Humber’s One MLB Complete Game – “Perfect” Timing

HumberFive years ago today (April 21, 2012), the White Sox’ Phil Humber tossed a perfect game in a 4-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners in Seattle.  Humber finished off the Mariners in 96 pitches, 67 for strikes, going to a three-ball count on only three batters.  In his gem, Humber struck out nine (including the final batter) and there were only six outfield putouts.

Humber’s “perfecto” intrigues me – primarily because it was his first AND ONLY career complete game (eight seasons, 97 appearances, 51 starts). Humber ended with a career line of 16-23, 5.30; and his 16 career wins are the fewest ever for a pitcher who tossed a perfect game. Note: The White Sox Charlie Robertson had the fewest career victories at the time of his perfect game (April 30, 1922) – just one. Robertson’s perfect outing came in just his fourth career start (fifth career appearance).

Humber’s also was the first of three perfect games in 2012 – the only MLB season with three perfect games. Note: There has not been a perfect game in MLB since 2012.

FOR MY MINNESOTA FOLLOWERS – THERE IS A TWINS’ CONNECTION

Humber, who pitched in the majors from 2006 to 2013, was a former Twin (2008-09), as was his White Sox battery mate that day – A.J. Pierzynski.  Pierzynski, had been a Twin from 1998 through 2003.

As if often case, contemplating one unique baseball achievement sent me to the record books.   So, here are a few facts about MLB’s 23 perfect games to date. (Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com and MLB.com for lost of statistical resouces._

“Necessity is the mother of concentration.”  More perfect games (seven of 23) have ended in the narrowest of victories, by the score of 1-0.

The highest score in a perfect game?  That would be 10-0, the Giants’ Matt Cain’s margin over the Astros in his May 13, 2012 perfect outing.

PERFECTLY TIMED

On July 18, 1999, the Yankees’ David Cone pitched the first perfect game in interleague play – as New York topped Montreal 6-0 at Yankee Stadium. It couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.  It was Yogi Berra Day at the stadium and Don Larsen (who pitched the only World Series perfect game) threw out the first pitch to Berra (who caught Larsen’s 1956 perfect outing).

Another perfecto factThe largest attendance for a perfect game was 65,519 for Don Larsen’s 1956 World Series perfect day of work.  The smallest crowd to witness a “perfecto) was 6,298, when Catfish Hunter shut down the Twins in Oakland on May 8, 1968 – although tens of thousands claim to have been there.  The announced attendance for Humber’s perfect outing was 22,472.

Home Cookin’ seems to help. Of the 23 perfect games, 17 were at home.

Reaching high for perfection.  Randy Johnson’s perfect game on May 18, 2004 (Diamondbacks 2 – Braves 0 in Atlanta) made Johnson the oldest 40 years – 256 days) and tallest (6’10”) pitcher to complete a perfect game.

Way to go, Kid! John Montgomery Ward is the youngest player to toss a perfect game. He achieved his feat for the NL’s Providence Grays (in a 5-0 win over the Buffalo Bisons) on June 17, 1880 – at the age of 20 years and 105 days.

Let’s get this over with. Cy Young pitched the quickest perfect game (one hour and 25 minutes), as the Boston Americans topped the Philadelphia Athletics 3-0 on May 5, 1904.

Savoring the moment(s). The most time-consuming perfect game was pitched by David Wells (two hours and forty minutes), with his Yankees besting the Twins 4-0 on May 17, 1998.

ON THE BIG STAGE

Don Larsen pitched the only World Series perfect game on October 8, 1956, at Yankee Stadium – as the Bronx Bombers bested the rival Brooklyn Dodgers 2-0.  Larsen struck out seven, went to a three-ball count only once and saw nine outfield putouts.

JossWho needs to waste a pitch? Addie Joss of the Cleveland Naps used the fewest pitches to log a perfect nine-innings – 74 pitches – just three strikeouts (the lowest ever in a perfect game) – as he beat the White Sox (in Cleveland) on October 2, 1908.  Joss’ perfect game came in the final days of a tense pennat race. With just three game left in the season, Detroit led Cleveland by 1/2 game and Chicago by 1 1/2 – with Chicago playing at Cleveland. It was a tight pitching duel between Joss and Chicago ace Ed Walsh (who gave up just four hits and notched 15 strikeouts in a  losing cause). The only run  was scored by Cleveland in the third inning on a single by Cleveland CF Joe Birmingham. Walsh appeared to have him picked off of  first, but Birmingham took off for second and White Sox’ first baseman Fank Isbell’s throw to second hit the runner  and caromed into the outfield – enabling Birmingham to take third. He then scored the game’s only run on a Walsh wild pitch. Detroit, however, held to take the pennant by 1/2 game over Cleveland. Joss, by the way, finished the season at 24-11, with a leagye-low 1.16 ERA; while Walsh wone a league-high 40 games (15 losses) with a 1.42 ERA. (How times have changed.)

It take a lot of pitches to notch 14 strikeouts.  The most pitches in a perfecto?  Matt Cain’s 125 (86 strikes), as the Giants topped the Astros 10-0 on June 13, 2012.  Cain, tied Sandy Koufax for the most strikeouts in a perfect game.

AS CLOSE AS IT GETS

Sandy Koufax logged a record three immaculate innings.

Sandy Koufax logged a record three immaculate innings.

Perhaps the most dominant perfect game performance (if such a distinction can be brought to perfection) belongs to Dodgers’ lefty Sandy Koufax, who tossed his perfect game against the Cubs in LA – winning 1-0 on September 9, 1965.  Koufax struck out a perfect-game record 14 in that contest, including the last six batters (the last five on swinging third strikes).

The Dodger southpaw’s accomplishment was especially meaningful since he needed every out and every pitch to best Cubs’ Bob Hendley – who himself allowed only two base runners the whole game.  Hendley pitched a one-hitter, giving up a lone double, one walk and one UNEARNED run. The Dodgers scored their lone tally in the fifth on a walk to Lou Johnson, a sacrifice bunt by Ron Fairly (moving Johnson to second), a stolen base (third base) by Johnson and a throwing error by the catcher that let Johnson come in to score. The one hit and two base runners is the record-low offensive output for both teams in any MLB game.

Perfect game record least likely to be broken?  When Jim “Catfish” Hunter tossed his perfect game against the Twins (May 8, 1968, at Oakland), he not only notched 11 strikeouts (including the last batter) – he added insult to injury by collecting three hits in four at bats (a double and two singles) and driving in three of Oakland’s four runs.  The best offensive performance ever by a perfect hurler.The Dodgers’

 

WHAT’S A GUY GOTTA DO?

HaddixOkay, it’s not an official perfect game, but on May 26, 1959, the Pirates’ Harvey Haddix retired the first 36 batters he faced against the powerful – defending NL Champion – Milwaukee Braves’ line up. That’s right, 12 perfect innings.  The only problem?    The Pirates’ lineup, while managing 12 hits (and putting the ball in play consistently – only two strikeouts) against fidgety Lew Burdette, had not pushed a run across.

Then, in the unlucky bottom of the 13th, Pirates’ third baseman Don Hoak’s throwing error let Braves’ 2B  Felix Mantilla (leading off the inning) reach first. 3B Eddie Mathews sacrificed him to second before RF Hank Aaron was intentionally walked.  Still, one out in the 13th, no-hitter, shutout, complete game and potential win still intact.  Then, 1B Joe Adcock hit a home run – which turned into a game-winning double when Adcock passed Aaron the base paths. All Haddix got for retiring the most consecutive batters from the start of any MLB game?  A complete game loss.

Perfect Games – The List  (Home Team in Bold)

Felix Hernandez, Seattle 1/Tampa Bay 0 … August 15, 2012

Matt Cain, San Francisco 10/Houston 0 … June 13, 2012

Phil Humber, Chicago 4/Seattle 0 … April 21, 2012

Roy Halladay, Philadelphia 1/Florida 0 … May 29, 2010

Dallas Braden, Oakland 4/Tampa Bay 0 … May 9, 2010

Mark Buehrle, Chicago 5/Tampa Bay 0 … July 23, 2009

Randy Johnson, Arizona 2/Atlanta 0 … May 18, 2004

David Cone, New York 6/Montreal 0 … July 18, 1999

David Wells, New York 4/Minnesota 0 … May 17, 1998

Kenny Rogers, Texas 4/California 0 … JUly 28, 1994

Dennis Martinez, Montreal 2/Los Angeles 0 … July 28, 1991

Tom Browning, Cincinatti 1/Los Angeles 0 … September 16, 1988

Mike Witt, California 1/Texas 0 … September 30, 1984

Len Barker, Cleveland 3/Toronto 0 … May 15, 1981

Jim Hunter, Oakland 4/Minnesota 0 … May 8, 1968

Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles 1/Chicago 0 … September 9, 1965

Jim Bunning, Philadelphia 6/New York 0 … June 21, 1964

Don Larsen, New York 2/Brooklyn 0 … October 8, 1956

Charlie Robertson, Chicago 2/Detroit 0 … April 30, 1922

Addie Joss, Cleveland 1/Chicago 0 … October 2, 1908

Cy Young, Boston 3/Philadelphia 0 … May 5, 1904

John Montgomery Ward, Providence 5/Buffalo* 0 … June 17, 1880

Lee Richmond, Worcester 1/Cleveland 0 … June 12, 1980

*Game played in Providence, coin toss made Buffalo “home team.”

 

Follow and Like the Baseball Roundtable Facebook page – for more baseball talk and, soon to come, drawings for bobble heads.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

 

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

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.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

 

Follow and like the Baseball Roundtable FaceBook page here.   More baseball and notification and links to new baseballroundtable.com blog posts.  There will also be some baseball-related give-aways as the season progresses.

 

 

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

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).

THE HOME RUN CYCLE – IT’S HAPPENED JUST ONCE

horne

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).

THIS CYCLE WAS A STRETCH

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).

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

 

Follow and like the Baseball Roundtable FaceBook page here.   More baseball and notification and links to new baseballroundtable.com blog posts.  There will also be some baseball-related give-aways as the season progresses.

 

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

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).

WHICH OF THESE IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER ONES?

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).

I tweet baseball @David BBRT

 

You can also follow me at the Baseball Roundtable FaceBook page – click here to go the the page – and Follow and/or Like. 

 

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

Triple Crown Trivia – When Both Leagues Had a Triple Crown Winner (and more)

BBRT was looking at 2017’s Spring Training Stats and realized that (according to MLB.com) two players came close to earning the 2017 Spring Training Triple Crown (batting average – home runs – RBI) for hitters. The Yankees’ Greg Bird led qualifying AL players in 2017 Spring Training average (.451) and home runs (eight) and was sixth in RBI (15). In the NL, the Brewers’ Jesus Aguilar was the leader in average (.452); second to Bryce Harper in home runs (seven to Harpers’ eight); and second to the Cubs’ Ian Happ in RBI (19 to Happ’s 21).  That got me to thinking about how difficult it is to capture the regular season Triple Crown – it’s happened only 16 times in MLB history. So, I decided to do a post on some bits of Triple Crown trivia.

Jimmie Foxx - one of two 1933 Triple Crown winners.

Jimmie Foxx – one of two 1933 Triple Crown winners.

One thing that stood out was that, despite the relative rarity of the Triple Crown achievement, there was actually one year in which there was a Triple Crown winner in both leagues – and the two players suited up in the same city.  It was 1933, and the Triple Crown winners were Chuck Klein (.368-28-120) of the Philadelphia Phillies (NL) and Jimmie Foxx (.356-48-163) of the Philadelphia Athletics (AL). Foxx’s Athletics finished third at 79-72, while Klein’s Phillies finished seventh at 60-92.

Let’s take a look at some additional Triple Crown trivia.

 

THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A REPEAT TRIPLE CROWN WINNER

  • Twice in MLB history, a Triple Crown winner has been foiled in his attempt to “repeat” by a player who achieved a Triple Crown of his own. Jimmie Foxx, who won the AL Triple Crown in 1933, saw his repeat effort overshadowed by Yankee Lou Gehrig’s 1934 Triple Crown season.  In 1966, Frank Robinson won the AL Triple Crown with the Orioles, and Carl Yastrzemski followed up in 1967 with a TC of his own for the Red Sox
  • One Triple Crown winner was stopped in his attempt to repeat his achievement by a greater conflict – Ted Williams missed the season following his first Triple Crown due to military service in WWII.
  • Ty Cobb may have come the closest ever to a Triple Crown repeat; winning the TC in 1909 and finishing second in all three categories the following season.
  • Only eight times has a Triple Crown winner come back to lead his league in at least one of the three categories – and that has most often been batting average. Seven of the eight repeats were in batting average; while one Triple Crown winner – the Cardinals’ Joe Medwick – won the RBI title the year after his Triple Crown.

A few other Triple Crown facts:

  • There have been 16 total Triple Crown winners (14 different players). There have been only two two-time TC winners, Rogers Hornsby (1922 & 1925) and Ted Williams (1942 & 1947).
  • Of the fourteen players to win the Triple Crown only two are not in the Hall of Fame:  Miguel Cabrera (2012), still active (the most recent TC winner) and Paul Hines (1878), the very first Triple Crown winner.
  • Five league Triple Crown winners actually led both leagues in all three Triple Crown categories: Ty Cobb (1909); Rogers Hornsby (1925); Lou Gehrig ((1934): Ted Williams (1942); Mickey Mantle (1956).
  • The last six Triple Crown winners have been American Leaguers; the most recent NL Triple Crown winner was St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder Joe Medwick in 1937 (.374-31-154).
  • Two teams have won six of the 16 Triple Crowns (37.5%) – the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox with three each.
  • None of baseball expansion teams has ever had a Triple Crown winner.
  • Ty Cobb, at age 22, is the youngest-ever TC winner, while Frank Robinson at 31 is the oldest.
  • Only five of the sixteen Triple Crown seasons have helped deliver a first place finish: 1909 Tigers (Ty Cobb); 1956 Yankees (Mickey Mantle); 1966 Orioles (Frank Robinson); 1967 Red Sox (Carl Yastrzemski); 2012 Tigers (Migual Cabrera). The other eleven Triple Crown winners contributed to two second-place finishes; four third-place; four fourth-place; and one fifth-place.

TRIPLE CROWN DOESN’T ALWAYS EQUATE TO MVP

There have been ten Triple Crown winners since the Baseball Writers Association began voting on the Most Valuable Player award in 1931 and only six of those were honored as MVPs:  Jimmie Foxx (1933); Joe Medwick  (1937); Mickey Mantle (1956); Frank Robinson (1966); Carl Yastrzemski (1967); Miguel Cabrera (2012).    Let’s take a look at those who didn’t get votes, in order of the “level of injustice.”

  1. Lou Gehrig, Yankees, 1934.

Gehrig’s .363 – 49 – 165 not only topped the American league in average, HRs, and RBI, he finished ahead of the NL leaders in all three categories as well.  Gehrig also led both leagues in on base percentage, slugging percentage and total bases.  But that’s not what earns him a five-star injustice rating.  Despite capturing the Triple Crown, Gehrig finished a distant FIFTH in the AL MVP voting; behind three members of the pennant-winning Tigers (the Yankees finished, 94-60, seven games out.) The MVP winner, Detroit catcher Mickey Cochrane, ran up a .320 – 2 – 76 total and did not lead the league in a single offensive category.   Others finishing ahead of Gehrig were Detroit second basemen Charlie Gehringer (at .356 – 11 – 127 and the AL leader in runs and hits); Yankee hurler  Lefty Gomez (26-5, 2.33 ERA, who led the league in wins, ERA, complete games, shutouts, and innings pitched); and Detroit pitcher Schoolboy Rowe (24.-8, 3.45).

  1. Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox, 1942
Ted Williams photo

Photo by wild mercury

Ted Williams’ 1942 season earns him second place on the lack-of-respect list among Triple Crown winners. In 1942, the Splendid Splinter led both leagues in all three Triple Crown categories (.356 – 36 -137), as well as in runs scored, on base percentage, slugging percentage, total bases and bases on balls. This dominance earned him a second-place finish in the MVP balloting. (Boston also finished second, to the Yankees, at 93-59, nine games behind.)

The MVP winner?  Yankees’ second baseman Joe Gordon (.322 – 18 – 103), who led the league in two offensive categories, strikeouts and grounding into double plays.  Williams, like Gehrig, earns a five-star injustice rating.

  1. Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox, 1947

Ted Williams gets a three-star injustice rating for his 1947 Triple Crown year.  This is not so much because of a lack of respect for his dominance, but because it was the second time he earned the Triple Crown, but was denied the MVP.  In 1947, Williams led the AL with .343 – 32 -114, and also led in runs scored, bases on balls, on base percentage and total bases.   The MVP winner was Yankees’ centerfielder Joe DiMaggio. (The Yankees won the pennant, Boston finished third, fourteen games out.)  DiMaggio’s season totals were .315-20-97 and he finished in MLB’s top five in runs, runs batted in, hits, total bases, doubles and triples – trailing Williams, however, in all but triples.  Still, not a major “disrespect,” unless you pile it on top of the 1942 voting.

