MLB Notebook: Fifteen K's not always recipe for win
Between 1920 and 2011, there were only 11 nine-inning games that featured a left-handed pitcher striking out at least 15 batters in a start that yielded a loss for that southpaw.
Before the 2012 campaign, Cliff Lee had been the most recent author of such a game, when he struck out 16 in a loss to the Braves last season. Lee joined Bob Veale, Sam McDowell, Sid Fernandez and Sterling Hitchcock as left-handed pitchers to have done it once.
The other six occurrences of this feat were struck by the two lefties who are second and fourth, respectively, on the all-time strikeouts list: Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton. In his three such starts, Carlton pitched a combined 25 innings, struck out 50, and allowed 12 runs on 25 hits. In Johnson's three starts under this banner, he threw 24 innings, fanned 52 (with two walks) and allowed 10 runs on 23 hits.
For each, the high strikeout total was 19. On Sept. 15, 1969, Carlton had a 19-strikeout game but also allowed a pair of two-run home runs to Ron Swoboda and dropped a 4-3 decision to the Mets. On June 24, 1997, Johnson somehow was dominant enough to tally 19 K's but also hittable enough to serve up 11 knocks, including five for extra-bases, and fell to the Athletics, 4-1.
On Friday, Minnesota's Francisco Liriano fanned a career-high 15 batters while walking one, but he still took the loss in a 6-3 defeat vs. the A's.
Liriano was the seventh pitcher since 1918 for the Senators/Twins franchise to strike out at least 15 in a game, and the first to do it since Johan Santana fanned 17 on Aug. 19, 2007. Liriano was the fourth pitcher over that span to strike out at least 15 and allow no more than one walk. Santana did not issue any walks in his 17-K game. Bert Blyleven struck out 15 with one walk in 1986, and Camilo Pascual had a 15-strikeout, one-walk game in '61.
Since 1918, Liriano is the 15th left-hander to have a game with at least 15 K's and no more than one walk. Fourteen of the southpaws have had only one such game, while Johnson had 11 of them.
Liriano was the first AL pitcher to strike out at least 15 and take the loss since Pedro Martinez in 2000. In between Martinez and Liriano, four National League pitchers -- Johnson, John Smoltz, Jake Peavy and Lee -- did it.
In the Cubs' 8-1 win over the D-backs, Alfonso Soriano went 4-for-4 with two home runs, two doubles and five RBIs.
The game marked the third time in Soriano's career he had collected at least four extra-base hits. Since 1918, that total is tied for fourth most, with Soriano matching Lester Bell, Ty Cobb, Jimmie Foxx, Adam LaRoche, Heinie Manush, Ducky Medwick, Dustin Pedroia and Babe Ruth. Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio each had five such games, and Willie Stargell had four.
Soriano's double in his first plate appearance gave him 800 career extra-base hits. He is the 107th player in history to reach the milestone. Among the 107, Soriano is one of 15 to have more than 43 percent of his career hits go for extra bases. Soriano currently sits at 43.8 percent.
Chipper Jones went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run, and the Braves defeated the Mets, 7-5.
Jones' homer was his 49th when facing the Mets. He is tied with Mike Schmidt for the second most against New York, with Stargell having 60.
Jones increased his career total of extra-base hits to 1,036, leaving him five behind Pete Rose for the second most for a switch-hitter.
Jones also now has 1,595 RBIs, tying Schmidt for the second most for a player with more than half of his games at third. George Brett sits one ahead of Schmidt and Jones, at 1,596.
Ryan Braun hit two home runs in the Brewers' 10-7 win over the Pirates to increase his NL-leading total to 26 for the season and place his career total at 187. Braun's 187 tie him with Willie Mays for the 15th most in history for any player through his first six seasons.
Players with at least 200 homers in first six seasons
Brewers starter Zack Greinke (five innings, seven hits, six runs) became the first pitcher since White Sox right-hander Red Faber in 1917 to start three consecutive team games in a single season.
In his three starts, Greinke allowed 10 runs, 14 hits and four walks in eight innings, but the Brewers went 2-1. In 1917, Faber started both ends of a doubleheader on Sept. 3, threw a combined six innings while allowing nine runs and 15 hits and was not part of a decision in either contest (a pair of wins for the White Sox). The next day, Faber went the distance in a 16-hitter, allowing six runs (three earned) in a win.
Mark Teixeira went 2-for-4 with two home runs and five RBIs, helping the Yankees to a 6-5 win over the Angels. Teixeira has 36 career multihomer games, leaving him three shy of matching Jones for the second most in history for a switch-hitter. Mickey Mantle had 46.
The game marked the 17th time in his career Teixeira had driven in at least five runs. Since 1918, those 17 are the third most for any switch-hitter, with Ruben Sierra having 19 such games and Jones authoring 18.
Angels left fielder Mark Trumbo went 2-for-4 with a three-run home run, giving him homers in five straight games against the Yankees. The streak against New York tied Trumbo with Harold Baines (1984-85) and Albert Belle ('94) for the longest in the live-ball era. All five of Trumbo's games have come this season.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.