MLB Notebook: Giambi again a hero in a pinch
Veteran Indians slugger comes through with sixth career walk-off homer off bench
On a long and rainy night in the Bronx on May 17, 2002, a lefty-swinging slugger came to the plate in the bottom of the 14th. And while the home team was trailing by three and down to its final two outs, the bases were filled. Then the slugger -- who had built a reputation for patient at-bats and drawing walks -- jumped on the first pitch and sent it into orbit.
The landing preceded jubilation and intersected the slugger's trot for just the 22nd ultimate grand slam (a four-run home run with his team down by three and in its final at-bat) in baseball history. Could anyone have imagined that 31-year-old Jason Giambi, who on that May night had just hit his second career walk-off homer, would still be producing game-ending heroics more than a decade later?
Tuesday, thanks to Giambi's pinch-hit two-run homer in the ninth, the Indians defeated the White Sox 5-4. The dramatic home run marked the second time this season Giambi had hit a game-ending pinch-hit homer, with the first -- on July 29 -- also coming against the White Sox. With that long ball, Giambi (42 years and 202 days old) became the oldest player in history to hit a walk-off homer, surpassing Hank Aaron. Giambi was 42 years and 259 days old for Tuesday night's blast.
Giambi now has 10 career walk-off home runs. The 10 tie him for the ninth most in MLB history behind only Jim Thome (13), Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson (12 apiece), Tony Perez and David Ortiz (11 each). Dick Allen, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, Harold Baines, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Albert Pujols also hit 10.
Six of Giambi's game-ending home runs have come as a pinch-hitter. Available records show no other player having more than three (Gates Brown and Larry Sheets).
Beltre, Darvish lead way for Rangers
The Rangers defeated the Astros, 3-2, to keep pace with the Rays and Indians in the American Wild Card race, with Adrian Beltre hitting his 29th home run and Yu Darvish recording nine strikeouts in a no-decision.
Beltre leads the AL with 193 hits. Entering 2013, nine AL third basemen have led the league in hits: George Brett (1975, '76, '79), George Kell ('50, '51), Red Rolfe ('39), Bob Dillinger ('48), Wade Boggs ('85) and Kevin Seitzer ('87).
As his age-34 season nears the end, Beltre -- among all players in history through their age-34 season -- currently ranks 29th in hits, 11th in doubles, 37th in home runs, 36th in RBIs, 18th in total bases and 17th in extra-base hits. In that last category, Beltre is three behind Eddie Mathews (901) for the most by a third baseman through his age-34 season.
Darvish now has 269 strikeouts for the year and is currently listed as the probable starter on the final day of the season. If he can reach 270 K's, he will be the first to get to that number since Randy Johnson in 2004, and the first AL pitcher to do so since Pedro Martinez in 2000. Darvish is currently sitting on a strikeouts-per-nine innings rate of 11.87. That would be the ninth-highest strikeouts-per-nine innings in baseball history, with six of the top eight spots occupied by Johnson, and Kerry Wood and Martinez inhabiting the other two.
Wacha nearly unhittable
After surrendering two walks but no hits through the first 8 2/3 innings, Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha lost his no-hit bid on a Ryan Zimmerman single. Wacha was removed from the game after the hit, and Trevor Rosenthal retired the next batter for a combined one-hitter in a 2-0 win.
Wacha is the third pitcher this season to lose a no-hit bid with two outs in the ninth, following Darvish (perfect through 8 2/3) on April 2 and Yusmeiro Petit (perfect through 8 2/3) on Sept. 6.
Wacha now has -- through his first 15 games -- three starts in which he has thrown at least seven innings and finished with no more than two hits allowed. Those three through 15 tie Wacha with six others for the second most since 1916. Hideo Nomo had four through his first 15 games, while these other hurlers had two: Matt Harvey, Bob Milacki, Blue Moon Odom, Jerry Reuss, Anibal Sanchez and Travis Wood.
Carpenter and Molina are double trouble
In the Cardinals' win, Matt Carpenter delivered his 55th double of the season while Yadier Molina collected his 42nd.
Carpenter's 55 are the sixth most for a second baseman and leave him one behind the totals from Craig Biggio in 1999 and Brian Roberts in 2009. If he can match those two, the only men above him would be Charlie Gehringer (60 in 1936) and Billy Herman (57 in both '35 and '36).
Molina's 42 tie him with six other catchers for the third most in history. Molina and those six -- Mickey Cochrane (1930), Terry Kennedy ('82), Lance Parrish ('83), Brian Harper ('90), Jorge Posada (2007) and Brian McCann ('08) -- are behind Ivan Rodriguez (47 in 1996) and Joe Mauer (43 in 2010).
Cutch in elite company
The Pirates defeated the Cubs 8-2, with their final run coming courtesy of an Andrew McCutchen single in the eighth.
The hit -- one of two on the night for the Bucs center fielder -- has his rate stat slash line at .320/.405/.509. Last season, he finished the year at .327/.400/.553. If he can maintain that .300/.400/.500 line this season, he would be the fourth center fielder since 1947 to post consecutive .300/.400/.500 seasons, before his age-27 season.
The three men who have done it: Mantle (1954-58), Willie Mays ('54-55) and Ken Griffey Jr. ('93-94).
Vargas blanks A's
Angels lefty Jason Vargas twirled a four-hitter for his fifth career shutout, beating the Athletics, 3-0.
Vargas, who also had a three-hit shutout on May 3, is the first Angels southpaw with a pair of shutouts in a season since Chuck Finley in 1994, and the first Angels left-hander to have multiple shutouts on four hits or fewer in a season since Finley, in '93.
Here and there
• Matt Moore (five innings, three hits) and two Rays relievers combined on a four-hit shutout, helping Tampa Bay to a 7-0 win over the Yankees. The Tampa Bay staff has produced 16 shutouts this season, tying it with Cleveland for the most in the AL and establishing a new franchise mark. Last season, the club had 15.
• In the D-backs' 2-1 win over the Padres, Paul Goldschmidt hit a home run (his 36th), drove in a run (his 124th) and drew a walk (his 99th). Four other first basemen in their age-25 or younger season have reached those three numbers: Lou Gehrig (1927), Jimmie Foxx ('32), Frank Thomas ('93) and Prince Fielder (2009).
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.