The Most Produtive Strikeout Ever – Killer Fans, Twins Scamper

It was May 18, 1969 and the Twins were taking on the Tigers in Minnesota. In the third inning of that game, Twins’ slugger – and future Hall of Famer – Harmon Killebrew had what BBRT considers the most productive MLB strikeout ever. The Minnesota’s first baseman came to the plate with the Twins trailing 2-0 and runners on first and third with no one out.  The Killer struck out, yet during his at bat (without the aid of a passed ball, wild pitch, error, interference or balk), both runners scored, tying the game.   But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Starting for the Tigers was 1968 World Series MVP Mickey Lolich. Lolich had gone 17-9, 3.19 in 1968 and then 3-0, 1.67 with three complete games in the World Series.  For the 1969 season, he was 3-1, 4.41, Opposing him on the mound that day was the Twins’ Dave Boswell (10-13, 3.32 in 1968 and 4-3, 2.68 on the 1969 season.)  These two are only bit players, however, in the story of the most productive strikeout ever.

Boswell had given up two runs on six hits over the first three innings, while the Twins had gone scoreless, despite three hits and a walk in their first two innings on offense.  Then came the historic bottom of the third.

TovarTwins LF and leadoff hitter Cesar Tovar started the inning with a single. Then, with 2B (and future Hall of Famer) Rod Carew at the plate, Lolich balked on an attempted pickoff – sending Tovar to second. As Carew worked a base on balls, Tovar stole third.  That brought up the Twins’ big RBI man, Killebrew.  Lolich did bear down and fan “The Killer,” but in the course of the at bat:

  • The Twins pulled a double steal, Tovar swiping home and Carew taking second;
  • Carew stole third;
  • Carew stole home, tying the game.

So, during Killebrew’s strikeout, the Twins advanced four bases and scored two runs – without the aid of a passed ball, wild pitch, balk (that occurred in Carew’s at bat), interference or error.  In the process, they also tied the record for steals of                                                            home in an inning.

CArewI’d like to say it was surprising to see that bat taken out of the hands of the Twins most vaunted run producer as Tovar and Carew scampered around the bases.  This, however, was the era of Billy (Martin) Ball in Twinsville. That season, Tovar stole 45 bases; Rod Carew stole 19 bases, included home seven times; and even Killebrew had a career-high eight steals (as well as leading the league with 49 home runs and 140 RBI).

I’d also like to say the Twins won this contest, but they fell to the Tigers by a score of 8-2. Lolich picked up his fifth win (a complete game), lowering his ERA to 3.30; while Boswell dropped to 4-4, 3.42.

In 1969, The Twins won the AL West (lost to the Orioles in the ALCS) with a 97-65 record. They led the AL in runs scored with 790 – and were fourth in both home runs (163) and stolen bases (115). On the mound, they had the third-best team ERA at 3.24.

And, of course, they had the most productive strikeout ever.

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You Ain’s So Bad … Pete Richert’s MLB Debut – One for the Record Books

RichertFifty-five  years ago today, Dodgers’ pitcher Pete Richert made one of the most auspicious MLB debuts ever – setting a couple or records in the process.  In fact, it reminds of one of my favorite lines from the “Rocky” movies – in Rocky III, when Rocky Balboa tells Clubber Lang, “You ain’t so bad!”  That may be how Richert felt after his first couple of innings facing major league “clubbers.”

Richert – a 5’ 11”, 165-pound southpaw – at 22-years-old was already in his fifth pro-season.  He was what every team looked for – a left-hander who could bring some heat. In four full minor league seasons, Richert had gone 44-40, 3.71, with 742 strikeouts in 721 innings.

On April 12, 1962, the rookie came to the mound in the top of the second inning (in relief of starter Stan Williams) with the Dodgers trailing 4-0 and the Reds’ SS Eddie Kasko on second base.  Richert proceeded to fan the first MLB batter he ever faced (CF Vada Pinson) swinging.

Richert came out for the third inning and fanned the next four MLB batters he faced. (Richert remains the only pitcher with a rare four-strikeout inning in his MLB debut.)  It went like this: Reds’ RF Frank Robinson goes down swinging; 1B Gordy Coleman fans swinging, but reaches first on a passed ball; CF Wally Post strikes out swinging; C Johnny Edwards ends the inning by swinging at strike three.  But, Richert wasn’t done yet. 