  1. Chuck Klein, Philadelphia Phillies, 1933

Chuck Klein may not have been surprised to be passed over for MVP in his Triple Crown year.  First, Triple Crowns were a bit commonplace that year – 1933 – the only season in which both leagues boasted a Triple Crown winner.  They were even from the same city, Jimmy Foxx of the Philadelphia Athletics and Chuck Klein of the Phillies.  Foxx got his MVP, despite the A’s third-place finish (79-72, 19.5 games behind), but Klein was hurt by the Phillies 60-92 record and seventh-place finish (31 games behind the NY Giants).  Klein finished at .368 – 28 – 120, also leading the league in hits, doubles, on base percentage, slugging percentage and total bases.  The MVP went to Carl Hubbell of the pennant-winning Giants, who pitched his way to a 23-12 record and a 1.66 ERA – leading the NL in wins, ERA, shutouts and innings pitched.

Full List of Triple Crown Winners

1878 – Paul Hines, Providence Grays (NL) – .358-4-50

1894 – Hugh Duffy, Boston Beaneaters (NL) – .440-18-145

1901 – Nap Lajoie, Philadelphia Athletics (AL) – .426-14-125

1909 – Ty Cobb, Detroit Tigers (AL) – .377-9-107

1922 – Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals (NL) – .401-42-152

1925 – Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals (NL) – .403-39-143

1933 – Chuck Klein, Philadelphia Phillies (NL) – .368-28-120

1933 – Jimmie Foxx, Phladelphia Athletics (AL) – .356-48-163

1934 – Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees (AL) – .363-49-165

1937 – Joe Medwick, St. Louis Cardinals (NL) – .374-31-154

1942 – Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox (AL) – .356-36-137

1947 – Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox (AL) – .343-32-114

1956 – Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees (AL) – .353-52-130

1966 – Frank Robinson, Baltimore Orioles (AL) – .316-49-122

1967 – Carl Yastrzemski, Boston Red Sox (AL) – .326-44-121

2012 – Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (AL) – .330-44-139

Coming Soon – a look at the pitchers Triple Crown (wins – ERA – strikeouts). 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

 

For more baseball, Follow and Like the Baseball Roundtable Facebook Page

 

Member:  Society for American Baseball Resarch (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; Baseball Bloggers Alliance

Twins in First Place – and other Opening Day Musings

THE LAST TIME THE TWINS WERE ON TOP OF THE CENTRAL

Okay the headline may be a bit “over the top.”  But, when was the last time you might have read a headline touting the “First Place Twins?”  Not as long ago as you might think.  That would have been the morning of June 9, 2015 – as the Twins started the day with a 33-24 record, tied with the Royals for first place in the AL Central.  The Twins lost that day (to the Royals) 2-0, to slip out of the lead.  So, Opening Day 2017 was a clash of early June 2015 AL Central Division titans.  This time, however the Twins came out on top.  Side note:  It may seem longer since the Twins topped the Central Division standings since 2015 is the only season between 2011 and 2016 that the Twins avoided 90 losses.  

Here’s BBRT take on yesterday’s game – and other Opening Day musings. (What I chose to highlight may give you some idea about how I watch – and score – a ball game.)

You always get a special kick on opening day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.

                                                                       Joe DiMaggio

Yes, indeed, something wonderful can happen on Opening Day.  This year, the Twins topped the Royals 7-1 and ended the day tied for first place.  Compare that to a year ago, when the Twins loss their eighth straight Opening Day game on their way to nine straight season-opening losses and a 59-103 record. No wonder yesterday’s victory seemed truly wonderful.

Opening Day is the most hopeful and optimistic day of each year.  At least for this one day, every team is a contender, every rookie a potential “phenom,”  every fading veteran a potential “Comeback Player of the Year,” and every new face in the lineup or on the bench a welcome addition.

                                                Baseball Roundtable – March 26, 2013

20171The weather, however, was not as wonderful – the low fifties, overcast (the F-16 fly-over was cancelled) with a stiff wind (at least in the second deck where I was seated).  The hooded “Twins Tees” proved handy and the hot chocolate vendors did a “brisk” business.  Still, despite the overcast, it was 51 degrees – although it felt more like 42. (We Minnesotans have a built in sensor for what the day’s temperature “feels like.”)

 

PRE-GAME

Long lines of fans - anxious for the return of baseball - waited for the Target Field gates to open.

Long lines of fans – anxious for the return of baseball – waited for the Target Field gates to open.

Fans were clearly ready for the return of baseball and the Twins (a sell-out crowd).  Nearby watering holes were packed before the game and long lines of festive fans crowded the Plaza as DJ Advance provided pre-game music.  There was plenty of Twins gear in evidence and, if you weren’t wearing something “Twins,” there was a Twins hooded tee for the first 30,000 through the gates. (For more on Twins – and other unique MLB – give-aways for 2017, click here.)

Once in the park, the pre-game  festivities included a solid rendition of the national anthem by a brass quintet from the Minnesota Orchestra – without scheduled singer Dessa (illness).

Grey sky, no flyover, no Dessa – almost seemed like a bad omen.  But former Twins’ coach Rick Stelmaszek (gotta love a guy with a “Z” in his name) and current coach “Everyday Eddie” Guardado turned it around. Stelly, who spent 32 years with the Twins, tossed out the first pitch (to Guardado) to a notable ovation. There were also a host of traditional Opening Day activities: the introduction of both teams along the sidelines (with mini-fireworks added for Twins’ players); season ticket holders unveiling a giant American flag in the outfield;  a pair of bald eagles at home plate; and 94-year-old World War II veteran Henry Langevin raising the American Flag during the anthem.  In addition, the pregame included a memorial tribute to members of the Twins’ family who passed away since last season’s opener – ending with special recognition of Twins’ pitcher Yorman Landa and Royals’ pitcher Yordano Ventura, who both lost their lives in off-season automobile accident.

THE GAME – THE TWINS STROLLED (WALKED) AWAY WITH IT

Those who follow BBRT know of my contention that there is always something new and/or interesting to see at a ballgame.  This one was no exception.  Here are just a few observations:

  • Twins’ batters struck out 11 times to the Royals four, but still outscored Kansas City 7-1.
  • Twins’ starter Erwin Santana had zero strikeouts over six innings, then fanned the side in the seventh (his final inning).
  • At one point in the deciding bottom of the seventh, the Twins had the bases loaded and three runs across in the inning – and had hit just one ball out of the infield (more on that later).
  • Twins’ Designated “Hitter” Robbie Grossman came to the plate five times, scored once, had an RBI and never put the ball in play (two walks, three strikeouts).
  • Twins’ SS Jorge Polanco went two-for-three in the game – with both his hits coming in the same inning.
  • The sixth inning saw the Twins benefit from their first challenge of the season and their first intentional walk under the new (just wave ‘em to first – like in softball) rule. No-o-o!
  • The Twins revived the bunt as an offensive weapon.
  • In the seventh and eighth, all attempts by fans in left field to start “The Wave” died out quickly. (Yesss!)

THE SEVENTH INNING – A TRUE STROLL (WALK) IN THE (BALL) PARK

In the top of the seventh inning, Twins’ starter Erwin Santana (who had not struck out a single batter – but also had given up just two hits and a walk) walked CF Lorenzo Cain to start the inning and then fanned 1B Eric Hosmer, C Salvador Perez and DH Brandon Moss in order.

In the bottom of the inning, things really got strange. Twins’ SS Jorge Polanco opened the frame with a single to center (off Royals’ reliever Matt Strahm).  It was a 1-1 game at the time, so manager Paul Molitor sent RF Max Kepler up to bunt.  Kepler laid down a beauty to the right of the pitcher’s mound – and beat it out.  (Although it did require Target Field’s first challenge of the season to reverse the original “out” call.) Eddie Rosario (LF and number-nine hitter) was called on to move the runners up, and executed a nice third-to-first sacrifice bunt. Leadoff hitter 2B Brian Dozier was intentionally walked (waved) to first to load the bases. (Apparently, MLB did not publicize the new rule very well, as fans all around me were asking “What happened – How did he get on base?”)  DH Robbie Grossman then walked to drive in Polanco.

That was all for Strahm, with Peter Moylan coming in from the pen to face CF Byron Buxton. Moylan fanned Buxton and was relieved by Travis Wood, who walked 1B Joe Mauer and 3B Miguel Sano – enabling Kepler and Dozier to stroll to the plate uncontested. So, at this point the Twins had three runs in, based loaded – and only one ball out of the infield. New catcher Jason Castro got the game back on a more traditional path with a two-run (Grossman and Mauer scoring) single to left.  Polanco then rapped his second hit of the inning – a single to right which scored Sano. Finally, Kepler fanned to end the carnage.  Twins 7 – Royals 1.  And that was pretty much the ball game.

