Date: August 23, 2014

Elias Says...

By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN.com

MLB

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Hernandez

A Merry Moment for the King...

From Elias: Felix Hernandez reached the 200-strikeout mark for a sixth consecutive season, and he did it with a flourish at Fenway Park on Friday night, setting down Aaron Craig, Will Middlebrooks and Xavier Bogaerts in order in the second inning. King Felix became the ninth pitcher in major-league history to string together six straight 200-K seasons (Tom Seaver holds the record of nine) and, at age 28, Hernandez is younger than all but three of the others. Walter Johnson reached the 200 mark for the sixth straight year at age 27 in 1915; Sam McDowell's sixth straight season of 200 strikeouts came at age 27 in 1970; and Bert Blyleven was the youngest of them all - his sixth straight season of that sort came in 1976, when he was just 25 years old.

Seattle Mariners

...And a Great Finish for All the King's Men

From Elias: The Mariners were down to their last out, trailing, 3-0, at Fenway Park, and facing the only team in the major leagues that, this season, had not lost a game in which they led going into the ninth inning. And did we mention that Koji Uehara was on the mound for the Sox?

You know what happened. A walk and four straight hits, all against Uehara, produced a five-run rally and the Mariners went home the winners, 5-3. Austin Jackson, Dustin Ackley and Robinson Cano drove in the runs; Jackson and Ackley had each been batting below .200 in ninth-inning at-bats this season, while Cano's hit lifted his ninth-inning batting average to .429 with a major-league-leading total of 18 hits in 42 at-bats.

It was the second time this season that the Mariners, scoreless until two outs in the ninth, produced a five-run rally; they did the same thing to earn a 5-0 victory over the Rays on June 8 in St. Petersburg. But for those two games, no other big-league team had scored five-or-more runs to take a lead with two outs in the ninth after having been held scoreless to that point of the game since the Angels did it at Cleveland back in 2003.

Seattle Mariners

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Smyly

Smyly Making Rays' Fans Forget...Old What's-His-Name?

From Elias: Drew Smyly, a day after watching Alex Cobb out-duel David Price (who allowed only one hit and no walks or hit batsmen over eight innings), tossed his own gem - a two-hit shutout with nary a walk or hit batsman as the Rays topped the Blue Jays, 8-0. Smyly joined Clayton Kershaw (in his no-hitter against the Rockies) and Chris Sale (in a two-hitter against the Padres) as the only left-handers in the majors this season to throw a nine-inning complete game allowing no more than two combined hits, walks and hit batters.

Moreover, Smyly and Cobb, who allowed two hits over seven innings against the Tigers on Thursday, became the first starters in Rays history to win consecutive starts, allowing two-or-fewer hits in each game. Only one other major-league team this season has seen its starters win consecutive games, allowing two-or-fewer hits in each: the A's did that on May 7 and May 9, with Drew Pomeranz (five innings) and Tommy Milone (eight innings) doing the honors.

Tampa Bay Rays

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Baez

Cubs Have a Couple of Keepers in Baez and Arrieta

From Elias: The Cubs' Javier Baez homered for the sixth time in 18 games in the majors to help Jake Arrieta to defeat his former Orioles teammates, 4-1. Baez became just the second player in history to break into the majors with the Cubs and hit six homers in so few games from the start of his big-league career. The other guy? Not Banks, Williams or Santo... it was Mandy Brooks, an outfielder whose big-league debut came on Memorial Day 1925 and whose sixth round-tripper came in his 15th big-league game. And only one player in major-league history hit six homers in so few games from the start of his big-league career, all of them coming while playing a middle-infield position; that was Jason Kipnis, who hit six homers in his first 16 games in the majors three years ago.

And we've got more, Cubs fans. Arrieta lowered his season ERA to 2.53 on Friday afternoon, the lowest by a Cubs pitcher in his first 20 starts of any season since Greg Maddux checked in at 2.33 after his first 20 starts of the 1992 season, his final year in his first go-around in Chicago.

Chicago Cubs

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Howard

Howard Takes It to the Cardinals Again

From Elias: Ryan Howard again tormented his hometown team, as the St. Louis native had two hits and drove in a pair of runs in the Phillies' 5-4 victory over Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals. Howard's remarkable career statistics against the Cardinals include a .366 batting average and 18 home runs, with an average of one homer for every 11.2 at-bats. Only three other players in major-league history have batted .360 or higher, with a home-run rate of at least one for every 12 at-bats, in a career of 200-or-more at-bats against a particular team: Vladimir Guerrero against the Phillies (.371, one homer every 10.5 at-bats), Ellis Burks against the Cardinals (.378, one homer every 11.6 at-bats) and Mickey Mantle against the expansion Washington Senators teams that is now the Rangers (.382, one homer every 8.8 at-bats).

Philadelphia Phillies

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Panik

Panik in the Nation's Capital

From Elias: Joe Panik celebrated his 40th game in the majors with four hits and his first major-league homer as the Giants put an end to the Nationals' 10-game winning streak with a 10-3 victory in Washington. Panik was the second major-leaguer this season to garnish his maiden big-league home run with a game of four-or-more hits; Pirates rookie Gregory Polanco had five hits in the game in which he clouted his first big-league homer, at Miami on June 13. Among the players of the past who bundled their first major-league homer into a four-hit game were Hall-of-Famers Nellie Fox, Duke Snider and Ted Williams, and future big-league managers Dusty Baker, Ozzie Guillen and Bobby Valentine.

