Thursday, August 23, 2007

? No. 34: Pitchers swinging a mighty stick

Getting back to pitchers that can hit a little, last week D-backs rookie pitcher Micah Owings went 4-for-5 with two home runs, four runs, and six RBIs at the plate and got the win on the mound, allowing three runs on three hits while striking out seven over seven innings. He is the first pitcher with four hits, four runs, and six RBIs in the same game. No player over the past 50 years has hit three home runs in a regular season game. But plenty have hit two. And three pitchers have even accomplished that feat twice. Today's question: Has any pitcher in the past 50 years topped Owings' RBI total in a game?

Yesterday's Answer: Seems I jinxed Mr. Webb, since he lost his scoreless streak in the first inning on Wednesday night. Since 1940, only Hershiser, Don Drysdale (58), Bob Gibson (47), and Sal Maglie (45) have thrown more consecutive shutout innings than Webb's 42 and change. That means Terrific Tom Seaver and Ron Guidry are the odd men out from that list. Seaver's longest streak was 19 innings; Guidry's longest streak was 18.1. Guidry did pitch back-to-back shutouts five times during his vaunted 25-3, 1.74 ERA season of 1978.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

? No. 33: Besting Brandon Webb

Last Friday Brandon Webb -- my fantasy league ace right now after Dan Haren has cooled off -- threw his third consecutive shutout. In the process he extended his scoreless streak to 42 innings, dating back five starts. He's just two shutouts from breaking Orel Hershiser's all-time record of 59 innings, which still seems nearly impossible despite Webb's herculean effort to date. He pitches tonight against Milwaukee, and for the sake of both my fantasy team and my Cardinals, I hope he continues his streak. What's remarkable is that Webb's 42 scoreless innings is only the 12th best streak in history (but it is the longest since Orel's). Most of those 10 other pitchers on the list between Webb and Hershiser achieved their feat before 1940. Since '40, only three pitchers (not named Orel) have topped Webb. Two of the following pitchers do not belong to that short list. Who are they?

A) Don Drysdale
B) Ron Guidry
C) Bob Gibson
D) Tom Seaver
E) Sal Maglie

Yesterday's Answer: The answer is Craig Biggio, who in 1997 went 619 at-bats without grounding into a double play. That's the record Granderson is after. Granderson just passed Corey Patterson, who last season went 463 at-bats without hitting into a twin killing. Both Lofton and Furcal have had seasons where they hit into just one, with Furcal's coming in a season with 664 at-bats.

Monday, August 20, 2007

? No. 32: Avoiding the dreaded GIDP

Jayson Stark recently reported that Tigers outfielder Curtis Granderson could be the first American League player since the division-play era to make it through an entire 162 game season without grounding out into a double play. If Granderson continues his current pace, he would have the most at-bats (627) -- regardless of league -- without a GIDP since GIDP became an official stat in 1939. Take a wild guess as to whose record would he be breaking?

A) Rafael Furcal
B) Craig Biggio
C) Kenny Lofton
D) Corey Patterson

Yesterday's Answer: Here's the (complete?) list of players to have played for both the Cards and Cubs since 1980. The asterisk denotes that the player transitioned directly from one team to the other via trade or free agency.

Bruce Sutter*, Dennis Eckersley, Leon Durham*, Ken Reitz*, Lary Sorensen, Chris Speier, Ivan DeJesus, Bill Campbell, Pat Perry, Steve Lake*, Ray Burris, Lance Johnson, Todd Zeile*, Frank DiPino*, Bob Tewksbury*, Jamie Moyer, Lee Smith, Mark Clark, Mike Perez, Donovan Osborne, Hector Villanueva*, Les Lancaster, Paul Kilgus, Erik Pappas, John Mabry*, Rick Sutcliffe, Danny Jackson, Mike Morgan*, Tony Fossas, Alan Benes*, Gary Gaetti*, Mike Difelice, Delino DeShields, Manny Aybar, Kent Mercker, Kent Bottenfield*, Shawon Dunston, Heathcliff Slocumb, Rick Wilkins, Dave Veres*, Miguel Cairo*, Jeff Fassero*, Joe Girardi*, Tony Womack, Ray King, Julian Tavarez, Mark Grudzielanek*, Jose Vizcaino, Todd Wellemeyer.