In the top of the fourth, Richert got the sixth major leaguer to step in against jhim – Reds’ 3B Tommy Harper – on a called third strike. Ironically, it was Reds’ pitcher Joey Jay who ended Richert’s career-opening, MLB-record six straight strikeouts by grounding out to first base. Richert got the final out of the inning on another grounder, 2B Don Blasingame retired second to first.

The top of the fifth was uneventful, although it did include Richert’s seventh strikeout. The rookie hurler got Kasko on a fly to center; Pinson on a foul pop; Robinson reached on an outfield error; and Coleman fanned looking. The Dodgers then scored seven times in the bottom of the inning (during the rally Duke Snider pinch hit for Richert) and Joe Moeller replaced Richert on the mound in the sixth.

Richert’s final line – 3 1/3 innings pitched, no hits, no walks, no runs and seven strikeouts. He faced 12 batters, with two getting on via a passed ball and an error.  He threw 40 pitches – 33 strikes. He set a record for consecutive batters fanned to start a career and became the first (still only) MLB pitcher with a four-strikeout inning in his MLB debut.

Richert went on to finish the season 5-4, 3.87 (19 appearances, 12 starts), with 75 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings. The southpaw had a 13-season MLB career – 80-73, 3.19, 51 saves and 925 whiffs in 1,165 2/3 innings.  He was primarily a starter from 1962 to 1967 and had his best years (making the All Star team) were with the Washington Senator in 1965 and 1966.  In 1966, he went 15-12, 2.60 for a Senators’ squad that finished eighth at 70-92.

In 1968, his second season with the Orioles, Richert was moved to the bullpen and did not make another start over his final seven seasons. His best year as a reliever was with the O’s in 1970, when he appeared in 50 games, won seven and lost two, racked up 13 saves and had a 1.98 ERA. That season, Richert fanned 66 batters in 54 2/3 innings. From 1968 through his final season (1974), Richert had a 30-21 record in relief, with a 2.68 ERA and 49 saves.

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Hitting for the Cycle – Past and Present

Wil Myers photo

Wil Myers – first cycle of 2017. Photo by Minda Haas Kuhlmann

Wil Myers, first baseman for the often offense-starved San Diego Padres, yesterday (April 10, 2017) hit for the cycle (single-double-triple-home run) as the Padres topped the Rockies 5-3 at Coors Field. Myers singled in the first inning, had an RBI double in the second, a solo home run in the sixth and a triple in the eighth – all part of a four-for-four, two-run, two-RBI game.  It was only the second cycle in Padres’ history (Matt Kemp, August 14, 2015 – also at Coors Field).

Myers’ was the first MLB cycle of 2017.  The last cycle was achieved by John Jaso of the Pirates on September 28 of last season (versus Cubs).

Let’s celebrate Myers’ cycle with a look at some cycle trivia.

  • On June 18, 2000, Rockies’ second baseman Mike Lansing set an MLB record by completing a cycle in just four innings. As the Rockies topped the Diamondbacks 19-2, Lansing – hitting second in the order – hit an RBI triple to right in the first inning, added a two-run home run in the bottom of the second, hit a two-run double in the bottom of the third (the Rockies scored nine times in the inning to take a 14-1 lead), and then completed the cycle with a single to right in the fourth. Lansing then struck out in the sixth, before being pinch hit for in the eighth. The Rockies won the contest 19-2.
  • Four players have hit for the cycle a record three times: Adrian Beltre (Mariners-2008, Rangers-2012 and 2015); Bob Meusel (Yankees-1921, 1922 and 1928); Babe Herman (Brooklyn Robins-1931 twice and Cubs-1933); John Reilly (Reds-1883 twice and 1890).



Tyrone Horne – the only professional player to hit for the “Home Run Cycle.”

BBRT has written about this unique feat before, but it deserves repeating.  On July 27,  1998, Tyrone Horne, playing for the Double A Arkansas Travelers, became the only professional player (to date) to hit for the “Home Run Cycle” – bashing a solo, two-run, three-run and grand slam home run all in the same game (a 13-4 win over the San Antonio Mission). For full details, click here.