Just a few other observations:

  • Attendance was 39,615 – Minnesota fans have truly been waiting for baseball to return.
  • BBRT loves double plays and the Twins rewarded me with a 6-4-3 twin killing in the second inning and a 4-6-3 version in the ninth.
  • The Twins used a line up that had a lead off hitter who, last season, hit 42 home runs and drove in 99 – and a cleanup hitter who went .261-11-49 a year ago.
  • For those who like home runs: Mike Moustakas poled one to right-center in the fourth inning to give the Royals a 1-0 lead; and the Twins’ Miguel Sano scorched oen to left in the fourth inning to tie the game.
  • If defense if your game:  two diving catches (highlight reel stuff) by CF Byron Buxton and 2B Brian Dozier’s glove scoop and flip on a bunt.
  • During the Kiss-Cam, only two “gentleman” removed their caps before the kiss.
  • The free Twins Magazine now includes a scorecard – saved a dollar.
  • BBRT likes to rate each park’s Bloody Mary (a full look at Twins concessions, click here.  )  I tried the Bloody Mary at Two Gingers (second deck) and it passed muster.  Not just mix and vodka, but solid spices added and two large olives ($10.50).

A FEW MLB OPENDING DAY TIDBITS

Madison bumgarner photo

Photo by andyrusch

MADBUM GOES DEEP

The first MLB 2017 regular season game produced a first of its own – as San Francisco Giants’ “Ace” pitcher Madison Bumgarner became the first pitcher to slam two home runs on Opening Day (giving him the 2017 MLB lead). Bumgarner was also perfect on the mound through five innings (he retired the first 16 batters in order, striking out eight) before giving up three consecutive hits and three runs with one out in the sixth.

Bumganer ended the game two-for-two with a walk at the plate and threw seven innings of six-hit, three-run ball – striking out eleven and walking no one.  He got a no-decision, as the D-backs won 6-5 on shortstop Chris Owings’ walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth.  The Giants’ new closer Mark Melancon – acquired to reinforce a leaky bullpen – took the loss, giving up two runs in the bottom of the ninth.

MOST HOME RUNS IN AN OPENING DAY GAME

When Giants’ mound “Ace” Madison Bumgarner crushed a pair of home runs in the opening game of the 2017 season, he came within one of the MLB Opening Day record.  Three players – the Blue Jays’ George Bell, Cubs’ Tuffy Rhodes and Tigers’ Dmitri Young share the record for home runs in an opening day game with three.

On April 4, 1988, George Bell – batting clean-up and serving as the DH – became the first major leaguer to hit three home runs in an Opening Day game as his Blue Jays topped the Royals 5-3 in Kansas City. 

On a windy April 4, 1994, Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes (leading off and playing CF for the Cubs in Chicago) hit three solo shots off Mets’ starter Dwight Gooden. Rhodes also had a single and a walk in five plate appearances. Despite Rhodes’ record-tying performance, the Cubs lost to the visiting Mets 12-8. 

On April 4, 2005 the Tigers’ Dmitri Young rapped three Opening Day home runs – as the Tigers topped the Royals 11-2 in Detroit. 

On the other side of the coin (or plate), on March 31, 1996, White Sox catcher Ron Karkovice set an MLB Opening Day record by striking out five times as Chicago lost 3-2 in Seattle.

METS LOVE OPENING DAY

The Mets topped Atlanta on Opening Day 2017, running their season opener record to 36-20 – that .643 Opening Day winning percentage is the best in MLB.

MORE #WhyIHateTheDH

Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson tripled and drove in a run as his Phillies topped the Reds 4-3 on Opening Day 2017 in Cincinnati.  Hellickson got the win.

LET’S GET THIS PARTY STARTED

Phillies’ 2B Cesar Hernandez and Astros’ CF George Springer each led off their teams 2017 opening game with home runs –  becoming the 34th and 35th players to do so. Only Astros’ OF Terry Puhl accomplished the feat twice – 1978 and 1980.

AN OPENDING DAY TIDBIT JUST FOR TWINS FANS

AlyeaBeing a Twins fan, one of my favorite Opening Day records is seven RBI in game one of the season – shared by the Twins’ Brant Alyea and the Cubs’ Corey Patterson.

On April 7, 1970 – in his very first game as a Twin – LF Brant Alyea became the first player (and still only American Leaguer) to drive in seven runs in an Opening Day game – as Minnesota topped the White Sox 12-0 in Chicago. Batting fifth, Alyea went four-for-four, with two home runs, two singles and two runs scored.  The game, it turned out, would foreshadow a strong April for Alyea.  In 17 April games, he hit .415, with seven runs, 23 RBI, four doubles and five home runs.

Thirty-three seasons later – on March 31, 2003 – Cubs’ CF Corey Patterson tied Alyea’s record. In a 15-2 win over the Mets in New York, Patterson, batting seventh, drove in seven runs, going four-for-six with two home runs and two runs scored.  Patterson, a career .252 hitter (12 seasons), was an Opening Day All Star. In seven Opening Day appearances, Patterson hit .440, with seven runs, 12 RBI and three home runs.

A LOOK AT THE TRUE KINGS OF OPENING DAY

TED WILLIAMS

Ted Williams photo

Photo by Wicker Paradise

Perhaps no one looked forward to Opening Day more than Ted Williams – the king of the Opening Day batter’s box.  A career .344 hitter, Williams was even better on Opening Day.  Teddy Ballgame played in fourteen openers and was never held hitless.  He compiled a .449 Opening Day average (22 hits in 49 at bats), with three home runs, eight doubles, one triple, nine runs scored, 14 RBI and eleven walks.  His Opening Day on-base percentage was .550 and his season-opener slugging percentage was .837.

WALTER JOHNSON

The Washington Senators’ Walter Johnson can be crowned king of the Opening Day hill.  On his first-ever Opening Day start (April 14, 1910), the 22-year-old Johnson tossed a 3-0 one-hit shutout against the Philadelphia Athletics.  Sixteen years (and 13 Opening Day starts) later, a 38-year-old Johnson fulfilled his last Opening Day assignment with a 15-inning, complete-game, 1-0 win (6 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts) over the A’s.  Johnson holds the record for Opening Day pitching victories with nine (against five losses) and also threw a record seven Opening Day shutouts.

A FINAL THOUGHT

20172I never have minded the naming of ballparks after sponsors – Target Field actually works for me.  But now, it seems like everything at the ballpark has a sponsor – from the challenge/replay to the foul lines (see poto). 

 

 

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

 

Follow (and like) Baseball Roundtable on Facebook for more baseball musings.

 

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

New 2017 Target Field Concessions – From Kale to Cookies and Bratwurst to Black Beans

AABloody3

The latest Bloody Mary at Hrbek’s Pub (Section 114). – the Triple Sausage Sampler. Wowza!

Today (March 30), Baseball Roundtable again took part in a new rite of spring. No, it wasn’t the first robin, the day we first heard “Pitchers and Catchers Report,” the Minnesota lakes ice-out, or even MLB’s Opening Day.  It was the Twins’ Eighth Annual Media Food and Beverage Preview.  Sponsored by the Minnesota Twins and Delaware North Sportservice (the team’s exclusive food and beverage partner), this annual event features a look at (and taste of) the upcoming season’s new Target Field food and beverage offerings.

I have neither the space, nor the time, to touch on all the new food and beverage items that were unveiled this afternoon. (They ranged from a traditional Shrimp Broil to an Indian Chicken Tikka Salad to a Shaved Smoked Beef Sandwich.) However, I would like to share a comment or two on some I found especially tasty, interesting or both. For the Twins’ concessions guide, which lists the full and most up-to-date (locations, prices could change) slate of concessions, locations and prices, click here.

WHEN IT COMES TO BALLPARK FOOD – THESE ARE THE GOOD OLD DAYS!

Those who follow BBRT know, when it comes to the national pastime, I can be a bit “old school” – looking back fondly on the days of two-hour ball games, regularly scheduled double headers, high stirrups, complete games, two-dollar bleacher seats and fans who, when they looked down, were filling in a scorecard, not checking their smartphones.  There is, however, one thing I do not memorialize as part of the baseball’s good old days – ballpark food. When it comes to ballpark concession options, these are the good old days – and they just keep getting better.

