THE ROAD TO OCTOBER
Half the battle for any baseball team in any season is trying to dominate on the road. Having a good season in enemy territory can make or break any team’s dream of going to the postseason. The Houston Astros for the past five seasons have recorded the most wins on the road of any big-league team. The Astros have gone 190-146 while traveling under manager A.J. Hinch’s leadership since 2015. During that span, the Astros have won a World Series, gone to the postseason four of the last five seasons and have never posted a losing road record during that span. With their win against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night, the Astros evened their 2019 road record to 5-5. The ‘Stros road record fell back to 5-6 and under .500 when they lost on Wednesday night in Oakland. During the same period the Chicago Cubs led the N.L. with 187 road wins. The Cleveland Indians at 184-151, the St. Louis Cardinals at 182-153 and the Boston Red Sox at 180-157 round out the top five teams for road wins. Only 10 teams have managed to post winning road records since 2015.
Through Thursday’s games the rulers of the road with the most wins since 2015 are:
The Boston Red Sox, who went 108-53 and won the World Series last season, are struggling in the first part of the season. Through Tuesday they were 6-13 and holding down last place in the A.L. East. Last season the team didn’t register their 13th loss of the season until their 41st game on May 14. For the annual Patriots’ Day game, played on Monday morning against the Baltimore Orioles, the Sox, according to Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal – posted a very unusual lineup, which featured their regular starting catcher, Christian Vazquez, playing second base. Their backup first baseman, Steve Pearce, was playing left field. The reigning A.L. MVP, Mookie Betts, was playing center field instead of his regular post in right. The regular DH, J.D. Martinez, was in right field and their second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, who’s attempting to come back from injuries, was at DH. The lineup changes proved to be unsuccessful as the Orioles beat the Sox 8-1.
AROUND THE HORN
… Michael Lorenzen became the first Reds hurler to record 300 career innings pitched and also see duty in center field, since Hal Jeffcoat accomplished the rarity in 1958; the last major-league pitcher to patrol center field and throw 300 career innings was Ron Mahay in 1995 for the Red Sox. and reached 300 career innings while pitching for the Rangers in 1996.
… Seven Mariners players (Tim Beckman, Jay Bruce, Edwin Encarnacion, Dee Gordon, Ryon Healy, Mitch Haniger and Domingo Santana) have already recorded 10 runs scored and driven in 10 runs; no other team has more than three such players while six teams have yet to see a player reach 10 runs scored and 10 RBIs.
… Reds middle infielder Jose Peraza is the only player with at least 50 plate appearances to have not drawn a walk this season.
… The Rays are the only team in the bigs that hasn’t lost two consecutive games this season.
… On Monday the Rangers became the first A.L. team to walk at least eight batters and strike out one or fewer opposing batters and still eke out a win since the Red Sox pulled it off on May 5, 2008; the last time the Rangers were able to earn a win under those conditions was June 21, 1975 against the Angels when they walked eight and whiffed no Angel batters.
… The Padres fell out of first place on Wednesday night; prior to the loss this was the the latest San Diego has been in atop the N.L. West since owning a half-game lead over the Giants on Sept. 25, 2010.
… The Jewish holiday Passover begins on Friday at sundown and Gregg Garfinkel of Baseballidays has created a baseball-themed Seder plate, which serves as the centerpiece of the typical Seder table; the large dish rests on home plate with six smaller plates attached to a Star of David that is affixed to home plate and features a baseball in the middle of the “Star,” the ornamental plate costs $150.
… The Angels lead all teams in turning double plays since start of 2018 season; the Haloes have turned 191 DPs during the that span.
… The Red Sox starting pitchers have recorded just two wins in the team’s first 19 games; last season, starters were 12-1 in the team’s first 19 games.
… The Giants are the only team that hasn’t scored in the first inning this sason and are batting just .095 (6-for-63) in the frame through Wednesday.
… The Brewers are in the midst of a rather strange scheduling wrinkle by playing 13 straight games against either the Cardinals or Dodgers; the scheduling oddity began on April 12.
… The Blue Jays have already been held hitless through at least the first five innings of a game five times this season; the only other team to have multiple hitless games through five innings this season are the Tigers, who have two.
… Wednesday marked the 62nd anniversary of Frank Robinson‘s debut in the bigs with the Reds during the game after hitting a ground-rule double and single, he was intentionally walked and became just one of a handful of rookies to draw an IBB in their debut.
… Nationals closer Sean Doolittle shares the N.L. lead for the most wins (three) with starter Jake Arrieta of the Phillies, reliever John Gant of the Cardinals, Cub starter Cole Hamels and Dodger starter Kenta Maeda.
… The A’s have already exceeded their losses this season when leading after seven innings when they lost for the third time against Rangers on Sunday; last year they lost just twice when leading after seven frames.
… Indians starter Shane Bieber became the first pitcher, since Earl Wilson (1959-60, 1962 for the Red Sox), to win his first nine road decisions when he defeated the Mariners on Tuesday night; the only pitchers with longer beginning road win streaks to begin a career were Whitey Ford (12-0 between 1950, 1953 for the Yankees) and Larry Jansen (10-0 between 1947-48 for the Giants).
… Joey Votto popped out (in foul territory) to first base for the first time in his 13-year major-league career on Wednesday; Votto had gone 6,828 plate appearance without skying the ball to the first baseman; though Wednesday’s games there had been 23,732 pop ups to the first baseman in the bigs since 2007 when Votto debuted.
… The Twins have scored at least one run in 15 of the 32 half innings directly following an opponents tally and have the highest bounce-back rate (47 percent) in the majors.
… Carlos Carrasco joined Matthew Boyd (Tigers), Mike Clevinger (Indians), Jacob deGrom (Mets) and Blake Snell (Rays) as the only pitchers this season to record multiple double-digit strikeout games this season; the Indians starter whiffed 12 Mariners on Wednesday and 12 Blue Jays on April 6.
…For just the sixth time since 1900, the Phillies plated 10 runs in the first inning on Tuesday night against the Mets; after the outburst the team has totaled 11 extra-base hits and 16 walks during the first inning this season.
Other writers and sources contribute to Beyond the Box Score
Edited by Rick Wacha
Copyright 2019, Sports Features Group