The Bill Chuck Files of May 5, 2019

Each Sunday, in remembrance of my friend Nick Cafardo, I post “the Bill Chuck Files” (named by Nick in his Sunday Baseball Notes column)

Terry Francona is in his 19th season as manager. This future Hall-of-Famer (yes, I’m going there) is off to an 18-13 start with the Cleveland Indians this season. In his seventh season, this is his best winning percentage (.581) through 31 games. He’s had three seasons in which he went 17-14 (.548). Terry’s best 31 game start to a season as a manager was in 2007, when his World Champion Red Sox would go 21-10 (.677).

Last season, Reds’ pitcher Anthony DeSclafani hit his one and only homer of his career, a grand slam off the Cubs’ Brian Duensing. Yesterday, Cubs catcher, Taylor Davis his first and only homer of his career, a grand slam Cardinals righty Michael Wacha. The fine folks at STATS let us know that Davis is the seventh player in MLB history to hit a game-tying grand slam for his first career home run. Davis joins:

On May 25, 1977, 15 games were played and in five of them, future Hall of Famers Steve Carlton, Dennis Eckersley, Gaylord Perry, each earned wins, Bert Blyleven took a loss and Bruce Sutter earned a save. Also the original “Star Wars” movie (Episode IV – A New Hope), directed by George Lucas and starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford was first released.

On April 8, 2004 the Padres played their first game at Petco Park. Friday night, Ian Kinsler‘s solo homer was the 1000th HR hit by a Padre at Petco Park during the regular season. He homered off the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw. Future Dodger Adrian Gonzalez has the most homers hit by a Padre at Petco with 57.

Get back! The first Petco homer by a Padre was hit on April 15, 2004, in the Padres sixth home game, by another future Dodger Mark Loretta, also off the Dodgers (Hideo Nomo). The Dodgers leadoff batter in that game was Dave Roberts, their current manager.

Quick Quiz (answer below): Game of Thrones first aired on April 17, 2011. Which player has hit the most home runs during the GOT era?

The “Say Hey Kid”

Tomorrow is Willie Mays‘ 88th birthday and every ballpark, at every professional level, hosting a game tomorrow should acknowledge this great player on baseball’s Mt. Rushmore. In 1951, after an 0-for-12 start to his MLB career, Willie picked up his first hit on May 28, 1951, a home run off another future HOFer, Warren Spahn. Many years later, Spahnie remembered it this way: “He was something like zero for twenty-one the first time I saw him. His first major league hit was a home run off me and I’ll never forgive myself. We might have gotten rid of Willie forever if I’d only struck him out.”

Now he’s Cooking – Yesterday afternoon, the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks tossed a baseball rarity: a complete game. Not only did he throw a complete game, he threw a complete game shutout, a rarity amongst rarities. But here’s what makes this dish so delicious: Hendricks tossed just 81 pitches. It was the fewest pitches thrown in a complete nine-inning shutout since Aaron Cook of the Red Sox shut out the Mariners on June 29, 2012 on 81 pitches. To find a CG ShO with fewer than 81 pitches, you have go back to July 1, 2008 when Cook was pitching for the Rockies and blanked the Padres on just 79 pitches.

James Holzhauer

Mega-champ James Holzhauer is the Mike Trout of ‘Jeopardy!’

Against teams playing .500 or better, the Mariners are now 0-12. FYI: the Yankees are 1-6.

Since April 16, the Red Sox are 10-7 with a team ERA of 3.60 and a WHIP of 1.21. Prior to April 16, the Red Sox went 6-11 with a team ERA of 5.93 and a WHIP of 1.50. Through April 15, Boston catcher Christian Vazquez was hitting .195 with two homers and six RBI. Since April 16, Vazquez has hit .310 with three homers and eight RBI. So what happened on April 16? The Red Sox brought up catcher Sandy Leon and his presence has made all the difference.

The Dbacks’ Christian Walker should consider running away from home. In Arizona, Walker is hitting .170 with one homer and one RBI. But on the road, Walker is a beast, first with a .409 average, 16 extra-base hits and 55 total bases, tied for first with a .500 BABIP, and second with an .833 SLG and 1.284 OPS.

In each of the last three years, baseball has set a record for players with at at least three strikeouts in a game. In 2016, there were 1643; in 2017, there were 1766; and in 2018, there were 1848. One month into this season, there have been 425 games in which a player has recorded at least three strikeouts, already 57th all-time. The Cubs’ Javier Baez leads the majors with six such games. The Cubs record is 22 held by Kris Bryant in 2015. Last season, the Rangers’ Joey Gallo tied Mark Reynolds all-time record of 26 games, set by Reynolds in 2009 when he played for Arizona. Ted Williams had three three-strikeout games in his career.

Cody Bellinger is only hitting .415 as of today having gone 49-118 on the season. Bellinger could 0-45 and still be hitting .300. Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting .149 (14-94) and if he went 20-20, he’d still wouldn’t be at .300.

The 1962 New York Mets (of 120-loss fame), started their freshman going 12-20, a .375 winning pct. As of this morning, the Morose Marlins are 9-23, .281. After 34 games, the 1962 Mets were 12-22 (.353), the same record as today’s Orioles.

Happy 72nd birthday to former outfielder Larry Hisle. Hisle led the league with 119 RBI for the 1977 Minnesota Twins.

Quick Quiz answer: Edwin Encarnacion has hit 289 homers, Nelson Cruz has hit 285, and Giancarlo Stanton has hit 283.