When I first started attending MLB games, standard fare consisted of hot dogs (not always that hot), beer and soda (not always cold), peanuts, cotton candy, Cracker Jack® and, if you were lucky, maybe ice cream (usually frozen malt cups with a not-so-tasty wooden spoon) or licorice ropes. The culinary tour that was part of the 2017 Target Field Food and Beverage Preview provided ample evidence of just how far ballpark food has come. 

Let’s look at some of Target Field’s new concessions for 2017.

AABloodyThe Triple Sausage Sampler and Double Threat Bloody Mary’s.  If you follow BBRT, you know that I review the Bloody Mary’s at every ballpark I visit.  Of one thing I can assure you, when it comes to Bloody Mary’s, Hrbek’s Pub (near Section 114 at Target Field) continues to raise the bar.  We’ve seen such offerings as the Bigger Better Burger, College Daze, and Cluck and Moo Bloody Mary’s.  For 2017, they are putting forward what I consider the best Bloody yet – The Triple Sausage Sampler Bloody Mary.  Okay, I’m a sausage guy (I am of Polish descent, after all).  This one – $19.95 at Hrbek’s – comes with a healthy portion of skewered Kramarczuk’s Bratwurst, Polish and Andouille sausages (all perfectly spiced), ripe olive, sweet pepper, cheddar and Swiss cheeses and a beef stick – as well as a dill pickle spear and celery stalk. There is also, of course a beer chaser.  Wow! Oh yes, for four dollars more they’ll add a cheeseburger slider. A meal in a glass –with a chaser.

Shrimp Boil samples ready for tasting. It was, indeed, a feeding frenzy.

Shrimp Boil samples ready for tasting. It was, indeed, a feeding frenzy.

4 Bells Shrimp Boil. If you’re hungry and want something a little different at the ballpark, try 4 Bells (Section 114) Shrimp Boil. A generous portion of peel-and-eat shrimp, Butcher and the Boar ® Sausage, red potatoes and corn on the cob – with Creole seasoning. ($14.50 for a generous portion of true southern comfort.)

 

 

 

 

 

AAAllNationsRoots for the Home Team “All Nations Lake Street Salad.”  I was particularly fond of the fresh and light taste of the Roots for the Home Team (Near Gate 34 on weekends) All Nations Lake Street Salad – collard greens; red and yellow pepper; roasted corn; tomatoes; carrots; black-eyed peas – with a Tomatillo Lime Cilantro dressing and Crumbled Queso Fresco Cheese topping. Thinking outside the box or want something a little lighter at the ballpark?  The All Nations Lake Street Salad is one of nine new salads that Root for the Home Team has created for 2017.  ($9 of $11 with chicken.) Note: Roots for the Home Team partners with youth garden programs in the Twin Cities to give multicultural teens the opportunity to develop business and entrepreneurial skills.

AAHotIndiaHot Indian Chicken Tikka Salad.  Okay, I’ve got a soft spot for ethnic foods and “Hot Indian Foods” knows how to reach it – even at the ballpark. For this season, they’ve added a Hot Indian Chicken Tikka Salad – baby kale, shredded paneer, crispy chickpeas, superbly spiced chicken.  (Worth a stop at Section 120 – $12.50).

 

 

 

AAcookieCookie Cart.  Dessert, aah, sweet dessert!  Why not stop at the Cookie Cart. Twelve kinds of cookies – six packs for $8 and $3 for a frosted cookie.  These are cookies like grandma used to make (chocolate chip, peanut, oatmeal, they are all here) – and the organization provides areas teens with the opportunity to develop work, life and leadership skills while working with an urban non-profit bakery.  If you are craving a sweet, the Cookie Cart has just what you are looking for.  They will operate in Section 101 during Saturday and Sunday games.

 

 

 

 

AAZimmernAndrew Zimmern’s Canteen (Section 114) Skewers. These tasty skewers come in Braised Boneless Beef Short Rib; Mediterranean Chicken; and Braised Pork Shoulder – on flat bread, with roasted eggplant spread, herbed yogurt sauce and tomato-cucumber (served with chips).  Easy to eat, and easier to enjoy ($14.50 each). The Canteen’s new 2017 offerings also include a Frozen White Chocolate Mousse ($7.50) for dessert.   I finished the Mousse before I could get a photo of it (dulce de leche, lady fingers, white chocolate) – and then licked away every drop that had slipped from spoon to fingertips.

 

AAButcherVegan Sriracha Brat. Vegan anyone? For vegan readers, there is “The Herbivorous Butcher” and the Vegan Italian Sausage and Vegan Sriracha Brat (each $12.50).  I preferred the extra “bite” of the Sriracha Brat.  If you’re vegan at the ballpark, this is probably the way to go.  They also carry Hebrew National Kosher Hot Dogs in pairing with MSP Kosher Hot Dog.  (Look for both in Section 129.)

The barrio crew at work,

The barrio crew at work.

Barrio Adobe Grilled Chicken Burrito. Barrio continues to deliver its own special taste to Target Field (Sections 105 and 305).  This year, they are featuring the Adobe Grilled Chicken Burrito (black beans, rice, Monterey Jack, avocado-tomatillo Pico, Pico de Gallo, salsa, fresh jalapeno) – as a Burrito or in a bowl ($11.00). Delicioso!  Add a margarita and you’re ready for extra innings.

 

 

 

 

AACAPKurd-Marczuk’s (cart in Section 101) is  offering a Twins baseball cap filled with cheese curds, chopped Polish sausage, topped with gravy.  These were tasty, chewy, and easy to carry – I’d buy them without the souvenir mini-cap. (Prices here range from $9.50-$20.00.)

 

 

 

 

 

Murray's Shaved Smoked Beef samples ready to go.

Murray’s Shaved Smoked Beef samples ready to go.

Murray’s Shaved Smoked Beef. Murray’s new offering for 2017 is the Shaved Smoked Beef Sandwich on a toasted bun, featuring Murray’s garlic butter and house-cut, dill-seasoned chips.   For all the beef eaters out there, garlic and beef make a pertty good ballpark combo. Murray’s will have a new cart in Section 116. ($14.50.)

 

 

These are just some of the new items. There are also such offerings as Buffalo Chicken Poutine; Boneless Barbeque and Buffalo Wings; Barrio Barbacoa Tacos; and Andrew Zimmern’s Sloppy Ko (Korean barbeque). In addition, lots of favorites are back at locations like: Pizza Luce; Red Cow; Minnie and Paul’s; Izzabella’s Gelato; Mac’s Walleye and Chips AND MANY MORE.  Again, for the full list of offering, prices and locations, click here.

If you’re planning a trip to Target Field  and wondering about promotions, event and “deals,” click here.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Read more BBRT baseball (Follow and Like) on the Baseball Roundtable Facebook Page.

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

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.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Follow and Like Baseball Roundtable on Facebook for more on the national pastime.

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

Lou Gehrig – A Record 13 Consecutive 100/100 Seasons

As I get anxious for Opening Day, I find myself  browsing the baseball record and history books for a little diversion.  Here’s a look at the topic of offensive productivity – as measured by seasons in which a player both scored and drove in 100 or more runs.

Embed from Getty Images

Runs and RBI, nobody did a better job of putting them together than the Yankee’s Lou Gehrig – who strung together an MLB-record streak of 13 consecutive seasons of topping both 100 runs scored and 100 driven in.  The streak ran from 1926 through 1938 and, during that stretch, the average Gehrig season was a .343 average, with 139 runs scored (a high of 167 in 1936), 147 RBI (a high of 185 in 1931), 36 home runs (49 in 1934 and 1936) – and he even tossed in an average of 12 triples and seven stolen bases per season.  (Remember, they only played 154 games at that time.)

During this incredible stretch of offensive dominance, Gehrig led the AL in runs scored four times, RBI five times, home runs three times, batting average once, hits once, triples once and doubles twice.

IRON MAN – BISCUIT PANTS – LARRUPIN’ LOU

Lou Gehrig not only took a turn at leading the league in nearly every offensive category at least once during his on-field career, he also was the likely leader in nicknames.  Here are a few of the most often used monikers:

Columbia Lou – Early in his career, because he was signed off the campus of Columbia University (football scholarship).

Buster – By teammates, early in his career, because of the way he “busted” baseballs.

Biscuit Pants – Because of the way his thick legs and lower torso filled out his baggy uniform pants.

Larrupin’ Lou – Because of the way he “larruped” a baseball.

Iron Man – Because he was in the lineup day-in and day-out.

The Iron Horse – (See above).

