MLB Notebook: Aroldis nearly untouchable
When the 1987 regular season was completed, Major League Baseball had averaged its most runs per game since 1950, and had the greatest home run percentage in the game's history.
Perhaps lost in this offensive explosion was the work of Astros reliever Dave Smith, who assembled a wonderful season. The most astonishing element about Smith's season is the fact that for the year -- in a season with more home runs per game than any before it -- the right-hander didn't allow a single dinger.
Smith's work was particularly brilliant in the first two-plus months of the season. Remarkably -- for those who have been tracking Aroldis Chapman's efforts in 2012 -- Smith was about as dominant as Chapman's lines have been for the Reds this year.
In his first 22 appearances of the 1987 season, Smith threw 26 2/3 innings, accumulated 13 saves and allowed 12 baserunners while striking out 39. Smith's work in those 22 games from April 6 through June 16 resulted in an opponent's batting line of a .083 batting average, a .133 on-base percentage and a .095 slugging percentage.
On Tuesday, Chapman struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning and picked up his second save of the season in the Reds' 4-3 win over the Braves. Chapman has allowed seven hits and seven walks in 23 1/3 innings, he has struck out 41 and is holding the opposition to a .089/.170/.114 slash line.
In his 115th career start, R.A. Dickey struck out a career-high 11, walked none and improved to 6-1, as the Mets defeated the Pirates, 3-2.
Dickey, who is tied for the National League lead in wins, had entered the 2012 season with a rate of 5.59 strikeouts for every nine innings pitched during his first two seasons with New York. This year, Dickey is at 8.01 K's per nine.
For a bit of knuckleballing perspective on Dickey's line, neither Tim Wakefield nor Charlie Hough nor Wilbur Wood -- in 1,200 combined Major League starts -- had a game in which he stuck out at least 11 with no walks. Phil Niekro -- in 716 starts -- had one such game. Phil's knuckleballing brother, Joe, had one in 500 starts.
In all, Pirates batters struck out 13 times in their 3-2 loss to the Mets, giving this year's club 16 games with 10 or more strikeouts. That total, through 43 team games, ties the 2012 Pirates with the '03 Reds for the third highest in the live-ball era.
In 2010, both the D-backs and Padres had 17 games with 10-plus K's after they had 43 contests in the ledger. It should be noted that the top-14 live-ball era totals through 43 team games have all occurred since 2000.
Pirates starter James McDonald struck out eight in seven innings and has fanned at least seven batters in six straight starts. The only other Pirates pitcher since 1918 to have a streak that long was Bob Veale, who ran off six straight games with seven or more K's in '65.
Bryce Harper (19 years and 219 days old) singled and tripled as part of a 10-hit attack, and the Nationals beat Roy Halladay and the Phillies, 5-2.
Harper has collected two hits in three straight games, in four of his past five, and he has a total of seven multihit games. Going back to 1918, Phil Cavarretta (68), Robin Yount (58), Mel Ott (55), Buddy Lewis (40) Al Kaline (40), and Ed Kranepool (40) have the most multihit games among players before their 20th birthday.
Washington's win over Philadelphia improved the team's record to 26-17, the fourth-best 43-game start in Expos/Nationals history.
Brian Matusz (6 1/3 innings, two hits, one run) and three relievers combined on a two-hitter as the Orioles defeated the Red Sox, 4-1. The two hits allowed by Baltimore were the fewest for the club against the Red Sox since Sept. 13, 2006, when Erik Bedard and two relievers combined on a two-hit shutout.
The Orioles' win over the Red Sox improved Baltimore's mark to 28-16, tying this club with two others for the seventh-best 44-game start in Brewers/Browns/Orioles history.
Best 43-game starts for the Dodgers in the modern era
The 30-13 mark ties this club with the 1940, '42 and '83 Dodgers squads for the seventh-best 43-game start for the franchise since 1901.
Ricky Nolasco allowed four runs in six innings, but he picked up the victory over the Rockies to make him the Marlins' all-time leader.
With 69 career victories, Nolasco broke out of a tie with Dontrelle Willis. Josh Johnson owns the third-most wins for the franchise, with 50, and is followed by A.J. Burnett (49) and Brad Penny (48).
The Marlins' win improved their record in May to 16-5 -- the best in the Majors. Additionally, the club tied the franchise mark for the most wins in this specific month, previously accomplished in 1996, '97 and 2008.
The franchise mark for the most victories in any single month came in August 1997, when the club won 19 games. The Marlins have eight more games scheduled for this month.
Brandon Phillips homered twice in the Reds' 4-3 win over the Braves. The multihomer game was the ninth of Phillips' career with the Reds.
All nine of Phillips multihomer games have come with him at second base, giving him one more than Joe Morgan had during the Hall of Famer's time in Cincinnati. Morgan and Phillips had been tied for the most multihomer games by a second baseman in Reds franchise history.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.