The ever-wonderful Jayson Stark is at it again. Note that the link goes to ESPN Insider article, so you may not be able to read it.For this reason, and also because I want to comment, I’ll sum up some of the weirdness here.
In this past Thursday’s Phillies-Nationals game, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino of the Phillies and Ryan Zimmerman of the Nats all homered, marking the first time that players whose names begin with the letters U, V, and Z all homered in the same game. That this has never happened before is not exactly surprising. What I want to know is, were all three necessary, or would some combination of two be sufficient? Obviously U and V have homered together before–Utley and Victorino–but none of those three letters is terribly common, and V is probably the most common of the 3. So have there been other times that U and Z have homered in the same game? And if so, was Zimmerman the “Z” involved? With both the Phillies and the Marlins in the same division as the Nats, this seems plausible enough…although I completely forgot about the Upton brothers when listing the active U’s, which changes things completely. Okay, so now the most likely combo for U/Z is B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays–although it’s quite possible this hasn’t happened yet, as both are fairly young and Zobrist didn’t really get regular playing time until just last year. Come to think of it, now that we have a plausible U-Z pair, what’s our V-Z?
Also, and I actually heard about this game while it was happening, there was Thursday’s White Sox-Blue Jays game. Freddy Garcia got knocked around early and only lasted 3+ innings, striking out 3 and being charged with all 7 runs. The first reliever, Randy Williams, struck out 3 over two shaky innings. Sergio Santos came in for the 6th inning and struck out the side, 1-2-3, and J.J. Putz pitched the 7th, allowing a hit but getting all three of his outs by way of the K. Scott Linebrink came in for the 8th, and sure enough, all three outs he recorded were strikeouts (he, too, allowed a hit.) Never before in a 9-inning game have five different pitchers gotten 3 strikeouts for a team. Also, never before has a team gotten their last 9 outs by way of strikeout with 3 pitchers getting 3 each. What makes this even more impressive, as far as I’m concerned, is the fact that the White Sox managed to strike out 15 Blue Jays despite being a losing road team; therefore, it was 15 out of 24 outs, not 15 of 27. Not a bad performance at all, except for the part where they ended up trailing 7-0 after four innings.
Also, Monday’s Royals-Tigers game marked the first time that two Guillens (Carlos of the Tigers and Jose of the Royals) homered in the same game.
More LOL Mets, too. Josh Willingham of the Nationals hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana last Sunday, but it didn’t get ruled home run right away, so people started running like crazy. Adam Dunn, who had been on first when the ball was hit, had to bowl over Mets catcher Rod Barajas in order to score, and when the ball got away, Willingham tried to score as well, creating another home plate collision and initially being ruled out, until replay decided that it was a home run. Why is this in the category of “LOL Mets“? Because they were the home team, which means the home run that almost wasn’t is courtesy of their ballpark. Still, even securely in last place, this year’s Mets have a long way to go to become as LOL-worthy as last year’s were–and most of last night’s biggest weirdness (position players on the mound and pitchers in left field, for example) was courtesy of the Cardinals. Although having a starter with more saves than your closer is, well, kind of silly.
Wow. This is awesome. Again, cements the Rays’ status as a “cool” team (even if it is that stupid Jonny Gomes, bleah!), but more importantly, it allows me to make fun of stupid school administrators. Making fun of stupid school administrators is a lot of fun, albeit extremely easy. On the baseball side of things, BJ Upton and Evan Longoria have five home runs apiece in the postseason. The record for a single postseason is 7, by BALCO Barry in 2002. With his fifth of the postseason tonight, Evan Longoria sets a new rookie record for postseason home runs, one better than Miguel Cabrera in 2003.
When Upton hit his fifth home run of the postseason in Game 3, he set a new record for youngest player to hit five home runs in a postseason, previously held by Albert Pujols. This is what’s known as a “one-day record”, as Evan Longoria is younger still. Another record that lasted precisely one day: Longest postseason game by time, which was actually set twice in the same day–once early in the morning, when Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS ended at 5:02, and then late that night, when Game 5 ended at 5:49. Neither was a record for innings, which shows the increased level of commercialization that evolved after 1986 (Mets-Astros, 16 innings.) Also proof of increased commercialization? When the Astros and Braves broke the innings record with 18 innings in the ’05 NLDS, they only just barely broke the time record, 5:50. Why so close to the 14-inning game in length? LDS on ESPN vs. LCS on FOX. Purists, express your disgust.
Purists, root for the Dodgers these next two games. If the NLCS reaches a seventh game, Derek Lowe will start Game 7, making him the first pitcher to make three starts in a postseason series since…well, I don’t know who was the last to do it, but it probably wasn’t in my lifetime. Of course, since Lowe was the winner of the 2004 ALCS game 7, they’ll probably bring up the same fact that they mentioned when 2004 NLCS game winner Jeff Suppan started Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS–that only the legendary Bob Gibson has won two deciding Game 7s in his career (1964 WS and 1967 WS–and he started a third one afterwards, in the ’68 WS!). This is still the case, as while the Cards won Game 7 in ’06, Suppan got a no-decision. (Thank Endy Chavez for that. And thank Yadier Molina for the Cards winning it anyway.)
“First player whose last name starts with a
U to have a multi-home-run game in postseason play”. That is
The Seattle Mariners put on a brilliant rally last night, coming from a 7-0 deficit after seven innings to…create a save situation for Francisco Rodriguez, who picked up his record-tying fifty-seventh save of the season. In the wake of the Angels’ AL West clinch, manager Mike Scioscia says they’ll still be playing for home field advantage, but I don’t know if they’ll really be going all out. Making sure everyone’s ready for the playoffs is what’s important, and besides, the Angels are still far and away the best road team in the majors, so no home field advantage isn’t a huge deal to them. The manager also said that his usage of K-Rod wouldn’t change after the record was set and the playoff spot clinched, and this I believe. To be effective, a closer has to be in a good rhythm. Assuming that the rate of overall Angels wins to K-Rod’s saves stays constant, even a conservative 7-9 estimate for the Angels’ last 16 games would produce 61 or 62 saves. As for other hotly contested races, Chipper Jones has retaken the NL batting lead, .362 to Albert Pujols’s .360. Josh Hamilton’s once-dominant lead in RBIs has vanished, now just four ahead of Justin Morneau for the AL lead and trailing NL leader Ryan Howard by 5. Jacoby Ellsbury still leads the American League in stolen bases, 45-42 over B.J. Upton, although it would take a remarkable run for him to break the Red Sox’ team record, something that seemed a sure thing midway through the season. (He picked up number 35 on July 1). Still, it’s a sign of how unusual it is for Boston to have such a player that a player still considered a rookie is tied for 41st on the Red Sox’ all-time career stolen bases list. At this rate, he’ll likely be the team’s all-time leader by the time he’d first be eligible for free agency (if the Sox don’t sign him to an extension before he’s eligible, which they probably will.) On to the elimination scenarios… Detroit from AL Wild Card with loss and Boston win, that’s all for one-day. Two-day: Texas from AL Wild Card with two losses and a Boston win or a loss and two Boston wins; Cleveland from AL Wild Card with two losses and two Boston wins. Yeah, boring.
Final note: The first two games of this weekend’s Cubs-Astros series have been preemptively postponed due to Hurricane Ike. No word on when they’ll be made up–and trust me, with the way the NL Central/Wild Card race has been going, they will be made up.