off the railing above the wall. It was initially called a grand slam, reviewed, and then overturned into a triple-- marking just the second grand slam ever taken off the board by replay. Johnny Damon of the Rays had the other one against Seattle on August 21, 2011.

Lastly, the Twins won their Saturday game over the Mariners on another unusual walk-off: A triple by catcher Ryan Doumit

Walk-off triples are among the rarer plays because the rule requires the batter to actually run out his hit for three bases, and by that point the celebratory pile at home plate has usually commenced. There were just three walk-off triples last season, and Doumit's was the first of the 2013 campaign. There haven't been more than three in any season since 1993, and a few seasons haven't had any.

Let’s tie it all back together with this nugget: The last catcher with a walk-off triple before Doumit was none other than … Dioner Navarro last season.

About that other three-homer game …

Ryan Zimmerman joined Navarro on the three-homer brigade on Wednesday.

Zimmerman ranks last alphabetically by last name on the list of players to ever hit three homers in a game. He bumped the White Sox' Gus Zernial, who went deep three times in a 10-6 loss to the same franchise (then the St. Louis Browns) on the final day of the 1950 season.

How Not To Pitch

There were a couple examples of the sort of pitching history you probably don’t want to make.

How To Pitch
Highlights from Week

Matt Magill was called upon to make a last-minute start when Hyun-Jin Ryu was scratched Sunday with a foot contusion. It didn't go well. Magill made it through six innings but issued nine walks and allowed four homers along the way.

The combination of nine walks and four homers?

According to Elias, that was a first in major-league history.

Arizona's Wade Miley hit the jackpot on Friday. Sort of. Miley pitched seven innings, allowed seven hits, seven runs, and recorded seven strikeouts. Granted, he lost the game, but at he made some good statistical company along the way.

Only one other pitcher in the Divisional Era (1969) has rolled all those sevens in a single game: Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers, in a loss to the Phillies on May 16, 1984.

In Fernando's outing, only two of the runs turned out to be earned. So if we change that seven to earned runs, we turn up just one other pitcher in the last 95 years: Billy Pierce of the White Sox, who completed the run by also issuing seven walks to the Senators on May 3, 1956.