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The Strike Zone

Redbird rotation, rarities rule on Cinco de Mayo

Adam Wainwright has helped lead one of baseball's best rotations. (David E. Klutho/SI) Adam Wainwright has helped lead one of baseball's best rotations. (David E. Klutho/SI)

Cinco de Mayo rolls around every year, of course, but Sunday’s baseball was notable for its rare happenings. Here they are, from longest drought between occurrences to shortest (relatively):

  • The Cardinals swept the Brewers in a four-game series, the first such sweep in franchise history, and they did it on the road in Milwaukee, no less. The two have been in the same league and the same division since 1998, and it’s surprising that the first four-game sweep would happen now, as they entered the series separated by just 1 1/2 games. St. Louis, however, won two blowouts and two one-run games. If not for a blown lead late in Saturday’s game by the Cardinals' bullpen -- the lineup spotted them an extra run in the top of the ninth for the 7-6 win -- then St. Louis’ starting pitchers would have earned the win in all four games, a fitting tribute to their excellence so far this season. The rotation is the biggest reason the Redbirds are the NL’s first 20-win team, thanks to their 2.21 ERA over their first 200 innings of work this season, and Saturday’s win by rookie reliever Seth Maness is the only team victory not credited to a Cardinals starting pitcher.

  • The Angels lost to the Orioles 8-4, their third loss in a four-game home series, lowering their record to 11-20. The last time they were nine games under .500 was June 30, 2006, which was the second season they played under the elongated name of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. And, as the O.C. Register’s Jeff Fletcher noted on Twitter, Mike Trout was 14 years old back then.

  • Oakland’s Luke Montz homered off Andy Pettitte on Sunday afternoon in the 5-4 win, and it was Montz’s first big-league homer since Sept. 29, 2008, a drought of 1,679 days. “It felt like my first one again today,” Montz said. He hadn’t been in the big leagues at all since 2008, when he was with the Nationals, until this week. After the A’s lost two outfielders to the disabled list this week, they promoted Michael Taylor and Montz, which was a little surprising because Montz is a catcher by trade, but he’s made three starts as a designated hitter.

  • The other big happening of Sunday’s matinee action was Detroit’s Justin Verlander taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning in a 9-0 victory over the Astros. That, however, doesn’t qualify for this list because Verlander, who has two career no-nos, is always a candidate to throw another; also, the punchless Astros are likely to be on the wrong end of another possible no-hitter later this year.
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