Cardinals slugger supplies 18th game-ending hit of his career
By Roger Schlueter
Here are five interesting items from around the big leagues on Thursday …
• In dramatic fashion, Albert Pujols moved one RBI closer to a milestone as he fashioned a walk-off single in the ninth to give the Angels a 4-3 win over the Rangers. The game-ending hit gave Pujols 18 of them in his career, a number that ties him with Carlton Fisk for the fourth most for any player since 1974. The trio ahead of the duo: Andre Dawson (20), Lou Whitaker (19) and David Ortiz (19).
• Making his Major League debut, Robert Stephenson worked five innings and allowed four runs (three earned), but he was supported by an eight-run fourth inning from the Reds' offense. In all, the two sides blended to give Stephenson and Cincinnati a 10-6 victory over the Phillies. Stephenson became the first Reds starter to record a win in his debut since Sam LeCure on May 28, 2010. In between, Cincinnati starters in their big league debut had been 0-4 with three no-decisions.
• Starlin Castro hit his second home run of the year to assist in an 8-5 Yankees win over the Astros. Castro -- now 7-for-12 with eight RBIs on the season -- is the third Yanks player in the live-ball era to have at least eight RBIs through the team's first three games. The second baseman joins a couple of immortals: Babe Ruth (nine in 1932) and Bill Dickey (nine in '34).
• In Baltimore's 4-2 win over Minnesota, Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez worked seven innings and didn't issue a walk. On the other side, Phil Hughes took the loss after working six innings of walk-free ball. Jimenez has made 266 starts in his career; this was the 13th of the 266 to see him finish with at least seven innings pitched and no walks allowed. Hughes has made 190 starts in his career; this effort marked the 35th time he finished with six-plus innings and no walks. Both the O's and Twins finished with no walks allowed (or drawn, depending on the perspective). There were a dozen no-walk games between two American League teams in 2015, with Baltimore being involved in four of them.
• The Cubs defeated the D-backs, 14-6, to improve to 3-0 for the year and to make their starters -- Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey -- a combined 3-0 for the season. One has to go back to 1958 to find the last season in which Cubs starters recorded wins in each of the team's first three games of the year. That season, Jim Brosnan, Glen Hobbie and Dick Drott made the club's first three starts.
Roger Schlueter is a statistical researcher and writes for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.