Since July 20, there have been over 930 Major League games played, representing more than one-third of the season. During this stretch of contests, only two have produced this particular conclusion: the home team's final swing of the bat resulted in a home run that transformed a deficit into a walk-off win. In both of these specific dramas, Chipper Jones -- playing out the final two-plus months of his career -- has been actively involved.
On Sept. 2, the Braves were losing 7-5 to the Phillies with runners on second and third and two outs. Facing a 1-1 count from closer Jonathan Papelbon, Jones deposited the next pitch into the seats for his ninth career game-ending home run. The dramatic victory ended a three-game losing streak and gave the Braves a three-game cushion in the race for the top spot in the National League Wild Card race.
On Tuesday night, Jones got to do bit of celebratory trotting again, as he -- after a leadoff double to open the ninth -- scored the game-tying run on a play that put Jones just a little bit closer to perhaps concluding his 19th Major League season with a fourth NL pennant.
With Jones on third as the tying run, Freddie Freeman hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves a 4-3 walk-off win. The victory clinched a spot for the Braves in the NL's one-game Wild Card playoff.
The win extended the Braves' winning streak in Kris Medlen starts to 22 games. According to the Braves' press notes (citing the Elias Sports Bureau), this streak of team wins in one pitcher's starts is now tied for the longest in baseball history. In 1936-37, the Giants won 22 consecutive games started by Carl Hubbell, and from '50-53, the Yankees were victorious in 22 consecutive starts by Whitey Ford. The Braves' streak with Medlen began on May 29, 2010.
In this start, Medlen allowed three runs in seven innings and struck out eight with no walks. Since moving into the rotation on July 31, Medlen is 8-0 in 11 starts, owns a 1.04 ERA in 77 2/3 innings and has struck out 80 with nine walks.
Pierzynski hit his 27th home run -- the second-highest total for a catcher in his age-35 or older season. Only Carlton Fisk, with 37 home runs in his age-37 season in 1985, had more.
Sanchez threw a three-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts and a walk, and improved to 9-13 overall as the Tigers blanked the Royals, 2-0. Sanchez's line produced a game score of 90, the second highest for a Tigers pitcher this season, after Justin Verlander's one-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts and two walks produced a 95 on May 18.
Espinosa collected his 20th steal of the season, tying his double-play partner Ian Desmond for the Nationals' lead in the category. Desmond and Espinosa represent the second franchise shortstop/second baseman combo in team history to each steal 20 bases in a season. In 1996, second baseman Mike Lansing had 23 steals and shortstop Mark Grudzielanek had 33. Espinosa and Desmond are one of two double-play combos to each have 20 steals in 2012, joining the Rangers' Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus.
In the Rays' 5-2 win over the Red Sox, Price tossed a seven-hitter to improve to 19-5. Price struck out 13 and walked none.
Price's 13 strikeouts upped his season total to 201. With he and James Shields both having 200-plus in 2011 and '12, they represent the fifth set of American League teammates to each reach the plateau in back-to-back seasons. In 1904 and '05, Athletics southpaws Eddie Plank and Rube Waddell each did it, and then in '67 and '68, the Indians' Sam McDowell and Luis Tiant became the second duo to accomplish the feat. The Tigers' Joe Coleman and Mickey Lolich each struck out 200 in three consecutive seasons in '71, '72 and '73, and then the Angels' Nolan Ryan and Frank Tanana followed in '76 and '77.
Price is the second pitcher in franchise history to collect at least 13 strikeouts and allow no walks in a game. On Aug. 25, 2007, Scott Kazmir fanned 13 Athletics. The 13-strikeout, no-walk effort represents the first time in the live-ball era that a visiting southpaw has struck out that many and issued no walks at Fenway Park. Since 1920, the only other left-hander to have a game like this at Fenway was Boston's Bruce Hurst on May 16, 1986.
Cueto improved to 19-9 and lowered his ERA to 2.83 in a seven-inning, two-run performance. Cueto's 19 victories are the most for a Reds pitcher since Danny Jackson won 23 games in 1988, and the most for a Reds right-hander since Jack Billingham was 19-11 in '74.
Wright went 2-for-4 with his 20th home run of the year. The two hits give Wright 1,418 for his career, which ties him with Ed Kranepool for the most in Mets history.
In a 1-for-4 night, Derek Jeter collected his 208th hit of the season. The league-leading total moved Jeter into a tie with Pete Rose (1979) for the second-most hits for a player in his age-38 or older season.
Greinke struck out 13 in five innings, the bullpen contributed seven more strikeouts and the Angels defeated the Mariners, 5-4. Greinke is the first starter in the live-ball era to collect as many as 13 strikeouts in a stint lasting no more than five innings. The previous high was 11 strikeouts, most recently accomplished by Erik Bedard on May 3 this season.
Trout scored two runs to bring his season total to a Major League-leading 124, and stole his Major League-leading 47th base.
The 124 runs are the sixth most since 1893 for a player in his age-20 or younger season. The total also gives Trout the 13th most since that year for a rookie.
The 47 steals are also the fourth most since that season for a player in his age-20 or younger season. Jimmy Sheckard had the most, with 77 steals for Baltimore in the NL in 1899. With one more, Trout would match Sherry Magee (1905) for having the third most.
If Trout finishes the season with the AL's highest tally of runs scored and the most stolen bases, he will become the first player since 1893 in his age-20 or younger season to lead his league in both categories.
Sheckard led the NL in steals in 1899, but finished 18th in runs scored. In 1907, Ty Cobb led the AL with 53 steals, but finished third in the league in runs scored. In '56, Frank Robinson led the NL with 122 runs scored, but finished tied for 11th in stolen bases. In '59, Vada Pinson scored 131 runs to lead the NL, but finished fifth with 21 steals. And in '96, Alex Rodriguez led the AL with 141 runs scored, but finished tied for 25th in stolen bases.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions.