JAN. 2 OFF THE MARK COLUMN — MARK SPENSLEY, CO-PUBLISHER
I read an interesting column on ESPN.com about strange but true baseball events that happened last season. With props to columnist Jayson Stark, I would like to share a few with you so hold on to your seats, here we go.
• There was a rain delay in a domed (Milwaukee) stadium.
• The Pirates hit back-to-back home runs that banged off the same foul pole.
• Todd Frazier lost the grip on his bat in midswing and still hit a homerun, even though he wasn’t holding the bat in his hands at the moment he hit it.
Strangest game of the year: The Orioles 9-6 win over the Red Sox in 17 innings. The winning pitcher was DH Chris Davis. The losing pitcher was DH Darnell McDonald. Before Davis even took the mound, he had struck out five times and grounded into a double play. The game saw 16 actually pitchers, not including position players, which isn’t the record. In 2011 the Rays and Yankees used 19 pitchers in one game.
Strangest team of the year: Houston Astros. They were 2-25 in a June thru July stretch. They were 4-38 during a June, July and early August stretch. They were also 7-43 during a 50-game stretch. But here is the oddest stat; they were 13-13 after Labor Day, which was better than the Rangers (13-14).
Year of the no-hitter: from 2000-2005 there were seven no-hitters. In 2012 there were seven no-hitters. Some of the most memorable, the Mets Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter (51 season) in team history.
Also, Seattle’s Safeco Field hosted three no-hit bids. One was a six-pitcher no-hitter. The winning pitcher allowed more hitters to reach base (two) than he got outs (one). The second one was Felix Hernandez’s perfect game.
The third was a perfect game by White Sox pitcher Philip Humber on April 21. Then over his next three starts, 33 of the 72 batters he faced reached base and by the end of the year his ERA was 6.44. Then, this winter he was not tendered a contract offer, becoming the first pitcher in history to do so after throwing a perfect game.
To top off the no-hitter weirdness, Humber and Santana were once traded for each other. And, the Rays have lost four no-hitters in the past four seasons. The Yankees have been no-hit four times in 95 seasons.
Strange hitting feats: Aaron Hill hit for the cycle twice over the course of a 10-day span in June. The Padres have zero cycles over the course of 44 seasons and 7,004 games. Brothers B.J. and Justin Upton both hit their 100th career homer on the same day. Only one other brother act (there are six total) have hit the same homer on the same day and that was the Upton’s hitting their 99th home run on the same day as well.
Josh Hamilton launched four two-run homers in the same day. No big deal except Elvis Andrus was the same runner on base all four times.
Carlos Beltran hit two homers in one game left-handed and three days later hit two homers in a game right-handed. A switch-hitter has never done that in the same week.
Mike Baxter walked five times in one game against five different pitchers. And I bet you didn’t know that the Mets got three walks, a hit batter and three stolen bases in one inning and didn’t score a run. Here’s how it went down: walk, steal, walk, HBP, double play, double steal, walk, groundout!
The Phillies led off a game with a home run and hit another with two outs in the ninth. They never scored in between and still won. That just shows you those middle innings are overrated.
Strange pitching feat: The Cub’s Shawn Camp came out of the bullpen and allowed seven hits to all seven batters he faced. He is the only pitcher in history to do that. Eighteen days later he cam in to pitch in a tie game in the ninth and threw two pitches. The first was hit for a triple and the second a walkoff single. Two batters, two pitchers, one loss.
Reds starter Matt Latos served up five homers but no other hits in a game and won. He faced Jamie Moyer who gave up four homers. There were only two other singles, one an infield hit, the rest of the game. It was the first nine-homer, two-single game in the live ball era.
And I will end this column with one more strange feat, no pun intended: On May 1, Mets pitcher 6′ 11″ Jon Rauch faced Houston batter Jose Altuve, all of 5’5″. That’s an 18-inch differential.