Pop quiz: Jon Lester allowed 2 runs in the 1st inning tonight on 2 HRs, but only 1 of the runs was earned. Why? How? Imaginary prizes for the first correct answer and the most creative one....
-- Lester allowed 3 HRs in a game for the 2nd time this year. He had not given up 3 HRs in any of his 129 previous starts, including the postseason. He has already allowed as many HRs (14) as he did all of last season.
-- Mike Pelfrey threw his first complete game in 58 starts. His only 2 previous CGs came in consecutive starts in August 2008.
-- Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco extended his scoreless streak to 21 innings before allowing Pittsburgh's lone run in the 7th, and improved his record to 7-3. Grady Sizemore tripled, doubled and scored twice; he's batting just .243 but slugging .500, with 24 of his 37 hits for extra bases. Sizemore has 16 doubles and just 13 singles; no player with more than 30 hits has ever finished with more doubles than singles. Sizemore has been striking out far more often than in any prior year, 32% of his ABs; his previous career rate was 22% of ABs.
- Cleveland has won 2 in a row for the first time since May 31-June 1, and reclaimed sole possession of 1st place in the AL Central.
-- Behind Scott Baker's 10 strikeouts, Minnesota became the first team to win four 1-0 games this year. In the 20 seasons from 1990-2009, no team had more than five 1-0 wins in a season; in 2010, the Padres, Phillies and Dodgers had 6 each.
- The Padres tonight became the first team with three 1-0 losses. (And by the way, Anthony Rizzo went 0 for 2, so he still has his unusual career cycle.) Tim Stauffer had his 3rd straight high-quality game, allowing 1 run in 7 IP with no walks; he did not allow a run in his 2 previous starts, covering 15 innings. Stauffer is just 1-1 in the 3 games, as the Pads scored a total of 2 runs.
-- Jose Bautista's latest "homerless streak" reached 5 games -- during which he is 6 for 18 with 4 RBI and a .455 OBP, and the Blue Jays are 4-1. They got back over .500 tonight behind a strong start from Brandon Morrow (no runs in 6.1 IP, 1 walk, 6 Ks) and a HR and a double from backup catcher Jose Molina. The Jays have 30 XBH by their catchers; only Arizona (34) has more. Before tonight, Toronto was the only team with just 1 shutout win this year.
-- Congratulations to Seattle's Dustin Ackley, who got his first big-league hit Friday and his first HR tonight. Ackley, the #2 overall pick in 2009, was hitting .303 with a .421 OBP at AAA in his 2nd pro season. Actually, .303 in the PCL isn't so great this year; there's at least a dozen regulars hitting over .350 out there, and 67 hitters with at least 100 PAs and a BA higher than Ackley's. On the other hand, Ackley had 55 walks against 38 strikeouts, so he has some kind of an idea up there.
-- The madness of W-L records: Phil Coke lost in Colorado tonight and fell to 1-7 on the season. Teammate Max Scherzer is 9-2. Who has pitched better? It's pretty much even, but Coke has a better ERA, 3.97 to 4.32. The difference -- of course -- is run support: 6.27 R/G for Scherzer, about 3.5 for Coke.
-- And finally, the things you find when you start out looking for other things ... Noticing that young Alex Cobb got his 2nd win tonight for Tampa, I wondered if any other player named Cobb had ever won a game in the majors. So I searched on "Cobb" and clicked on the first one I didn't know, Joe Cobb. Scanning his bio data to see if he was a pitcher, I didn't see a position listed, so I scrolled down.
- Turns out that Joe Cobb played in just 1 game, in 1918, with Detroit, didn't play the field, came to bat one time, and drew a walk. He's one of about 30 modern players who walked in their only appearance. I don't know the story behind that incident, but after disappearing from the organized baseball stats for 3 years, Joe Cobb resurfaced as one of the better hitters on the juggernaut Baltimore Orioles of the International League from 1923-25, helping them extend their run of league titles to 7 straight. (He did get a little assistance from the likes of Lefty Grove, who went 53-16 in 1923-24, and Rube Parnham, who was 33-7 in 1923.)
Where was I? Oh, right -- it turns out that there was a pitcher named George Cobb who went 10-37 in 1892 for the NL Orioles, his only year in the majors. There was another pitcher, Herb Cobb, who got into 1 game with the Browns in 1929 but didn't get a decision; he allowed 4 runs in one inning, including a 3-run HR by pitcher Earl Whitehill.
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