  • The Expos’ Tim Foli is the only player to start a cycle one day and complete it the next. On April 21, 1976, Foli collected a single, double and triple in a contest against the Cubbies that was suspended in the top of the seventh due to darkness. When play resumed the following day, Foli added an eighth-inning home run. (The Expos prevailed 12-6.)
  • Adrian Beltre has hit a record-tying three cycles – all at Arlington (twice for the hometown Rangers and once for the visiting Mariners, making him the only player to hit for the cycle in the same stadium for two different teams).
  • Four players have hit for cycle twice in the same season: John Reilly (American Association Red Stockings- 1883); Tip O’Neill (American Association St. Louis Browns-1887); Babe Herman (NL Brooklyn Robins-1931);  Aaron Hill (NL Arizona Diamondbacks-2012);
  • John Reilly (Reds) and Tip O‘Neill (St. Louis Brown Stockings, American Association) had the shortest time between cycles at just seven days. Reilly’s came on September 12 and September 19, 1883, while O’Neill’s came on April 30 and May 7, 1887. Reilly and Aaron Hill (Diamondbacks) are the only players with two cycles in the same calendar month.  Hill achieved his on June 18 and 29, 2012.
  • The longest time between cycles goes to the Royals’ George Brett (May 28, 1979 and July 25, 1990) at 11- years/58 days.
  • The youngest MLB player ever to hit for the cycle is the NY Giants’ Mel Ott (age 20, cycle on May 16, 1929).
  • The oldest player to hit for the cycle is The Angels’ Dave Winfield (age 39, cycle on June 24, 1991).
  • Three players have hit for the cycle in both the NL and AL: Bob Watson (NL Astros-1977 and AL Red Sox-1979); John Olerud (NL Mets-1997 and AL Mariners-2001); Michael Cuddyer (AL Twins-2009 and NL Rockies-2014).


Lou Gehrig photo

Photo by dangaken

The Yankees’ 1B Lou Gehrig actually made an out while completing a cycle. On June 25, 1934, as New York topped Chicago 13-2  at Yankee Stadium, Gehrig hit two-run home run in the first inning; a  single in the third; and a double in the sixth.

Gehrig came up needing just the triple for the cycle in the seventh and hit a smash to deep center (scoring Yankees’ CF Ben Chapman). Gehrig wasn’t satisfied with a three-bagger and was thrown out at home (8-6-2) trying for an inside the park home run – thus getting credit for the triple he needed for a cycle.

  • Fourteen players have hit for the cycle in natural order (1B-2B-3B-HR) – the most recent being the Rangers’ Gary Matthews, Jr. (September 13, 2006 versus the Tigers).
  • Just six MLB players have hit for the cycle in reverse order, the most recent being the Indians’ Rajai Davis on July 2, 2016.
  • No team has hit for the cycle more time than the Giants (25). The Marlins are the only team with zero cycles.
  • The most cycles (all MLB teams) in any given season is eight (1933 and 2009).

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Holliday Takes A Walk in the Park – Five Times


Yesterday (April 9, 2017), the Baltimore Orioles’ apparently decided to give New York Yankees’ Designated Hitter Matt Holliday a holiday – at least from hitting.  Holliday came to the plate five times and walked five times.  For the day, Holliday was zero-for-zero with zero runs scored and zero RBI – despite being on base five times in five plate appearances.  It was truly a Holliday “walk-in-the-park.”  Oh yes, the Bombers won 7-3.

Here’s how Holliday’s day went.

  • With two out in the top of the first Wade Miley walked Holliday – and then picked him off first for the final out.
  • With one out and Brett Gardner (who had walked) on first in the top of the third, Miley again walked Holliday, but pitched out of the jam. Baltimore up 1-0.
  • In the top of the fifth, with two outs and Aaron Hicks on second, Miley again walked Holliday – and, again, pitched out of the jam (getting Chris Carter on a groundout to shortstop).
  • With one out and no one on in the top of the seventh, the Orioles now up 3-2 and Tyler Wilson pitching, the Orioles brought in Mychal Givens to pitch to Holliday. Givens walked Holliday and then gave up a single to Chris Carter.  Givens, however, worked out of the difficulties, retiring Starlin Castro on a pop up and Chase Headley on an infield liner.
  • In the top of the ninth – game tied 3-3 – Darren O’Day came on to pitch to Holliday (leading off the inning). Surprise! Holliday walked – and was replaced by pinch-runner Jacob Ellsbury (who later scored the go ahead run.)

The Yanks scored four runs in the ninth, delivering the Orioles their first loss of the season.

