MLB Notebook: A's closing in on historic road run
On May 30, 1931, the Red Sox hosted the Philadelphia Athletics for a doubleheader at Fenway Park. The two teams were at opposite ends of the American League standings, with the visiting club at 26-8 and the hometown Sox scuffling at 12-23.
The A's had a trio of future Hall of Famers -- Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons and Jimmie Foxx -- in the middle of the lineup and were the two-time defending World Series champs, while the Red Sox were looking to end a streak of six straight seasons of finishing last in the league.
So, of course, the Red Sox gave Philadelphia all it could handle. When the contest was finally over after 12 innings, Lefty Grove had sculpted yet another masterpiece (throwing a six-hit shutout) and the A's had captured their 14th consecutive victory on the road. The 14 straight road wins have not been equaled by any other Athletics team (before or since), but the 2012 ballclub is galloping ever closer.
On Wednesday, A.J. Griffin threw eight scoreless innings and improved to 6-0 in his first 11 Major League starts, as the visiting A's defeated the Angels, 4-1. The Athletics have won 12 in a row on the road. Looking only at the franchise's time in Oakland, the road winning streak is tied for the longest, matching the 1971 team's run from July 31 through Aug. 15.
Griffin is the third Athletics pitcher in the live-ball era to win each of his first six decisions. In his 11 starts, Griffin owns a 1.94 ERA, a 0.908 WHIP and a 4.82 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In 1926, Joe Pate began 9-0 for the Philadelphia A's, and in 1966, Jim Nash started 7-0 for the Kansas City A's.
Angels star Albert Pujols became the first player in history to hit at least 30 home runs in each of his first 12 seasons. No other player in history had more than nine 30-homer seasons through his first 12 years.
Most Times Leading League in extra-base hits
Pujols' homer was his AL-leading 72nd extra-base hit of the season. If he finishes as the league leader, it will mark the fifth time in his career he has led the league in that category. Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth and Musial hold the career mark by leading their leagues in extra-base hits seven times each.
The Yankees got two home runs from Curtis Granderson and another from Robinson Cano to defeat the Red Sox, 5-4.
Granderson's two gave him 37 for the season. He also has 16 doubles, which makes for an atypical combination for his position. Among all center fielders who have hit at least 37 homers, the fewest doubles collected was 16, by Mickey Mantle in 1961. Mantle also owns the second fewest, with 17 in '60. Willie Mays owns the third fewest, with 18 in '55.
Cano's home run was his 30th of the season -- a new career high. Cano's 174 career homers are fifth most in history for any second baseman through his first eight seasons. Dan Uggla (who is playing in his seventh season this year) is tied with Alfonso Soriano for the most, with 208. Joe Gordon had 182 and Chase Utley had 177.
Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond each hit solo home runs and the Nationals defeated the Mets, 2-0.
Zimmerman's home run gave him an RBI in nine consecutive games -- the longest streak in Expos/Nationals history. Zimmerman's streak is tied for the longest in the Majors this season, with Carlos Beltran and Cano also driving in at least one run in nine straight.
Desmond's 23rd home run of the season gave him 54 extra-base hits in 474 plate appearances, for an extra-base hit percentage of 11.39. Eight National League shortstops in league history have qualified for the batting title and finished a season with a percentage that high: Ernie Banks (1955, '58, '60), Rich Aurilia (2001), Bill Hall ('06), Hanley Ramirez ('07), Stephen Drew ('08) and Troy Tulowitzki ('10).
The Phillies defeated the Marlins, 3-1, with Cliff Lee picking up the win. Lee, who allowed one run in seven innings and struck out six against one walk, owns an NL-best 6.44 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
If Lee finishes the season with a ratio of at least 5:1, it will be the fourth time he has done so. Four pitchers since 1876 have collected more such seasons: Curt Schilling (six), Greg Maddux (five), David Wells (five) and Roy Halladay (five).
If Lee finishes at the top of the NL, it would be the second time he's led his league in the category. Cy Young led 11 times (the most) and Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson each led nine times.
Here and there
The Orioles defeated the Rays, 3-2, getting a game-ending RBI single from Nate McLouth in the bottom of the ninth. The Orioles, who are tied with the Yankees for first in the AL East, improved to a Major League-best 26-7 in one-run games. Their .788 winning percentage in one-run games would be the best of all-time.
In the Tigers' 8-6 win over the White Sox (moving Detroit to within one game of Chicago for first), Max Scherzer picked up his 16th victory of the season, pitching six innings of four-hit, one-run ball. Scherzer, who fanned seven with no walks, has gone 9-1 with a 2.50 ERA in 86 1/3 innings since the start of July. In that span, he struck out 106, walked 23 and allowed 71 hits.
Yovani Gallardo improved to 15-8, allowing two runs in seven innings in Milwaukee's 8-2 victory over Atlanta. Gallardo has 12 starts this season in which he has gone at least seven innings and allowed no more than two runs, tying for the ninth most in the Majors.
San Francisco's Tim Lincecum won his fifth straight start on the road, allowing three runs and six hits in six innings with eight strikeouts. The eight K's gave Lincecum 1,304 in his six-year career. He joined Tom Seaver (1,404) and Bert Blyleven (1,327) as the third pitcher since 1893 to reach 1,300 strikeouts in six seasons.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.