Talk about your wacky weeks of baseball …

A pinch runner stopped running long enough to hit a grand slam! … Another guy hit a home run that came down, technically, before it left his bat! … And a historic on base-streak finally came to an end on a “hit!”

But we’ll get to all that shortly. Because this is the Weird and Wild column. And it doesn’t get much Weirder (or Wilder) than what’s going on in Oakland these days.

Spider-Men 2023 — Into the Oakland-Verse?


The A’s are abysmal. (Neville E. Guard / USA Today)

When I think of the Oakland A’s, I want to think of the good stuff. Reggie! Rickey! Catfish! Vida! Dave Stewart’s eyeballs piercing holes in every hitter! I’ll even settle for Brad Pitt!

But sadly, Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill aren’t making any major motion pictures about the 2023 Oakland A’s. This isn’t Moneyball. This is Funnyball. This isn’t the Bash Brothers. This is the Crash Brothers.

This A’s team, which most of America works so hard to avoid watching, has a chance to do things that have never been done. But by that, I don’t mean win the World Series. I mean out-lose the 1962 Mets.

Except the more you examine these A’s, the ’62 Mets aren’t the “ugh-ernaut” we should be comparing them to. They’re conjuring up memories of Harry Colliflower’s 1899 Cleveland Spiders. And did anybody ask for those memories? Not even any descendants of Harry Colliflower.

As I type this, these A’s are an incomprehensible 10-35. They have the worst run differential (minus-161) after 45 games of any team in the history of the American League. And there’s probably a better chance that you could name five of their paying customers than five guys on their roster. Which is saying something, considering they’re last among all four major sports in actual paying customers per contest.

“They’re the worst team I’ve ever scouted,” said one longtime scout who dug in on them earlier this year.

“I honestly think,” said an executive from a team who saw them in April, “that that’s the worst team I’ve ever watched in my career.”

So how can that be, you ask? Hey, that’s what the Weird and Wild column is here for — to deliver answers to pressing questions like that. So here come 10 Astounding Facts on the 2023 Oakland Crash Brothers.

1. They’re making the ’62 Mets look like the ’86 Mets! Choo-Choo Coleman’s 1962 Mets are the modern standard for Worst Freaking Team Ever. They went 40-120. They finished 60.5 games out of first place. They had a minus-331 run differential. And yet …

Those Mets were a spectacular 12-33 after 45 games. That’s two games better than these A’s. Those Mets had only a minus-92 run differential at this stage. The A’s have that spread beat by almost 70 runs. Of course, at the 45-game milepost, those Mets were also in the middle of losing 17 games in a row, but we digress.

At least the ’62 Mets had already rolled up four two-game winning streaks and one three-game winning streak. These A’s, on the other hand, have no two-game winning streaks against teams not named the Royals.

So it’s hard to even put them in the same conversation with those Mets. And I can’t believe I just wrote those words. But that just means it’s time to ask a question seldom asked …

2. Is it possible the A’s are even worse than those 1899 Spiders? OK, let’s be honest. Over the long haul? No way the 2023 A’s are going to wind up worse than a Spiders team that went 20-134, including a sensational 1-40 down the stretch. That can’t be done.

But through these teams’ first 45 games? It’s closer than you could even fathom. Two weeks ago, the Spiders actually had a better record (7-25) than these A’s (6-26). One week ago, they were still dead even, at 8-31 apiece. Now, the A’s have opened up a two-game lead. Can’t beat that for drama.

There’s also this fun little competition:

LAST TWO TEAMS WITH AT LEAST A MINUS-161 RUN DIFFERENTIAL
(After 45 games)

2023 A’s — minus-161
1899 Spiders — minus-192

(Katie Sharp / Baseball Reference)

But this duel isn’t over. More from Harry Colliflower and the Spiders as we go along!

3. The A’s still haven’t had a one-game losing streak! I’m not kidding. The one thing they seem to be especially adept at is: When they start losing, they keep losing.

It’s a weird (and also wild) niche, but it’s a niche all the same. They’ve ripped off losing streaks of 3-6-7-2-5-3-5-3 (not counting their loss Wednesday that started a new streak, still in progress).

So how hard is it to go this deep into a season without any one-game losing streaks? I asked our friends from STATS Perform. And it turns out there have been 10 other teams in the modern era that have pulled it off in the first 45 games. However …

Most of those teams had an unfair advantage, which we could sum up this way: They mixed in a lot more winning than this squad! So in truth, only one team in modern history has ever done what these A’s have done:

• Not just no one-game losing streaks. But also …

• Only won two in a row once!

So what’s the other team to match that nearly impossible feat? Here’s a hint: That fine outfit did it as recently as 91 years ago. Which brings us to Urbane Pickering’s 1932 Red Sox, who started 9-32 on their way to 43-111. How ’bout that for dazzling company!

