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Roger Schlueter

MLB Notebook: Panda fashions unique streak

MLB Notebook: Panda fashions unique streak

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MLB Notebook: Panda fashions unique streak

MLB.com Columnist

Roger Schlueter

Since 1918, there has been 15 occurrences of a player opening the season with a hitting streak of at least 19 games. The first two of these 15 took place in 1923, when Tigers right-handed hitter Harry Heilmann began the year with a 21-game streak and Pirates left-handed swinger Charlie Grimm opened the season by collecting at least one hit in his first 25 contests, which is still the modern National League record.

Since then, eight other right-handed hitters and four other left-handed batters have commenced their seasons by hitting safely in at least 19 straight games. That leaves just one remaining spot for the only switch-hitter since 1918 to start his year with a hitting streak of at least 19-games: the Giants' Pablo Sandoval.

Sandoval went 1-for-5 on Thursday in San Francisco's 6-5 win over Cincinnati and extended his hitting streak to open the season to 19 games.

With the base hit, Sandoval set a new modern-era Giants franchise record for most consecutive games with a hit to begin the season. Sandoval had been tied with Johnny Rucker, who began his season in 1945 with at least one hit in 18 consecutive games. During his streak, Rucker batted .333 (28-for-84) with six doubles and a home run.

Since 1961: Longest hitting streaks to start year
Player Year G AVG H/AB
Ron LeFlore 1976 30 .392 51-for-130
Edgar Renteria 2006 23 .354 35-for-99
Joe Torre 1971 22 .386 34-for-88
Steve Garvey 1978 21 .326 29-for-89
Eddie Bressoud 1964 20 .369 31-for-84
Johnny Temple 1961 19 .412 28-for-68
George Brett 1983 19 .449 35-for-78
Nate McLouth 2008 19 .375 30-for-80
Pablo Sandoval 2012 19 .333 26-for-78
Sandoval, who has collected 26 hits in 78 at-bats (.333), owns the longest hitting streak to begin a season since Pittsburgh's Nate McLouth hit in 19 straight to open his 2008 season. Sandoval is the ninth player in the expansion era to post a hitting streak of at least 19 games to begin his season.

The modern Major League record is 34 games, set by George Sisler in 1925. The table to the left lists the streaks of 19 games or longer since '61 to show how they compare to Sisler, who batted .399 (59-for-148) during his 34-game streak.

Volquez duels Jackson
Edinson Volquez (seven innings, three hits, one run) and Edwin Jackson (6 2/3 innings, six hits, no runs) locked up in a duel that saw the Padres come away with a 2-1 victory over the Nationals in a game that was decided by the bullpens.

Since 2010, the Padres have 21 wins in games in which they have scored two runs or fewer. Those 21 tie San Diego with the Mariners for the fifth most in the Majors over that span. The Dodgers have 29, followed by the Phillies (27), Giants (26) and the Nationals (22).

In their most recent turn through the rotation, Nationals starters Ross Detwiler, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Jackson combined to allow one run and 19 hits in 30 2/3 innings (0.29 ERA), strike out 31, walk seven and surrender just one home run.

Jackson's effort marked the seventh time this season a Nationals starter had finished with at least six innings and no runs allowed. Those seven are the most in the Majors, ahead of the four from the Rangers and Athletics. Those seven through 19 games tie the 2012 Nationals with the 1945 Tigers for the most in the live-ball era.

Humber imperfect vs. Red Sox
The Red Sox tagged Philip Humber for nine runs on eight hits (including three home runs) and beat the White Sox, 10-3.

With Humber's line (five innings, eight hits, nine runs), the combined numbers for the past four perfect-game pitchers (Humber, Roy Halladay, Dallas Braden and Mark Buehrle) in the start following their perfectos include 26 1/3 innings, 30 hits allowed, a 6.84 ERA and a 1-3 record.

Boston has scored at least 10 runs in five games this season -- the most in the Majors. Texas owns the second-most double-digit run games with four, while the Cardinals and Braves each have three.

Allen clutch off the bench
The Rays defeated the Angels, 4-3, on Brandon Allen's pinch-hit, game-ending two-run home run. Allen's blast marked the second time in franchise history a pinch-hitter clocked a game-ending home run with the team trailing. On Sept. 8, 2007, B.J. Upton hit a pinch-hit two-run shot to give Tampa Bay a 5-4 win over Toronto.

Before Allen, the most recent player to have a walk-off home run of this kind was Houston's Brian Bogusevic last Aug. 16. In the bottom of the ninth, Bogusevic batted for the pitcher and hit a grand slam with his team down by three.

O's off to hot start
The Orioles beat the Blue Jays, 5-2, to improve to 12-7 on the season. Over the past 40 years, the 12 wins through 19 games represents the second-highest win total for the franchise. The 1997 club was 13-6, for the best mark. Besides the 2012 Orioles, the other 12-7 starts took place in 1985, '94, '98, 2000 and '05.

Adam Jones hit his sixth home run of the season for the Orioles. Jones, who is second in the American League with 12 extra-base hits, is tied with teammate Matt Wieters (and others) for third in the league in home runs. With Wieters and Jones each having six home runs, this season marks the first since 1966 that the Orioles have had a pair of players each with six homers through 19 games. In '66, Frank Robinson had seven and Curt Blefary had six.

Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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