Holliday’s five free passes, by the way, tied the Yankees’ record for a game, but fell one short of the MLB record of six.  The Red Sox’ Jimmie Foxx (June 16, 1938) and Walt Wilmot of the Chicago Colts (August 22, 1891) share the MLB record for a nine-inning contest. More recently, three players have drawn six walks in an extra- inning contest:  Bryce Harper, Nationals (in a 13-inning game versus the Cubs on May 8, 2016); Jeff Bagwell, Astros (in a 16-inning contest versus the Marlins on August 20, 1999); and Andre Thorton, Indians (in a 16-inning game versus the Orioles on May 2, 1984).

A few other bases on ball tidbits:

  • Only twice has an MLB player totaled eight free passes in a doubleheader. (Remember those?)  Max Bishop did it for the Philadelphia Athletics (playing 2B and leading off versus the Yankees) on May 21, 1930 and again on July 8, 1934 (playing against the Athletics; at 2B and leading off for the Red Sox).
Max "Camera Eye" Bishop

Max “Camera Eye” Bishop

Max Bishop – whose nickname was appropriately “Camera Eye” – drew 1,153 walks in 1,338 MLB games (over 12 seasons). While he led his league in walks only once (128 in 1929), Bishop topped 100 free passes in seven seasons. Bishop averaged one walk every five plate appearances for his career – helping translate a .271 batting average into a .423 on base percentage.  The only player with a higher percentage of walks per plate appearance than Bishop is Ted Williams.  Note: BBRT found a discrepancy in searching out Bishop’s walk totals.  Sources differ on his overall total (1,153 or 1,156), due to disagreement on his 1928 total – some sources list it as 97 walks, others as 100. I am continuing to dig into this, as the three walk difference in 1928 does make a difference.  With them, Bishop has eight straight 100 or more walk seasons, giving him a share of the MLB record.

  • The MLB career leaders for walks drawn is Barry Bonds, with 2,558 (in 22 seasons). Bonds also holds the single-season record at 232 (in 2004) and, in fact, the top three season totals. Bonds also holds the records for consecutive seasons leading his league (five – 2000-2004); total seasons leading his league (12 – 1992, 1994-97, 2000-04, 2006-07); and total seasons of 100 or more walks (14).
  • The most consecutive walks received by a hitter is seven. Notably, in the NL, all three players to accomplish this played for the Giants: Mel Ott (June 16-18, 1943); Eddie Stanky (August 28-29, 1950); and Barry Bonds (September 14-26, 2004).  In the AL, it was Billy Rogell (Tigers – August 17-19, 1938) and Jose Canseco (A’s – August 4-5, 1992).


Only four players have drawn 2,000+ career walks: Barry Bonds (2,558); Rickey Henderson ((2,190); Babe Ruth (2,062); and Ted Williams (2,012).  Of these Rickey Henderson is the outlier – the only right-handed hitter and the only one of the four with less than 500 home runs (297).

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Highest Attendance Ever at a Game Between MLB Teams

On this day (March 29) in 2008, a record 115,300 baseball fans attended an exhibition game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox at the  Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.  (Still the largest crowd for a game between two MLB teams). The game, which raised more than $1 million for the Dodgers’ “Think Cure!” cancer research charity, celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Dodgers’ 1958 move from Brooklyn to LA.  The Dodgers played in the Coliseum from 1958 to 1961. (Dodger Stadium at Chavez Ravine opened in 1962.)

Note: While the newly transferred LA Dodgers awaited the 1962 completion of Dodger Stadium, they had a trio of potential sites for regular season games: LA’s Wrigley Field (most famous as the site of the Home Run Derby television series); the Rose Bowl; and the Coliseum.

The site of the March 29, 2008 game (and the Dodgers’ first four Los Angeles seasons), the Coliseum was originally built in 1923 primarily as a football stadium (also hosted Olympic events in 1932 and 1984).   The oval-shaped Coliseum proved difficult to transform into a baseball park.  The Dodgers ended up with: a VERY short left field porch (250-feet down the line, topped with a 40-foot-high screen);  320-feet to the left-center alley;  425-feet to center; a VERY deep 440-feet to right center; a right-field fence angling sharply to a  300-foot right field line.  BBRT note: For the 2008 exhibition game, left field – adorned with a sixty-foot-high fence –  was just 201 feet from the batters’ box.