4. The A’s have trailed, at some point, in every game but two! So as we’ve mentioned, the A’s have won 10 games.

• In eight of them, they didn’t take a lead for good (or at all) until the eighth inning or later.

• In six of them, they had a lead of anywhere between one run and six runs, blew that whole lead but then pulled off a late-inning magic trick to win anyway.

• In the weirdest tidbit of all, the 10-win A’s somehow have more walk-off wins (four) than a Rays team that has won 32 games (but has just three walk-offs).

• But getting back to the No. 4 not-so-fun fact, only twice all season have the A’s made it through an entire game without trailing at some point. The first was April 12, when they blew a 3-0 lead against Baltimore but never fell behind. The other was May 5, in Kansas City, when they jumped out to a 9-2 lead … turned that into a 9-8 lead but hung on to win, 12-8.

So think about how hard that is — to be 45 games into a season and have found yourself trailing in 43 of them. I asked the great Katie Sharp of Baseball Reference if that was as rare as it seemed. And, well, yep! Last team to do that? Right you are. Those ’62 Mets (also 43 of 45).

5. They have an 8.73 ERA on the road! Look, this is a team with a 7.13 ERA, period. So it’s not as if they’re the 1995 Braves at home, either. But when they leave home? Hoo, boy.

Essentially, when these A’s work their magic on the road, they’re turning every hitter in baseball into 2013 David Ortiz.

2023 hitters vs. road A’s — .300/.395/.572
2013 Big Papi vs. the world — .309/.395/.564

And there’s no need to ask if that 8.73 road ERA would be a record. It wouldn’t merely break the current record (since earned runs became an official stat in both leagues in 1913). It would obliterate it by more than two runs a game! John Wasdin’s 1996 A’s (6.55 road ERA) are guaranteed to be following this category closely.


A’s pitcher Rico Garcia exits after giving up a grand slam. (Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press)

6. Their rotation has a 7.54 ERA! A’s starters are averaging a little over four and two-thirds innings a start. I’m not sure if that’s good news or bad news.

A’s hitters have scored 173 runs this year. Opposing hitters have put up 191 runs just against the Oakland rotation.

It’s a good thing the Royals showed up on their schedule — because before that, the A’s had played 32 games this year without a starting pitcher winning any of them. And yep, that would be a record. Against teams not known as the Royals, Oakland starters are 0-22 with a 7.97 ERA. Does that seem good? Or not so much?

And yes, they’re also in a commanding lead in the race for highest starting pitching ERA since 1913. Felipe Lira’s 1996 Tigers are the reigning record holders (at 6.64). I’m guessing those guys are also now huge A’s fans.

7. They’ve given up at least 10 runs 15 times already (in 45 games)! Here’s some upbeat news. It’s not as if no team has ever done that. Katie Sharp did find one team since 1901. And that group did it a mere 100 years ago.

That was Lefty Weinert’s 1923 Phillies, who actually coughed up double figures 16 times in their first 45 games, on the way to doing it 34 times all year. But the A’s have set the modern AL record, which used to be held by those 1996 Tigers, with 14.

8. It took them just 37 games to fall 10-plus games out of next-to-last place! It’s hard enough to drop 10 games out of first place in a month and a half. Think how hard it is to plummet 10 games out of next-to-last place.

It took those Cleveland Spiders 68 games to pull that off. It took the ’62 Mets 96 games to do it. So who knows where this is leading. But let’s just throw this out there. The Spiders wound up 35 games out of next-to-last. Can the A’s beat that? I’m taking the under!

9. It’s a good thing there’s a lot of foul territory in the Coliseum! The Coliseum in Oakland may not lead the league in paying occupants. But it always leads the league in one category that is now coming in exceptionally handy for this team:

Foul territory.

That’s because, when the other team hits a ball that lands in fair territory, its batting average is .376! Its OPS is 1.034! Stan Musial hit .376 in 1948. And the A’s are transforming the entire league into Stan Musial. What is happening?

10. Am I only allowed to list 10? I haven’t even mentioned yet that 18 A’s pitchers have a negative Wins Above Replacement — and two more are at zero WAR on the nose. … Or that the Rays just gave up their 150th run of the season this week. Whereas the A’s gave up their 150th run on April 19. … Or that A’s hitters barely have more hits (347) than A’s pitchers have runs allowed (334). … Or that on those rare occasions when this team takes a lead, opposing hitters turn into 2015 Miguel Cabrera (.339/.432/.658). … Or that, as Joe Sheehan wrote in his newsletter this week, the A’s are 7-7 in one-run games — which means that in all other games, they’re 3-28. So does that mean they have a knack for winning the close ones? I want to believe yes. Which means I also want to believe they can’t possibly out-lose the ’62 Mets. But yikes. Time to pick up the pace!

A slam show about nothing

A wild (and also weird) thing happened to Cardinals catcher Andrew Knizner on Monday. He was sitting on the bench, loving life, when he was sent in to pinch run for Paul Goldschmidt. It was the eighth inning of a game the Cardinals were leading 9-1. So why the heck not?

