Roger Schlueter

MLB Notebook: Perfect 10 for surging Ethier

MLB Notebook: Perfect 10 for surging Ethier

MLB Notebook: Perfect 10 for surging Ethier
On Wednesday, Andre Ethier grounded out in the second inning and then lined out in the fourth to extend his run of hitless at-bats to 18. And then he decided to go streaking in the other direction.

Starting with a double against Matt Cain in the sixth inning of that game, he has collected a hit in 10 straight at-bats. The Dodgers right fielder finds himself just two more hits in his next two at-bats away from matching a Major League record, one established 110 years ago by Cubs catcher Johnny Kling.

Kling now shares the mark with Red Sox third baseman Pinky Higgins (who had his streak of 12 consecutive hits in 1938) and Tigers first baseman Walt Dropo, who enjoyed a 12-for-12 run at the plate in 1952.

Ethier went 4-for-4 for the second consecutive game, Adrian Gonzalez homered in his first at-bat with the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw threw eight innings of three-hit, two-run ball Saturday, as the Dodgers defeated the Marlins, 8-2.

In his 4-for-4 evening, Ethier singled twice, hit his 31st double, and connected on his 14th home run. His streak of 10 hits in 10 straight times at-bat tied Ed Konetchy (1919) for the longest in Dodgers history.

With the game in the books, Ethier's slash line moved to .291/.358/.467/.825, which currently is a 126 OPS+. Counting this season, Ethier would have qualified for the batting title and posted an OPS+ of at least 120 in every season since 2008. The only other two outfielders who could make this claim are Matt Holliday and Ryan Braun.

Before Gonzalez's debut with the Dodgers, he had played for the Rangers, Padres and Red Sox. In his debuts with those three clubs, he went 0-for-3 (Texas), 2-for-4 with a double (San Diego) and 2-for-4 with three RBIs (Boston). In this contest, Gonzalez finished 1-for-5 with three RBIs on the homer.

Kershaw lowered his WHIP to a league-leading 0.986. Following his 0.977 mark in this category last year, Kershaw could become the third National League southpaw since 1901 to have back-to-back sub-1.00 WHIP seasons. Jack Pfiester did it in 1906-07, and Sandy Koufax had four straight seasons with a WHIP below 1.00 from 1963-66.

R.A. Dickey allowed five hits (all singles), one walk and one run in seven innings of work and improved to 16-4 as the Mets defeated the Astros, 3-1. Dickey now ranks fourth in the league in batting average against, fourth in on-base percentage against and seventh in slugging against.

The start marked the 14th time this season Dickey had gone at least seven innings and allowed no more than one run. Those 14 are the second most in the Majors to Felix Hernandez's 15 and the most for a Mets pitcher since Frank Viola had 14 in 1990.

Saturday's start also marked the fifth time this season Dickey has pitched at least seven innings and not allowed an extra-base hit. Those five tie him with David Price and Hiroki Kuroda for the second most in the Majors, behind Hernandez's eight.

Cincinnati's No. 3 and No. 4 hitters -- Brandon Phillips and Ryan Ludwick -- combined to go 6-for-9 with three-runs and two RBIs in the Reds' 8-2 win over the Cardinals.

Phillips (3-for-5, two runs, two RBIs, a double and a home run) owns a .307/.336/.482 line since the Reds have been without Joey Votto. In 35 games played since Votto's injury, Phillips has 16 extra-base hits and 18 RBIs.

Since June 14, Ludwick has played 57 games. In this span, he has hit 17 home runs, driven in 43 runs and owns a line of .332/.395/.673.

Cincinnati's Jay Bruce hit his 27th home run of the season. He now has 127 home runs in his five-year career, the third most for any Reds player through his first five seasons, and tied for the 43rd most across the Majors. For the Reds, only Frank Robinson (165) and Adam Dunn (158) had more.

Bruce's homer gave him 61 extra-base hits in 504 plate appearances. His percentage of extra-base hits is 12.10, which ranks fifth in the NL for any player with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. Giancarlo Stanton, Aramis Ramirez, Michael Cuddyer and Paul Goldschmidt are ahead of him.

With no runs in one inning vs. Oakland, Tampa Bay's J.P. Howell extended his scoreless streak to 23 appearances covering 26 2/3 innings.

By appearances, the streak is tied for the second longest in 2012. Ernesto Frieri had a 27-game scoreless streak for the Padres and Angels, while Aroldis Chapman and Mitchell Boggs each had 23-game runs.

By innings, Howell's streak is the second longest for a reliever in 2012, behind Frieri's 28 1/3 innings. As a starter, Ryan Dempster put together a 33-inning scoreless streak.

Here and there
• The Athletics defeated the Rays, 4-2, to improve to 69-57 for the season. Oakland is tied with Baltimore for the second AL Wild Card slot, a half-game behind Tampa Bay. Since June 1, Oakland owns the best record in the AL (47-28) and has allowed the third-fewest runs (271) in the Majors. Tampa Bay (41-35 record in this stretch) has allowed 257 runs, while the Braves (44-31) have allowed 265.

• The Rangers' Ian Kinsler fell a double shy of the cycle and drove in four runs in the club's 9-3 win over the Twins. Kinsler homered to lead off the game for the 25th time in his career, tying Brian Downing, Rickie Weeks and Hanley Ramirez for the 19th most in history.

• Jason Heyward became the first visiting left-handed hitter to homer against Madison Bumgarner in San Francisco since Votto on Aug 25, 2010, and the Braves defeated the Giants, 7-3. The span in between homers covered 161 plate appearances. On June 3, Heyward was hitting .235/.325/.408. In 72 games since then his line has been .307/.370/.566.

• The Red Sox squandered a six-run lead in the seventh inning and then eventually lost to the Royals, 10-9, in 12 innings. Boston collected a season-high 20 hits in the loss, marking the third time this season they've had at least 18 hits in a defeat. Since 1918, those three tie Boston with 11 other clubs for the second most. The 1936 Indians had four such losses.

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