It’s History

It’s funny how baseball has a way of reaching through all that is going on in the world and suddenly become the center of our universe. The game captivated the country in 1961 when Yankee teammates Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris chased the most cherished record in all of baseball held by the man who is synonymous with the game. It broke our hearts in 1995 when a work stoppage based upon greed took away a World Series and most probably sealed the fate of the Montreal Expos having to move. It brought us back from the brink of dispair in 1998 with the home run frenzy by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa (regardless of whether that chase included performance-enhancing substances). It made a Major League city out of Phoenix Arizona with a World Series Championship won with a pair of aces. That is what is so amazing about baseball, you never quite know when you might be witnessing history when you pass through the turnstiles. Take the last couple of days for example; Diamondbacks players have been a part of some historic events that might never happen again.

The most obvious of these events surround Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Webb who went into tonight’s game with a 42 inning stretch where he had not allowed a single run. This streak is the fifth longest such stretch since 1940 and is only surpassed by Orel Hershiser’s record 59 innings in 1988, Don Drysdale’s streak of 58 innings from 1968, Bob Gibson’s 47 inning stretch in 1968, and Sal Maglie’s 45 innings in 1950. That is some very elite company for Mr. Webb. And while the streak ended as quickly as it began with a single by Prince Fielder in the first, it was still a historic run and something we may never see again.

This was not the first event to make history during the series with the Brewers. That actually happened the night before when Brewers pitcher Dave Bush hit Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds with a pitch in the sixth inning. With that hit by pitch Reynolds streak of striking out in 9 consecutive at-bats ended with him tied for the Major League Baseball record. It’s probably not a record Reynolds strived to break when he began this streak against John Smoltz in Atlanta but still it is something he can tell his grandkids. I can just hear it now, “During my youth I was one of the most prolific kings of ‘whiff’ that ever played the game. At one time I ranked up there with Reggie Jackson, Eric Davis, and Bo Jackson (the other players he now shares the record with).” Who knows, if Bush had not gotten a little erratic and struck Reynolds before he could strike out Mark Reynolds might own this record and along with it open doors to lucrative endorsement contracts from the Hunter Ceiling Fan Company or the Swing and Miss Patio Furniture store. That trip to first base may have cost Reynolds a fortune and he doesn’t even know it.

Not all of the historic baseball events occurred at Chase Field today though. A mere 2002 miles to the north east of Phoenix the Baltimore Orioles were hosting a double-header against the last place American League West Texas Rangers. After the first three innings the Orioles held onto a 3-0 lead and must have been feeling fairly comfortable with the way things were working out. Those feelings of confidence might have been slightly premature as the Texas Rangers scored 5 runs in the top of the fourth, 9 runs in the top of the sixth, 10 runs in the top of the eighth, and 6 runs in the top of the ninth for a grand total of 30 unanswered runs to win the game 30-3. It was the first time since 1897 that a team had scored 30 runs in a single game. To put this into perspective, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Webb has not allowed a total of 30 runs in his past 17 starts dating back to April of this season (he has allowed 26). San Diego Padres pitcher Chris Young has only allowed 32 earned runs all season which is 2 more than the Orioles allowed in 6 innings. The eighth and ninth batters in the Texas batting order each had 7 RBI which has never been seen in baseball history. Atlanta first baseman Mark Teixeira leads the major leagues with 26 runs batted in for the month of August which is 4 less than the Texas Rangers team had in the last 2/3 of today’s game. If you thought this sounded like an NFL score rather than an MLB score that is not necessarily accurate either since the NFL Baltimore Ravens last allowed an opponent to score 30 or more points in 2005. According to statistics the Texas Rangers scored more points than in 165 NFL games played last season meaning that they outscored 64.5 percent of NFL teams in 2006. This is just another example that the baseball gods indeed have a sense of humor. This game occurred just after the Baltimore Orioles announced that manager Dave Trembley was given an extension to coach next season. And finally, as if this wasn’t bizarre enough, Texas relief pitcher Wes Littleton recorded a save in a game where the final score was 30-3. This occurred when Littleton pitched the final three innings of the blowout which makes a pitcher eligible for a save regardless of the score. So much for the sanctity of the save statistic.

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