It has been a tremendous, historical week for the Red Sox, so RSNStats celebrates with an admittedly heavy dose of Sox news and notes in this week’s Sunday Morning Odds ‘n Ends.
The Red Sox neared the end of a tremendous homestand, winning five of six games so far, with an extra-innings walk-off win Saturday that starred none other than David Ortiz. Big Papi, who was just a single short of hitting for the cycle on Saturday, won the game with his 600th career double. In so doing, he joined Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds as just the third player ever with 600 or more doubles and 500 or more home runs. It was Ortiz’ first ever game with a double, triple, and home run. Since 1913 Ortiz is only the second MLB player over age 40 to do that; the other was Cincinnati’s Bob Thurman in 1957.
- Jackie Bradley, who hit in his 21th straight game on Sunday, has the rest of the year to join an elite list. Since 1913, just 15 players (and only two Red Sox: Walt Dropo in 1950 and Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx in 1938) have had six or more RBI in three games of the same season (and Lou Gehrig managed it four times in 1930). Bradley collected his first two games with six-RBI in one week, on Monday and Wednesday, against the Athletics. With just one more such game this season he’ll join 15 others on a list that most recently welcomed Nelson Cruz in 2011. According to the Elias Sports bureau, Bradley is the first player since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920 to have multiple games of six or more RBI while batting in the ninth position.
- The Nationals Max Scherzer this week struck out 20 Detroit Tigers, the most strikeouts against a pitcher’s former team in baseball history. The previous record was 16 strikeouts by Roger Clemens when he played for the Blue Jays against the Red Sox in a memorable game on July 12, 1997. In addition to Clemens, Rube Waddell of the St. Louis Browns similarly struck out 16 when he faced his former team, the Philadelphia Athletics, on July 29, 1908.
- Baseball is a game of history and numbers and that makes it great fun for RSNStats to collect and publish stats about performance. But beyond the numbers there are people, players and fans, and the connection between them can be remarkable. We were reminded of that this week in a very touching way.
- At some point soon the Yankees will have two players to reach 400 career home runs. Carlos Beltran needs just one, Mark Teixeira is three HR away. Beltran will be just the third player born in Puerto Rico to the 400 HR plateau joining Carlos Delgado and Juan Gonzalez. With his 311 career stolen bases, Beltran will also be just the fifth players ever with 400+ HR and 300+ steals.
- As of Sunday morning the Red Sox have 99 runs coming in the first three innings of game play this season (or about as many as the Rays, Twins, and Phillies combined). The nearest competitor to the Sox’ early inning dominance are the Mets with 72 such runs scored. Boston’s .324 AVG, .392 OBP, and .546 SLG are all tops in baseball in innings one to three. No other club is batting over .300 in the early part of the game.
- The Athletics were, no doubt, glad to get out of Boston this week after surrendering 11 runs or more in four straight games, including all three they played against the Red Sox. In Tampa on Friday, Oakland won 6-3, avoiding the prospect of becoming just the second team ever to allow 11 or more opponent runs in five or more consecutive games; that’s a distinction that remains with the Phillies of both 1928 (5 straight such games) and 1929 (6 games).
- Is David Ortiz the greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox history? Since he joined the club in 2003 Ortiz has collected 245 hits in 1,143 Late & Close plate appearances, including two more Saturday. Late & Close refers to appearances in the 7th inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or with the tying run at least on deck. Carl Yastrzemski had a lot more L&C hits (510) but also a lot more qualifying plate appearances (2,161). Still, looking at in this way, Yastrzemski converted 23.6% of his L&C PAs into hits, while Ortiz has converted 21.4% of his. Hits, however, don’t win games, runs do. In this regard, Papi has the edge, generating 202 RBI in his L&C PA (17.7% of the time) while Yastrzemski did it 280 times (13.0%). Incidentally, when it comes to L&C OPS, no one touches Nomar Garciaparra. Among Red Sox players with at least 300 games since 1913, his .947 OPS is a club best. Ortiz is second at .882.
- After Sunday’s game the Sox will face the Royals for three road games. Since 1990 Boston is 58-49 in Kansas City, their best road record against any non-divisional rival. Interestingly, the Sox’ two best road records since 1990 are 116-89 and 114-95 against the Orioles and Blue Jays, respectively.