On July 22 in Philadelphia, Giants right-hander Yusmeiro Petit -- in his first start since the end of May -- concluded his day having allowed five runs, seven hits and two walks in five innings. But he did manage to finish his start by retiring the last batter he faced, getting Grady Sizemore on a groundout.
As it turns out, that final batter was significantly more resonant than any of the first 23 hitters Petit faced on that -- at the time -- seemingly forgettable day for the 29-year-old.
After Sizemore, Petit next came to the mound on July 26 and retired all six Dodgers batters he faced. He followed that relief stint with a six-up, six-down treatment of the Pirates on July 28, rolled through one perfect relief inning against the Brewers on Aug. 7, and then went 1-2-3 in the sixth inning against the Royals on August 10. Nine days later against the Cubs, Petit threw two perfect innings and, for some added panache, fanned the first five batters he faced. Next came a perfect 4 1/3 innings of relief on Aug. 23 -- an outing that concluded with Petit retiring Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche on a groundout in the seventh.
And so from Sizemore through LaRoche, Petit had faced 38 batters and retired them all -- the equivalent to 12 2/3 perfect innings.
Petit passes Buehrle
Making his first start after six consecutive relief appearances, Petit set down the first eight Rockies he faced Thursday in a 4-1 win to extend his streak of consecutive batters retired to 46 (the ninth batter -- pitcher Jordan Lyles -- doubled). And with the 46th out -- a strikeout of Charlie Culberson -- Petit set a new Major League record, surpassing the 45 straight batters retired by Mark Buehrle in 2009.
Buehrle's streak covered outings from July 18-28, with his perfect game sandwiched between two other starts, The lefty retired the final batter he faced on July 18, then 27 in a row in his perfect game, followed by the first 17 in his next start after the perfecto.
Hamilton helps Reds run past Cubs
Billy Hamilton collected his 51st steal of the season -- one of six stolen bases recorded by the Reds in their 7-2 victory over the Cubs.
For Hamilton, the 51 tie him with Hanley Ramirez (2006) for 17th most for a rookie in the modern era. Up next, at 53, are Donie Bush (1909) and Omar Moreno ('77). The same year Bush recorded his 53, Cincinnati's Bob Bescher collected 54 steals to set the still-standing Reds franchise rookie record.
Hamilton is second in the National League in steals behind the Dodgers' Dee Gordon, who has 58. The NL most recently had two players reach 60 stolen bases in a season in 2007, when Jose Reyes had 78 to take the title over Juan Pierre and his 64.
The Reds' six steals Thursday were the most for the club since they swiped six against the Nats on May 10, 2006, and the most against the Cubs since they allowed six in a loss on July 28, 1977. Dating back to 1914, this game marked the sixth time Cincinnati had recorded at least six steals against Chicago, but it was the first time it was done in a victory.
Reds first baseman Todd Frazier (who has hit 22 home runs this season) collected two steals to reach 19. Cincinnati most recently had a corner infielder produce a 20-20 season in 2002, when third baseman Aaron Boone hit 26 home runs and stole 32 bases.
Angels walk off vs. A's
The Angels defeated the Athletics, 4-3, in 10 innings to open up a two-game lead over Oakland for first place in the American League West. With the victory, Los Angeles also improved to 44-24 (.647) at home (the second-best home run record in the Majors, behind the A's .652 mark).
Over the first 53 seasons of Halos baseball, the club has finished at or above .640 at home four times. In 2002, the eventual World Series champions went 54-27 for a .667 winning percentage: one that was matched in 2007. In 1982 and '89, the club played .642 ball at home, going 52-29 each season.
Albert Pujols, who opened the 10th inning with a walk, scored the winning run on Howie Kendrick's sacrifice fly. In his career:
• Pujols owns a .999 OPS when leading off an inning. Since 1973, among players with at least 1,500 plate appearances for this split, that OPS is the highest, ahead of Mark McGwire's .991.
• Pujols owns a 1.004 OPS in "late & close" situations. Since 1973, that mark -- among players with at least 1,200 plate appearances in the split -- is the highest, ahead of Barry Bonds' .990.
• Pujols owns a 1.130 OPS in extra innings. Among players since 1973 with at least 150 plate appearances for this split, that OPS is the second highest, behind Jack Clark's 1.154.
Twins bullish about Dozier's bat
The Twins' Brian Dozier had three hits, three RBIs, two runs and a walk in an 11-5 win over the Royals. During the big night, he collected his 30th double, surpassed 60 RBIs and upped his AL-leading runs scored total to 94.
Dozier has 50 extra-base hits, has swiped 20 bases and drawn 77 walks. The five most recent times a second basemen reached 100 runs, 20 steals, 50 extra-base hits and 80 walks in a season were Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia in 2011, Chase Utley in '09 and Brian Roberts in '07 and '08. The only Senators/Twins second baseman to do this was Chuck Knoblauch in 1996.
Here and there
• In Detroit, Alex Avila produced a game-ending single in the bottom of the ninth as the Tigers defeated the Yankees, 3-2. Just three weeks earlier (on Aug. 5), Avila homered in the top of the 12th for the go-ahead run against the Yanks in an eventual 4-3 victory. Avila is the first Tigers player since Lou Whitaker in 1989 to have multiple go-ahead hits in the ninth inning or later in the same season against the Yankees. In '89, Whitaker had a walk-off homer in the 10th inning against Dave Righetti on June 28, and delivered an 11th-inning go-ahead homer against Eric Plunk in an eventual 6-5 loss on July 6.
• In the Braves' 6-1 win over the Mets, third baseman Chris Johnson went 2-for-4, with both of his hits coming against New York lefty Jon Niese. With the 2-for-3 effort against Niese, Johnson holds a .424 average (39-for-92) against southpaws this season -- the highest average for any player with at least 75 plate appearances against left-handers. No Braves player in the past 40 seasons has finished a year with such a high mark in this split, with the existing high standard (since 1974) for batting average against lefties standing at .415 (Chipper Jones in 2000 and Eli Marrero in '04). The most recent player to have at least 75 plate appearances against left-handers and finish with a batting average of at least .420 in that split was the Giants' Buster Posey, who hit .433 in 2012. Before him, the Brewers' Ryan Braun batted .450 in 2007.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions.