Billy-Ball’s Nine to Know: May 9

1. We don’t give enough love to Mike Scioscia. Maybe it’s because his name is hard to type or maybe it’s just because he’s simply so understated. Yesterday Mike picked up win # 1,000 beating Cleveland 6-5 and the players, led by another one of the great guys of the game, Torii Hunter, dumped a Gatorade bucket of ice water on his head during a post-game interview.

Scioscia is the 56th manager with a thousand wins and the 23rd manager in major league history to reach 1,000 with one team. Scioscia’s first victory was on April 5, 2000, when the Angels beat the Yankees. Sosh has a 1,000-817 record (.550) in 12 seasons and is the longest tenured manager in the American League.

The Angels took two-of three from the Tribe who are still tied with the Phillies for the best record in baseball at 22-11 (.667).

2. The Tampa Bay Rays swept the Orioles this weekend outscoring them 19-7 winning with good pitching and good hitting. The Rays have won eight straight on the road and are 20-8 after starting 0-6. The last-place Orioles have lost four straight to fall a season-high five games under .500 (14-19).

3. He lives! For those of you who were writing Derek Jeter‘s obituary, hold off a bit. The Yankee captain went 4-for-6 yesterday, hit his first two homers of the season and stole his first base. Jeter raised his batting average from .256 to .276. He had gone 259 at-bats without a homer since last Aug. 24.

CC Sabathia (3-2) picked up the win tossing six innings giving up five runs but only three earned which makes it a Quality Start. The Yankees have won a major league leading 50 games started by Sabathia since he arrived in 2009.

The Yanks won two of three in Texas. Texas has won consecutive games only once since its 9-1 start, losing 16 of 25 games and seven of eight series.

4. Braves take two-of-three from the Phils. The NL East race will be a good one before this season is over. The Braves took the series from the Phils in Philadelphia with a 5-2 win last night. Each team had a shutout victory in the first two games. Jair Jurrjens (4-0) was the victor last night and he  has a 1.50 ERA to go with his perfect record.

Derek Lowe overcame Cliff Lee‘s 16 strikeouts to beat Philadelphia, 5-0, Friday night.

Kyle Kendrick and four relievers combined on a five-hitter and the Phillies beat the Braves 3-0 Saturday night.

Here’s a quick look at the NL East:

Rk Tm W L W-L% GB Strk R RA 1Run vRHP vLHP ≥.500 <.500 last10 last20 last30
1 PHI 22 11 .667 L 1 4.4 3.3 5-2 13-10 9-1 4-4 18-7 7-3 13-7 19-11
2 FLA 20 13 .606 2.0 W 1 4.6 4.0 8-4 16-8 4-5 12-6 8-7 5-5 12-8 19-11
3 ATL 20 16 .556 3.5 W 1 4.2 3.0 3-5 13-12 7-4 8-7 12-9 7-3 13-7 17-13
4 WSN 16 18 .471 6.5 L 1 3.6 4.1 3-3 13-12 3-6 10-15 6-3 5-5 9-11 15-15
5 NYM 15 19 .441 7.5 L 1 4.2 4.5 2-7 8-16 7-3 6-13 9-6 4-6 11-9 12-18
Avg 18 15 .547 4.2 3.8 4-4 12-11 6-3 8-9 10-6 5-4 11-8 16-13
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/9/2011.

5. Don’t forget the FishAnibal Sanchez took a no-hitter into the 7th inning and struck out a career-high 11 to help the Florida Marlins salvage the final game of their three-gamer against Washington, 8-0. The Marlins (20-13), off to the best start in franchise history, broke a three-game losing streak and head to Philly tonight.

The Nats took two-of-three despite striking out 38 times in the series.

NL team hitting:

Tm R/G R H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
ARI 4.67 154 277 64 7 39 117 241 .245 .317 .417 .735
ATL 4.17 150 291 59 4 37 118 261 .241 .309 .388 .697
CHC 3.85 127 308 55 5 28 89 227 .268 .322 .397 .720
CIN 5.09 173 297 54 3 39 122 246 .258 .332 .411 .743
COL 4.34 139 250 55 6 27 127 246 .233 .317 .371 .688
FLA 4.61 152 282 63 6 28 119 246 .254 .329 .397 .725
HOU 4.29 146 310 67 8 18 85 261 .264 .317 .381 .698
LAD 3.63 127 305 50 5 25 97 258 .256 .318 .369 .687
MIL 3.79 129 286 49 8 32 96 240 .250 .310 .390 .700
NYM 4.21 143 288 69 8 28 125 261 .250 .326 .396 .722
PHI 4.36 144 294 46 8 27 107 217 .260 .328 .386 .715
PIT 3.76 128 261 47 2 25 125 281 .235 .313 .348 .661
SDP 3.09 105 245 44 7 21 132 280 .215 .299 .321 .620
SFG 3.53 120 270 54 5 28 99 248 .235 .301 .364 .665
STL 5.23 183 341 63 6 34 124 212 .285 .357 .433 .790
WSN 3.56 121 246 45 6 24 106 270 .224 .295 .342 .637
LgAvg 4.13 140 284 55 6 29 112 250 .248 .318 .382 .701
4.13 2241 4551 884 94 460 1788 3995 .248 .318 .382 .701
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/9/2011.

