In 110 of the Cardinals' 136 games this season, Matt Carpenter has been stationed as the club's leadoff hitter. With league-leading totals in doubles and hits, and batting at the top of a lineup that is proving historically adept at collecting hits with runners in scoring position, Carpenter also paces the league in runs scored. And if he can end the season as the National League leader in runs, hits and doubles, he will join a select group of Cardinals hitters in the modern era who have done this.
Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby first did it in 1921, and also accomplished the feat in his Triple Crown season in 1922, and then again in '24. Hall of Famer Ducky Medwick did it in his Triple Crown season in 1937, and then Hall of Famer Stan Musial did it in 1946, '48 and '52. Finally, three-time NL Most Valuable Player Award winner Albert Pujols accomplished the trifecta in 2003 (before he captured any of those awards). That's the group that Carpenter could join.
Pacing the Cards on the hill lately has been right-hander Joe Kelly, who on the first day of September pitched like it was still August, holding the Pirates to one run and four hits in six innings. With Sunday's 7-2 victory, the Cardinals moved back into a tie with the Pirates for first place in the NL Central.
In August, Kelly was undefeated in six starts, going 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA. Casting back into July, Kelly is now 7-0 in his past nine starts, and owns a 1.72 ERA in 52 1/3 innings during this stretch. Among pitchers with at least eight starts since the beginning of the second half, Kelly's 1.72 ERA is the third lowest, behind the 1.07 from Clayton Kershaw and the 1.50 from Jose Fernandez.
In the Cardinals' win, the club went a combined 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position, with Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and David Freese each having one hit. As a team, the Cardinals own a .326 batting average with RISP. No team in the Division Era has ever finished a season with a mark that high (the 1996 Rockies and the 2007 Tigers own the high mark, at .311), and the Cardinals' mark this season is 40 points above the that Tigers club.
St. Louis had a pair of doubles (including one by Carpenter) for its only two extra-base hits of the game. In the NL, the Cardinals are first in runs and 13th in home runs. They have 20 games this season in which they have scored at least five runs and have not homered, with those 20 the most in the NL.
Based on their current rates, the Cardinals would end up with about 777 runs and 126 home runs. The last NL team to finish a season with at least 777 runs and no more than 126 homers was the 1987 Cardinals, who tallied 798 and 94, respectively.
Aviles slams way into record books
Mike Aviles hit a ninth-inning grand slam to break a 0-0 tie, five pitchers combined on an 11-hit shutout, and the Indians defeated the Tigers, 4-0.
From the available records, Aviles' grand slam was the 10th since 1945 to come in the ninth inning or later and break a scoreless tie. It was the first since Craig Monroe hit one for the Tigers on April 11, 2007, and is the only one since '45 for the Indians.
The 11-hitter (only the fifth time since 1916 the Tribe blanked an opponent while also allowing at least 11 hits) gave the Indians 16 team shutouts -- the most in the American League and the most for Cleveland since the 1976 club had 17.
Trout continues phenomenal campaign
Mike Trout fell a home run shy of the cycle and also drew a walk, helping the Angels to a 5-3 win over the Brewers. Trout's afternoon pushed his slash line to .334/.431/.577, and raised his extra-base hit total to 67. Five points that can be made about Trout's season and career, as it stands after this latest exhibition:
• Trout's OPS this season would be the sixth highest in the modern era for any qualifying player in his age-21 season. Adjusted for league and ballpark, his 183 OPS+ would be the highest.
• Totaling up his work in his career, Trout's OPS+ stands at 167. No player with at least 300 games through his age-21 season has ever had a career OPS+ that high at the end of that age-21 season.
• Trout's 67 extra-base hits are currently the 15th most for a player in his age-21 season. Of the 14 players ahead of him, two also had at least 29 steals (Trout's current total). In 1972, Cesar Cedeno had 69 extra-base hits and 55 steals. In 1960, Vada Pinson had 69 extra-base hits and 32 steals.
• Trout has 143 extra-base hits and 82 steals for his career. Ten players have had more extra-base hits through their age-21 season, and one of those 10 -- Cedeno again -- also had more steals. Cedeno was sitting at 157 extra-base hits and 92 stolen bases.
• Trout has reached safely 258 times this season -- 14th most for a player in his age-21 season. The rate per team game (1.91) would put Trout above 300 for the season. The highest total produced by a player in his age-21 season was Rickey Henderson's 301 in 1980.
Here and there
• Zack Greinke allowed two hits and a run in seven innings and the Dodgers defeated the Padres, 2-1. Greinke improved to 14-3 with a 2.78 ERA for the season, and he is 11-1 in 14 starts since June 22. In 99 2/3 innings over this stretch, Greinke owns a 2.08 ERA.
Comparing Greinke to Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw since June 22
• With the victory, the Dodgers improved to 51-13 since the start of play on June 22, for a .797 winning percentage. Over this same stretch, the Braves -- playing .656 ball -- own the Majors second best record; yet the Dodgers are 9 1/2 games better than Atlanta.
• Todd Helton collected double No. 584 for hit No. 2,500. Helton is the 96th player with at least 2,500 hits. Among these 96 players, Helton's XBH/H (986/2,500) is among the top 13. Those with a greater percentage of their hits going for extra bases: Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr., Rafael Palmeiro, Lou Gehrig, Frank Robinson, Manny Ramirez, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx and Reggie Jackson.
Helton is one of five first basemen with at least 2,500 hits and at least 1,300 walks, joining Gehrig, Foxx, Eddie Murray and Palmeiro.
• Marlins right-hander Nathan Eovaldi allowed seven hits in eight shutout innings and got the win as Miami blanked Atlanta, 7-0. Eovaldi, who threw seven shutout innings against the Braves on Aug. 10, also had eight shutout innings against Atlanta in September 2012. No other Marlins pitcher has ever had more than one outing against the Braves that finished with at least seven shutout frames.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.