Yankees rookie is the 10th pitcher since 1914 to win nine of first 12 games
By Roger Schlueter
In the start following his rousing never-to-be-dulled performance on a national Monday Night Baseball broadcast on June 28, 1976, Mark Fidrych took the hill on July 3 against the Orioles at Tiger Stadium. And the soon-to-be American League starter in the '76 All-Star Game continued to bewilder, astound, amuse and put away hitters.
Facing a lineup that featured Reggie Jackson batting cleanup, Fidrych allowed just four singles and three walks in a masterful four-hit shutout (his first career shutout and ninth complete game) that saw the Tigers emerge with a 4-0 victory.
Fidrych was 12 games into his Major League career, and in addition to having added an extraordinary splash of color to the baseball world's imagination, he held a line that -- even almost 40 years removed from its creation -- still manages to conjure smiles and a sense of wonder. It's a line that has some interesting similarities to the one currently owned by one of the 2014 season's more compelling and invigorating story-writers, Masahiro Tanaka.
Tanaka notches ninth win
Tanaka allowed one run, five hits and a walk in six innings Thursday, and he came away with the win as the Yankees defeated the Athletics, 2-1.
Tanaka, who also fanned four and leads the AL in both ERA and WHIP, improved to 9-1 through his first 12 Major League games. Dating back to 1914, he is the 10th pitcher to start and win at least nine of his first 12 games, and the first since Jered Weaver in 2006.
Some home run perspective for the Jays, who improved to 37-24 for the season:
• The club has hit a Major League-best 87 home runs -- nine more than the No. 2 team in the Majors (Colorado) and 15 ahead of the runner-up club in the AL (Oakland).
• Toronto's 87 homers through its first 61 games tie this club with the 2012 Blue Jays team for the third most for the franchise. The 2010 team had 98, and the '00 Blue Jays had produced 96. That '10 team went on to hit 257 home runs -- a total that is tied for the third most in history.
• Toronto now has five players with at least 10 home runs, with Edwin Encarnacion (19) and Jose Bautista (14) ahead of the trio with the 10. No other team has more than three players, with the Rockies, Brewers and Athletics each having that many.
Dazzling debuts for Miami duo
The Marlins tied a season high with 17 hits and defeated the Rays, 11-6.
Miami, which is tied with Atlanta for first place in the National League East and is second in the NL in batting average, had J.T. Realmuto and Justin Bour each contribute in their Major League debuts. Realmuto drove in three runs with a pair of singles, and Bour had two hits and an RBI.
• Realmuto is the second Marlins player to have at least three RBIs in his debut, following Jeremy Hermida on Aug. 31, 2005. Hermida, rather notably, hit a grand slam in his first Major League plate appearance.
• Before Thursday's Marlins-Rays game, there had been two contests since 1914 during which multiple players from the same team each had at least two hits and one RBI in their debuts. On April 13, 1921, Phillies catcher Frank Bruggy went 2-for-5 with one RBI, and shortstop Frank Parkinson matched that stat line in a 10-8 loss to the Giants. On April 16, 1935, Reds right fielder Ival Goodman was 2-for-4, shortstop Billy Myers was 3-for-5 and each drove in one run in Cincinnati's 12-6 loss to the Pirates.
Miami's victory extended the team's Interleague winning streak, which began last August, to a dozen games. This 12-game streak ties them for the third longest for any club, with the 2003-04 Yanks and '04 Devil Rays each having 13-game winning streaks. The '04-05 Cardinals, '06 Red Sox and '06-'07 Twins also won 12 in a row.
Fister continues trend for Nats
Behind starter Doug Fister's seven strong innings, which included five strikeouts and no walks, the Nationals defeated the Phillies, 4-2, and finished the game with nine K's and no walks.
During the Nats' three-game sweep of Philadelphia, Washington's hurlers fanned 27 and walked three. For the season, the staff owns a 3.18 strikeout-to-walk ratio that is the best in the NL and ranks second best in the Majors to the Yankees' 3.46 mark.
Both values represent historically uncommon heights: no team in the modern era has finished a season with a mark as high as the Yanks' current 3.46. The top mark was the Phils' 3.39 in 2012. And outside those '12 Phillies, only the '06 Twins (3.27) and the '11 Phils (3.22) finished their respective seasons with ratios higher than the one currently sported by the Nats.
Here and there
• San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner allowed one run on three hits in eight innings and improved to 8-3, as the Giants defeated the Reds, 6-1. Bumgarner has worked at least seven innings and allowed no more than three hits in each of his past three starts. He's the fourth Giants hurler since 1914 to be able to make such a claim during a single season, joining Ferdie Schupp in '16 (3-0 with a 0.33 ERA during his three-game streak), Allen Watson in '96 (1-1 with a 2.42 ERA in his three games) and Matt Cain in 2007 (1-1 with a 0.78 ERA in his three games). Bumgarner has gone 3-0 with a 0.82 ERA in his three.
• In the Brewers' 8-5 win over the Twins, cleanup hitter Carlos Gomez hit a three-run homer in a 1-for-5 night, and he now holds a .961 OPS for the year when batting in the fourth spot in the order (he's hit in that spot for 13 games, and has collected 57 plate appearances). Gomez, who built a .933 OPS in the 42 games he batted leadoff, owns the fourth-highest OPS in the cleanup spot among players with at least 50 plate appearances hitting there.
• A game after collecting 21 hits in a 16-8 win over the Rockies, the D-backs compiled 18 hits in a 12-7 victory. This two-game barrage marked the second time in Arizona history the club had at least 18 hits in consecutive games, with the 1999 team doing it on June 9 and 11 against the Cubs and Angels, respectively. The current two-game run has also matched the club's longest streak for scoring at least 12 runs, with four previous occasions seeing them do it in back-to-back games. The D-backs are the first team since the 2011 Mets (on June 28-29, against the Tigers) to have consecutive games with at least 18 hits and at least 12 runs.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.