By the way, for those who are interested in such things, the Red Sox won that March 29, 2008 game 7-4. Tim Wakefield started and threw five shutout innings, supported by a pair of Kevins – catcher Kevin Cash hit a three-run homer and first baseman Kevin Youkilis hit a two-run shot. For the Dodgers, Esteban Loiaza took the loss (five runs, two earned, in three innings) and first baseman James Loney hit a solo shot.

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Baseball Stocking Stuffers – Gene Rye, John Schuerholz and Mickey Mantle

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Happy Holidays to all!  To kick of the season, BBRT is providing an alternative to the usual in-depth posts found here. Instead I am posting are a trio of stocking stuffers focusing on the most powerful one-inning display of batsmanship ever (Gene Rye); the Today’s Game Era Hall of Fame ballot (John Schuerholz, Bud Selig); and my favorite comic book (Mickey Mantle).


Gene Rye. Photo: Society for American Baseball Research.

Gene Rye. Photo: Society for American Baseball Research.

Boston Red Sox outfielder Gene Rye came by his nickname naturally – the 5’ 6”, 165-pounder was known around baseball as “Half Pint.”  However, for one inning of one game, this small-of-stature ballplayer carried professional baseball’s biggest and most powerful bat.  On August 6, 1930, playing for the Class A Texas League Waco Cubs (against the Beaumont Exporters), Rye became the first (and still only) professional ballplayer to hit three home runs in a single inning.

It came about in the bottom of the eighth inning – which opened with Waco trailing Beaumont 6-2 and Rye leading off.  The left-handed swinging Rye took Gerald Mallet deep to left for a solo round tripper.  That blast sparked the Waco offense and the team batted around – bringing Rye to the plate for a second time in the frame, now facing reliever Walter Newman with Waco up 9-6 and two men on base. Rye upped the lead to 12-6, this time pulling the ball over the right field fence.   Beaumont may have decided the game was out of reach because Newman was still on the mound when Rye came up for a third time in the inning – with the bases loaded. In his third at bat of the inning, Rye again pulled the ball over the right field wall for a Grand Slam. By the time the inning was over, Waco had scored 18 runs and held at 20-6 lead. (They would eventually win 20-7.)  Gene “Half Pint” Rye (whose real name was Eugene Mercantelli) had set the professional records for home runs (3), total bases (12) and RBI (8) in an inning.  Rye still holds all three records – although the RBI record for an inning has since been tied by:  Ken Myers of the Class C (Sunset League) Las Vegas Wranglers on May 2, 1947; Armando Flores of the 1952 Class B (Gulf Coast League) Laredo Apaches on June 25, 1953; Lance Junker of the Class A (California League) Redwood Pioneers on June 30, 1983; and, at the Major League level, Fernando Tatis of the Cardinals on April 23, 1999.  All four of these players tied the single-inning RBI mark by virtue of two Grand Slams in the inning.

Rye, who began his professional baseball career in 1925 (at age 18), had been on the rise when he fashioned his record-setting inning. In 1928, he hit .289 with 12 home runs for Winston-Salem in the Class C Piedmont League. In 1929, he moved up to the Class A Waco squad and  hit .284, with 19 round trippers.  In 1930 – the season of his three-homer inning – the 24-year-old Rye hit .367 with 26 home runs.

Not surprisingly, Rye’s emerging power attracted interest at baseball’s highest level.  In 1930, Half-Pint Rye found himself playing for the Boston Red Sox. However, a broken wrist in Spring Training limited his effectiveness and he played in only 17 games (.179 average with no home runs and one RBI) before being sent to the minors in June. He played in the minors until 1936, but never made it back to the major leagues.

BBRT note:  In his big inning, Rye nearly hit for the “Home Run Cycle” – a solo, two-run, three-run and Grand Slam homer.  Only once player – Tyrone Horne – had his for the Home Run cycle in a single game.  You can read that story here.

BBRT on the Today’s Game Era Hall of Fame Ballot

John Schuerholz - unanimous selection on BB HOF Today's Game ballot. Photo by The SABR Office

John Schuerholz – unanimous selection on BB HOF Today’s Game ballot. Photo by The SABR Office

BBRT was two-for-three in predicting electees on the Today’s Game Era Hall of Fame ballot.  BBRT predicted three of the ten candidates would get the necessary 75 percent support: Executives John Schuerholz and Bud Selig, and manager Lou Piniella. Schuerholz and Selig made it. Piniella finished third in the voting, but received only seven of the 12 votes necessary. You can read BBRT’s take on the entire list of candidates here. 