Alex Rodriguez photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Second on the list of consecutive seasons of both 100+ Runs and 100+ RBI is Alex Rodriguez’ 11-season streak that  ran from 1998 through 2008 and included three seasons with the Mariners, three with the Rangers and five with the Yankees.  During his streak, Rodriguez averaged .304, with 122 runs, 125 RBI and 44 home runs per campaign.  During that span, A-Rod led the league in runs scored four times (high of 143 in 2007), RBI twice (high of 156 in 2007) and home runs five times (high of 57 in 2002).

 

How impressive is Gehrig’s 13-seaason streak of 100+ runs scored AND 100+ runs batted in?  Thirteen is also the record for streaks of EITHER 100+ runs scored or 100+ runs batted in.  Jimmie Foxx (1929-41) and Alex Rodriguez (1998-2010) are tied with Gehrig for at 13 straight 100+ RBI seasons.  In terms of runs scored, the three players who have run up strings of 13-consecutive such seasons are:  Gehrig; Alex Rodriguez (1996-2008); and Hank Aaron (1955-67). Gehrig is, of course, the only one to do both in the same thirteen straight campaigns.

How does that compare with some other MLB greats?

Jimmie Foxx had a run of nine straight 100+ runs/100+ RBI seasons (1932-1940) – and a total of eleven in his 20-season MLB career.

Frank Thomas had a streak of eight 100/100 seasons (1991-1998) – and a total of nine
“double-hundreds” in his 19-season career.

Ted Williams photo

Photo by wild mercury

Ted Williams ran up an unusual eight-year streak – that could have been much longer. He opened his career with four straight 100/100 seasons (1939-42) – lost three seasons to military service – then came back to put together four more consecutive 100/100 campaigns (1946-49), before breaking his arm in the 1950 All Star Game. (In 1950, he played just 89 games and still ran up 82 runs and 97 RBI).  Williams had nine 100/100 seasons in his 19-year MLB career.

 

Babe Ruth’s longest streak of 100/100 seasons was seven (1926-32) – and he had 12 such campaigns in his 22-year career.

Willie Mays also had a seven-season 100/100 streak (1959-65) – and nine total (22 MLB seasons).

Albert Pujols (still active) started his MLB career with six consecutive 100/100 seasons (2001-2006) – and only a 99-RBI campaign in 2007 kept him from a streak of ten.  Going into the 2017, Pujols has nine 100/100 campaigns.

Jeff Bagwell had a six-season 100/100 streak (1996-2001) – and had eight 100/100 seasons in a 15-year MLB career.

Hank Aaron’s longest 100+/100+streak was five seasons (1959-63), as were Ralph Kiner’s (1947-51) and Ken Griffey Jr’s (1996-2000).  Those three players’ total number of 100/100 seasons are ten, six and six, respectively.

Miguel Cabrera (active) has a five-season 100/100 streak (2010-14) on his resume – and eight such seasons overall.

Stan Musial’s longest streak of consecutive 100/100 seasons was four (1948-51) – and he had a total of seven such seasons (22-year MLB career).

Barry Bonds had a four-year run of 100/100 campaigns (1995-98), as did Duke Snider (1953-56). Bonds had a total of eleven 100/100 seasons and Snider had five.

Here are the total number of 100/100 seasons for a few long-time major leaguers:

  • Joe DiMaggio had a total of seven 100/100 seasons (in 13 MLB campaigns);
  • Frank Robinson had six 100/100 seasons in a 21-year MLB career;
  • Mike Schjmidt (18 seasons) and Manny Ramirez (19 seasons) also each had six 100/100 campaigns;
  • Honus Wagner and Rogers Hornsby each had five 100/100 seasons (in 21- and 23-year MLB careers, respectively);
  • Sammy Sosa had five 100/100 campaigns (18 seasons);
  • Ty Cobb had four (in 24 seasons), as did Eddie Mathews (17 seasons);
  • Mickey Mantle (18 MLB seasons), Mark McGwire (16 seasons) and David Ortiz (20 seasons) each reached the 100/100 mark three times.
  • Willie McCovey (22 seasons), Dave Winfield (22 seasons), and Kirby Puckett (12 seasons) each had two 100/100 years.

Looking at a sampling of additional active players (not inclusive, just a sample): Ryan Braun has four 100/100 seasons (consecutive, 2009-12); Adrian Gonzalez has three; Mike Trout and Paul Goldschmidt have two each.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Follow/Like the additional baseball content on at Baseball Roundtable on Facebook.

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

Position Players Who Pitched in 2016 … and Then Some

In his final season, Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx (.325 with 534 HR's over 20 seasons) went 1-0, with a 1.59 ERA in nine mound appearances. (He also played 40 games at 1B and 14 at 3B). He's a member of theBBRT All Time Position Players Who Pitched Team (in this post).

In his final season, Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx (.325 with 534 HR’s over 20 seasons) went 1-0, with a 1.59 ERA in nine mound appearances. (He also played 40 games at 1B and 14 at 3B). He’s a member of the BBRT All Time Position Players Who Pitched All Star Team (in this post).

As Opening Day approaches, we all need a little diversion from the impatience of waiting for that first “pitch that counts.”  With that in mind, BBRT would like to take a look back at an unusual set of 2016 statistical lines – those belonging to position players who took the mound – usually, but not always, in games that were already out of hand.  First, we’ll look at some statistics and trivia surrounding those appearances; then a Hall of Fame All-Time All Star team of position players who pitched; and, finally, a game-by-game look at 2016 position-player appearances on the hill.

First for the stat-inclined:

  • Twenty-two position players took the mound a total of 26 times in 2016.
  • A total of 18 teams (13 AL and five NL) used position players in relief.
  • While the Padres sent position players to the mound the most times (three), AL teams used position players to pitch 19 times to the NL’s seven.
  • Position players threw a total of 24 2/3 innings this past season; with a 5.47 ERA.
  • More catchers were used as pitchers (seven of the 22 players and nine of the 26 appearances) than any other position.

IT AIN’T OVER ‘TILL THE CATCHER COMES IN TO PITCH

Only once in 2016 did position players take the mound in a game that was “still in question.” On July 1, the Blue Jays used a pair of infielders (Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins) in the 18th and 19th innings of a 2-1 loss to the Indians.

Now some individual stats:

  • Four position players were called on to pitch twice in 2017: Christian Bethancourt (Padres); Drew Butera (Royals); Chris Gimenez (Indians); Erik Kratz (Astros/Pirates).
  • Three position players reached 90-mph on the radar gun while on the mound: Christian Bethancourt (Padres); J.B. Shuck (White Sox); Eduardo Escobar (Twins). Bethancourt led the way at 96 mph.
  • We saw a (pinch) pitching position player facing a pinch-hitting pitcher: the Cubs’ Miguel Montero pitching to the Mets’ Jason deGrom on July 3.
  • If you are a position player whose first name is Tyler, you have a better than average chance of taking the mound. The 2016 list of position players who pitched includes: Tyler Motter; Tyler Ladendorf; Tyler White; and Tyler Holt.
  • Four position  players logged clean (no baserunners) mound appearances of at least one inning:Bryon Holaday (1 1/3 innings, 18 pitches, 12 strikes); Luis Sardinas ( one inning, eight pitches, six strikes); Chris Gimenez (one inning, ten pitches, six strikes); and Tyler Holt (one inning, five pitches, four strikes).

Erik Kratz, a reserve catcher, pitched for both the Astros and Pirates in 2016; becoming the first player to catch and pitch in both the AL and NL in the same season.

_______________________

All Time Hall of Fame Position Players Who Took A Mound Turn

C – Buck Ewing

1B – Stan Musial

2B – John Ward

3B – Wade Boggs

SS – Honus Wagner

OF – Ted Williams

OF – Ty Cobb

OF – Tris Speaker

DH – Jimmie Foxx

P- Babe Ruth (yes, even after he joined the Yankees, he took an occasional turn on the hill).

 

2016 POSITION PLAYER PITCHING APPEARANCES

April 27 … Erik Kratz, Astros

On April 27, for the first time in the 2016 season, a position player – Astros’ reserve catcher Eric Kratz – strolled in from the bullpen to take the mound. Kratz came on to start the bottom of the eighth with Seattle (at home) up 9-1 on his Astros.  He reached the low-80’s on the radar gun (and the backstop on at least one pitch), while giving up two runs on three hits, two wild pitches and a passed ball. The Astros lost 11-1. It was the 36-year-old Kratz’ first MLB pitching appearance, but it wouldn’t be his last.

