Roger Schlueter

MLB Notebook: Is this decade of the pitcher?

MLB Notebook: Is this decade of the pitcher?

MLB Notebook: Is this decade of the pitcher?
Has the year of the pitcher become the decade of the pitcher?

There were no perfect games during the 2011 season, but there were 1,159 starts in which a pitcher went at least six innings and allowed no more than one run. That total from last season was the highest since the league expanded to 30 teams in 1998, and represented yet another data point in the ever-growing suspicion that the pendulum was swinging back more in favor of the men who throw the balls, as opposed to the ones who hit them.

In the first 452 starts of last season, 116 finished with at least six innings pitched and one run or no runs allowed, or 25.66 percent.

On Saturday, 10 different pitchers -- led by Philip Humber and his realization of perfection -- made a total of 10 starts in which a hurler went at least six and finished with no more than one run allowed on the resume. Those 10 yesterday brought he season total up to 117, through 444 games, which works out to 26.35 percent.

Humber perfect
At the age of 29 years and 122 days, and in his 56th career game and 30th career start, Humber pitched the 21st perfect game in Major League history.

Humber's perfecto was the third in White Sox history, following Charlie Robertson's game on April 30, 1922, and Mark Buehrle's gem on July 23, 2009. The White Sox are the second franchise to have three perfect games, joining the Yankees. Three other franchises -- the Phillies, Athletics and Indians -- have had two.

Humber is the 13th right-hander to throw a perfect game, joining Monte Ward, Cy Young, Addie Joss, Charlie Robertson, Don Larsen, Jim Bunning, Catfish Hunter, Len Barker, Mike Witt, Dennis Martinez, David Cone and Roy Halladay. Of the eight perfect games since 1994, southpaws have authored five.

Humber struck out nine batters -- the first time exactly nine have been fanned in a perfect game. His perfect game also represented the 18th no-hitter in White Sox history.

Kemp and Ethier
Matt Kemp homered in his third straight game Saturday in the Dodgers' 5-1 win over the Astros, giving him nine home runs and 22 RBIs this season. Andre Ethier drove in two runs to give him 21 for the season.

Kemp's nine home runs through his team's first 15 games are the second most for a center fielder since 1918. Only Willie Mays, with 10 in '64, had more. Kemp's nine home runs through 15 Dodgers games are the most in franchise history.

Kemp's total of 22 RBIs through his team's first 15 games ties him with three others for the second most as a center fielder through 15 team games since 1918. Mays had 25 in '64, and Kemp joins Vada Pinson in '62, Dale Murphy in '85 and Andruw Jones in 2006, with 22.

Kemp's 22 RBIs through the Dodgers' first 15 games are tied for the second most for the franchise since 1918. Ron Cey had 25 in '77 and Roy Campanella had 22 in '53. Ethier's 21 are the fourth most.

Kemp and Ethier have at least one RBI in 12 of the Dodgers' first 15 games. For the franchise since 1918, those 12 are the second most, behind 13 from Cey in '77. Across baseball since '18, those 12 tie Kemp and Ethier with seven other players for the sixth most.

Since 1918, Kemp and Ethier are the only pair of teammates to each start a season with at least one RBI in at least 12 of their team's first 15 games. They have now accounted for 64.2 percent of all the Dodgers' RBIs (43 of 67). Combined, Kemp and Ethier have more RBIs than the Phillies (40) or Pirates (26) have as teams.

Stephen Strasburg allowed four hits in six shutout innings, struck out six and walked one in the Nationals' 3-2 win over the Marlins.

Strasburg, who lowered his career ERA to 2.23 in 117 innings, made his 21st career appearance on Saturday. In nine of those 21 starts, he has gone at least six innings and allowed no more than one run. Since 1918, those nine tie Strasburg with seven others for the sixth most. The most such starts were 11, by Cal Eldred. The others with nine were Wally Bunker, Yovani Gallardo, Dwight Gooden, Bill Laskey, Hideo Nomo, Bill Parsons and Tom Phoebus.

Down, 9-0, to the Red Sox as they headed into the top of the sixth inning, the Yankees scored one run in the sixth, seven in the seventh, another seven in the eighth and walked away with a 15-9 victory.

The comeback from nine runs down represented the largest by the Yankees since May 16, 2006, when they found themselves in a 9-0 hole to the Rangers after the top of the second, and went on to win, 14-13.

The Yankees sent a total of 27 batters to the plate in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings combined. In contrast, the Mariners sent 27 batters to the plate all game on Saturday vs. Humber.

In the Yankees' victory, Mark Teixeira hit two home runs, with one coming from each side of the plate. Teixeira has homered from both sides of the plate in a game 13 times -- the most in baseball history. The multihomer game was the 34th of Teixeira's career, leaving him five shy of tying Chipper Jones for the second most among switch-hitters. Mickey Mantle leads, with 46.

In the second game of a doubleheader, Justin Verlander allowed one run (unearned) on four hits in six innings and picked up his second win of the season, as the Tigers beat the Rangers, 3-2.

Verlander ran his streak of starts of at least six innings to 46, which is tied for the 10th longest for any pitcher in the live-ball era, and the longest streak since Buehrle's 49 from 2004-05. Bob Gibson holds the all-time record with 78 such starts from 1967-70.

Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.