In a week that saw New York officially open two new stadiums with a bang, Diamond Digits looks at some flying Florida Fish, April's best hurlers and a pair of White Sox who, mere moments apart, accomplished something no teammates had ever done before.
Game lead in the NL East for the Marlins at the end of last week, following an improbable weekend sweep in Washington.
The Marlins trailed in the ninth inning of each of the three games against the Nationals, yet won all three. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that sweep was a first of its kind in baseball history. And even more amazingly, just 11 games into the season the Marlins lead over the Nats was 10 games.
The Fish were expected to be competitive in the NL East, but nobody expected this. Florida flew out of the gate with wins in 10 of the first 11 games, opening up a five-game cushion over the Braves and Mets, 5 1/2 over the defending champion Phillies and 10 games over Washington. Winners of two World Series, the Marlins didn't lead the NL East past April 13 during the 1997 title run and never spent a single day in first in the 2003 quest. In fact, that five-game lead they enjoyed before getting blown out by the Pirates on Monday night was the largest in team history, the previous high being 3 1/2 games on April 29, 2004.
Career loss in April for Los Angeles Angels hurler Joe Saunders.
The lone bright spot in what has been a tragic first two weeks of the season for Angels pitching -- with the death of Nick Adenhart and the losses of John Lackey and Ervin Santana to injuries -- Saunders has gone 2-1 with a 2.18 ERA and only 19 base runners in 20 2/3 innings. For his career he's 9-1 during the first month of the season and has the best April winning percentage of any active pitcher who has 12 or more starts and 10 or more decisions. He also has the best ERA among the same group.
Here are the pitchers who traditionally get off the line quickly:
White Sox sluggers Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko went deep back-to-back in the second inning against Zach Miner last week at Comerica Park, achieving something that no teammates in baseball history had ever accomplished. The 14-year vet Dye and 13-year vet Konerko weren't only the first teammates to reach 300 home runs in the same inning, they were just the second pair of players from any team to ever do it in the same day. Albert Belle, also of the White Sox, and Rafael Palmeiro, then of the Orioles, reached 300 career home runs on July 17, 1998. Dye wasn't finished with milestones, either. On Saturday he became the 257th (and 21st active) hitter to reach 1,000 RBIs with a sixth-inning sacrifice fly against the Rays.
Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers
Kinsler had a good month last week, racking up a major league-leading 15 hits, nine runs scored and six stolen bases, all while slugging 1.000 with a .556 batting average and .600 on-base percentage. The highlight of his week came on Wednesday when he was 6-for-6, hit for the cycle, had 13 total bases, drove in four runs and stole a base in a 19-6 drubbing of the Orioles.
Honorable mentions: Andre Ethier and Carlos Peña (4 HR, 12 RBIs each), Raul Ibañez (1.200 slugging percentage), Carlos Quentin (5 HR), Zack Greinke (2-0, 0 ER, 19 K's) and Heath Bell (4 saves, 1 hit allowed).
Chien-Ming Wang, P, Yankees
In his two starts against the Rays and Indians, the two-time 19-game winner allowed 16 runs (all earned), 14 hits and three walks in just 2 1/3 total innings for an astronomical 61.71 ERA. Wang was the first pitcher to throw 1 1/3 innings or less while allowing eight runs or more twice during the same season since Cleveland's Ryan Drese did it twice against the Yankees in June 2002.
Dishonorable mentions: Nationals closer Joel Hanrahan (two blown saves), Emilio Bonifacio (3-25, 10 Ks), Jordan Schafer (.182 avg., 11 K's in 22 AB), Cesar Izturis and Brandon Phillips (both 1-20).