6. Giants sweep. Friday night, Freddy Sanchez hit a walkoff single to drive home the winning run and give the Giants a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

Mike Fontenot‘s walkoff sacrifice fly gave the Giants to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday, the second walk-off win at AT&T Park in two nights. That was three straight walkoff losses for Colorado.

Sunday, the Giants used Ryan Vogelsong and two relievers to three-hit the Rox and complete the Giants first series sweep of the season with a 3-0 victory. San Francisco is 5-1 against Colorado this season and 9-2 versus the Rockies including last season.

Brian Wilson earned his 11th straight save after he blew his first opportunity against St. Louis on April 8.

7. Yo, Adrian, happy birthday! Adrian Gonzalez is making the adjustment to Fenway Park. The Red Sox first baseman celebrated his 29th birthday by hitting his fourth homer of the season and going 3-for-5 as Boston topped the Twins, 9-5 . Gonzalez now has three homers in his last six games.

Check out A-Gon with runners on base:

Split PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
RISP 43 40 15 4 0 0 18 3 8 .375 .419 .475 .894
Men On 74 69 26 7 1 1 21 5 13 .377 .419 .551 .970
Bases loaded 5 5 2 1 0 0 5 0 0 .400 .400 .600 1.000
on 1st, lt 2 out 34 32 13 5 0 0 7 2 5 .406 .441 .563 1.004
on 3rd, lt 2 out 6 5 3 2 0 0 5 1 1 .600 .667 1.000 1.667
on 3rd, 2 out 6 6 2 0 0 0 3 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/9/2011.

Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits to extend his hitting streak to 17 games. The BoSox have taken the first two-of-three of this four game set.

8. Two of three so far for Detroit. The Tigers and Jays are playing a four-game set and after Adam Lind led the Jays to a 7-4 win Friday night, the Tigers have taken center stage. Justin Verlander was close to perfect Saturday night as he threw his second career no-hitter defeating the Jays, 9-0. Verlander barely missed a perfect game only allowing a one out in the 8th inning walk to J.P. Arencibia on a full count. Verlander (3-3) struck out  four and threw just 108 pitches, 74 for strikes. Prior to Verlander, the last Detroit pitcher to throw a no-hitter was Jack Morris, who did it at Comiskey Park against the Chicago White Sox on April 7, 1984.

George Mullin pitched the first Tigers’ no-no on July 4, 1912, Here are the last six:

Rk Player Date Opp Rslt IP BB SO
1 Justin Verlander 2011-05-07 TOR W 9-0 9.0 1 4
2 Justin Verlander 2007-06-12 MIL W 4-0 9.0 4 12
3 Jack Morris 1984-04-07 CHW W 4-0 9.0 6 8
4 Jim Bunning 1958-07-20 (1) BOS W 3-0 9.0 2 12
5 Virgil Trucks 1952-08-25 NYY W 1-0 9.0 1 8
6 Virgil Trucks 1952-05-15 WSH W 1-0 9.0 1 7

Jose Valverde struck out the side in the 9th for his seventh save and the 200th of his career, becoming the 41st player in major league history to reach the mark, as the Tigers defeated the Jays yesterday, 5-2.

9. Happy (belated) birthday, Willie. Mrs. Ball and I went away this weekend to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary and the whole weekend I was distracted because I didn’t wish Willie Mays a happy 80th birthday on Friday.

One thing baseball does not do well is celebrate their retired stars in life. Willie is baseball’s greatest living ballplayer and should be honored as such. Truth be told, there are some who say that Willie may have been the greatest player ever and his skills were such that if you heard the argument you could never reject the notion as being out of line.

In fact, read this piece by David Schoenfeld on ESPN.com who gives 10 reasons why Willie was the greatest and maybe that will convince you.

Or, if you don’t want to get involved in the argument, simply appreciate his greatness on this MLB.com/Giants tribute page.

One day, a million years ago, the Mets were playing the Giants at Shea. Fans, including me, waited outside the exit to the visiting clubhouse to catch a glimpse of the legend. After awhile I gave up and started heading for the subway, out of a side door, discretely emerged Willie in a beautiful sharkskin suit and for a brief moment it was just the two of us. You know what I said to him, right?

“Say hey! Willie!”

I got a smile and then crowds surrounded us. Well actually just him.

I still smile thinking about it and it is with that joy, I wish you a happy birthday, Willie.