MLB Notebook: Lincecum mowing them down
Giants righty's K rate second highest of any pitcher through seven seasons
When Tom Seaver won his second National League Cy Young Award in 1973, he'd posted these career numbers through seven big league esasons: a 2.38 ERA (147 ERA+), 1.044 WHIP, 1,655 strikeouts, 7.71 strikeouts per nine innings and a 3.36 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Only one live-ball era pitcher -- Juan Marichal -- owned a lower WHIP through his first seven seasons; and only one live-ball era pitcher -- Lefty Grove -- posted a better ERA+ through his first seven years.
As of the end of the 1973 season, Seaver's strikeout rate was the seventh-best for all seven-year pitchers since 1893, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio ranked fifth. As for those 1,655 strikeouts, they were, still are and look to be for quite some time -- despite the historic total being carried by Tim Lincecum -- the most for any pitcher through their first seven years since 1893.
Thursday, behind a dominant performance from Lincecum (eight innings, one hit, no runs, eight K's, one walk), the Giants defeated the Brewers, 4-1.
Lincecum entered the game with 1,459 career strikeouts. Looking at all pitchers since 1893 through their first seven seasons, that total was fifth. With the eight K's in this performance, Lincecum first moved past Walter Johnson (1,461) and then Fergie Jenkins (1,466) and now sits behind only Seaver (1,655) and Blyleven (1,546).
Lincecum is averaging 9.51 strikeouts per nine innings in 2013. Among all pitchers with at least 1,000 innings through their first seven seasons (there are 807), Lincecum's career strikeout rate through his first seven years (9.74) is the second highest, behind only Kerry Wood's 10.44. Rounding out the top-five: Nolan Ryan (9.68), Randy Johnson (9.61) and Pedro Martinez (9.59).
Lincecum's line Thursday produced a game score (an equation used to measure a pitcher's dominance) of 87, giving the right-hander six career performances that have translated to a score that high (his no-hitter this year produced a career-high 96). With those six, Lincecum is tied for the second most since the beginning of the 2008 season. James Shields leads with seven, and Felix Hernandez, Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander and Adam Wainwright also have six.
Bucs walk away with win No. 70
Shaking off a 4-0 deficit after 4 1/2 innings, the Pirates defeated the Marlins, 5-4, in 10 innings. Russell Martin provided the final fireworks with a pinch-hit, game-ending RBI single.
Pittsburgh improved to 70-44. The 70 wins through 114 games are the most for the franchise since the 1972 team was 72-42 at the 114-game mark. In the Wild Card era, the Pirates are the 32nd team to have at least 70 wins at the 114-game mark. Of the previous 31, 29 ended up playing postseason ball. The two who missed were the 2002 Mariners and the '11 Red Sox.
This victory gave the Pirates nine walk-off wins this season -- the most for the club since the 1993 team had 10. Martin has three walk-off hits this year -- the most for a Bucs player since Jason Bay also had three in 2008.
Scherzer goes to 17-1
Max Scherzer allowed two runs on four hits and a walk in seven innings to improve to 17-1, as the Tigers beat the Indians, 10-3.
According to the Tigers' media notes, Scherzer owns the best winning percentage (.944) for a Tigers pitcher through his first 18 decisions. Two pitchers -- Bobo Newsom in 1940 and Denny McLain in '68 -- were 16-2.
According to Elias, since Rube Marquard won his first 19 decisions in 1912, Scherzer is the fourth hurler to win 17 of his first 18 decisions. The others: Don Newcombe (1955), Roy Face ('59, all relief appearances) and Roger Clemens (2001).
With the four hits and a walk Thursday, Scherzer lowered his WHIP to an American League-leading 0.903. In the designated hitter era, seven AL pitchers have qualified for the ERA title and finished the season with a WHIP at or below 0.950. With his current mark, Scherzer would slip into the No. 2 slot, in between Martinez (0.737 in 2000) and Verlander (0.920 in '11). The others: Johan Santana (0.921 in '04), Martinez (0.923 in 1999 and '02) and Ron Guidry (0.946 in 1978).
Building a set from Scherzer's most eye-catching numbers -- his .944 winning percentage and 0.903 WHIP -- only five qualifying pitchers since 1893 have finished a season with a winning percentage above .850 and a WHIP below 1.000: Greg Maddux in 1995, Martinez in '99, Guidry in '78, Dwight Gooden in '85 and Clemens in '86.
Stingy big winners
Scherzer's first strikeout Thursday night -- Jason Kipnis in the first inning -- gave him 1,000 for his career. Since 1893, Scherzer is the 33rd pitcher to reach 1,000 K's through his first six seasons. Among that group, he is one of eight active pitchers.
Other Tigers roaring, too
The Tigers' victory Thursday extended the club's winning streak to 12 games. The team ERA during the streak has been 1.55. The last team to have a winning streak of at least 12 games and have a streak-long ERA that low was the 1992 Braves, who owned a team ERA of 1.37 from July 8 through July 25, when they won 13 in a row.
Miguel Cabrera drove in three runs for the Tigers, giving him 105 for the season. Cabrera is the first player to have at least 105 through the club's first 113 games since Vic Wertz had 106 in 1950. The most for any Detroit player at this point in the year came from Hank Greenberg in 1935, when he had 138.
Ruf, Utley contribute to Phils' blowout
Darin Ruf homered, Chase Utley doubled twice, and the Phillies cruised by the Cubs, 12-1.
Ruf has 18 extra-base hits in 38 career games. Among Phillies players since 1916, that total through that many games places Ruf in a tie with Johnny Blatnik for the sixth most. Buzz Arlett had 22, while Don Hurst and Dick Allen each had 20. Chuck Klein and Del Ennis are tied with 19 apiece.
Utley owns a career OPS+ of 127. For all players with at least 1,000 games at second base through their age-34 season, that 127 is the eighth highest. Rogers Hornsby is the all-time leader with a 178 OPS+.
Royals keep rolling
Bruce Chen held Boston scoreless for 7 2/3 innings, and the Royals topped the Red Sox, 5-1. Chen opened the year in the bullpen, and in 19 appearances as a reliever, he allowed 36 hits in 33 2/3 innings, posted a 2.41 ERA and surrendered an OPS against of .751 OPS. In five appearances since moving into the starting rotation, the left-hander has allowed 16 hits in 31 2/3 innings, compiled a 1.14 ERA and held the opposition to a .423 OPS.
The Royals' win moved the club to 16-4 since the All-Star break. They are one of four teams to have at least an .800 winning percentage in this season's second half, joining the Dodgers (.850, 17-3), Tigers (.842, 16-3) and Braves ( .800, 16-4).
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.