MLB Notebook: Nats' arms take Davey back
In his first season as a Major League manager in 1984, Davey Johnson had the enviable pleasure of witnessing Dwight Gooden author one of the greatest teenage seasons in baseball history.
Gooden -- still 19 years old when he threw his final pitch of 1984 -- finished that season with a rookie-record 276 strikeouts and became the first qualifying pitcher to strike out more than 11 batters per nine innings and allow fewer than seven hits per nine. As part of this awe-inspiring, electric season, Gooden held the opposition to a .202/.269/.275 slash line (all of those figures led the Majors).
In 2012, Johnson -- now in his 16th year as a Major League manager -- is sitting in the catbird seat again. Johnson has seen his starting staff restrict opposing batters to the tune of a .182/.230/.261 line.
In other words, on average, the Washington Nationals' starting staff so far has been just a little bit stingier than Gooden was during his incredible first season 28 years ago.
On Wednesday, Jordan Zimmermann allowed one run on four hits in six innings and won his first game of the season, as the Nationals beat the Padres, 7-2. Zimmermann's outing marked the 11th time this season a Washington starter had gone at least six innings and allowed no more than one run. The Nationals' 11 have come within the club's first 18 games.
Dating back to 1918, the Nats are the first team to have 11 such starts through their first 18 contests. Nine clubs, including the 2012 Cardinals, had 10 through their first 18 games.
More quality arms
Baltimore's Jason Hammel improved to 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA in four starts after allowing only four hits in seven scoreless innings Wednesday vs. the Blue Jays.
Hammel was one of six pitchers on the day to throw at least seven innings and allow no more than four hits. Through the first 550 starts of the 2012 season, there have been 81 starts of at least seven innings and four hits or fewer.
Since 1998, when the Majors expanded to 30 teams, 2010 produced the most such starts in a full season -- 604. That year, through the first 558 starts of the season, there were 60 starts of seven or more innings and no more than four hits.
Panda's streak continues
The Giants' Pablo Sandoval went 1-for-4 to extend his season-opening hitting streak to 18 games, and tied the modern franchise record held by Johnny Rucker (1945) for the longest to begin a season.
Sandoval is the seventh player in the past 40 seasons to begin his year by hitting safely in at least his first 18 games:
Ron LeFlore began 1976 with a 30-game streak
Edgar Renteria began 2006 with a 23-game streak
Steve Garvey began 1978 with a 21-game streak
George Brett began 1983 with a 19-game streak
Nate McLouth began 2008 with a 19-game streak
Alex Rodriguez in began 2007 an 18-game streak
Sandoval began 2012 with a current streak of 18 games
David Wright hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning to give him 735 career RBIs and break out of a tie with Darryl Strawberry for most in Mets history.
Wright's RBI total has come in 1,121 games with the Mets, while Strawberry's 733 RBIs were accrued over 1,109 games. When Strawberry debuted with New York in 1983, the franchise's all-time leader in the category was Ed Kranepool, who had collected 614 RBIs in 1,853 games.
Here and there
Matt Kemp joined Mickey Mantle (1956) and Willie Mays ('64) as the only center fielders in the live-ball era to hit 10 home runs within their team's first 19 games. Mantle, who had 10 after the Yankees' first 19 games, finished the '56 season with a league-leading 52, as part of his Triple Crown season. Mays hit 11 through the Giants' first 19 games in '64, and he finished with a National League-leading 47.
The Rockies defeated the Pirates, 2-1, in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday. In Game 2, the Bucs defeated Colorado, 5-1. With the score in the first game, the Pirates matched the 1943 Tigers for the longest streak of games (17) to start a season in which they did not score or allow more than five runs. In the second game of the twin bill, Pittsburgh extended the streak to a record-setting 18 games.
The Cardinals' Lance Lynn allowed one run in eight innings and picked up the victory as St. Louis defeated the Cubs, 5-1. Lynn has made four starts this season, has won them all and has allowed exactly one run in each of them. Before Lynn, the most recent pitcher to open the season with four straight starts in which he allowed no more than one run and recorded a win in each of them was Zack Greinke, in 2009.
Paul Konerko became the 48th player in history to hit 400 home runs, and one of seven active players to reach the milestone. Konerko is off to another hot start in 2012, with a slash line of .357/.423/.614 through his first 18 games. Since the beginning of the '10 season, Konerko's OPS+ is 153; that figure would place him in the top 20 since 1901 for all players with at least 300 games in their age-34 through age-36 seasons. The two players before Konerko who posted a 153 OPS+ in those age-seasons were Mel Ott and Mantle.
Yoenis Cespedes hit his fifth home run of the season -- a game-tying two-run shot in the bottom of the 14th inning. Cespedes became the first Athletics player since Dave Duncan on Sept. 19, 1972, to hit a game-tying home run with runners on base in extra innings.
Thanks in part to Billy Butler's two home runs, the Royals snapped their 12-game losing streak and defeated the Indians, 8-2. Butler -- now playing in his age-26 season -- has 272 extra-base hits. The franchise high for a player through his age-26 season is 358, by George Brett. Carlos Beltran is second, with 288.
Left-hander Robbie Ross picked up the win in the Rangers' 7-3 victory over the Yankees and improved to 4-0 on the season. Ross is the only pitcher since 1918 to record four relief wins through his first six Major League appearances. Fifteen pitchers, including the Rangers' Alexi Ogando in 2010, had won three that quickly.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.