MLB Notebook: 'K'ing Felix continues to roll
Righty headlines day of dominant pitching performances with 15-strikeout gem
Hall of Fame right-hander Dazzy Vance didn't record his first double-digit strikeout game until he was a couple of months beyond his 31st birthday, but he would make up for lost time in a rather eye-popping manner. In the 1920s, Vance would assemble 29 double-digit strikeout efforts, almost doubling the total of the No. 2 guy -- southpaw Lefty Grove.
Vance's second career game with 10 or more K's came on May 2, 1923, and it featured both 15 punchouts and a no-decision for the author of the strikeout-heavy performance. No other pitcher would have a 15-strikeout game in a no-decision for the next 40 years, and through the 2013 season, baseball had seen just 31 duplications of Vance's unusual feat. Felix Hernandez is still three years shy of Vance's age when he recorded his first double-digit K game back in 1922, but thanks to all of the ways that baseball can align and link, the two do happen to intersect.
At Tampa Bay -- in one of four team shutouts on the road on Sunday -- the visiting Mariners received a gem of an effort from Hernandez. The right-hander -- who turned in seven innings of four-hit, one-walk, 15-strikeout baseball -- received a no-decision in a 5-0 victory.
The 15 strikeouts set a career high for Hernandez, who now has 29 career double-digit strikeout games. The 29 are the 17th most since 1914 for any hurler before his 29th birthday and tie Hernandez with Vance for the 26th most in the last 100 years for any pitcher through his first 283 games.
Hernandez has 1,809 career strikeouts -- the ninth most in history for any pitcher through his age-28 season. With this effort against the Rays, Hernandez passed Christy Mathewson (1,799) and now is within nine of matching Pedro Martinez's total.
Hernandez is the 10th starter since 1914 to have a 15-strikeout game in an outing lasting no more than seven full innings. All 10 pitchers have done this since 1990, with Dwight Gooden being the first and Max Scherzer (2012) the most recent.
Hernandez is also the first pitcher since Jake Peavy on April 25, 2007, to collect at least 15 K's in a no-decision, and he's the 33rd pitcher since 1914 to do it. The first over this span of time was Vance in '23.
Cards silence Jays -- again
For the second straight game, St. Louis blanked Toronto -- the American League's second-highest scoring and highest slugging team entering Sunday's games. With a 5-0 win (led by Jaime Garcia's seven innings of three-hit ball) that saw the Cardinals hold the Blue Jays to just four singles, the Redbirds authored their Major League-leading 12th team shutout of the year.
The Cardinals' 12 through their first 64 games are the most in franchise history, and tie the club for the fourth most for any team in the live-ball era. The last team to have this many (or more) were the 1981 Astros, who also had 12.
Kazmir whipping the competition
AL lefties' ERA through team's first 63 games since 1973
Athletics southpaw Scott Kazmir did his part in trying to push the A's to a shutout, hurling seven scoreless innings of four-hit, two-walk ball on Sunday in Baltimore. Kazmir owns a 2.20 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. In the AL this season, Kazmir is looking up to Toronto's Mark Buehrle in ERA, but Kazmir has the advantage over the Blue Jays left-hander when it comes to WHIP. In the former case, both pitchers are posting some special numbers.
Among AL left-handers since 1973 with at least 13 starts through their team's first 63 games (there are 425 pitchers who fit), Buehrle's ERA stands as the seventh lowest, and Kazmir owns the 10th lowest. Among the same group with at least 13 starts through their team's first 63 games, Kazmir's 0.98 WHIP is the seventh lowest.
Lucroy a plus hitter behind the dish
In Milwaukee's 1-0 win over the Pirates, catcher Jonathan Lucroy delivered three hits (two doubles) and scored the game's only run. Lucroy leads all qualifying catchers in all rate stat categories, posting a .335/.398/.500/.898 line, with 23 doubles: a total that is tied for second most in the Majors for all positions.
Lucroy's OPS+ currently works out to a 146. For some reference, there have been 71 catchers in the modern era to finish a season qualifying for the batting title with an OPS+ of at least 140 (most recently, Buster Posey posted a 171 in 2012).
The most doubles for a catcher in a season (at least 75 percent of total games at catcher) was Ivan Rodriguez's 47 in 1996. Last year, Yadier Molina produced the high mark for a National League catcher, with 44.
Here and there
• The Giants improved to a Major League-best 42-21, defeating the Mets, 6-4, on Sunday. In the victory, Sergio Romo retired all three batters he faced and recorded his 20th save.
Go-ahead homers in ninth inning or later past 50 seasons
Romo is nine saves shy of matching Rod Beck's 1997 mark for the most by a Giants pitcher before the All-Star break. Since the start of the 2010 season, Romo is one of 48 pitchers to have appeared in at least 250 games. Among this collection of 48 pitchers, Romo is eighth in hits per nine innings, first in WHIP, third in walks per nine and seventh in strikeout percentage.
• Jordan Zimmermann hurled a two-hit shutout with 12 K's and no walks, and the Nationals defeated the Padres, 6-0. Zimmermann is the second Expos/Nationals pitcher to throw a shutout on two or fewer hits and also record at least 12 K's. On June 16, 1971, Bill Stoneman twirled a one-hit shutout with 14 K's and one walk.
Zimmermann is the 12th pitcher since 1914 to have a two-hit shutout with at least 12 K's and no walks; the first was Dodgers right-hander Van Mungo on Sept. 29, 1935, and the most recent had been Mets left-hander Chris Capuano on Aug. 26, 2011. In addition to Mungo and Zimmermann, the other right-handers on this list: Stan Williams ('68), Roger Clemens ('87), Curt Schilling ('96), Clemens ('97) and Martinez (2000).
• With the Red Sox down 3-2 in the top of the ninth, David Ortiz hit a three-run home run and Boston held on for a 5-3 victory over the Tigers. Ortiz has 16 career homers in the ninth inning or later that have given his team the lead (this includes walk-offs), tying him for the 14th most for any player in the past 50 seasons.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.