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We all know how much I love Jayson Stark’s Weird and Wild column. In fact, I love it so much, when I found out he was filling in for Ken today, I couldn’t help but wonder: What if we just let him turn the newsletter into his own playground for a day? I’m Levi Weaver, he’s Jayson Stark. Welcome to The (Weird and) Windup! Take it away, Jayson.
Atlanta’s atypical RBIs: Six of one, half a dozen of the other
When the Braves bludgeoned the Mets in that 21-3 game last Saturday, you probably said to yourself: Whoa. What a football score. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.
Did you know those noted football-score specialists, the Atlanta Falcons, have never won a 21-3 game in the history of their franchise? So we’re hereby banning the use of the term “football score” to describe that Braves game.
But here’s a way cooler thing that happened in that game. It was pointed out by a bunch of you loyal readers. You noticed something very wild (and also weird). You wondered about the rarity of that thing. I’m here for you.
So here goes. Six Braves drove in runs in that game. Let’s review:
So if you played 1-2-3-4-5-6 in the Pick Six that night, well played! But that’s not even what all you loyal readers wanted to know. You wanted to know if this was the first game in history where that 1-2-3-4-5-6 thing happened. Fantastic question.
The great Katie Sharp of Baseball Reference looked into it for us. On one hand, she did find one team that ran off that 1-2-3-4-5-6 RBI box-score trick in a game. On the other hand, that team was Kiki Cuyler’s 1925 Pirates (against St. Louis on June 22, 1925). Which means it happened as recently as 98 years ago.
But wait. That team actually had two players with two RBIs and two players with one RBI. So you know what that means? It means that this game was different. Here’s how:
Since RBIs became an official stat in 1920, this was the first time in history that six hitters on one team went 1-2-3-4-5-6 in the RBI column in a game … while nobody else on their team drove in any runs. So that’s what you call all-time Weird and Wild material.
Levi’s Notebook: The Babe’s pricey bats
I’m a sucker for rare and expensive baseball memorabilia — not buying it, but just learning about the stories behind the artifacts. A few years ago, I dug into the story of a Lou Gehrig bat that sold for over $1 million at auction.
This week, something else piqued my interest. It’s a Babe Ruth bat and was “found to have been used in an October 1923 benefit game in which Ruth hit a home run,” according to the description. Perhaps in part because of the ability to verify when and where Ruth had used the bat, and what for (socking dingers, of course), it sold for $1.323 million.
Which isn’t even a record, it turns out. The record is held by another bat of Ruth’s which sold for $1.85 million in 2021. There is also photographic evidence that Ruth used that bat exactly 100 years earlier.
This isn’t the most important part of the story, but Babe swung an absolute trunk of a bat: The perfectly intact specimen was 36 inches long and weighed 41.9 ounces. Most MLB bats these days don’t go north of about 34 inches or 35 ounces, but Ruth is reported to have occasionally used bats that weighed over 50 ounces.
Weirdness at Tropicana Field: Bop till you Trop
I don’t know how everyone else out there reading this feels about baseball’s wildest pinball arcade, The Trop (aka Tropicana Field). But as the author of a column known as the Weird and Wild column, I want this on the record: I love The Trop.
There’s always some sort of bizarre Weirdness and Wildness waiting to erupt in Trop World. But last Friday, the Rays and Guardians outdid themselves. (Hat tip to Rays broadcast whiz Neil Solondz for making sure I didn’t miss any of this.) The three big highlights:
• Myles Straw — hit a home run. And let’s just remind you that you’ll never confuse him with, say, Darryl Straw-berry. This Straw stirred this home-run drink for the first time in … 716 days … 295 games … and 1,160 trips to the plate … making it the longest homer-free stretch by anybody wearing a Cleveland uniform in 30 years (since a Felix Fermin 408-gamer from 1990-93). Caution: Your Myle-age may vary.
— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) August 12, 2023
• Christian Bethancourt — drew two walks in a game. And what’s so Weird and Wild about that? Oh, only the fact that the Rays’ sweet-swinging catcher had never done that before … and he’s been playing in the big leagues (off and on, at least) since 2013.
But hang on. There’s more. You might remember that Bethancourt once tried to make it as a pitcher back in 2016-17 … and pitched in six games in those two seasons … giving him the rarified opportunity to have four multi-walk games as a pitcher before he had any as a hitter. Does that seem impressive? It does to me.
• They scored three runs, how? — Finally, there was the Guardians’ dramatic game-tying three-run rally in the ninth inning. Here’s how that one went:
- Hit by pitch
- Wild pitch (that’s one run)
- Wild pitch (that’s two runs)
- Wild pitch (that’s three runs)
So what’s not pictured there? How about a single ball in play — possibly because there weren’t any of those … in a game-tying, three-run, ninth-inning rally. And how hard is that to do? Katie Sharp dug into the entire Baseball Reference play-by-play database, which is mostly complete back to 1914.
Anyone want to guess how many other rallies she found in which any team entered the ninth inning trailing by multiple runs and then tied the game without putting even one measly ball into play?
Right you are. That would be none … until Friday at the Weird and Wild Trop.
Padres XBH Numerology: Petco Nine-Nine
You never know when that Padres lineup might spring to life, right? And whaddya know, if you had Tuesday in the Padres-spring-to-life pool, you win.
But the reason they made it into this mini-Weird/Wild collection had more to do with their newfound talent for doing something in that game that was amazingly numerologically specific.
They fired off nine extra-base hits against Jack Flaherty and the Orioles in this game. And yes, that’s a lot, but it’s not the Weird and Wild part. Here’s that part:
- One from the leadoff hole
- One from the No. 2 hole
- One from the No. 3 hole
- One from the No. 4 hole
- One from the No. 5 hole
- One from the No. 6 hole
- One from the No. 7 hole
- One from the No. 8 hole
- One from the No. 9 hole
OK, catching on yet? The Padres got exactly nine extra-base hits — and somehow also got exactly one from all nine spots in the lineup. According to Katie Sharp, it was only the second game in the modern era (1901-2023) in which any team got exactly nine extra-base hits and exactly one from all nine slots on the lineup card.
The other team to do it: Brandon Drury’s 2017 Diamondbacks, in a July 18 game against the Reds. But don’t touch that mouse. The Weirdest and Wildest part of all is coming right up.
Want to guess the only Padres starter who didn’t have an extra-base hit in this game? It was (who else?) Juan Soto, who (naturally) is the answer to the question: Who leads the Padres in extra-base hits?
Soto exited this game for the evening XBH-less, since it was the eighth inning and the score was 10-1 … and was replaced by a guy with two extra-base hits all year (Jose Azocar) … who then stomped to the plate the next inning and … (what else?) hit a double, to make this note possible!
So does that seem practically impossible? It should, right? Except for one thing. It’s …
Back to you, Levi.
Handshakes and High Fives
Speaking of things that are weird … Bob Melvin was always one of the best at guiding his teams to wins in close games during his tenure in Oakland. That hasn’t been the case this year with the Padres.
Former Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu could face up to 20 years in prison. He pled guilty to corruption charges stemming from his actions in a now-scuttled plan to sell Angel Stadium last May.
It was a precipitous drop-off for Christian Yelich, who went from superstar to just-kind-of-OK, seemingly overnight. He’s not back to his MVP levels, but he looks much better this year. Sam Blum digs deep and tells the story of Yelich’s comeback.
Marcus Stroman’s rib cage problems are more than just soreness: there’s a fracture and no timetable for his return to the Cubs.
The Red Sox aren’t out of contention just yet, and getting their rotation locked in can only be a good thing.
Kaitlyn McGrath has this nice feature about Blue Jays reliever Jay Jackson, who’s been having a great season while also dealing with his infant son’s hospitalization.
(Top photo of Gary Sánchez celebrating his grand slam with Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth: Denis Poroy / Getty Images)