As far as the results. Schuerholz – with his fine work with the Royals and (especially) the Braves was an easy pick.  Like many “old-schoolers,” I had reservations about Selig (especially given how his contraction talked affected Minnesota), but MLB did flourish (and work through some tough challenges) during his tenure as commissioner.  I also thought Piniella’ 23 managerial seasons, 1,835 wins and three Manager of the Year Awards should have earned him at least 75 percent support. (Piniella has the 14th most managerial wins in MLB history. Thirteen of the 14 managers ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame – as well as a host of those who trail him.  Looking to recent history, for example, Piniella has 236 more wins than Tommy Lasorda, 264 more than Dick Williams, and 355 more than Earl Weaver.

Note: For BBRT’s take on the traditional BBWAA player HOF ballot (results announced next month), click here.

My Favorite Comic Book

mantlec1Twenty-five years ago this month (December 1991), Magnum Comics released the first issue of Mickey Mantle Comics – dedicated to exploring the life (in comic book form) of this Yankee icon. The comic book also included a section on the Boston Braves’ “Super-Sub” Sibby Sisti, as well as Mantle and Sisti commemorative post cards. On its inside back cover, Magnum Comics previewed upcoming issues on Brooks Robinson and Duke Snider.mantle2







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World Series Game Three Wrap Up A Little Late

Baseball Roundtable Game Three Wrap Up will be posted early- to mid-afternoon.  Have to attend the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Halsey Hall Chapter Meeting (9 a.m.-lunch). Will be posting on Terry Francona’s ability to consistently “pull the right lever,” key moments in Game Three, Cleveland’s bullpen, wild fans in Cleveland and Chicago,  Jose Altuve’s Player of the Year Award, the Cubs’ last World Series Championship (Ty Cobb on one side and Tinker-to Evers-to Chance on the other). Stop in at BBRT before the game.  

2016 World Series – Game One Observations

Game One of the 2016 World Series is in the  books – a 6-0 Cleveland win.  There were expected (Corey Kluber) and unexpected (Roberto Perez) heroes, a notable turning point (seventh inning), 24 strikeouts (15 recorded by Cleveland pitchers) and three players who started the Series with three-hit games (Ben Zobrist, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez).

How meaningful will this Indians win be?  That remains to be seen, but since the best-of -seven format came into play, Game One Winners have a 109-60 edge in World Championships.  Still, with Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks on tap for the next two games, I like the Cubs’ chances.

Here are a few random observations from Game One.

A is for Apple. B is for Bat. … K is for Kluber – an Expected Hero

Corey Kluber photo

Photo by apardavila

Corey Kluber, who started on the mound for the Indians, was an expected hero.  The 2014 Cy Young Award winner was the staff ace in 2016, going 18-9, 3.14 and fanning 227 batters in 215 innings. He set the tone from the start, fanning eight over the first three innings (a WS record for the first three frames) and whiffing nine (versus four hits and no walks) over six shutout innings.  Andrew Miller and Cody Allen added six more strikeouts to wrap up the 6-0 shutout.  A couple of observations: Kluber threw just 88 pitches, which opens options for how he is used (three starts or two starts and a relief appearance) later in the Series.  ALCS MVP Andrew Miller threw 46 pitches in relief, which may limit how he is used in Game Two.

Core Kluber’s outing works to magnify Bob Gibson’s dominance when he fanned a World Series single-game record of 17 – as his Cardinals topped the Tigers 4-0 in Game One of the 1968 WS. Gibson threw three complete games in that Series (1.67 ERA), fanning 35 in 27 innings.

An Unexpected Hero

Number-nine hitter Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez  – who hit .183, with just three home runs in 61 games in the regular season and was hitting just .174 in the post season –  was hardly considered a likely offensive hero.   All he did was belt two home runs in four at bats and drive in four of the Indians’ six runs.

Before Roberto Perez’ two-home run inaugural World Series game, the only other catcher to homer twice in his first WS game was the Oakland A’s Gene Tenace in 1972.  Tenace, who had hit .225 with five home runs in 82 regular season games and was hitting .059 in the post season (ALCS), went on to hit .348 in the WS, with a Series-leading eight hits, five runs, four home runs and nine RBI. The A’s topped the Red in seven games, despite being outscored 21-16. Tenace was the WS MVP.

