We've got three weeks left in the regular season and while six teams (A's, Mariners, Nationals, Orioles, Pirates, Reds) have been eliminated with four more (Braves, Padres, Rangers, Royals) teetering on the edge, Diamond Digits plays to the last out. This week we look again at Cliff Lee's remarkable season, a traffic jam on 521, a miscue-free catcher and the toughest ticket in sports.
Losses for major league victories leader Cliff Lee of the Indians, who continued his historic season on Sunday by chalking up his 21st win of the season against the Royals in Kansas City. Lee is now just two wins shy of the franchise record for wins by a left-hander set in 1911 by Vean Gregg who was 23-7 for the Naps. Should he not lose again, Lee will set the record for most wins by someone with two or fewer losses in a season. He's also the first pitcher from a losing team to win 20 games since 1997 when Brad Radke was 20-10 for the 68-94 Twins.
Players -- Ted Williams, Willie McCovey, Frank Thomas and Manny Ramirez -- now tied on the alltime home run list with 521. Ramirez joined the foursome on Saturday with his three run shot off of Arizona's Brandon Webb which helped pace the Dodgers to a weekend series sweep and into first place in the NL West. Coincidentally, to find the next four-way tie, you have to go down to the players tied in 136th place with 284: Will Clark, Brian Giles, Eric Karros, and Ramirez's longtime bash brother in Boston, David Ortiz.
Errors by Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder this season, the only backstop with 700 or more chances yet still errorless. In baseball history, only two catchers have handled more errorless chances in a full season than Snyder, and each won four Gold Gloves in their careers. In 2003 defensive wizard Mike Matheny handled all 823 of his chances behind the plate for the Cardinals, the alltime second-best total. The mark for flawlessness is held by Charles Johnson, who led the 1997 Marlins to the World Series title with a 1.000 fielding percentage on 973 opportunities. Snyder's 8.29 chances per nine innings is the highest for any errorless catcher in a season in history.
Roy Oswalt, Astros SP
The third Astro to capture the award in the last four weeks, Oswalt was 2/3 of an inning away from throwing a complete game shutout against the Cubs on Monday and then blanked the Rockies on Saturday. In those 17 1/3 innings, Oswalt allowed just five hits for an opponents' batting average of .093. Oswalt, who walked only two men in those outings, extended his career-best personal scoreless streak to 23 1/3 innings. Honorable mention goes to Dodgers rightfielder Andre Ethier who helped catapult the Dodgers over the D-Backs by batting .650, slugging 1.200 with an astronomic on-base percentage of .741.
Aramis Ramirez, Cubs 3B
It was a bad week to be on Chicago's North Side as the Cubbies lost five of six games and the normally reliable Aramis Ramirez was a big contributor to the slump. Ramirez was just 4-for-24 with just two doubles, two runs scored, no home runs, and no runs batted in. He also committed five errors at the hot corner, including three from the ninth inning on in a 9-7, 11-inning loss to the Astros.
Normally this spot goes to something that happened on the field, but a major league record from off the field fell on Monday night and was worthy of the honor. When the Red Sox and Rays played in front of a full house at Fenway Park on Monday night in the first game of an AL East showdown series, it marked the 456th consecutive sellout in Boston, the longest in big league history. The previous sellout mark was owned by the Indians who sold out Jacob's Field from June 12, 1995 to April 2, 2001. Just four players remain on Boston's roster from the last time there was an unsold seat at the Fens on May 14, 2003: David Ortiz, Mike Timlin, Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield. In North American pro sports history, only three teams, all in the NBA, have had longer streaks (Trail Blazers, 744; Celtics 567; Bulls 515).