Roger Schlueter

MLB Notebook: Ethier, Kemp form dynamic duo

MLB Notebook: Ethier, Kemp form dynamic duo

MLB Notebook: Ethier, Kemp form dynamic duo
When it comes to historic launches to a baseball season, many will instantly develop images of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, Jack Morris and Willie Hernandez, Kirk Gibson and Sparky Anderson, and the rest of the 1984 Tigers team that began the year by winning 35 of its first 40 contests.

Nearly three decades before that Detroit club rolled over everyone early on in the season, the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers constructed their own magnificent stretch to open a year, winning 22 of their first 24 contests. Brooklyn began with victories in its first 10 games, lost two of its next three, and then embarked on an 11-game winning streak to get to that dominating 22-2 mark on May 10.

At the 24-game mark, that Dodgers club had already scored 69 more runs than it had allowed, and it was comfortably leading the Majors in runs scored. The prolific offense in those early weeks of the season was in large part led by Duke Snider and Roy Campanella. After the game on May 10, Snider was leading the National League in runs scored, Campanella had the most doubles, Snider led in homers and slugging, Campanella was fourth in the league in batting, and the pair was ranked 1-2 in the RBI race.

While the 2012 Dodgers (17-7) can't quite match their 1955 forebearers in terms of victories at the 24-game mark of the season, their two middle-of-the-order guys -- Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier -- are indeed doing a fine imitation (especially when it comes to driving in runs) of Snider and Campanella.

Ethier knocked in three runs in the Dodgers' 7-6 win over the Rockies on Tuesday to take over the NL lead from his teammate Kemp. With Ethier at 27 and Kemp with 25, the pair represents the first set of Dodgers teammates to have at least 25 RBIs through the team's first 24 games since Snider had 30 and Campanella had 26 to begin 1955.

Pitching dominance
Jerome Williams threw a three-hit shutout, leading the Angels to a 4-0 win over the Twins. The shutout, the first for Williams since he threw his first on June 27, 2003 (in his sixth career appearance), made him one of three pitchers on Tuesday to finish a start with at least seven innings pitched and allow no more than three hits, joining Milwaukee's Shaun Marcum and San Diego's Edinson Volquez.

There have been a total of 59 such starts this season, through 352 games. By comparison, there 43 such starts through 357 games last season, and 40 through 360 games in 2010.

By comparison, in that overwhelming year of the pitcher --1968 -- there were a total of 63 such starts through the season's first 348 games. In '68, pitchers averaged about 6 2/3 innings per start, while starters this year are averaging six innings per outing.

Yankees captain Derek Jeter went 3-for-5 with a double (the 499th of his career) in a 7-1 loss to the Orioles. It was his 13th multihit game of the season.

Jeter's 13 multihit performances through the Yankees' first 23 games ties him with five other players for the third most in the franchise since 1918. Alfonso Soriano had 15 in 2003, and Earle Combs had 14 in 1925. Jeter joined Joe Dugan ('26), Bob Meusel ('27), Thurman Munson ('75), Paul O'Neill ('96) and Soriano (2002), with the 13.

Jeter's three-hit game was the 920th multihit performance of his career, leaving him two shy of tying Willie Mays for the eighth most since 1918.

Ricky Nolasco (7 1/3 innings, one run, seven hits) got the win, Matt Cain (eight innings, two runs, six hits) took the loss, and the Marlins defeated the Giants, 2-1.

This game marked the 23rd time in his Marlins career Nolasco finished a start with at least seven innings and no more than one run allowed. That total ties Nolasco with Ryan Dempster, A.J. Burnett and Josh Johnson for the fourth most in franchise history. Dontrelle Willis had 32 such starts, and Kevin Brown and Brad Penny each had 25.

With the Orioles' win over the Yankees, Buck Showalter picked up his 1,000 career victory. Showalter, the 58th manager to reach the milestone, is one of 43 in that group of 58 to own a winning percentage above .500. In the 1,000-wins club, Showalter is one of seven -- joining Joe McCarthy, Jim Leyland, Earl Weaver, Frank Selee, John McNamara and Jack McKeon -- to have never played a game at the Major League level.

Baltimore starter Brian Matusz allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings and picked up his first win since June 6, 2011. Matusz had been winless in his past 14 starts, a streak that was tied for the fourth longest for the franchise since moving to Baltimore in 1954.

Over the course of his streak, Matusz allowed 96 hits and 69 earned runs in 59 1/3 innings, and took the loss in 12 of those 14 starts. Matusz had previously endured a winless streak of 13 starts (from April 24, 2010 through June 29, 2010).

Here and there
• Austin Jackson went 4-for-5 in the Tigers' 9-3 victory over the Royals, giving him a trio of four-hit games this season. Jackson joined Harvey Kuenn in 1955 as the only Tigers players since '18 to have three games with four or more hits through the club's first 23 contests, and he's the first player in the Majors to have four through his team's first 23 since 2005, when both Brad Wilkerson and Clint Barmes did it.

• Trevor Cahill allowed one run on six hits in 7 1/3 innings and recorded the win in Arizona's 5-1 victory over the Nationals. In their most recent turn through the rotation, D-backs starters Cahill, Wade Miley, Joe Saunders, Ian Kennedy and Patrick Corbin were a combined 4-0 with a 1.30 ERA in 34 2/3 innings.

• Brett Lawrie's second career walk-off home run gave the Blue Jays an 8-7 victory over the Rangers. The franchise record for game-ending home runs is three, shared by George Bell, Jesse Barfield, Joe Carter, Carlos Delgado, Vernon Wells and Adam Lind.

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