From Opening Day in 1918 through Monday, the Majors had seen 230 games in which a pitcher struck out at least 15 batters. Of those 230 games, the pitcher issued no walks in 24 of them. Of those 34, 22 of them had the pitcher surrender no more than one run. And of those 22, six had the hurler allow two or fewer hits.
The half-dozen to make all of these cuts are Van Lingle Mungo in 1935, Kerry Wood in '98, Pedro Martinez in '99, Martinez again in 2000, Erik Bedard in '07 and Johan Santana in '07. As one might expect from such a dominant effort on the mound, each of these six performances yielded a victory for the hurler.
Enter James Shields.
Shields took the loss in the Rays' 1-0 loss to the Orioles, going the distance in an effort in which he allowed two hits and no walks while striking out a career-best 15 batters. The line produced a game score of 94.
Shields is the 23rd pitcher since 1918 to compile at least 15 strikeouts in a nine-inning game and take the loss. He is the second pitcher to do it this season, after the White Sox's Francisco Liriano. Shields is also the first pitcher to take the loss in a 15-strikeout, no-walk effort in a nine-inning game since John Smoltz on April 10, 2005. Before Shields and Smoltz, five other pitchers had done that since 1918.
Shields is the first losing pitcher with 15-plus K's and no more than one run allowed since Martinez on May 6, 2000. In that game, Martinez fanned 17 Devil Rays, walked one and lost, 1-0. Besides Shields and Martinez, three other pitchers in the live-ball era have had a game like this.
On June 14, 1965, Jim Maloney struck out 18 in an 11-inning complete-game loss; on Aug. 20, 1974, Nolan Ryan fanned 19 in an 11-inning complete-game loss; and on Sept. 27, 1986, Floyd Youmans struck out 15 in a nine-inning complete-game loss.
No pitcher in the live-ball era had ever had a loss with a line like Shields' -- 15 strikeouts, no walks, no more than two hits and one run allowed.
The Orioles' 1-0 win, with Chris Davis hitting a solo home run in the top of the fourth, offers these elements for consideration:
The victory improved Baltimore's record in one-run games to 29-9, a .763 winning percentage. The best regular-season winning percentage in one-run games in the modern era is .750, by the 1981 Orioles.
Davis' homer gave him a long ball in six straight contests, tying the franchise record. In 1922, Ken Williams homered in six straight games for the St. Louis Browns, and in '76, Reggie Jackson matched the feat in his only year with the Orioles.
O's starter Miguel Gonzalez allowed two hits in 6 1/3 innings, and relievers Brian Matusz, Darren O'Day and Jim Johnson combined for 2 2/3 innings of hitless ball.
The two-hitter marked the seventh time this season the Orioles have held their opponent to two or fewer hits. Those seven games are the second most in the Majors, behind the eight from the Mariners.
Johnson's scoreless ninth for the O's gave him 51 saves, tying the right-hander with Dennis Eckersley (1992) and Rod Beck ('98) for the ninth most.
The A's defeated the Rangers, 3-1, to move into a tie for first place in the American League West.
Oakland's largest deficit of the season came after a 7-2 loss to Texas on June 30, which placed the A's 13 games out, and closer to last place than they were to second place. Since then, the team owns a 56-26 record -- the best in the Majors.
Since the start of play on June 4, the A's own a 70-37 record -- also the best in the Majors.
In their fourth game of the season, the Rangers defeated the Mariners, 11-5, to move into sole possession of first in the AL West. From that point until the loss Tuesday night, they had not experienced anything other than sole possession of first.
After tying the game with a pinch-hit two-run home run in the ninth, Ibanez hit a game-ending RBI single in the bottom of the 12th to give the Yankees a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox. Dating back to 1948, Ibanez is the fourth Yankees player to have a both a game-tying hit in the bottom of the ninth and a game-ending hit in extra innings of that contest. The others are Yogi Berra on July 2, 1954 (game-tying single in the ninth, walk-off single in the 11th), Roy White on Aug. 9, 1970 (game-tying two-run single in the ninth, walk-off two-run HR in the 11th) and Graig Nettles on May 17, 1973 (game-tying single in the ninth; walk-off two-run HR in the 11th).
Dickey fanned eight with no walks in his final appearance of the season, giving him 230 strikeouts and 54 walks, for a K/BB ratio of 4.26. Since 1893, 198 pitchers have struck out at least 230 batters in a season. Among this collection, Dickey's 4.26 ratio is the 46th highest. The only Mets pitcher to ever have as many as walks and a K/BB ratio better than Dickey's was Tom Seaver in 1971, when he fanned 289 and walked 61 for a ratio of 4.74.
Greenberg made his first Major League appearance since getting hit by a pitch in his only other appearance on July 9, 2005. Greenberg, who entered Tuesday's game in the sixth inning for the Marlins and struck out, had been one of 25 players since 1876 whose entire career summary consisted of exactly one game played, exactly one plate appearance and no official at-bat.
Most games reaching safely between 1962-2012 in NL
Cabrera had a pair of singles and drove in two runs to push his Triple Crown line to .331/44/139. Cabrera leads Mike Trout by seven points in the batting race, and leads Josh Hamilton by 11 RBIs and one home run.
In AL history, 15 players have finished a season with at least a .331 average, at least 44 home runs and at least 139 RBIs. Of these 15, only two -- Jimmie Foxx in 1933 and Lou Gehrig in '34 -- won the traditional Triple Crown. Of those 15, only two -- Gehrig in '34 and Foxx in '38 -- won the rate stat Triple Crown (leading in batting, on-base, and slugging). Cabrera will not win the on-base title, but should finish with the league's top marks in the other two categories.
Headley went 2-for-4, marking the 145th game in which he reached safely this season. That ties Headley for the ninth most for an National League player since 1962, the year the 162-game schedule was first used by the league.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.