MLB Notebook: Felix nearing rare company
In 1913, while Walter Johnson was composing one of the truly great pitching seasons in history, an American League southpaw named Reb Russell was authoring a wonderful rookie season. Russell was among the top five in a number of pitching categories, perhaps most notably collecting five complete-game 1-0 wins. Johnson -- who won the AL Triple Crown and led the league in just about every other meaningful category -- also had five complete-game 1-0 victories. The Big Train would collect five more during the 1919 season, one year after Red Sox right-hander Bullet Joe Bush had five of his own.
A second lefty matched the record in 1933, when the Giants' King Carl Hubbell had 10 shutouts, with five of them coming in 1-0 games. Three decades later, Dean Chance not only won a Cy Young Award, he also started, completed and won five 1-0 games.
But no one since -- not Seaver or Koufax, not Pedro or Guidry or Gooden, not Clemens or Carlton or Maddux or Halladay, not Marichal or Verlander or Johnson or Kershaw -- has amassed that many 1-0 victories in a season. Perhaps it will take a present-day King.
Seattle's Felix Hernandez threw his fifth shutout of the season on Monday, allowing five hits in a 1-0 win over the Twins.
Of Hernandez's five shutouts in 2012, four of them have come in 1-0 affairs. He is the first pitcher since Bert Blyleven in 1976 (for the Rangers) to have as many as four in a season. Among active pitchers, Hernandez's four career shutouts in 1-0 games tie him with CC Sabathia for the most in the game.
Hernandez, who is 13-5 on the season, has won nine consecutive decisions, the longest single-season streak for a Seattle starter since 2001, when Jamie Moyer and Paul Abbott each won 10 in a row.
The Orioles defeated the White Sox, 4-3, giving them their 13th consecutive win in a one-run game, and improving their overall record in one-run games to 24-6.
The 13 consecutive wins in one-run games established a new Orioles record, breaking the previous single-season mark first set in 1964 and then matched in 1979. The 24-6 record for the season is the best in the Majors. By comparison, three other teams have won as many as 24 one-run games: Washington, San Francisco and Pittsburgh. The Nationals and Giants are 24-17, while the Pirates are 25-22.
Baltimore's win, along with losses by the Rays and Yankees, moved the Orioles into second place in the AL East, 3 1/2 games out of first. In the Wild Card standings, they are tied with the Athletics for the top spot, a half-game ahead of the Rays.
40-Save Seasons: Lowest K/9
Jim Johnson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to collect his 40th save of the season, joining Randy Myers (45 saves in 1997) as the only pitchers in franchise history to record at least 40. Johnson, who owns a 2.96 ERA and a WHIP of 0.988, is averaging 5.43 strikeouts per nine innings. Among the 136 pitchers to collect as many as 40 saves in a season, that would rank 132nd.
Brett Anderson and two Athletics relievers combined on a two-hitter, blanking the Indians, 3-0. The team shutout was the 12th of the season for Oakland, the third most in the AL behind the Angels' 15 and the Rays' 13. Anderson allowed both Cleveland hits in seven shutout innings.
The Cardinals defeated the Pirates, 4-3, with Kyle Lohse picking up the win to improve to 14-2.
Lohse, who allowed two runs in five innings, has won eight consecutive decisions, a streak dating back to June 26. The streak is the longest for a St. Louis pitcher since 2009. That season, Chris Carpenter recorded a win in 11 consecutive decisions, while Joel Pineiro got a win in eight straight.
Lohse's winning percentage stands at a Major League-leading .875. The highest winning percentage in a full season for a Cardinals pitcher who qualified for the ERA title is Dizzy Dean's .811 (30-7) in 1934.
In the Rangers' 6-5 victory over the Rays, Adrian Beltre fell a triple shy of the cycle and drove in four runs. In his past seven games, Beltre owns a .517/.533/1.345 line in 29 at-bats, with four doubles, a triple, six homers and 13 RBIs.
In a potential sign of things to come, Beltre also ended last season on a roll, hitting .374 with a .778 slugging percentage in September. In 24 games, he hit 12 homers and drove in 29 runs.
In the ninth inning of the Brewers' 15-4 win over the Cubs, Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart hit back-to-back-to-back homers. The feat marked the first time Milwaukee hit three homers in a row since Sept. 9, 2007, when Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy and Braun opened the game with consecutive homers.
Ramirez, who hit two homers on the night to go along with his 43rd double of the season, leads the National League in extra-base hits with 65. Braun ranks second with 62, while Hart is tied for fourth with 58. The last NL team to have three players within the top four in extra-base hits was the 1976 Reds, who saw Joe Morgan, George Foster and Pete Rose finish second, third and tied for fourth.
Ramirez's two homers gave him 25 multihomer games as a third baseman, tying him with Ron Santo and Alex Rodriguez for the eighth most in history. Eddie Mathews, with 48, has the most.
In addition to his homer, Braun also doubled, singled twice and drove in five runs. On April 30 this season, Braun hit three homers and a triple and drove in six runs. He is the third player in franchise history to have multiple games in a season of four-plus hits and five-plus RBIs. The other two to do it: Marquis Grissom in 1999 and Casey McGehee in 2009.
Hart has 24 homers this season, the fifth time in his career he has hit at least 20. The other Brewers players to have at least five 20-homer seasons: Geoff Jenkins (7), Braun (6), Prince Fielder (6), Jeromy Burnitz (5), Rob Deer (5), Gorman Thomas (5) and Cecil Cooper (5).
Aroldis Chapman worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to preserve a Reds 3-2 victory and set a new single-season franchise mark with his 24th consecutive save. Chapman passed Clay Carroll (23 straight conversions in 1972), John Franco (23 straight in 1988) and Rob Dibble (23 in a row in 1991).
Making his Major League debut, Padres right-hander Casey Kelly worked six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts. Kelly, who got the win in a 3-0 victory over the Braves, is the fifth pitcher in Padres history to finish his debut with at least six shutout innings.
Before the 22-year-old Kelly, Frank Seminara on June 2, 1992, had been the most recent to do it. The most explosive debut for the Padres under these conditions was the one-hit shutout thrown by Jimmy Jones on Sept. 21, 1986.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.