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Baseballs wild and crazy first half
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Forsyth County News
Dull? Baseball? No way.

As the season takes a respite for the Dream Game, we’re granted a moment to reflect on the oddities of the season’s first half. With a nod of appreciation to the crackerjack staff of Seymour Siwoff at the Elias Sports Bureau, here we go:

April 5: The Braves open with a 4-1 win over the champion Phillies. Imagine: Derek Lowe pitches a two-hit shutout for eight innings, and Jeff Francoeur and Jordan Schafer hit homeruns.

April 6: Welcome to New York! C. C. Sabathia, the Yankees expensive new ace, opens with a 10-5 loss to the Orioles, allowing five walks with no strikeouts, his worst ratio in 255 career starts.

April 7: Not to be outdone by Sabathia, the Giants’ Tim Lincecum lasts only three innings in his first start. That’s the shortest opening effort by a current Cy Young winner since Sandy Koufax in 1966.

April 8: The Yankees become the second team since 1951 to get no strikeouts from their first two starters of the season, a phenomenon last achieved by Zane and Pete Smith of the ‘89 Braves.

April 9: Not to be outdone by Sabathia and Lincecum, the Indians’ Carl Pavano allows nine earned runs in one inning, the worst debut since Steve Gromek of the ‘53 Tigers.

April 13: White Sox Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko belt their 300th career homers in back-to-back at bats, the first time in history that two players reached that milestone in the same game … Orlando Hudson becomes the first Dodger to hit for the cycle since Wes Parker in ‘70 … Not to be outdone by Sabathia, Lincecum, and Pavano, Chien-Ming Wang becomes the third Yankee in history to allow 15 runs in his first two starts.

April 15: Ian Kinsler of the Rangers becomes the first player since 1894 to have a six-hit game while hitting for the cycle.

April 16: Not to be outdone by any other hurlers, the Phillies surrender a record 20 home runs in their first eight games.

April 17: Jason Kubel of the Twins completes a cycle with a grand slam, joining Tony Lazzeri (‘32 Yankees) and Miguel Tejada (2001 A’s). That makes three cycles in one week for the first time since 1970.

April 21: The Nats notch their third win! All by rookie pitchers, the first team to do so since the ‘68 Mets (two by Jerry Koosman, one by Nolan Ryan). One week later, Jordan Zimmerman makes them the first team in over 100 years to have rookies win their first four.

April 28: The Yanks become the first American League team to break a scoreless tie with a 10-run inning. It happened once in the National League: Reds over the Dodgers in 1919.

April 29: Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers beats the Pirates 1-0 with 11 strikeouts, and homers for the only run. The only others to do so: Red Ruffing of the ‘32 Yanks, and Early Wynn of the ‘59 White Sox.

May 3: The Rays’ Carl Crawford ties the Major League record with six stolen bases in one game. He also has four hits, the first to achieve that combination since Eddie Collins of the 1912 A’s.

May 6: The Dodgers open 13-0 at home, the best start since the 1886 Detroit Wolverines opened 18-0.

May 13: Ryan Theriot of the Cubs hits his 12th career home run, all at Wrigley Field. Only five other players hit their first dozen homers in one stadium, and all five did it at the old Polo Grounds in New York.

May 19: Todd Helton of the Rockies gets his 2,000th hit in his 6,088th at bat. He’s the fourth player to get there in less than 6,100 at bats in the last 50 years, joining Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, and Rod Carew.

May 23: Michael Cuddyer of the Twins hits for the cycle, the first time in history four cycles are recorded before the end of May.

May 24: The Padres are the only team in the modern era to fashion simultaneous streaks of 10 games. They produced a 10-game home winning streak, and an 11-game losing streak on the road.

June 2: The Yankees’ Derek Jeter joins Cal Ripken, Honus Wagner and Bill Dahlgren as the only shortstops with 1,500 games played and 1,500 runs scored.

June 11: Fair is fowl. The Indians beat the Royals when a walk-off hit by Shin-Soo Choo caroms off a seagull in centerfield, skipping past Royals centerfielder Coco Crisp. “Crazy things happen in this game,” Crisp tells the Associated Press.

June 12: Jon Lester becomes the fourth Red Sox pitcher to ring up 10 strikeouts in three straight games, joining Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and … Ray Culp??

June 13: The Astros’ Lance Berkman becomes the fourth switch-hitter to knock 300 home runs with a single team, joining Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray and Chipper Jones.

June 25: John Smoltz makes his first American League appearance, the fourth pitcher to switch leagues after 700 appearances. All four began their careers with the Braves: Smoltz, Phil Neikro, Ron Reed and Elroy Face.

June 29: The Indians attempt to shore up their hideous bullpen by acquiring Chris Perez from the Cardinals. In his first appearance, he hits the first two batters, walks the next, uncorks a wild pitch, and gives up four runs.

June 30: Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners ends the month with 44 hits, his 20th month with 40 or more hits. The last to record that many was Stan Musial (22). The last in the American League was Lou Gehrig (21).

July 1: Florida’s Hanley Ramirez sets a record for shortstops: 10 straight games with a run batted in.

July 6: The Phillies play like champions, drubbing the Reds, 22-1. That’s the Phils’ largest margin of victory since 1894.

July 8: Tim Wakefield of the Red Sox becomes the third pitcher at least 42-years-old to win 11 games by the All-Star break, joining Warren Spahn (1963) and Phil Neikro (1984).

July 10: The Giants’ Jonathan Sanchez, recently relegated to the bullpen, gets an emergency start and pitches a no-hitter. It’s the Giants’ 13th no-hitter, but first since John Montefusco beat the Braves in 1976. It marks the first no-hitter by a Giant in San Francisco since Big Ed Halicki beat the Mets in 1975.

July 11: Ted Lilly gets his 100th win, the 10th player who debuted with the Expos to do so. Only one got his 100th win with the Expos (Steve Rogers).