May 8 … Josh Phegley, A’s

On May 8, the Orioles – behind home runs by Manny Machado (two long balls), Pedro Alverez, Jonathan Schoop. Mark Trumbo and Joey Rickard – were leading the A’s (in Baltimore) 11-3 with one out in the bottom of the eighth.  Saving bullpen arms seemed to make sense, so reserve catcher Josh Phegley was called to the mound.  Phegley acquitted himself well, fanning Adam Jones on a 3-2 pitch with an 86-mph fastball and then getting Mark Trumbo on a pop up to the infield.  While it was Phlegley’s first professional pitching experience, he did win the 2006 Indiana Mr. Baseball Award (high school) as a catcher-pitcher.

May 20 … RubenTejada, Cardinals

On May 20, veteran infielder (primarily SS) Ruben Tejada made his first-ever professional pitching appearance.   The 26-year-old, seven-season major leaguer came on in the top of the ninth with the Cardinals trailing the Diamondbacks 9-2.  It started okay, as he flashed a mid-80’s fastball and got a fly out by Yasmany Tomas.  Then there were home runs by Chris Herrmann and Brandon Drury before a pair of fly outs (Chris Owings and Phil Gosselin). All in a day’s (or inning’s) work.

May 31 … Chris Bethancourt and Alexi Amarista, Padres

With the Padres trailing the Mariners 16-4 (in Seattle), San Diego brought Chris Bethancourt – who had started the game at catcher and later moved to left field – to the mound to start the bottom of the eighth. Bethancourt opened a few eyes by reaching 96 mph on the radar gun and throwing an assortment of fastballs, changeups (in the 80’s), knuckleballs, a slider (that resulted in an HBP) and even a 53-mph “eephus” pitch.  The results were mixed – fly out to right; walk; fly out to left; walk; hit-by-pitch.  After 26 pitches Andy Green pulled Bethancourt (moving him to second base, his fourth position of the game) and brought Alexi Ramirez in from shortstop to get the final out – which he did on one pitch (inducing a groundout).  BBRT Note:  The 25-year-old Bethancourt (a .223 hitter in 153 MLB games), who has proven he can consistently top 90 mph from the mound, pitched and played in the field in the Panamanian Winter League and in 2017 Spring Training

June 14… Chris Bethancourt, Padres

Padres’ utility player Chris Bethancourt made his second mound appearance on June 14 – this time against the Marlins.  Once again combining mid-90’s heat with an “eephus” pitch that this time registered just 49 mph, Bethancourt (who came in to pitch the top of the ninth with San Diego down 13-4) gave up a single and a walk, allowing no runs and notching one strikeout.   

June 19 …. Andrew Romine, Tigers

The Tigers were down 16-5 to Kansas City, when manager Brad Ausmus called in utility  player Andrew Romine (last season he played every position except catcher) to pitch. It was the bottom of the eighth and the Royals had runners on first and third, with one out. Using a fastball in the high 80’s and a knuckler, Romine (who was a relief pitcher on his high school team) walked LF Jarrod Dyson, induced 3B Cheslor Cuthbert to ground out (fielder’s choice) scoring one run, walked 2B Whit Merrifield and then got pinch hitter Christian Colon on a grounder to third.  It was Romine’ second MLB mound appearance.  He gave up four hits, three runs (two homers) in one inning in 2014. This second outing lowered his career ERA to 16.20.

July 1 … Tyler Motter, Rays

Tampa Bay Rays’ rookie utility player Tyler Motter (who had already played six defensive positions in 2016 – everywhere but CF, C and P) took a turn on the mound on July 1. The game was in Tampa and the Rays were down 10-0 to the Tigers (batting with one on and two out in the top of the ninth), when Motter was called in to pitch. He faced two hitters, giving up a single to C James McCann and inducing a groundball out off the bat of SS Jose Iglesias. It was Motter’s second professional pitching experience; he also threw one scoreless inning (one hit, one walk) at High A Charlotte in 2013. Note: In 2015, the versatile Motter led the International League in doubles and extra base hits – hitting .284-17-87. In 2016, he hit .209 at Triple A and .188 in 34 games for the Rays.

A Hitter “Pinch-Pitching” to a Pitcher Pinch Hitting

July 3 … Miguel Montero, Cubs

On July 3, the Mets were pounding the Cubs 13-1 when, with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon brought in catcher Miguel Montero to relieve Joel Peralta (two outs runner on first). Montero hit the first batter he faced (1B James Loney) with a pitch and then induced an inning-ending groundout.

It was when Montero came to the mound to start the eighth inning that things got a little strange. Montero gave up a leadoff single to Mets’ CF Juan Lagares. Due up next was Mets’ relief pitcher Antonio Bastardo.  The Mets went to their bench for a pinch-hitter – pitcher Jacob deGrom.  So, we had a position player (pinch) pitching to a pitcher pinch hitting. Montero got deGrom (hitting about .160 at the time) on a fly ball to left. He then retired LF Brandon Nimmo on a fly to right before giving up three more singles and one run.  Montero’s line for the day: 1 1/3 innings, four hits and one earned run.

June 3 … Tyler Ladenorf, A’s

In 2016, Tyler Ladenorf was a true utility player for the Oakland A’s – spending time at DH, 2B, 3B, CF, RF and PITCHER. (In his 53 career MLB games – 2015/16 – he has also taken the field at SS and LF.) The 28-year-old Ladenorf, who hadn’t pitched since high school, came on in the eighth, with the A’s trailing 12-2. He gave up a single and a walk in a scoreless inning.

June 8 … J.B. Shuck, White Sox

J.B. Shuck did not find himself in an enviable situation on June 8.  The White Sox outfielder was on the mound in the top of the ninth with his team down 11-0 to the Nationals and 2016 All Star and reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper at the plate.  Shuck, who was brought in at the start of the inning, had already given up one run on a double and a pair of ground outs.  However, he got Harper on a grounder to first. In the process, Shuck reach 91 mph on the radar gun. It was Shuck’s first MLB pitching appearance, but he is no stranger to the mound. He pitched and played outfield at Ohio State.  In fact, as a college freshman, he not only batted .325 (123 at bats), but also led the team in ERA (2.51 in 79 innings). Shuck also threw a scoreless (1-2-3) inning at Triple A in 2012.

 June 13 … Chris Bethancourt, Padres

Apparently, the Padres found Chris Benthancourt’s mid-90’s fastball impressive (see May 31), since they brought the Padres’ backstop back in to pitch on June 13th – for the ninth inning of a 13-4 loss to the Marlins (in San Diego). He came off the bench this time and gave up a hit and a walk in an 18-pitch scoreless inning, which included a strikeout of Marlins’ pitcher Brian Ellington.

ONE FOR THE (RECORD) BOOKS

June 22 … Erik Kratz, Pirates

It was an unusual year for MLB catcher Erik Kratz.  He started the season with the Padres, was traded to the Astros, was cut from the Astros, played in the Angels’ minor league system and was signed by the Pirates – all by June 11.  Then on June 22, the seven-season (five teams) MLB veteran backstop PITCHED his way into the baseball record books.   On that day, the Pirates were facing the Giants in Pittsburgh.  By the top the eighth, San Francisco had a 10-1 lead and Kratz had entered the game playing first base.

Things did not get any better, as the Giants upped their lead to 15-1 by the end of the inning. The Pirates scored a couple in the bottom of the inning (now 15-3) and, in the top of the ninth, Kratz moved from first base to the mound. When he threw his first pitch, he made history as the first player to catch and pitch in both the American and National Leagues in the same season. (Katz had taken the mound for the AL Astros on April 27).

Kratz had a better outing this time, giving up two hits and no runs – and even notching a strikeout (Brandon Belt.) Oh, the 36-year-old Kratz topped of his day by striking out in the bottom of the ninth to end the game.   Note: Kratz indicated he last pitched regularly in high school, but did log a handful of innings in the minor leagues. His “stuff” on the historic day ranged from a 52-mph knuckler to a mid-80’s fastball.

June 25 … Drew Butera, Royals

Royals’ backup catcher Drew Butera started the June 25 game against the Astros (in Kansas City) on the bench (well, in the bullpen). He was finally called into action in the Astros’ half of the ninth inning, coming in from the pen – not to catch – to take the mound. At the time, Houston had runners on first and third with no outs and a 12-5 lead.  Butera gave up a run-scoring double to Astros’ catch Juan Castro before retiring the next three batters in order, including a strikeout of 1B Marwin Gonzalez. Butera came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and lashed a double to left field.

July 1 … Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins, Blue Jays

Normally, one expects to see position players take the mound in blowouts – as managers work to save bullpen arms.  On July 1, Blue Jays’ manager John Gibbons sent a couple of position players to the mound in a 1-1 game simply because he had run out of relievers.  The Blue Jays and Indians went into the 18th inning (in Toronto) tied 1-1 and Gibbons had used all seven available relievers. They had combined to toss 10 1/3 scoreless innings, with seven hits, one walk and eight strikeouts.