Turning Point

Some may say the turning point came when Corey Kluber took the mound.  For my money, it came in the top of the seventh when Cubs’ LF Ben Zobrist opened the inning with a single off Kluber – followed by a walk to DH Kyle Schwarber and a single to 2B Javier Baez (both given up by Andrew Miller, who had replaced Kluber), loading the bases with no outs.   Miller went on to retire pinch hitter Wilson Contreras on a short fly (runners holding) to center and SS Addison Russell and C David  Ross on swinging strikeouts. The Cubs failed to score after loading the sacks with no outs.  Game. Set. Match.  Kudos to manager Terry Francona to sticking to his pitching plan in that tense inning.

It’s Not Always Power

While four of the Indians’ tallies came on home runs (Roberto Perez with two), the other two runs scored on a bases-loaded infield single (3B Jose Ramirez) and a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch (LF Brandon Guyer).  That Guyer should “take on for the team” should be no surprise. Guyer led the American League in HBP with 31 this past season (in just 101 games). Guyer was also the AL HBP leader in 2015, with 24.

 A Perfect World Series 9-0

Terry Francona photo

Terry Francona – plenty to smile about. Photo by Keith Allison

Indians’ Manager Terry Francona is piloting his third World Series and has yet to lose a Fall Classic game.  In 2004, his Red Sox swept the Cardinals and in 2007 his Boston squad topped the Rockies 4-0. Now, if only the TV commentators would stop referring to him as “Tito.”  Yes, I know it’s his nickname, but my mind always seems to revert to his dad –  John Patsy “Tito” Francona – whom I saw play often in his 15-seeason (1956-70) career as an MLB OF/1B.  Terry, by the way, was an MLB OF/1B from 1981-90.



While Terry Francona s’ streak of managing nine World Series wining games (still active) without a loss is an MLB record, the record for consecutive  World Series game wins managed belongs to Joe Torre at 14 (1996 – Games Three-through-Six versus Braves; 1998 – four-game sweep versus Padres; 1999 – four-game sweep versus Braves; 2000 – Games One and Two versus Mets.  

Hope from Rehab

Cubs’ DH Kyle Schwarber, out with an injury since early April, was activated for the World Series.  Schwarber who had knee surgery in mid-April was not expected back this season.  He surprised a lot of people yesterday, picking up a double and a walk in four plate appearances. In 2015, as a rookie, Schwarber hit .246, with 16 home runs and 43 RBI in 69 games and then hit five home runs in nine post-season contests.   The Cubs are hoping his power has an impact in the 2016 Series.


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Another Dose of Dozier – and Some Historic Perspective

Brian Dozier photo

Brian Dozier – bringing 40-HR power to the Twins lineup. Photo by rtclauss

My Twins (BBRT is Minnesota-based) have not given me a lot to write about this year (a 53-91 season record will do that).  That is, not until Monday night. In the third inning of the Twins’ September 12, 2016 contest against the Tigers, Minnesota 2B Brian Dozier launched a solo home run off Tigers’ starter Daniel Norris to tie the game 1-1 (the Twins eventually lost 4-2).  It was Dozier’s 40th home run of the season and made him the first American Leaguer to reach 40 home runs while playing primarily second base (Yankees’ 2B Alfonso Soriano hit 39 HR’s in 2002). BBRT note:  38 of Dozier’s homers have come while playing second base, with two coming as DH.

The solo shot to left field also made Dozier just the second Twin and third player in franchise history to reach the 40-homer mark. Harmon Killebrew, who reached 40 or more round trippers in seven seasons was the last Twin to hit 40 (41 in 1970) and holds the franchise record of 49 in a season (1964 and 1969). BBRT note: Killebrew reached 40 while playing primarily at: 3B (1959); 1B (1967); LF (1962-63-64); and splitting time between 1B/3B (1961-1969). The only other Senator/Twin to reach 40 was OF/1B Roy Sievers (42 in 1957).  Dozier ended Monday’s game trailing AL (and MLB) HR leader Mark Trumbo (Orioles) by just one in the HR race. (The last Twin to lead the league in HR’s was Killebrew in 1969. The last second baseman to win a HR title was the Cubs’ Ryan Sandberg, with 40 home runs in 1990. The last 2B to win the AL HR crown – tie – was the Angels’ Bobby Grich, with 22 HR’s in the strike-shortened 1981 season).

