MLB Notebook: No. 81 is special for Pirates
McCutchen hits 100th career homer as Bucs assure themselves of non-losing season
In the 132-year history of the Pirates franchise, the club has produced a winning percentage as low as .169 (1890) and a mark as high as .741 (1902). The first 131 seasons had seen the club finish at or above .500 in 72 campaigns, including the franchise's inaugural year, when the 1882 Alleghenys were 39-39 and finished fourth in the American Association.
The 2013 Pirates -- led by Andrew McCutchen -- have now made it 73 seasons with a record at or above .500. However, with a current winning percentage closer to .600 than .500, the franchise's 28th season of at least 90 wins is just nine victories away.
Tuesday, the Pirates got a home run in the first from McCutchen, a homer in the ninth from Travis Snider, and defeated the Brewers, 4-3, for their 81st win of the year. The victory, ensuring the club of its first non-losing season since 1992, improved Pittsburgh's overall record to 81-57. The 81 wins through 138 games are the most for the team since the '91 club had 82.
McCutchen's first-inning home run was the 100th long ball of his career. McCutchen is one of 15 players in history to have -- through his age-26 season -- at least 100 home runs, 100 steals and 300 walks, joining Barry Bonds as the only Pirate to accomplish the feat.
Another 40 for Mo
Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth inning in the Yankees' 6-4 win over the Indians to notch his 40th save of the season. Rivera now has nine 40-save seasons, tying Trevor Hoffman for the most in history.
With this effort, Rivera lowered his ERA for the season to 2.12. He's had seven seasons in which he's recorded at least 40 saves with an ERA below 2.00. No other pitcher has had more than two such seasons (those with two: Dennis Eckersley, Bryan Harvey, Robb Nen, Eric Gagne, and Joakim Soria, with Craig Kimbrel looking like a good bet to have his second in 2013).
Kimbrel's dominance continues
Kimbrel pitched a scoreless ninth inning with two K's to preserve a 3-1 Braves victory over the Mets.
Kimbrel has 44 saves and a 0.94 ERA, and since May 9, he has allowed one run in 44 1/3 innings. Last season, Kimbrel finished with -- among other highlights -- 42 saves and a 1.01 ERA. No pitcher has had multiple seasons with at least 40 saves and an ERA below 1.50.
Kimbrel has converted 34 consecutive save opportunities, and he has not allowed a run in any of the 34. No pitcher in history had matched this. In 2003-04, Eric Gagne had a streak of 28 straight save opportunities converted during which he did not allow a run.
Hamilton swipes bag to lift Reds
In his Major League debut, top Reds prospect Billy Hamilton -- who had swiped 395 bags in 502 Minor League games -- stole a base and scored the game's only run, as Cincinnati defeated St. Louis, 1-0.
The Reds' win vs. the Cardinals was their first 1-0 victory over St. Louis since April 14, 2006, and their first 1-0 win at home vs. the Redbirds since Aug. 26, 2004.
The effort gave Homer Bailey (seven innings, two hits) his 10th win of the season. In his previous start against the Cardinals, Bailey had thrown 7 1/3 innings of five-hit, no-run ball. Dating back to 1916, Bailey was the sixth Reds pitcher to have back-to-back games against the Cardinals that featured at least seven innings and no runs. Bucky Walters had three consecutive outings like this in 1943-44, and Pete Donohue ('26), Ray Starr ('42), John Tsitouris ('63) and Don Gullett ('71) each had two.
Lester and Uehara shine vs. Scherzer's Tigers
Jon Lester (seven innings, one run) and the Red Sox beat Max Scherzer (seven innings, two runs) and the Tigers, 2-1. Lester's victory was stamped by a scoreless inning from Koji Uehara, who picked up his 17th save and lowered his ERA to 1.16.
Since taking over full-time closing duties near the end of June, Uehara has gone 16-for-18 in save opportunities with a 0.28 ERA in 3 1/3 innings. In that time, he has allowed 10 hits, two walks and has fanned 43.
Uehara has not allowed a run in 22 straight appearances, covering 25 innings. In total games, the streak is the second longest for a Red Sox pitcher behind a 25-game run authored by Daniel Bard in 2011.
Here and there
• Kansas City's Greg Holland converted his 31st consecutive save opportunity, throwing a perfect ninth inning with two K's to finish off a 4-3 victory over Seattle. Holland has 38 saves, a 1.31 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 55 innings. Looking at his combination of saves, ERA and strikeout rate, Holland has the chance to become the third pitcher with at least 40 saves, a rate of at least 14 strikeouts per nine innings and an ERA below 1.50. Gagne did this in 2003, and Kimbrel matched the feat in '12.
• Alex Gordon hit his 12th career homer to lead off a game in the Royals' win, giving him the most such long balls in team history. Gordon had been tied with Willie Wilson and David DeJesus for the team mark. The Royals, who are 72-66 overall, are 55-41 when Gordon starts in the leadoff spot.
• In the Blue Jays' 10-4 win over the D-backs, Edwin Encarnacion doubled, homered and singled, drew two walks, and didn't strike out, leaving him with 36 homers, 78 walks and 57 K's for the season (1.368 walks for every one strikeout). There have been 27 players to have a season with at least 40 homers and a walk-to-strikeout ratio of at least 1.368:1. Only a dozen right-handed hitters have constructed these numbers: Joe DiMaggio, Al Rosen, Roy Sievers, Rocky Colavito, Hank Aaron, Rico Petrocelli, Jimmie Foxx, Harmon Killebrew, Gary Sheffield, Frank Thomas, Ralph Kiner, and Albert Pujols.
• Martin Perez improved to 6-0 in his past six starts, allowing one run in seven innings as the Rangers topped the Athletics, 5-1. Perez, who owns a 2.76 ERA during his winning streak, is the first Rangers pitcher since Kenny Rogers in 2005 to pick up the win in at least six straight appearances, with Rogers authoring an eight-game winning streak in '05. Overall, Perez is 9-3 with a 121 ERA+. No Senators/Rangers pitcher in his age-22 or younger season has won 10 games with an ERA+ of at least 120.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.