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MLB Notebook: Verlander may join elite company

Justin Verlander has made 19 starts so far this season. He has finished nine of them with more innings pitched than baserunners allowed. Such stinginess has contributed to Verlander's 0.931 WHIP -- a value that is both impressive in itself (it is the lowest in the Majors) and notable for what company it may allow the Tigers right-hander to join.

Verlander led the Majors with a 0.920 WHIP in 2011. If he can finish this season with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title and keep that WHIP below 1.00, he will become just the seventh pitcher since 1920 to have back-to-back seasons of allowing fewer than a walk or hit per inning pitched.

The men who have already done this have garnered quite a few accolades in their respective careers. Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax did it in four straight seasons, from 1963-66. Two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana produced three consecutive seasons with a WHIP below 1.00, from 2004-06. Four-time CY Young Award winner Greg Maddux had back-to-back seasons with such numbers twice in his career, in 1994 and '95 and then again in '97 and '98.

As for the other three, two are already in the Hall of Fame and the other most likely will be sometime soon. Juan Marichal did it in 1965 and '66, Don Sutton matched the feat in '72 and '73, and then Pedro Martinez did it in '99 and 2000.

Verlander threw eight scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks as the Tigers blanked the Orioles, 4-0, on Sunday.

Verlander extended his run of starts with at least six innings to 61, tying Catfish Hunter for the third-longest streak in the live-ball era. Bob Gibson (78 in a row from 1967-70) and Steve Carlton (69 from '79-82) are ahead of Hunter and Verlander.

61 Consecutive Starts with 6+ IP
Pitcher Years IP ERA WHIP W L
Hunter 1975-76 524 2.75 1.013 35 22
Verlander 2010-12 453 2/3 2.40 0.926 39 11
Since the start of the 2011 season, Verlander leads the Majors with 27 games in which he has finished a start with more innings pitched than baserunners allowed. Jered Weaver owns the second most with 22. Since the beginning of last season, Verlander owns 26 starts in which he has finished with more strikeouts than baserunners allowed -- also the most in the Majors. Clayton Kershaw owns the second most with 21.

Austin Jackson
Jackson homered to lead off Sunday's game, giving him a run scored in 12 consecutive contests.

Jackson's streak is the longest in the Majors since Rafael Furcal had a 12-game run in 2010. It is the longest streak for the Tigers since Rocky Colavito scored in 12 straight games in 1961.

In their 10-8 loss to the Angels, the Yankees set a new franchise single-season record by scoring at least three runs in their 39th consecutive game. The 1933 Yankees held the previous record.

Since 1918, only two clubs have had a longer single-season streak. The 1994 Indians scored at least three runs in 48 straight games, and the 1930 Athletics scored at least three runs in 41 straight games. The 1930 Cubs and 1996 Mariners also had streaks of 39 consecutive games.

In their 86th game of the season, the Nationals failed to collect an extra-base hit for the first time.

The club's 85-game streak from the start of a season had been the longest in the Majors since the 2001 Rockies had at least one extra-base hit in their first 93 games.

Ben Sheets
Making his first Major League appearance since July 19, 2010, Sheets pitched six scoreless innings, gave up two hits and picked up the win as the Braves defeated the Mets, 6-1.

Sheets also struck out five and walked one, improving his career K:BB ratio to 3.63. This is seventh-best ratio for any pitcher since 1893 with at least 1,500 innings.

2012: Most Games Allowing Two or Fewer Runs
Games Teams
35 Nationals
34 Athletics, Dodgers, White Sox
33 Pirates, Giants
32 Angels
Chris Sale
In the White Sox 2-1 victory over the Royals, Chris Sale allowed one run in eight innings and picked up his 11th win while lowering his ERA to 2.11 -- the lowest in the American League.

The combined work of Sale and reliever Addison Reed gave the White Sox their 34th game this season of allowing no more than two runs. This ties them for the second most such games in the Major Leagues.

Yovani Gallardo
Gallardo struck out 14 and walked none in a seven-inning, one-run gem that yielded him his eighth win of the season. Gallardo is the first pitcher in Brewers history to strike out at least 14 and issue no walks. Previously, Moose Haas had a 14-strikeout, three-walk game in 1978, and Sheets fanned 18 with one walk in 2004.

Gallardo's game marked the 17th time in his career he struck out at least 10 batters. Those 17 are the most in franchise history, one ahead of the 16 by Teddy Higuera.

Andrew McCutchen
McCutchen went 3-for-4 and homered in his fourth straight game on Sunday.

The Pirates record for consecutive games with a homer is held by Dale Long. Long set the Major League record by homering in eight straight contests in 1956. In 62 games since May 1, McCutchen's slash line is .396/.449/.753.

Yoenis Cespedes
In Oakland's 9-4 victory over Minnesota, Cespedes collected four hits and one of the team's four home runs.

The four-homer day gave Oakland back-to-back games with four or more long balls for the first time since 2001.

Cole Hamels
Hamels allowed one run in eight innings and struck out seven. Hamels -- playing in his seventh season -- owns 1,216 strikeouts.

1893-2012: Lefties Most K's Through First seven Seasons
Pitcher K's Years
Mark Langston 1,448 1984-90
Mickey Lolich 1,336 1963-69
Randy Johnson 1,330 1988-94
Fernando Valenzuela 1,274 1980-86
Lefty Grove 1,221 1925-31
Cole Hamels 1,216 2006-12
Bob Veale 1,215 1962-68
Rube Waddell 1,212 1897-1904
Matt Harrison
Harrison threw a five-hit shutout with four walks and three strikeouts, leading Texas to a 4-0 victory over Seattle.

Harrison is the 14th pitcher in the past 10 seasons to twirl a shutout and finish the effort with more walks than strikeouts. Derek Lowe (six-hitter with four walks and no strikeouts) also did it this season, on May 15. Before Harrison, the last Rangers pitcher to do this was Kevin Brown on July 6, 1990.

Aroldis Chapman
Chapman fanned three in a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 13th save. Chapman increased his rate of strikeouts per nine innings to 16.80, while lowering his hits per nine innings to 3.83.

The highest K/9 for any pitcher with at least 50 innings in a season is 16.10 by Kenley Jansen in 2011, while the lowest hits per 9 is 4.04 by Eric Gagne in 2003. Chapman has thrown 42.1 innings in 2012.

Joey Votto
Votto went 2-for-3 with a double (his Major League-leading 36th of the season) and a walk (his NL-leading 66th of the season).

The game marked the 27th time this season Votto has reached base at least three times -- one ahead of Joe Mauer for the most in the Majors.

Yoenis Cespedes, Aroldis Chapman, Yovani Gallardo, Cole Hamels, Matt Harrison, Austin Jackson, Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Ben Sheets, Justin Verlander, Joey Votto