David Sabino
Wednesday May 6th, 2009

This week's Diamond Digits takes a look at the Dodgers who love L.A. the most, Milwaukee's one-man show and the baserunners who've collected a six-pack of steals and the men who were unable to stop them.

Consecutive home wins for the Dodgers to set a new modern National League record from the start of a season. The old mark of 10 straight home victories to begin the year was co-held by the 1918 Giants, the 1970 Cubs and 1983 Braves -- another team managed by Joe Torre. Much of the credit for the hot home start goes to a trio of hitters (Manny Ramirez, Orlando Hudson and Andre Ethier) who've been on fire at Dodger Stadium and a bullpen that doesn't boast a lot of big names but has been the league's most effective in its own building.

Ramirez (.364/.511/.818), Hudson (.465/.549/.744) and Ethier (.400/.468/.850) each rank in the major leagues' top 10 in home slugging percentage and OPS, Hudson and Ramirez place second and third respectively in on-base percentage and Hudson and Ethier crack the top seven in batting average.

Relative unknowns like Ramon Troncoso (.111 opponents' average) and Ronald Belisario (1.59 ERA) have followed the lead of veterans Guillermo Mota (five appearances, two wins, 0 earned runs allowed) and Jonathan Broxton (two wins, two saves, 13 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings) in doing yeoman's work. As a group, the Dodgers 'pen has left opposing hitters blue, holding them to a .203 batting average and allowing just 41 baserunners in 38 innings, all while compiling a 6-0 record with two saves.

A win Tuesday night against the Diamondbacks would move L.A. into a tie for the modern major league record for fastest home start, currently held by the Detroit Tigers who won their first dozen games played in 1911 at Bennett Field, the final year before they moved into Tiger Stadium.

Pitchers to have won a game by the score of 1-0, while striking out 10 or more batters and providing the only offense in the contest with a solo home run of their own. The first was Yankees Hall of Famer Red Ruffing, who single-handedly beat the Senators in Washington on Aug. 13, 1932. The next to do it was Hall of Famer Early Wynn of the White Sox who bested the Red Sox at Comiskey Park on May 1, 1959. The third to do it was Brewers ace Yovanni Gallardo, who held the Pirates to just two hits and one walk in eight innings of work, striking out 11, and supplied all of the scoring with a seventh-inning blast off of hard-luck Pittsburgh starter Ian Snell.

On Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay left fielder Carl Crawford tied the modern major league record for stolen bases in a game with six against the Red Sox, all against catcher Jason Varitek, who also set a record of sorts by allowing one runner to steal six bases against him in one game. The previous two runner-catcher combinations to result in a half-dozen steals were Colorado's Eric Young who victimized Mike Piazza in a wild 16-15 Rockies win at Coors Field on June 30, 1996; and Atlanta's Otis Nixon, who looked like a gold medal sprinter at Olympic Stadium against Mike Fitzgerald and the Expos on June 16, 1991, but the Braves fell to Montreal 7-6. Of those three instances, Crawford earned his way on base the most times, with four singles and a walk. Amazingly, the others earned their way on base just three times each: Young with just two hits and a walk and Nixon with three singles.

After the kind of week that Jorge Cantu enjoyed, it's hard to fathom that just over 14 months ago his big league career was hanging by a thread. Here he was annihilating the Mets at their new pitcher-friendly ballpark, Citi Field, with three home runs and seven RBIs in helping the first-place Marlins to a series win. The onslaught continued in Chicago with another big fly and four more RBIs against the Cubs. For the week, Cantu's four home runs tied with MikeFontenot for the most in the majors, while his 14 RBIs for the week knotted him with cross-state rival Evan Longoria. Others under consideration for the honors were Longoria, Crawford, Fontenot, Justin Verlander, Raul Ibañez, Chase Utley and Dan Haren.

The Mets' problems this season are being blamed mostly on a much-maligned starting rotation, but others shoulder the blame as well. Enter superstar shortstop and leadoff hitter Jose Reyes, who's batting just .257 for the year and is tied for 155th in the league in runs scored with just 10 in 101 at bats. For the week, Reyes was the league's worst regular, batting .048 with only one hit (a triple), one run and three walks in 24 trips to the plate. Not exactly what you're looking for to jump-start a slumping team.

Others who would like to forget the past week include Eric Byrnes, Travis Snider, Chris Young (D-backs), Brian Tallet and Anibal Sanchez.

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