In this week's Diamond Digits, we check out one slugger in the midst of a historic home run tear, an AL East pitching staff that has experienced a serious case of beginner's luck and a record streak that can be traced right to the glove of the major league's highest paid player.
Major league-leading road home runs for Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, one of the game's least heralded superstars.
The former first overall pick of the Florida Marlins in 2000, Gonzalez has been the Padres lone home run threat the past few seasons, slugging 111 round trippers since landing in San Diego in 2006, a total 59 more than the next most powerful Padre over that span (Khalil Greene, 52). While he's hit only 40 home runs at home over the last four seasons, he still holds the mark for all-time dingers clubbed at the Padres cavernous PETCO Park. However, it's away from home where Gonzalez has done the most damage. He hit four home runs on San Diego's six-game road trip through Arizona and Colorado last week to raise his big-league best road total to 15 road home runs through 50 games. Not only is that the most this season by a wide margin (a group of seven sluggers were tied for second with nine), but in the last half century, only one hitter, Barry Bonds, had as many in his team's first 50 when he mashed 16 home runs away from the Bay in 2001. That season Bonds not only set the record with 73 home runs that year, he set the standard for road shots with 36, a number Gonzalez would surpass by a wide margin should he continue his current pace.
Pitchers who won their major league pitching debuts this season for the Orioles.
Baltimore pitching coach Rick Kranitz is no stranger to history-making young staffs. His 2006 Florida Marlins became the only team in big league history to feature four rookies with double-digit victory totals (Josh Johnson, Scott Olsen, Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez). Now this: Last week the Orioles called up two of the organization's top pitching prospects, David Hernandez and Jason Berken, who each recorded victories in their first big-league starts. They joined Brad Bergesen and Koji Uehara, who both enjoyed the thrill of victory in their first big league outings in April. According to the Elias Sports Bureau's research, the O's became just the third team in the last 110 seasons to have at least a quartet experience such instant success. The two other teams were the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys (now Pirates) with four and the 1888 Chicago White Stockings (now Cubs), who hold the record with five.
Consecutive games the Yankees have played errorless baseball, a major league record, surpassing the 16 straight games the 2006 Red Sox played without a miscue.
When Mark Teixeira joined the Yankees this offseason there was much made about his Gold Glove at first base and it was stressed that he would save throwing errors that other recent New York first basemen couldn't. However, the biggest key to this record run has been the return of Alex Rodriguez. With A-Rod on the disabled list following hip surgery, Yankees third basemen Ramiro Pena, Cody Ransom and Angel Berroa committed six errors. The Yankees' .924 fielding percentage during that time was the worst among all 30 teams. However, since Rodriguez has made it back to the diamond, he's committed just one error and New York's fielding percentage has climbed from a mediocre .985 to the best in baseball .995 over that span.
Luke Scott, DH, Orioles
By slamming six home runs in his first four games after coming off of the disabled list, Scott is the runaway winner of this week's honors. Scott's half-dozen clouts came within a span of just 14 at-bats, including his first swing in over two weeks, a two-run shot against Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay. Overall, Scott batted .444 with seven runs scored, 14 RBIs and a 1.444 slugging percentage in just five games back.
Honorable mention: Gonzalez, Freddy Sanchez, Ryan Howard, Ichiro Suzuki, Teixeira, Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Brad Lidge.
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals
Proving once again that baseball truly is a game of averages, Zimmerman, just a few days removed from his career-long 30-game hitting streak, went into a tailspin last week, collecting just two hits in 23 at-bats, with 10 strikeouts and just one RBI. His batting average slipped from .348, which ranked fifth in the NL a week ago Sunday, to .319, which places him 16th.
Others who had a difficult time last week: Ken Griffey Jr., Ervin Santana, Delmon Young, Fausto Carmona, Todd Helton, Mike Jacobs, Chris Davis.