The first half of the baseball season? A perfect appetizer. It left us wanting more.
Yes, the Yankees and Rangers reside in first place at the All-Star break. But so do the Nationals and Pirates. And who foresaw the phabulous Phillies losing 50 games? They’re 14 games behind the Nats, and five behind the clueless Marlins.
That’s just for starters. Here now some more amazing anomalies from the season’s first half, with hearty thanks extended to the vigilant research staff at the Elias Sports Bureau:
April 5: For the first time in 137 openers, the Braves lose by a 1-0 score. But the other Tribe has it worse. The Indians take longer to lose (16 innings) than any team ever on Opening Day.
April 7: The Jays beat the hapless Indians again, this time in 12 innings, becoming the fifth team to start 2-0 on the road with two extra inning wins, and the third team to begin 2-0 with each game going at least 12 innings.
April 8: The Yankees and Red Sox both start 0-3 for the first time since 1966.
April 9: A bad, bad omen: the Twins become the third team in the past 40 years to start 0-4, scoring two or fewer runs in each game. The others: the ’88 Orioles (finished 54-107) and the ’03 Tigers (43-119).
April 11: The Rockies club the Giants for 17 runs and 22 hits. The Giants had gone an MLB record 5,070 games without surrendering 17 runs and 20 hits, since April 29, 1948 at Ebbets Field. The winning pitcher that day? Ralph Branca.
April 19: Curtis Granderson goes 5-for-5 with three homers, the first Yankee to do so.
April 20: The Blue Jays record their first triple play in 32 years, ending the third longest streak in MLB history. The Dodgers went 47 years (1949-1996) and the Yankees 41 (1968-2010).
April 21: Philip Humber of the White Sox throws MLB’s 21st perfect game, but only the second that was also the pitcher’s first complete game (Dallas Braden, A’s, 2010).
April 22: Adam Dunn of the White Sox becomes the first player ever to strike out in each of his team’s first 15 games.
April 26: Humber allows the most earned runs ever by a pitcher following a perfect game — nine.
May 2: Chipper Jones and Jason Giambi become the first pair of 40-year-olds, and the first pair with 400 homers, to hit walk-off homers on the same day.
May 5: The slugging Twins become baseball’s first team to amass only nine hits over a four-game span.
May 8: Josh Hamilton connects for MLB’s 16th four-homer game, but only the third where a runner was on base for each homer, joining Gil Hodges and Mark Whiten. … Rod Barajas (.127) and Brandon Inge (.128) both hit walkoff homers. Previously, only three others with averages under .130 after at least 45 at bats had done so (Jim Thome, 2001, Howard Johnson, 1995 and Kirby Higbe, 1947).
May 10: Inge becomes the first Athletic with two grand slams in three games since Jimmie Foxx in 1932.
May 11: Inge again! He knocks in four runs in four of five games, the first to do so since Lou Gehrig in 1931 — the year Gehrig set the season record with 184 RBIs.
May 16: Jamie Moyer, age 49, becomes the oldest player to record an RBI.
May 21: The Pirates rally to beat the Mets, 5-4, their first win after trailing by four runs in 160 games — the second longest streak in history (Senators, 1906-1910).
May 25: Only the Cubs. They lose, 1-0, despite 10 hits and three stolen bases. It’s only the third time a team has lost in such a fashion, and it’s been the Cubbies each time!
June 3: Look out, Twins. The swinging A’s get shut out for the 11th time in their first 54 games, the first team so futile since the ’54 Pirates. The last American League team so weak? The A’s, in 1917.
June 13: Matt Cain notches MLB’s 22nd perfect game, but the first in which the pitcher scored a run. It’s also the first featuring 14 strikeouts since Sandy Koufax in 1965 — against the Cubs. Baseball’s fifth perfect game in the past four years, that’s the same number thrown in baseball’s first 88 years.
June 17: The Yankees fashion a nine-game winning streak, all against teams with winning records, a franchise first. … Wei-Yen Chen becomes the third Orioles rookie to win seven games before July. He joins, believe it or not, Tom Phoebus and Wally Bunker.
June 19: Cole Hamels wins his 10th game, his sixth straight season of double-digit wins. The other three Phillies to do so? Hall-of-Famers Grover Alexander, Robin Roberts, and Steve Carlton.
June 23: Jim Thome hits a record 13th walk-off home run. He had been tied at 12 with quite a Hall of Fame lineup: Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson.
June 27: The Giants shut out the Dodgers for an entire three-game series, a first in Dodger history. It’s the first series shutout for the Giants since 1954.
June 29: Aaron Hill hits for the cycle for the second time in the month, joining the Reds’ John Reilly, who did it in September, 1883.
July 4: Andrew McCutchen scores 11 runs and gets 14 hits in a five game span, the first Pirate to do so since Honus Wagner in 1904.
July 6: Jarrod Saltalamacchia hits his 17th homer, and 16th as a catcher. That’s the most homers for a Red Sox catcher at the break since Carlton Fisk had 16 in 1977. … A.J. Pierzynski hits his 16th homer. That’s the most for a White Sox catcher at the break since — wait for it — Carlton Fisk had 23 in 1985.