Out of options, Gibbons brought middle infielder Ryan Goins off the bench to pitch the 18th. Goins had a rough inning, but emerged unscathed. It started with a pair of singles – putting Indians’ RF Lonnie Chisenhall and 3B Jose Ramirez at first and third, respectively. The next batter, LF Michael Martinez grounded to second base, with Ramirez caught in a 2B-C-3B-P rundown trying to score (Goins getting the putout). After an intentional walk to CF Tyler Naquin, Goins got C Chris Gomez to hit into a double play to end the inning still tied 1-1.

In the 19th inning, Blue Jays’ 2B Darwin Barney (at this point, three-for-eight in the game) replaced Goins on the hill. He gave up a home run (the game winner) to the first batter he faced (DH Carlos Santana) before retiring the next three batters (including a strikeout of 1B Mike Napoli).

July 2 …. Ryan LaMarre, Red Sox

Ouch!  The score 21-2 when Red Sox’ reserve OF Ryan LaMarre was called in to pitch the ninth against the Angels on July 2.  Considering, each of the four pitchers who preceded him had given up at least three runs, he did an admirable job.  LeMarre threw 12 pitches, eight for strikes, giving up two hits – but no runs.

July 2 … Bryon Holaday, Rangers

The Rangers were down 17-5 to the Twins (in Minnesota) and had gone through four relievers, when reserve catcher Bryon Holaday was called in to replace Tony Barnette with one on (first) and one out in the bottom of the seventh.  Holaday got the final out of the inning (Danny Santana) on a fly out and then went on to pitch a 1-2-3 eighth.  Overall, Holaday pitched 1 1/3 perfect innings – 18 pitches/12 strikes – in what is still his only career MLB mound stint. (He had been a pitcher/shortstop in high school, before moving to catcher in college.)

July 3 … Chris Gimenez, Indians

The day before Independence Day, Indians’ backstop Chris Giminez celebrated by freeing himself of the catchers’ shin guards, mask and chest protector – coming in to the game at third base in the sixth inning and going to the mound in the seventh. Gimenez – who threw 33 pitches/23 strikes over the seventh and eighth innings of a 17-1 Blue Jays win, was credited with an 82-mph fastball and a 67-mph change. He came into the game with the Indians down 13-1 and retired the side in order in the seventh. They should have let him quit while he was ahead.  In the bottom of the eighth, Gimenez gave up four tallies as he faced the middle of the order:  Josh 3B Donaldson, double; DH Edwin Encarnacion, run-scoring double;  LF Mike Saunders, fly out;  C Russell Martin, run-scoring single; SS Troy Tulowitzki, infield fly out; 1B Justin Smoak, two-run homer;  RF Junior Lake, ground out.

July 8 … Jared Hoying, Rangers

On July 8, for the second time in a week, the Rangers called on a position player to save wear and tear on the bullpen arms. Rookie outfielder Jared Hoying was called in to pitch the top of the ninth with the Rangers trailing 9-0.  Throwing consistently in the 60-mph range, Hoying (who said the last time he pitched was in high school – and even then it was rare) retired three of four batters – giving up a solo home run to Twins’ DH Kennys Vargas. Hoying threw 14 pitches, nine for strikes.

July 26 … Drew Butera, Royals

Royals’ backup catcher Sal Butera was called on to pitch for the second time in 2016 (see June 25), this time to get just the final out in the ninth inning of a 13-0 loss to the Angels (in Kansas City). Butera induced a groundball out from 2B Johnny Giavotella on an 0-2 count.  Butera is almost a “fixture” on the mound among position players. He’s made five trips to the hill (to pitch, many more as a catcher), pitching a total of four innings – with a 4.50 ERA and four strikeouts.

Sal and Drew Butera – Father and Son Have Both Experienced Both Sides of the “Battery”

The apple falls not far from the tree. Sal Butera enjoyed nine-year major league career as a catcher (Twins/Tigers/Expos/Red/Blue Jays).  During that time (1980-88), he not only caught in 348 games, he took the mound twice (for the Expos in 1985 and the Reds in 1986). Butera’s career pitching line: Two games, two innings pitched, no hits, no runs, one walk – no decisions.

Sal’s son – Drew Butera – also made it to the major leagues as a catcher; coming up in 2010 and still active in 2016 (Twins/Dodgers/Angels/Royals). Like his dad, he’s worked behind the plate (342 games) and on the mound (five pitching appearances). Butera has pitched for the Twins, Dodgers and Royals, with a career line of four innings pitched, three hits, two earned runs one walk, four strikeouts – and no decisions.

July 29 … Luis Sardinas, Mariners

On July 29, in one of the best position-player relief appearances of the season, Mariners utility man Luis Sardinas used a high-70’s/low 80’s fastball, and a 65-mph curve to pitch a 1-2-3 frame against the future World Series Champion Cubs. At the time, the Mariners were trailing 12-0 (bottom of the eighth), had already sat through an hour-and-fifteen-minute rain delay and had used four pitchers (all of whom were scored upon). Sardinas got through his clean inning on eight pitches – six strikes. It went: ground out to third (SS Addison Russell); ground out to pitcher (RF Jason Heyward); fly out to center (3B Javier Baez).  In 2016, Sardinas played 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and LF in addition to his mound stint.

August 11 … Eduardo Escobar, Twins

On August 11, the Twins (at home) were trailing the Astros 12-6 in the top of the ninth. Reliever Taylor Rogers came on to pitch.  The inning did not get off to a good start: walk, walk, throwing error by Rogers (scoring a run), single (scoring another run). With that, manager Paul Molitor chose to pull another reliever out of his hat. This time it was Eduardo Escobar, who had started the game as SS. Molitor moved starting 3B Jorge Polanco to short, brought in Trevor Plouffe to play third and had Escobar replace Rogers on the mound.  Using a 90-mph fastball and even tossing in a trio of curveballs, Escobar  got ten of sixteen pitches over for strikes – giving  up a harmless single and then notching two fly outs and a pop up to end the inning. (Escobar, by the way, was two-for-four while in the game at shortstop.)

August 20 … Ryan Flaherty, Orioles

In the eighth inning of a game in which the Orioles trailed the Astros 10-1, Ryan Flaherty came in to replace Manny Machado at 3B – little did he know he would soon move half-way across the diamond (to the mound). Having already used four relievers, Buck Showalter brought Flaherty in to pitch the top of the ninth (DH Pedro Alvarez took over at 3B).    Flaherty used primarily a low-80’s mph fastball and was touched up for two runs on three hits, including a home run to the first batter he faced – Astros’ catcher Jason Castro. Still, he threw 12 of 19 pitches for strikes. Oh, yeah, and Flaherty led off the bottom of the ninth with a strikeout looking. Tough day at the office.

August 18 … Tyler White, Astros

No doubt the 2016 Orioles had a homer-heavy lineup. On August 18, they had already hit five long balls – J.J. Hardy (two), Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo and Manny Machado – in building a seventh-inning 12-5 lead over the Astros (in Baltimore). It should come as no surprise then that Astros’ 1B Tyler White, brought in to pitch the eighth inning, gave up a second home run to the Orioles’ Chris Davis (who would hit 38 on the year). Still, White acquitted himself well, giving up just the one hit and retiring Manny Machado on a grounder to third, Mark Trumbo on a grounder to short and Pedro Alvarez on a fly out to left.

August 22 … Tyler Holt, Reds

Reds’ reserve outfielder Tyler Holt didn’t waste any time retiring the side when he was called upon to face the Dodgers in the ninth inning of an 18-9 blowout. Holt had pinch-hit for reliever Michael Lorenzen in the bottom of the eighth and stayed in to pitch the ninth.  He used a combination of knuckleballs and “batting practice” fastballs to set the Dodgers down in order (fly out-groundout-fly out) on just five pitches (four strikes). Of the six Red who took the mound in Cincinnati that day. Holt was the only one who didn’t give up at least two runs.

August 27 … Chris Gimenez, Indians

On August 27, Chris Gimenez made is second 2016 mound appearance for the Indians (see July 3). He fared better this time out. (Gimenez gave up four runs in two innings in his first 2017 mound stint.) Coming to the mound in the bottom of the eighth with the Indians down 7-0, Gimenez pitched a 1-2-3 inning: Elvis Andrus (line out to SS); Robinson Chirinos (ground out to SS); and Nomar Mazara (foul pop).

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

More baseball at the Baseball Roundtable Facebook page – please like and follow.

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