How amazing was the first half of this baseball season?
Try this. Last Thursday, the Cubs rallied from an 8-0 deficit to beat the Nationals, 10-9. In their entire sordid history, dating back to 1876, this was the first time the Cubs had rallied from eight runs down to win on the road. Their prior record in such games: 0-567.
And that’s just for starters. With a nod of thanks to those diligent folks at the Elias Sports Bureau, who unearth this minutiae, here now the rest of baseball’s first half oddities:
March 31: Jason Heyward becomes the second player to homer in his first at bat in consecutive seasons, joining Kaz Matsui, of all people.
April 1: The White Sox pummel the Indians, scoring 14 runs. (And in the first three innings!) That’s the most runs scored on Opening Day since Buffalo scored 16 to open the 1890 Players League season against. . . Cleveland.
April 7: After getting shelled on Opening Day, Fausto Carmona of the Indians allows no runs on two hits in seven innings in his second start. He’s the first pitcher to go from 10 to zero runs in his first two starts since 1905.
April 10: How’s this for a bad start? The Rays became the fourth team to score only seven runs on 21 hits in their first five games. The other three teams each lost at least 110 games. They became the second team without a lead in their first six games. Now they also become the first team with batters striking out at least seven times in their first nine games.
April 13: Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs homers, the ninth straight season he’s done so. That ties the record for pitchers set by Gary Peters (White and Red Sox) from 1963-’71.
April 18: Cubs 1, Padres 0, the Cubs’ second 1-0 win in 22 years. The starter in both games: Zambrano!
April 23: Mediocrity, thy name is Cubs! En route to a 10-10 start, the Cubs make every possible stop at .500, joining the 1915 Red Sox and 1970 Yankees.
May 3: Francisco Liriano of the Twins hurls an unlikely no-hitter. It was his first career complete game, and he entered with the highest ERA (9.13) of any no-hit pitcher. He also became the first to toss a no-hitter against a pitcher who threw one in the previous season (Edwin Jackson) and the first lefty to no-hit the White Sox in Chicago since 1904.
May 7: Justin Verlander becomes the 29th pitcher to throw two no-hitters, and the second Tiger to do so. The first, Virgil Trucks, finished 5-19 in 1952.
May 11: Prince Fielder hits his 200th career home run. With his dad, Cecil, he joins the exclusive club of fathers and sons who each had 200 homers: Felipe and Moises Alou; Gus and Buddy Bell; and Bobby and Barry Bonds.
May 16: Indians 19, Royals 1, as Royals starter Vin Mazzano becomes the first pitcher since 1900 to allow 14 earned runs in less than three innings pitched … A.J. Burnett and Zambrano, both with career records of 64-1 when leading by four runs, each have a four run lead entering the bottom of the sixth inning, and both lose!
May 19: Jason Giambi, 40, becomes the second oldest player to hit three homers in one game. Stan Musial was 41 when he hit three in ’62, but it was against the Mets. Giambi also had the second most career homers (416) before his first three homer game. A guy by the name of Ruth had 522 before his first three-homer game in 1930.
May 25: Mediocrity, meet your match: The Mets beat the Cubs to even their all-time series record. Over 50 years of fierce competition, they’re 344-344. That’s the record for most games played in a tied series.
May 31: Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays is the first to lead the AL in homers for five straight months since Jimmie Foxx in 1934.
June 4: After 100 years of baseball in Fenway Park, the Red Sox finally win a game in which they blow a three-run lead in the ninth and then fall behind in extra innings.
June 6: Brennan Boesch joins Tiger greats Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg, and Charlie Gehringer with five hits, two homers, three runs, and five RBI in a single game. Oh, and Carlos Pena did it, too.
June 7: The Braves and Indians have played on the same day 13,137 times. This is the first day they both win, by 1-0 scores.
June 15: The Yankees’ entire infield homers, joining the 1939 crew of Babe Dahlgren, Joe Gordon, Frank Crosetti, and Red Rolfe.
June 26: Mediocrity Super-Duperfecta: The Mets reach .500 at 39-39. They’re 15-15 against the NL East, 10-10 against the NL Central, 8-8 against the NL West, and 6-6 against AL teams!
July 2: Melky Cabrera and Eric Hosmer become the first Royals with four hits and four RBI in the same game. It only took 43 years and 6,751 games. And where was this Cabrera last year?
July 9: Derek Jeter reaches 3,000 hits, the second to do so with a homer (Wade Boggs) and the fourth to do so during a game in which he garnered at least four hits (George Brett ’92, Tony Gwynn ’99, and Boggs ’07.)
July 10: Mercifully for Adam Dunn, the first half ends. He finishes with a .160 average, the second lowest (200 at bat minimum) ever at the All-Star break. John Shelby was hitting .157 in 1989.