Wacky, crazy ... and it's all true
Zack Greinke was blasted ... and hit a blast in the same game. Yeah, the 2005 season had its share of amazing moments.
Once again this year, the great sport of baseball taught us that the truth is stranger than fiction, stranger than a Tom Cruise "Oprah" appearance, stranger even than the Carolina Panthers' cheerleader workouts.
So with 2006 roaring at us way too fast, let's look back one last time at the Strange But True Feats of the Year:
• Do you believe in miracles? Royals pitcher Zack Greinke made a June 10 start in which he gave up 15 hits and 11 runs -- but didn't even get charged with a loss (thanks to a very helpful K.C. comeback).
• Do you believe in even more miracles? In that same game, Greinke was allowed to bat for himself in the fifth inning with his team down seven runs -- and homered.
• Speaking of pitchers being allowed to hit in unlikely spots ... In a May 28 game against the Dodgers, Arizona pitcher Javier Vazquez was sent up to bat with his team down a run in the seventh. He homered to tie the game -- and then got hooked by manager Bob Melvin before he threw another pitch.
• Three-peat Dept.: The Devil Rays became the first team in over 100 years to take leads of three runs or more in four straight games and then lose all of them.
• Momentum Is A Myth Dept.: On back-to-back days at Wrigley Field, the Cubs won a 14-0 game against Florida, then found themselves behind 15-0 the next afternoon.
• Craig Biggio (0 for life against Randy Johnson) won't find this amusing. But the Big Unit somehow gave up a May 21 double to Dae-Sung Koo, a Mets relief pitcher who later admitted he hadn't been on base in almost 20 years.
• Meanwhile Along The Monongahela Dept.: Alex Rodriguez drove in 10 runs in one game (April 26) before any Pirate had driven in 10 all season.
• Let's See Where Were We Dept.: In that April 26 game, A-Rod homered in three straight at-bats off Bartolo Colon, then had to wait 86 days to get another at-bat against Colon -- and he homered in that one, too.
• Be Kind To Your Fellow Hurlers Dept.: Dodgers pitcher Jeff Weaver served up home runs to three different pitchers this year.
• Once was clearly enough for the Phillies on May 19. They scored exactly one run (no more, no less) in seven different innings against the Cardinals.
• Walk This Way Dept.: Proto-atypical Mets leadoff man Jose Reyes somehow avoided walking in any of his first 119 trips to the plate -- then (of course) walked in his next two trips in a row.
• Don't Walk This Way Dept.: Indians reliever Jason Davis walked the last five hitters he faced April 24. It took three days for him to make his next appearance. But at least he hadn't lost that unusual groove he was in. He made it six in a row by walking the first hitter he faced that day, too.
• Remember that old line about how it isn't how you start, it's how you finish? The Brewers started their July 6 game against Florida by having nine of their first 17 hitters reach base. After which none of their next 28 hitters reached base.
• Personal Assistance Dept.: Astros center fielder Willy Taveras threw out a runner at the plate in all three games of an Astros-Cubs series April 29-May 1.
• Mission Impossible Dept.: Giants reliever Scott Eyre had a May 2 outing in which he had a strikeout and gave up a run even though (according to the box score) he recorded no outs and allowed no baserunners. How'd that happen? Let's just say he owed it all to a passed ball on a third strike.
• It's too bad those games don't last 26 outs sometimes. Thanks to LaTroy Hawkins' allergic reaction to the ninth inning, the Cubs lost three games in a row with two outs in the ninth inning (May 4-6).
• If the Dodgers wanted to score more runs this year, they should have signed Jason Alexander, Jason Bateman and (what the heck) Jayson Stark. They had a historic streak in June in which a different player named Jason hit a home run in three straight games (Repko, then Phillips, then Grabowski). And Grabowski even homered off a pitcher named Jason (Johnson).
• Ban The DH Dept.: The Tigers had a 15-inning interleague-play stretch in June in which two of their pitchers (Mike Maroth and Jason Johnson) reached base three times -- and all their position players combined reached base once.
• Molinamania Dept.: The Red Sox faced a lineup containing a different Molina brother three days in a row in June (first Jose, then Bengie, then Yadier).
• Plunkmaster of the Year: Devil Rays control artist Casey Fossum hit at least one batter in 10 starts in a row.
• At Least They Work Weekends Dept.: The Royals won on four different Sundays in June -- and four times during the month on all the other days of the week combined.
• They said it couldn't be done, but the Brewers scored a run in the seventh inning of a May 19 game in Washington even though there were no hits, walks, errors, stolen bases, wild pitches or passed balls in the inning. How? Two hit batters, sac bunt, sac fly. Voilá.
• Cruel Intentions Dept.: Steve Kline was charged with a June 27 intentional walk in which he threw no pitches out of the strike zone intentionally. To pull that off, he had to get ejected after the 3-and-0 pitch. After which Jorge Julio came in and was ordered to throw ball four intentionally -- a walk that will forever remain on Kline's permanent record.
