When the Mariners reached the 1996 All-Star break, Seattle had played 85 games. The club boasted a seriously potent offense in that first half, having five players carrying an OPS of at least .900 with enough plate appearances to qualify on the rate-stat leaderboards.
The team leader in that category was designated hitter Edgar Martinez, who entered the break with a 1.172 mark. As part of his superb resume, Martinez had collected 42 doubles by the break. Since 1933 (the first year to feature an All-Star Game) no player has had more two-base hits at the time of the Midsummer Classic.
Martinez had 37 doubles through Seattle's first 72 games that season, putting him a bit ahead of the pace currently being enjoyed by Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who went 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored Tuesday in a 5-2 win over the Tigers.
Machado leads the Majors with 33 doubles. Those 33 tie him with four others for the 13th most in a first half of a season since 1933. Among the others with 33: Brian Roberts, who had that many for Baltimore in 2008. No Orioles player has had more.
Machado also leads the Majors with 101 hits. He is the fourth player since 1933 to be in his age-20-or-younger season and have that many before the All-Star break, joining Al Kaline (122 in 1955), Ken Griffey Jr. (107 in '90) and Claudell Washington (104 in '75).
Machado leads the Majors in multihit games this season, with 30. Since debuting last Aug. 9, he's had 47 multihit games through his first 123 games in the Majors -- the most for any player through 123 games since 1916. Buddy Lewis and Vada Pinson each had 46.
Young Mets arms shine
In the first game of a doubleheader vs. the Braves, the Mets' Matt Harvey fanned a career-high 13 batters and picked up his first win since May 17.
Harvey has six career double-digit-strikeout games in 25 appearances, which ties him with Bob Feller for the seventh most since 1916. Hideo Nomo and Dwight Gooden each had 10, while Kerry Wood and Yu Darvish each had eight. With seven, Al Downing and Mark Prior are tied for the fifth most.
At 24 years and 83 days old, Harvey was the youngest Mets pitcher with a 13-strikeout game since Sid Fernandez (23 years, 324 days) fanned 14 Giants on Sept. 1, 1986.
In the second game of the doubleheader sweep, Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler made his Major League debut and picked up the win, allowing four hits and five walks in six scoreless innings while striking out seven.
Wheeler is the 14th Mets pitcher to start and win his Major League debut, and the first to do it since Harvey last July 26. Wheeler is one of four Mets pitchers -- along with Dick Rustek (1966), Masato Yoshii ('98) and Harvey -- to start and win his debut and not allow any runs.
Putting all of those good elements together, Wheeler was the 21st pitcher since 1916 to start and win his debut and have that start feature no runs and at least seven strikeouts. Before Wheeler, Harvey had been the most recent to do it.
Buccos firing blanks
Charlie Morton (5 1/3 innings, three hits) and three Pirates relievers combined on a four-hit shutout, and Pittsburgh defeated Cincinnati, 4-0.
The game marked the Major League-leading 12th team shutout of the season for the Pirates. Those 12 through 71 games tie this Pirates team with three other clubs for the third most in the past 40 seasons. The 1981 Dodgers had 14 through 71 games, and the '88 Mets had 13. In '80, both the Dodgers and Astros had 12, and in '81, the Astros again had that many.
The Pirates have posted eight shutouts on four hits or fewer allowed. Those eight through 71 games tie this Bucs club for the third most in the past 50 seasons. In 1968, the Indians had 12, and in '69, the Orioles had 11. The '71 Athletics, '80 Dodgers and 2012 Angels each had eight through 71 games.
The Pirates got the victory Tuesday despite striking out 17 times. It was the 25th time since 1916 a winning team's offense had fanned that many times in a nine-inning game. It had most recently happened on Aug. 14, 2011, when the Cubs defeated the Braves, 6-5, while striking out 18 times.
Pittsburgh had one other appearance on the list -- a 3-2 win with 17 strikeouts against the Phillies on July 21, 1997. Tuesday's game also marked the second appearance on the list for Reds pitchers, who fanned 17 Cubs in a 5-4 loss on May 16, 1998.
Here and there
• Oakland's Jarrod Parker allowed three hits and two runs with no home runs in seven innings of work and improved to 5-1 with a 2.43 ERA in his past eight games. During this eight-game stretch, Parker has allowed five home runs in 55 2/3 innings. In his first seven starts of the season -- when he was 1-5 with a 7.34 ERA -- Parker allowed eight homers in 34 1/3 innings. In 2012, when he was fifth in American League Rookie of the Year Award voting, Parker posted the AL's second-lowest homer rate.
• Houston's Jordan Lyles allowed a run in seven innings and picked up the win, as the Astros cruised by the Brewers, 10-1. With the line, Lyle has had seven straight starts in which he's allowed two runs or fewer. During this stretch, the 22-year-old right-hander has gone 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA and has averaged more than three strikeouts for every walk.
• Baltimore's Jim Johnson picked up his Major League-leading 26th save, getting Miguel Cabrera to ground into a game-ending double play. Since the beginning of the 2012 season, Johnson is one of 100 full-time relief pitchers to have thrown at least 75 innings. Among this group, Johnson is 95th in strikeouts per nine, and tied for second most in ground-ball double plays induced.
• The Blue Jays won their seventh straight, defeating the Rockies, 8-3. The streak is the longest for the team since winning 10 in a row in August-September 2008. During the current run, Toronto has posted a 1.27 ERA and has averaged 5.9 runs per game.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions.