A survey of Wednesday's MLB action that suffers severe sampling bias....
-- Cliff Lee became the first pitcher with consecutive shutouts since September 2009, when -- who else? -- Roy Halladay did it in the last 2 starts of his Blue Jays career. For all his accomplishments, it's the first time that Lee -- who has put up 23 straight zeroes -- has ever thrown back-to-back shutouts; he has never had 3 straight scoreless starts of any duration.
- The Phillies have the best record and the biggest division lead in the majors (47-28, 4.5 G). No other division leader is more than 2 games up.
- The last shutout streak before Halladay was by Roy Oswalt in 2008.
- Thirty-one different pitchers have a shutout this year; Halladay, who had 67% more shutouts than anyone else over the past 3 years, is not among them.
-- How bad can it get for Chone Figgins? He began the day dead last in OPS+ among qualifying batters (43), then went 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts, dropping his BA to .190. And his error with 2 out and a man aboard led to Washington's first run in their 2-1 win. (Still 3 years to go on that sunk cost for Seattle.)
- Tyler Clippard pitched a perfect 8th inning for his MLB-best 20th hold, 4 more than the #2 total. Clippard has a 1.90 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, and his 42.2 relief innings rank 3rd in the majors. He began the day 3rd in Wins Above Replacement for relievers, with 1.5 WAR (tied with closers Mariano Rivera and Francisco Cordero).
- Figgins for Jason Bay, anyone? Bay might be able to find himself again closer to his native British Columbia, while the Mets could use the versatility of Figgins.
-- John Lackey's 4th inning: Walk, HBP, bunt single, strikeout, walk (run scores), HBP (run scores), wild pitch (run scores), single (run scores), hook.
- Lackey's ERA climbed to 7.35; he has allowed 33 ER in his last 33.1 IP, and hasn't had a quality start since April.
-- In the Reds-Yankees nightcap, Chris Heisey made the most of his first-ever multi-HR game. Batting leadoff, Heisey hit 3 HRs, drove in 5 and scored 4 times in the first 3-HR game by a Reds hitter this year. Their last 3-HR game was by Jay Bruce on 8/27/2010, which was also the last 3-HR game in the majors by a leadoff hitter.
- Johnny Cueto got the win with his 5th straight high-quality start (7+ IP, 2 R or less). He lowered his season ERA to 1.63 with a 0.97 WHIP in 62 IP. For all the promise he's shown in his 3 prior years, Cueto began this season with a career 4.27 ERA and 99 ERA+.
-- In the day game, Jorge Posada's go-ahead 2-run HR snapped his longest streak of homerless games at 40 even. His last HR was April 23, 142 PAs ago.
-- Ian Kennedy allowed 1 run in 6 IP for his 8th win, trimming his ERA to 2.90. The win assured another day in 1st place for the surprising Diamondbacks, who have a winning record and positive run differential both home and away. Arizona went 25-56 on the road last year and were outscored by 1.2 R/G.
-- Joel Hanrahan's 20th save extended his perfect record in save chances this year. In his last 7.2 IP, he has allowed just one baserunner, a walk.
-- Logan Morrison went 0 for 5 in Florida's 10-inning loss to the Angels. Could it be that his reported tongue-lashing of Hanley Ramirez on Monday was really an expression of frustration with his own deep funk? LoMo, the free-spirited tweeter, was hitting .320/.406/.574 when June dawned, but has hit .200 (17 for 85) in 22 games this month, trimming about 50 points from his season BA & OBP and 100 points off his SLG.
- The day will come -- I know not when -- that Bobby Abreu ceases to be an on-base machine, but he will not go gently. The 37-year-old Abreu had 2 hits Wednesday, including a 2-run HR, and scored the winning run after drawing a leadoff walk in the 10th (when a walk surely was as good as a hit). Although his power is way down this year (the HR was his 3rd), he's hitting .292 with a .403 OBP, and 10 steals in 13 tries. Abreu has reached base safely more than any other player since 1998. He needs 22 HRs and 18 SB to reach 300 HRs/400 SB, a combination attained only by Bonds pere et fils in MLB history.
-- Pittsburgh beat Baltimore, but J.J. Hardy had his 4th straight multi-hit game and is batting .380 in June with 7 HRs and .722 SLG.
- Hardy began the day with a 146 OPS+, second only to Jose Reyes among shortstops with at least 40 games played.
-- The Mets won on a walk-off HBP in the 13th, which somewhat offsets their recent balk-off loss. The run was set up when the A's chose to intentionally walk Jose Reyes (who hit his 13th triple earlier in the game) with 2 out and runners on 1st and 2nd, to bring up the right-handed Justin Turner against RHP Brad Ziegler.
- Is that Moneyball movie out yet? Maybe Bob Melvin had better reserve a ticket; that strategy was Dummyball.
- It was the first walk-off HBP since last year, when Jeff Francoeur took one for the team against Mariano Rivera on Sept. 11, completing a 9th-inning comeback.
-- Paul Konerko's 5-game HR streak ended with an 0 for 3, but the White Sox captured the South Side edition of the El Series with a 4-3 win over the Cubs. The ChiSox have crept back to 37-39; the Cubs fell to 8-16 in June and 30-44 for the season.
- Konerko still has a 1.001 OPS for the season.
- Does anyone care how to pronounce Mike Quade's name now?
-- Ryan Vogelsong (1 run in 7 IP so far) extended to 9 his MLB-best streak of starts with 5+ IP and 2 runs or less. He has a 1.23 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 58.1 IP during this streak. In 33 career starts before this season, Vogelsong never had more than 2 straight starts of 5+ IP and 2 runs or less.
-- Catch of the day: It was a busy afternoon for Jose Bautista. He homered in the 3rd for Toronto's only run; just missed snaring the latest pinch-HR by Brooks Conrad in the 7th (which was ruled a HR after review); and moments later, foiled a back-to-back bid by Jordan Schafer with a leaping catch in nearly the same spot as where Conrad's ball had cleared the wall.
- Brooks Conrad has 3 HRs and 2 doubles in 28 ABs as a pinch-hitter this year, for a 1.073 OPS. He has 7 career pinch-HRs in 104 ABs; since 2009, only Matt Stairs (9) has more.
What were the other baseball stories of the day? Our phones are open!
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