San Francisco Giants

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Prado

Prado's Heroics Trump White Sox' Fast Start

From Elias: Jose Abreu's 33rd home run of the season gave the White Sox a 3-0 lead just three batters into the game at Yankee Stadium, but Martin Prado was the key man for New York, delivering a two-run homer in the third and then producing a two-out, walkoff single in the Yankees' 4-3 victory. Prado's home run, by the way, came off southpaw John Danks, and it was, to that point, his 16th hit in his last 27 at-bats against left-handed pitchers, a .593 clip. And included during that stretch were three other homers off some pretty fair lefties - Cliff Lee, David Price and Drew Smyly.

But the comeback got us to thinking: How often does the visiting team win a game when, after its first three batters have come to the plate, it holds a 3-0 lead? Glad we asked. Over the last 10 seasons (that is, since 2005), visiting teams taking a 3-0 lead in that manner have won 85 percent of the time. Besides the Yankees, the only other big-league team to win a game this season after trailing, 3-0, after the game's first three batters was Toronto against Boston on July 23.

New York Yankees

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Ventura

Ventura and Holland Reach Milestones

From Elias: Yordano Ventura earned his 10th win and Greg Holland his 40th save of the season in the Royals' 6-3 triumph over the Rangers. Ventura joined Brian Bannister, who won 12 games in 2007, as the only Royals rookies to win 10 games in a season over the last 20 seasons. From 1994 to 2013, every major-league team had at least one rookie with double-digit wins, but three other teams, besides the Royals, had only one: the White Sox (James Baldwin, 1996), the Padres (Matt Clement, 1999) and the Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 2007).

Holland, the major leagues' saves leader, reached the Big Four-Oh for the second consecutive season (he finished with 47 saves last season). The only other Royals reliever to string together consecutive 40-save seasons was Dan Quisenberry in 1983 and 1984.

Kansas City Royals

A's Win, But Trout Ties Coliseum Record

From Elias: The Athletics took the opening game of their big three-game series with the Angels, 5-3, but not before Mike Trout connected for a home - the 90th of his major-league career. Trout has now homered in each of his last five games at O.co Coliseum (his last three games there last season, and the two games he has played there this season). That matches the record for consecutive games homering at the Coliseum, where the A's have been playing since 1968; the only other players to do it were Kansas City's Danny Tartabull (1990-1991) and Oakland's Matt Stairs (1998).

Los Angeles Angels

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Escobar

Escobar Leads Twins' 20/20 Attack

From Elias: Eduardo Escobar led the Twins' 20-hit attack, going 5-for-6 from the eighth slot in the lineup, in their 20-6 victory over the Tigers. He was the first major-league player to collect five hits, including a home run, in a game from either the eighth or ninth slot in the lineup since Detroit's Carlos Pena generated six hits, including a pair of homers, at Kansas City back in 2004.

Escobar's night began with a second-inning homer off Robbie Ray, and he followed with a single off Blaine Hardy, a triple off Jim Johnson, a single off Joba Chamberlain and another single off pitcher-for-a-day Andrew Romine. Escobar became the second Twins player this month to get hits off five different pitchers in the same game - Danny Santana did it against the White Sox on August 3 - something no other big-leaguer has done this season.

And just to complete the story, we note that Escobar also made a pair of errors at shortstop on Friday night. The last major-leaguer with at least five hits and at least two errors in the same game was Kansas City's Angel Berroa, who did it in a game at Cleveland in September 2003.

For the Twins, their 20-run, 20-hit performance marked just the eighth time in modern major-league history that a team had posted those exact numbers - and three of those eight games have been produced by the Twins. Minnesota went 20/20 against the Athletics in 1980 and against the White Sox in 2009.

Minnesota Twins

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Upton

Upton Goes Downtown to Upend Reds

From Elias: Justin Upton's 12th-inning two-run home run snapped a 1-1 tie and propelled the Braves to a 3-1 victory over the fading Reds. Upton has knocked in 23 runs in 20 games this August, tying Houston's Chris Carter for the major-league RBI lead this month. And B.J.'s little brother has been particularly cruel to the Reds in recent years; since 2012, he is batting .435, with 27 hits in 62 at-bats, against the Rhinelanders, the highest batting average vs. Cincinnati (minimum: 50 at-bats) for any major-leaguer over that span.

Atlanta Braves

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Harrison

Harrison, Like 'Cutch, Comes Through in the Clutch

From Elias: Josh Harrison, who hadn't driven in a run since August 2, knocked in five on Friday night in the Pirates' 8-3 victory in Milwaukee. Harrison went 3-for-3 with runners in scoring position, lifting his season average in those situations from .338 to .366 - even though he came into the game having produced only one hit in his last 15 at-bats in those situations. Harrison's was the highest single-game total of RBIs by Pirates leadoff batter since 2009, when Andrew McCutchen had a six-RBI game as a leading man.

Pittsburgh Pirates


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