In this All-Star break edition of Diamond Digits, we take a look back at a huge night for a Giant fill-in, a pair of Manny's on opposite ends of the baseball spectrum and a season's worth of stats in just three at-bats.
Jonathan Sanchez's ERA entering his start last Friday against the Padres.
The Giants southpaw had lost four consecutive starts prior to the appearance and had been relegated to the bullpen. But Randy Johnson's left shoulder strain gave Sanchez an opening, and he responded by throwing the 17th no-hitter in Giants franchise history, the first since John Montefusco shut down the Braves in Atlanta in 1976 and the first by a Giants left-hander since New York's Carl Hubbell blanked the Pirates on May 8, 1929. Sanchez's season ERA was the highest for a pitcher entering a no-hitter in a decade. The last no-no that was this much of a surprise was by Cardinals righty Jose Jimenez, who on May 25, 1999, took to the mound in Arizona sporting a hefty 6.69 ERA, before whitewashing the Diamondbacks, allowing just two walks while striking out eight. Since then, 14 'more likely' pitchers had thrown no hitters.
Home runs in three straight at bats for Rangers DH Andruw Jones on Wednesday night against the Angels in Anaheim.
It was not only the second three-homer game of Jones' career, it matched his entire longball output of his ill-fated career with the Dodgers (which totaled 209 at-bats in 2008).
Combined games behind first place during the short 2 1/2 season tenure of Manny Acta as skipper of the Nationals.
A highly regarded minor-league manager and major-league coach, Acta took the reins from the legendary Frank Robinson in 2007 and led the Nats to a fourth-place finish. But with an organization virtually depleted of major-league ready talent, John McGraw might not have had a much better chance at success than the ebullient Acta, who couldn't get his team out of the NL East cellar during the remainder of a tenure that ended Monday. An infielder by trade, Acta never rose above Double A in five years in the Astros' and Braves' systems. With a record of 158-252 (.385), his tenure ranks as the ninth-worst among all men who managed at least 400 games. However, he did not have the worst tenure among managers representing our nation's capital. That distinction goes to Joe Cantillon, a 19th-century infielder who, like Acta, never played in the majors (although he umpired in the fledgling AL in 1901) and exactly one century ago guided the AL's Washington Senators to a dismal 158-297 mark (.347).
In just his second week back from his 50-game suspension, Manny Ramirez continued his ascent on the career home-run list, passing one of the all-time heavy hitters and tying one of the game's most beloved players. On Wednesday Ramirez touched up New York's Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth inning for his 535th home run -- a solo shot in L.A.'s 5-4 loss to the Mets -- breaking a tie for 16th place with former A's and Red Sox slugger Jimmie Foxx, who retired in 1945 as baseball's second-leading home-run hitter. Then on Friday his sixth-inning, two-run shot off of Braden Looper was his 536th round-tripper, tying him for 15th all-time with Mickey Mantle. Next up for Ramirez is Mike Schmidt with 548.
Jarrod Washburn, SP, Mariners
It's fair to say Washburn has been a disappointment since arriving in Seattle in 2006. During his first three years there, the lefty was among the most hittable pitchers in the game, allowing an opposing batting average of .274 to go with a 4.55 ERA. His 43 losses were just one off the major-league worst 44 by teammate Carlos Silva and just 23 wins gave him a winning percentage of .348, second worst to Pittsburgh's Zach Duke (.327) among those with 40 decisions. However, this week Washburn reverted to the form he displayed as a member of the Angels when he twice (2002 and 2005) finished in the top 10 in the AL in ERA. In two starts this week he was masterful, allowing just one run on five hits in two home wins against the Orioles and Rangers. His Monday start against Baltimore marked the first one-hitter of his career and was followed up with one earned-run allowed in seven innings against the Rangers -- the second-highest slugging team in the majors. Washburn now ranks fifth in the AL in ERA (2.96) and fourth in batting average allowed (.225).
Honorable Mention: Clayton Kershaw, Josh Beckett, Adam Wainwright, Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Lee, Pablo Sandoval, Paul Konerko, Juan Uribe, Kaz Matsui, Matt Kemp, Rafael Soriano.
Johnny Cueto, SP, Reds
If the Reds, just five games out of first place in the NL Central, are to compete, they're going to need better performances from Cueto than he showed this week. The Phillies absolutely blitzed him Monday, touching him up for nine earned runs on five hits, three walks and a hit batter in just 2/3 of an inning, making him the first starter since Jason Jennings (2/3 of an inning, 11 ER on July 29, 2007) to give up as many runs without completing the first inning. Cueto's ERA rose from 2.69 to 3.45 in that single start. Cueto followed that nightmare up with a pedestrian outing (5 IP, 4 ER, 9 H) against with the offensively challenged Mets.
Dishonorable Mention: Adam LaRoche, Ryan Church, Rick Ankiel, Rod Barajas, Elvis Andrus, Cristian Guzman, Nick Punto.