MLB Notebook: Moore, Rays channel Koufax
Tampa Bay lefty wins his 13th and continues club's run of outstanding pitching
The last regular-season start made by Sandy Koufax came in the second game of a doubleheader on Oct. 2, 1966. Facing the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium, the Dodgers southpaw went the distance, allowing three runs (two earned), with seven hits, one walk and 10 strikeouts.
With the effort, Koufax finished what would be his final season with the following numbers: a 1.73 ERA, a 0.985 WHIP, and rates of 6.72 hits allowed per nine innings and 8.83 strikeouts per nine innings. It was (and is) a line that leaves many a mind boggled, serving as both an ebullient symbol of his brilliance on the mound and as an affecting trace of what might have been.
But regardless of the emotional interpretation, the statistical line is pretty fantastic. And for the past two weeks, the Tampa Bay Rays' pitching staff has sculpted out a series of performances that collectively create a line that looks quite similar to the one produced by Koufax 47 years ago.
Thursday, the Rays defeated the Twins, 4-3, giving them eight straight victories and 12 in their past 13 games. The club's ERA during this 13-game stretch has been 1.98, and Tampa Bay is averaging 8.85 K's per nine, 6.44 hits per nine, and own a 0.935 WHIP in these 13 games.
Tampa Bay southpaw Matt Moore fanned 10 in a stint lasting 7 1/3 innings, allowing three runs and three hits. With the effort, Moore picked up his 13th win -- the most for a Rays pitcher in the first half of the season.
Moore's win total makes him one of 26 pitchers to be in their age-24 season or younger and enter the All-Star break with at least 13 victories. The first to do this was Dizzy Dean, who finished the first half of the 1934 season with 14 wins. Some of the other notable names: Bob Feller (who did this three times), Hal Newhouser (who did it twice), Denny McLain (who did it twice, including in his 31-win season in '68), Tom Seaver, Vida Blue (who had 17 wins at the break in '71), Dwight Gooden, Roger Clemens, Bret Saberhagen, Greg Maddux and Dontrelle Willis in 2005.
Miggy rolling towards the break
Tigers star Miguel Cabrera went 1-for-3 with a solo home run, his 30th, in a 6-3 loss to the White Sox. He has 130 hits in 355 at-bats (for a .366 batting average) and has driven in 94 runs.
Cabrera's 94 RBIs leave him one shy of tying Josh Hamilton (in 2008) for the fifth most before the All-Star break. Of those five players ahead of him -- Hank Greenberg in 1935, Juan Gonzalez in '98, Carlos Delgado in 2003, Manny Ramirez in 1999 and Hamilton -- none had 30 home runs.
One player -- Frank Thomas in 1994 -- has entered the All-Star break with at least 30 homers and a batting average as high as the one currently owned by Cabrera. In '94, Thomas was batting .383 with 32 homers and had driven in 78 runs. Thomas also had 84 walks and an OPS of 1.311.
Cabrera's 1.138 OPS would be tied for the 44th highest for any player with at least 250 plate appearances before the All-Star break. His 130 hits tie him for the ninth most before the All-Star break.
Cabrera's 30 homers give him at least that many in nine of his first 11 seasons. The only other players to do that: Albert Pujols (all 11), Eddie Mathews (nine of 11) and Mike Piazza (nine of 11). Cabrera's nine 30-homer seasons through his age-30 season are tied for the fourth most. Jimmie Foxx, Alex Rodriguez and Pujols had 10, while Mathews also had nine.
Salazar makes a great first impression
Making his Major League debut, Indians right-hander Danny Salazar worked six innings of two-hit, one-run ball and fanned seven with one walk in a 4-2 win over the Blue Jays.
Since 1916, Salazar's seven K's are the fourth most for an Indians pitcher in his debut, and the most since Luis Tiant fanned 11 (in a four-hit shutout) on July 19, 1964. The other two were Herb Score (nine K's) in '55 and Floyd Weaver (eight strikeouts) in '62.
Rolling many of the positives of Salazar's line together, he is the first pitcher since Johnny Cueto on April 3, 2008, to have at least seven K's, allow no more than two hits and pick up the win in his debut. Overall, he is the 12th pitcher since 1916 to be able to make all of those claims.
Here and there
• Josh Phegley hit a grand slam for the White Sox, giving him three homers in his first five games. Phegley is the 29th player since 1916 to have at least three through his first five games, and the third White Sox player to do it. Zeke Bonura had three in 1934, and Magglio Ordonez matched that total in '97.
• Chris Davis hit his 34th homer of the year. He is now tied with Frank Howard in 1969 for the sixth most for a player before the All-Star break. The players ahead of him: Barry Bonds (39 in 2001), Reggie Jackson (37 in 1969), Mark McGwire (37 in '98), Ken Griffey Jr. (35 in '98) and Luis Gonzalez (35 in 2001).
• Freddie Freeman drove in four runs in a 3-for-4 night, helping the Braves to a 6-5 win over the Reds. Freeman owns an AB/RBI ratio of 5.07 -- the fifth best in the National League. The players ahead of him: the D-backs' Paul Goldschmidt (4.50), the Cardinals' Allen Craig (4.70), the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez (4.87) and the Reds' Brandon Phillips (4.88).
• Edwin Jackson (seven innings, three hits) and four relievers combined on a four-hit shutout as the Cubs defeated the Cardinals, 3-0. In the history of the rivalry between these two franchises (which goes back to 1892), this marks the 157th time Chicago has blanked St. Louis. St. Louis has shut out Chicago on 166 occasions.
• The Dodgers defeated the Rockies, 6-1, to move above .500 (46-45) for the first time since they were 7-6 on April 15. Los Angeles has won 16 of 19, with a run differential of 37 (103 runs scored and 66 allowed) during this stretch.