Since an All-Star break first interrupted a Major League season in 1933, there had been -- through 2013 -- four first-year pitchers to finish a first half with at least 11 victories.
Most recently, Dodgers southpaw Kaz Ishii did this, taking an 11-5 record and a 3.58 ERA into the second half of the 2002 season. Thirty-two years earlier, Reds right-hander Wayne Simpson finished the first half with a 13-1 record and a 2.69 ERA. More than a half-run better than Simpson, right-hander Dave Ferriss (otherwise known as Boo) was once the toast of Beantown, holding a 15-2 record with a 2.04 ERA for the Red Sox in 1945. But even Ferriss was outdone (at least in terms of ERA) by Yankees right-hander Spec Shea, who owned an 11-2 record and a 1.91 ERA in the first half of the '47 season.
This quartet now has company, as another Yanks right-hander with the requisite number of victories is inching closer to Shea's ERA.
Tanaka taking American League by storm
After allowing a home run to Jose Reyes on the first pitch of the game Tuesday, Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka rebounded to finish with just one run allowed and 10 Ks over six innings, thus improving to 11-1 in a 3-1 win over the Blue Jays.
Tanaka reached double digits in strikeouts for the fifth time in his 14-game career. With the effort, he became the fifth pitcher since 1914 to have at least five this early into a career, joining Hideo Nomo (with six), Tom Griffin (five), Dwight Gooden (five) and Mark Prior (five).
Tanaka's 11 victories through his first 14 games place him in a five-way tie for the most for any pitcher since 1914. Outside of fellow Yanks right-hander Tiny Bonham (1940-41), the others to do it were Ferriss ('45), Brewers right-hander Cal Eldred ('91-92) and Ishii (2002).
Tanaka owns a 1.99 ERA. Among pitchers in franchise history since 1914 with at least 14 starts through the team's first 69 games, that mark is the 11th lowest. Jack Quinn owns the team record at 1.40, while Phil Niekro (1.86 in '84) was the most recent Yankees pitcher to best Tanaka's current ERA.
For all pitchers since 1933, there had been 573 before this season to have at least 11 victories by the All-Star break. Forty-three of them also had an ERA below 2.00, with the lowest ERA belonging to Bob Gibson in 1968. That season, Gibson came into the All-Star break with an 11-5 record to accompany his 1.06 ERA.
Trout continues to put up historic numbers
Mike Trout hit a pair of homers and added a double in the Angels' 9-3 win over the Indians.
Among all players through their respective age-22 seasons, Trout currently stands:
• 22nd in total bases. He needs 154 more this season to become the eighth player to reach 1,000.
• 18th in extra-base hits. He needs 10 more to become the 12th player with at least 200.
• Tied (with Miguel Cabrera) for 16th in home runs. He needs 12 more to become the ninth player with at least 90.
Royals at the top of the heap
The Royals used a seven-run second inning to gain control early, then went on to defeat the Tigers, 11-4. With the victory -- the team's ninth straight win -- Kansas City moved into first place in the AL Central, a half-game up on Detroit.
The Royals improved to a Major League-best 12-3 (.800) in June. The club's best winning percentage for the month was a .667 mark produced by the 1972 team.
• Since the start of play on May 29, the Royals have scored the most runs in the AL (104). Entering that day, Kansas City was last in the AL in runs scored.
• The Royals' nine-game winning streak is the club's longest since it captured nine in a row from July 23 through Aug. 1 last year. Before that run, Kansas City had last reeled off nine victories in a row in 2003, when it opened the season 9-0.
• In Monday's game, the Royals defeated the Tigers, 11-8. They had most recently scored at least 11 runs in consecutive games in 2001 (two straight against the Indians) and had put up 11 or more in consecutive games against Detroit just once before -- in 1994, over two series.
Hughes stingy with free passes
In the Twins' 2-1 loss to the Red Sox, Phil Hughes fanned six and walked none in eight innings.
Hughes has made nine starts this season in which he did not issue a walk. Those nine -- through 69 team games -- place Hughes in a tie with 11 other pitchers for the fourth most for any hurler since 1914. The three pitchers ahead of Hughes and Co.: Babe Adams (14 in '20 with the Pirates), Pete Alexander (11 in '23 with the Cubs) and Brad Radke (10 in 2005 with the Twins).
Hughes is averaging 0.80 walks per nine innings. He has made 14 total starts and thrown 90 1/3 innings this year. Entering 2014, there had been 13 pitchers to have at least 100 innings pitched and a walks-per-nine ratio below 0.80 entering the All-Star break. Twelve of the 13 pitchers had done this since 1992, with Paul Derringer in '39 standing out as the lone exception. In '39, Derringer averaged 0.67 walks per nine in 134 2/3 innings before heading off to start the All-Star Game, where he worked three scoreless and walk-free innings for the National League.
Lucroy having a half for the ages
In Milwaukee's 7-5 victory over Arizona, Jonathan Lucroy hit a grand slam and a solo homer while adding a single in a five-RBI night.
Lucroy leads all Major League catchers in runs, hits, total bases, extra-base hits, batting, on-base percentage, slugging, wOBA (weighted on-base average) and wRC+ (weighted runs created plus).
Lucroy is batting .340, and holds a wOBA of .408 and a wRC+ of 160. There have been 19 qualifying catchers since 1901 to finish a year with a .340 or better batting average; there have been 30 to finish a year with a wOBA of at least .408; there have been seven to conclude with a wRC+ of at least 160.
Norris delivers off the bench
The Athletics defeated the Rangers, 10-6, with half of the winning team's runs coming from Derek Norris' bat.
Norris -- who delivered a pinch-hit three-run homer in the sixth before doubling in two runs in the eighth -- was the fourth A's player since 1914 to have a five-RBI effort in a non-start. He joined Mickey Tettleton ('86), Erubiel Durazo (2004) and Seth Smith ('12).
Norris entered the game as a replacement for John Jaso, who started at catcher and finished his night 2-for-3 with a double. Oakland's catchers this season claim an .891 OPS -- the second-highest mark in baseball after the .941 owned by Brewers backstops.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions.