David Sabino
Tuesday April 8th, 2008

The season's just one week old but there have been plenty of interesting statistical happenings throughout the majors already. In this edition of Diamond Digits we'll look at a few of the best.

Reds rookie pitcher Johnny Cueto had quite a big league debut, holding the Diamondbacks to only one baserunner while striking out 10 in seven innings. The only thing keeping Cueto's debut from being perfect was a solo home run by Arizona's own super-rookie Justin Upton. Cueto's premiere performance was easily the most dominant in the last 10 years. He also became just one of four hurlers in the last 50 years to throw at least seven innings, while allowing only one hit while striking out double-digit batters in his first major league appearance. The others were Milwaukee's Steve Woodard, who struck out 12 Blue Jays over eight innings in a 1-0 win on July 28, 1997; Rudy May of the Angels, who struck out 10 Tigers in his nine innings on April 18, 1965 (but allowed a run and five walks in California's 13-inning, 4-1 loss); and Hall of Famer Juan Marichal, who threw a 2-0 complete game shutout with a dozen Ks against the Phillies on July 19, 1960. The last Reds debut starter to come even close to Cueto's gem was on Aug. 9, 1991 when Mo Sanford pitched seven innings and allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out eight. It was the first of his two career big league wins.

Percival Perseveres

Rays closer Troy Percival earned his first save of the season last Saturday. The longtime ninth-inning fixture for the Angels now has 325 career saves (12th alltime), but due to injury and a brief retirement hadn't saved a major league contest in nearly three years. His previous save came for the Tigers on July 7, 2005 (coincidentally, against the Rays). From that day to last Saturday, 229 different pitchers had saved major league games; Francisco Rodriguez, Trevor Hoffman and Todd Jones saved over 100 each; yet during that time only one pitcher, the Mets' Billy Wagner (who stands seventh with 358 saves) passed Percival on the alltime list. Percival needs just six more for sole possession of 10th alltime and with a relatively modest 23 saves for the resurgent Rays would pass Randy Myers for eighth place.

Kosuke Fukudome had quite a first week in the majors. The Cubs right fielder batted .458 with an on base percentage of .581 and .708 slugging percentage in his first taste of North American baseball. He's often described as a combination of Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui of the Yankees so I decided to take a look at how those two did in their first weeks in the majors. And much to the delight of the North Siders, Fukudome has shown that the comparison may not be that far off.

Picking up right where he left off, San Diego's Jake Peavy was lethal this week, allowing just one earned run, five hits and four walks while striking out 12 in 16 innings (0.56 ERA, .096 opp. avg.) in wins over the Astros and Dodgers. The lone run he allowed scored on defensive indifference as catcher Josh Bard slid into the dugout to catch a Russell Martin popup. Since Bard's entire body went out of play, by rule Rafael Furcal, the runner on third at the time, was allowed to score. With the exception of that minor blemish, last year's Triple Crown winner is well on his way to another Cy Young-caliber season.

It hasn't been a happy spring for the LaRoche brothers. First, with a clear opportunity to win a job as the Dodgers starting third baseman, Andy LaRoche tore a ligament in his thumb on a freak pickoff attempt at third base and had to undergo surgery that will sideline him at least into late May. His healthy big brother Adam LaRoche was awful at the plate for the Pirates this week, going just 2-for-23 (.087 avg.), with just two walks (.160 OBP), one extra-base hit (.130 SLG) and no RBIs. Look deeper and you'll see that both of his hits came in his first two at bats of the year, and since then he's been a complete zero at the dish, as in 0-for-21. Hoping to stem the tide, manager John Russell gave him two straight days off on Sunday and Monday in favor of defensive wiz Doug Mientkiewicz, which is never a good sign.

Although it came over the course of two seasons, Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks tied a modern NL record on Friday when he scored a run in his 17th consecutive game. He joined Cincinnati's Ted Kluszewski (1954) and Cardinals Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby (1921) and fell just shy of the AL mark of 18 in a row co-held by Yankees third baseman Red Rolfe (1939) and Indians center fielder Kenny Lofton (2000).

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