October 23, 2019

George Springer Sets Record By Homering In Fifth Consecutive World Series Game

Houston Chronicle, October 23:

Some facts and figures from Game 1, courtesy of Andrew Simon and Sarah Langs of mlb.com:

Juan Soto is:
the fourth-youngest player in postseason history to homer in the World Series, after Miguel Cabrera, Andruw Jones and Mickey Mantle;

the second-youngest player to homer in his World Series debut, trailing only Jones;

the ninth player in World Series history with at least three hits, a home run and a stolen base in a game (the last player was Moises Alou of the Marlins, in Game 5 of the 1997 World Series);

the ninth player with at least 3 hits and 3 RBIs in his first World Series game (the only one before Soto to do it before his 21st birthday was Jones, who was 19 when he hit two home runs and a single and drove in five runs against the Yankees in Game 1 of the 1996 World Series); and

the youngest player in postseason history to homer and steal a base in the same game.
George Springer has now homered in a record five consecutive World Series games:
2017 World Series, Game 4: Solo home run, 6th inning (Score: 0-0 to 1-0)
2017 World Series, Game 5: Solo home run, 7th inning (7-8 to 8-8)
2017 World Series, Game 6: Solo home run, 3rd inning (0-0 to 1-0)
2017 World Series, Game 7: Two-run home run, 2nd inning (3-0 to 5-0)
2019 World Series, Game 1: Solo home run, 7th inning (2-5 to 3-5)
Springer had been tied with Lou Gehrig (1928 (Games 2-3-4), 1932 (Game 1)) and Reggie Jackson (1977 (Games 4-5-6), 1978 (Game 1)). Springer's home run last night came on a 99.2 mph fastball, the fastest pitch Springer has hit for a homer in his career.

Ryan Zimmerman became the third-oldest player (35 years, 24 days) to homer in his first World Series plate appearance. The only older players were Barry Bonds (38-87, 2002 Giants) and Bob Watson (35-193, 1981 Yankees).

The Astros led 2-0 after the first inning in Game 1. Before last night, the 2019 Astros had scored two or more runs in the first inning 28 times, including the playoffs, and were 28-0.

The Nationals were the ninth team to sweep the LCS since 1985 (when the LCS expanded to a best-of-seven). Seven of the previous eight teams lost the World Series, but the one team that did win the trophy was also the only team that won Game 1 (Atlanta, 1995).

In all best-of-seven postseason series, the winner of Game 1 has gone on to win the series 63% of the time (113 of 178). In the World Series, it's 81% (25 of 31).

Jayson Stark, The Athletic:
[Gerrit Cole had not] lost since May 22. That was five months ago. His team hadn't lost a game he'd started since July 12. That was 102 days ago. He hadn't thrown a single pitch while trailing since Sept. 2. That was almost 1,000 pitches ago.

But in October, stuff happens. ...

[The Nationals have] won seven postseason games in a row. They're 17-2 over the past calendar month — for the first time in any 19-game span since their franchise moved to Washington. And since their stunning eighth-inning rally to tie Game 5 of the Division Series in L.A., they've outscored the Dodgers, Cardinals and Astros by the tidy score of (gulp) 31-10. ...

How hard is it to go five consecutive months without losing a single start? We asked our friends from STATS LLC. And the answer is: It's so hard that no starting pitcher had done it within a single season — among pitchers who made at least 30 starts that season — over the entire live-ball era. Cole's streak of 152 days without a loss was more than three weeks longer than the next-longest streak (which, incredibly, was Mike Fiers' 130-day streak earlier this season).

How dominant was Gerrit Cole during this stretch? So dominant that in between his losses, he struck out a mind-blowing 258 hitters. And how many other pitchers in the live-ball era have ever whiffed that many hitters in between losses in a single season? Right you are. That would be none, STATS says. The old record was 248, by Steve Carlton in 1972. (Oh by the way, only two other pitchers in the whole sport struck out 258 batters, period, this season: Justin Verlander (300) and Shane Bieber (259).

In between losses, Cole won 19 games in a row. And how many pitchers in history have ever ripped off a 19-game winning streak within a single season? Yep. Not a one. And just Dave McNally (26 starts in a row without a loss in 1969) had merely gone more consecutive starts without a loss. But remember, that happened 50 years ago.

Finally, it's one thing to manage to avoid losing. But Gerrit Cole had figured out about as foolproof a way to avoid losing as it gets: He practically never even trailed. Over the past 22 starts of that streak, he pitched 150.1 innings. He found himself trailing after exactly four of them. And before Tuesday, he hadn't been behind for even one pitch of any game since Sept. 2. That's seven weeks ago. ...

[Juan Soto's home run] left Cole's teammates incredulous — because they'd never witnessed any left-handed hitter do that to Gerrit Cole. ...

Asked if it was almost impossible for a left-handed hitter to launch a baseball where Soto had just launched that one, off one of the most unhittable pitchers of modern times, Cole's catcher, Martin Maldonado, quipped: "I guess it's not impossible — after he done it."

Hmmm. Excellent point. Then again, this entire evening was actually a reminder that nothing in baseball is impossible ...

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