David Sabino
Tuesday April 22nd, 2008

Last week I wrote about Washington reliever Saul Rivera and his long homerless streak. Well, Rivera got taken deep on Sunday by Hanley Ramirez, four days shy of the one year anniversary of his last home run allowed. Let's hope I don't jinx any of this week's subjects.

0

That's the combined number of home runs hit a formidable bunch of sluggers this season that last year combined for 114 home runs: Troy Glaus (20), Khalil Greene (27), Victor Martinez (25), Hunter Pence (17) and Troy Tulowitzki (25), A few notable home run droughts did end this past week, as Carlos Beltran, Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy, Corey Hart, Gary Sheffield and Andruw Jones all notched their first mark of 2008 in the home run column. Last season that bunch combined to circle the bases 184 times in 2007.

10

Pitchers with 500 or more relief appearances but fewer than 10 saves, a group that includes Astros veteran journeyman reliever Doug Brocail, who last Wednesday saved a 2-1 win over the Phillies, in his 500th career relief appearance. Brocail, who two years ago overcame a life-threatening heart ailment, has been one of the majors more effective relievers since the start of the 2007 season, posting a 2.78 ERA and .291 opponents on base percentage. But saves have never been part of his repertoire. The kings of the middle relievers are a pair of lefties, Ray King and Rheal Cormier, who each have two career saves in 591 and 575 appearances, respectively. In fact, seven of those 10 are southpaws, with only Brocail, Russ Springer (eight saves in 570 games) of the Cardinals and retired reliever Scott Sullivan (nine in 558) offering from the right side.

2

Pitchers in the last 50 years to lose a nine-inning complete game in which they allowed at least 11 hits yet faced 35 batters or less. The first was Texas' Charlie Hough who pitched two such complete games, one each in 1988 and 1989, losing to the Indians and Mariners respectively. The second? Roy Halladay of the Blue Jays, who turned in just such a performance last Thursday against the Rangers at Rogers Centre, his first defeat there in 10 decisions dating back to last May. Halladay struck out six in nine innings. The rest of the outs he induced were recorded in the infield, including six on three double plays, meaning no Toronto outfielder made a putout in the contest although they had to track down 11 Texas hits.

Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves

This was another week with very difficult choice as there were plenty of great candidates for the honor (especially Chase Utley and his five home runs), but with the kind of week he had, it was impossible to pass over Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones. From Monday through Sunday, the NL's alltime leader in home runs by a switch hitter had a pair of two-home run games and drove in seven runs. His .565 batting average and 1.174 slugging percentage were the best among all players who came to the dish more than five times. Over that time he raised his average 50 points to an unfathomable major league leading average of .458 which is 67 points higher than the second best hitter in the majors, his former teammate Rafael Furcal who is at .391.

Travis Buck, Oakland A's

After struggling in the first two weeks of the season, A's right fielder Travis Buck began to emerge from his funk, raising his batting average close to the .200 mark. However after reverting to his old ways with last week's 2-for-22 showing, Buck has reclaimed his place among the major league's slowest starters. Despite appearing in five games last week, Buck failed to score a run and drove in just one. He also struck out six times and posted pitiful averages of .095/.091/.095 to drop his season's OBP to .195. Better luck next week.

5 Sacrifice Flies in One Game

Last Tuesday the Mariners tied their own major league record set in 1988 (and tied by the Rockies in 2006) with five sacrifice flies in an 11-6 win against the Royals. By comparison, entering Monday's action, 11 teams had fewer sacrifice flies for the entire season so far than the Mariners had on Tuesday alone. In that game second baseman Jose Lopez tied the individual record with three sacrifice flies of his own, while his keystone-mate, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, had the other two. Lopez leads the majors in sacrifice files with five and he's tied for the expansion era high for the month of April, with more than a week to go in the month.

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