Dozier is now just three homers shy of the most ever hit by a player taking the field primarily at second base – Davey Johnson of the Braves in 1973.  Looking exclusively at HR’s while in the lineup at 2B (remember, Dozier has 38 of those),  Davey Johnson (again, 1973) and the Cardinals’ Rogers Hornsby (1922) share the record at 42.  Jeff Kent (Blue Jays, Mets, Indians, Giants,  Astros, Dodgers) holds the record for career home runs hit while playing second base at 351 (out of 377 total home runs, the MLB high for players playing primarily at 2B). Kent hit a career-high 37 home runs for the Giants in 2002 – and had 12 seasons of 20 or more round trippers. Dozier now stands at 115 career (MLB) round trippers.  Dozier is also closing in on 100 RBI, with 94 for the season.  The single-season record for second baseman belongs to Hornsby (152 in 1922).

Rogers Hornsby’s 1922 season for the Cardinals is the best in MLB history for a second sacker. He  led the league in batting average (.401); home runs (42); RBI (152); hits (250); runs (141); doubles (46); total bases 450) – and threw in 14 triples and 17 stolen bases.

Dozier’s power is a bit of a surprise.  The 29-year-old’s previous MLB high for a season is 28 home runs (2015) and he never reach double figures in a minor league campaign. His HR totals, however, have increased in each of his five major league campaigns – and he has established himself as a legitimate power threat.  Perhaps more surprising about where Dozier stands now is how he started the 2016 season.  Dozier hit just .191 with three home runs in April. As of June 5, Dozier’s average stood at .206, with just six home runs and 22 RBI. Since that time (through September 12), Dozier’s line is .316-34-72.  At the close of Monday’s games, Dozier’s season stat line was .277-40-94.


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliqaury; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Photo by rtclauss

The Day Raul Ibanez “Did Not” Hit Into A Triple Play

We’ve already seen six triple plays in the Major Leagues this year, which led me to consider the unique circumstances that can lead to a triple-killing.  Well, it just so happens that today (September 2) is the tenth anniversary of one of the most unique triple plays ever – one in which the bat never made contact with the ball.

Raul Ibanez Mariners photo

Photo by Keith Allison

On September 6, 2006, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were taking on the Seattle Mariners (in Tampa) – when Seattle LF/cleanup hitter Raul Ibanez did (uniquely) not hit into a triple play.  Yet, by not hitting, Ibanez set a triple play in motion.

It happened in the top of the first, with J.P. Howell pitching for the Devils Rays (as they were known then). Seattle’s speedy CF Ichiro Suzuki led off with an infield single. 2B Jose Lopez followed with a walk and then 3B Adrian Beltre singled; bringing home Suzuki and sending Lopez to third.  That set the stage.

Runners on first and third, no one out and LF Raul Ibanez at the plate.  Ibanez worked the count full and then took a third strike. Beltre was off with the pitch and gunned down – catcher Dioner Navarro to shortstop Ben Zobrist.  Meanwhile, Lopez attempted to score from third on the play at second – and was thrown out – Zobrist back to Navarro.  So, there it was a 2-6-2 triple play, with the bat never touching the ball.  Ibanez had truly not hit into a triple play. Ultimately, the Mariners won the game 4-3, with the winning run (carried by Ibanez) scoring on a more traditional sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth.

As an aside, the Devil Rays were no strangers to unique triple plays in 2006.  Earlier in the season, in the second inning of a June 11, 2006 game against the Royals in Kansas City, Tampa Bay was the victim of an unusual triple-killing.  DH Jonny Gomes led off the inning with a home run against Royals’ righty Scott Elarton. Then 3B Aubrey Huff walked and CF Rocco Baldelli singled – sending Huff to third.  The stage was set for RF Russell Branyan – runners on first and third and no one out. (Sound familiar?)

Branyan flied out to Royals’ CF David DeJesus, who made a nice catch in shallow center.  Huff went home, apparently scoring, as DeJesus’ throw sailed well over catcher Paul Bako’s head. Baldelli attempted to take second on the wild throw, but was thrown out by pitcher Elarton, who was alertly backing up the play at the plate.  Royals’ SS Angel Berroa took the throw and tagged out Baldelli. He then threw to 3B Mark Teahen, with the Royals asserting that Huff had left the base early.  The umpires agreed and the Royals had an 8-1-6-5 triple play. Tampa Bay won the game 8-2.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.