• Get Out Your Scorecards Dept.: Pudge Rodriguez managed to hit into your basic 9-6-3 double play July 31. How? He thought he'd lined out to the right fielder, didn't run to first and, by the time he realized the ball had been trapped, didn't have time to beat the throw from second. Oops!
• Greed Is Bad Dept.: Two innings after Pittsburgh's Jose Castillo got thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple in an Aug. 18 game against the Mets, he got thrown out trying to stretch another double into a triple.
• Some guys just know how to pitch in. The only three runs in the Giants' 3-0 win over Milwaukee on July 28 came on a three-run homer by the pitcher (Brad Hennessey).
• Home Runs Are Overrated Dept.: The Padres hit back-to-back homers twice in the same game on Opening Day -- and still lost.
• Overtime Is Overrated Dept.: The Red Sox played fewer extra-inning games over the first 116 games of the regular season (two) than they played just during the postseason in 2004 (three).
• Don't Try This At Home Dept.: The Phillies scored two runs on a line drive back to the pitcher in their May 6 visit to Wrigley Field. Here's how that happened: LaTroy Hawkins caught it and tried to double the runner off first base (Jose Offerman) -- but hit him in the helmet. Next stop for that baseball? A trip into the stands. That allowed the tying and winning runs to score in the most unusual blown save of the year.
• Here's how you really spell relief: It had been 35 years since any relief pitcher thumped a homer and another extra-base hit in the same game -- but Reds reliever Randy Keisler did that (with a homer and double) in a June 7 game against the Devil Rays.
• Royal Flush Dept.: The Yankees got swept in a May 31-June 2 series in Kansas City by a Royals team that (a) had the same record at the time (13-37) as the '62 Mets, (b) hadn't swept any of its previous 78 series, (c) was starting three pitchers who had combined to win one game all season and (d) was facing three Yankees starters (Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano) with 523 career wins.
• Stuck On The 13th Floor Dept.: The Yankees became the first team since 1900 to score 13 runs in two different innings in the same season -- and did it both times against the Devil Rays.
• 10-By-10 Dept.: The Diamondbacks gave up 10 runs in an inning in back-to-back games in June. For what it's worth, there were 16 teams that never gave up 10 runs in back-to-back games all season.
• Some Games Just Last Too Long Dept.: Those innovative Devil Rays led the Yankees by eight runs in a June 21 game in New York -- and wound up losing by nine.
• Blue Jays outfielder Reed Johnson gave that term, "clutch hit," new meaning April 16 -- by managing to get hit by a pitch with the bases loaded twice in the same game.
• No Lead Was Safe Dept.: The Blue Jays blew leads to the Yankees in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings of an Aug. 23 loss at Yankee Stadium -- something no AL team had done since 1949.
• Extra Credit Dept.: The Astros miraculously won a Sept. 2 game against St. Louis even though they trailed in the ninth, 10th and 13th innings.
• Not So Extra Special Dept.: The Diamondbacks managed to lose a June 10 game in which they scored in three consecutive extra innings (because they also figured out a way to give up runs in those same three extra innings).
• The good news for the Tigers Aug. 16 was that Craig Monroe hit a 10th-inning grand slam against the Red Sox. The bad news was, the Tigers still lost -- by three runs (thanks to those seven runs they gave up in the top of the 10th).
• The first four hitters Angels rookie Ervin Santana faced in his career went: Triple, double, single, homer. How cyclical.
• Royals rookie J.P. Howell got the first at-bat of his career before he threw the first pitch of his career -- all thanks to the miracle of interleague play (not to mention the miracle of a Royals bat-around in the first inning).
• In the first two outings of his career, Braves rookie Joey Devine gave up a grand slam in each. At least he halted that streak at two.
• Mets rookie Mike Jacobs hit four homers in the first four days of his career, then didn't hit another for 3½ weeks.
• It's all about picking your spots. The man who scored the game-winning run of the World Series (Willie Harris) got no other at-bats in that World Series.
• One Of Those Days Dept.: White Sox pitchers walked 13 hitters in their first 10 postseason games combined -- then walked 12 in one night in Game 3 of the World Series.
• Left Out Dept.: In his only start of the postseason, Randy Johnson gave up three extra-base hits to left-handed hitters. He had done that in none of his 523 career regular-season starts.
• Rocket Science Dept.: What did Roger Clemens do during his first postseason win that he never did in any of his 341 career regular-season wins? Pinch-hit (in the 14th inning of that insane 18-inning game against the Braves).
• When people said October was a whole new season, Podsednik obviously believed them. He had more homers (one) and more triples (two) in the World Series than he had during the entire regular season (0 HR, 1 3B).
• Finally, one was, literally, the White Sox's magic number this year. They won 1-0 games in their first game of the season, their first game after the All-Star break and the last game of the World Series. And that, like everything else in this column, is the truth.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
MORE MLB HEADLINES
- Pujols goes yard twice to join 500 HR club
- Source: Red Sox demote struggling OF Nava
- Athletics reject 10-year Coliseum lease offer
- Marrero, oldest ex-MLB player, dies at 102