But it definitely wasn’t a catcher pinch running that turned this into Weird and Wild material. It was this way more weird/wild development that erupted later in the inning:

So … what just happened? That was A Man With No Position hitting a grand slam homer. And it’s stuff like this that keeps this column in business. Because …

Since 1959, only two other players have done that! One of them (Gene Stephens, for Boston) did it after pinch running for Ted Williams on July 13, 1959. The other (Rajai Davis, for Oakland) did it after pinch running for Jack Cust on Sept. 5, 2008. (h/t: the Elias Sports Bureau.)

He gave us a Strange But True Box Score Line for the Ages! Here it comes:

1 Plate Appearance
2 Runs Scored
1 Hit
4 RBIs

And that’s a sight that has been seen only three other times since 1901, according to Baseball Reference. Rajai Davis was one of those. The other two: Darrin Jackson, for the Brewers on July 28, 1998 (pinch ran for Dave Nilsson) … and Jolbert Cabrera, for the Reds on Sept. 6, 2008 (pinch ran for Edwin Encarnación).

But Weirdest and Wildest of all … Knizner hit this grand slam off Brewers infielder Mike Brousseau. Which means … a guy with no position crushed a grand slam off a position player! So what’s so exciting about that? Even the Cardinals weren’t totally sure.

Stuff we loved this week


Kansas City Royalty. (Jay Biggerstaff / USA Today)

HAPPY CORONATION DAY! What do King Charles and Salvy Perez have in common? Not a whole lot, I’m guessing … except for one thing … they’re Royals!

And that got me thinking, which is always dangerous. So how did the coronation of King Charles make it into the Weird and Wild column? Because it was the first coronation day in the history of the Royals … by which I mean the Kansas City division, naturally.

But even that struck me as extremely wild (but also weird), seeing as how … the Royals have been around for 55 seasons. But Queen Elizabeth II still beat them to the coronation starting line by 16 years. Which means … the Royals got to play 8,540 regular-season baseball games before the first British Coronation Day in their history.

Bonus Coronation Day note! This isn’t relevant to much of anything above. But you know what happened on Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation Day (June 2, 1953)? Satchel Paige collected the last win of his career, for the St. Louis Browns … at age 46. And even though he later started another game at age 58, little did he know he would have had to live until 116 to outlast Her Royal Majesty, who stole the headlines from him that day!

VIVA LA FRANCE! It certainly would have been Marie Antoinette’s favorite moment of this baseball season — if not Timothée Chalamet’s. This was May 6 in Seattle, the night the French Revolution truly arrived in American baseball.

It was Ty France (Mariners) facing J.P. France (Astros) in the first-ever face-à-face between a hitter named France and a pitcher named France. And then, cinematically, just the way Francois Truffaut would have scripted it … on the very first pitch of their very first meeting … this happened.

Bravo! Had to be the biggest hit in French baseball history since Sept. 23, 1998 … when Mark Portugal laced a single off … Steve Parris!

THE ZACK ATTACK — I’m mesmerized by Zack Greinke. Has there ever been anyone quite like him? I got to thinking about him again Saturday, when he whiffed Milwaukee’s Joey Wiemer. Why? Because Wiemer was the 1,000th different hitter Greinke has whiffed in his fascinating career. And that’s something.

The only other members of that I K’d A Thousand Different Dudes Club, according to the Elias Sports Bureau: Nolan Ryan (of course), Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux. But the more I pondered how different those men all were from Greinke, the more I was convinced of this:

That Ryan must have 2,000 more career strikeouts at the time he K’d his 1,000th different hitter than Greinke did when he reached 1,000. Would you believe I almost nailed that on the nose? (Author’s note: That never, ever happens.)

Ryan’s 1,000thwas career strikeout No. 4,929 (Jerry Browne, on July 15, 1989).

Greinke’s 1,000thwas career whiff No. 2,914 (Joey Wiemer, Saturday).

It’s the beauty of baseball. Two men arrive at (theoretically) the same place in their careers … by following paths that couldn’t possibly be more different.

TRANSACTION OF THE MONTH — If there’s anything in life more rewarding than taking a few moments every day to peruse the minutiae in the baseball transactions column, it’s this:

Perusing the transactions column in the Atlantic League.

That’s because, every once in a while, you run across something like this.

Some things, in life and in baseball, are just meant to be. Is the marriage of the Ducks and a guy named Quackenbush one of those things? Let’s say yes to that.

What could possibly beat it? Giants sign DH King Kong … Tigers sign Tyler Lyons … Brewers sign Blue Moon Odom?

Let’s just say if you don’t fill up the comments section with other transactions that need to happen, I’ll be crushed.

This week in useless info

IT’S ALL CYCLICAL — As Cedric Mullins strode toward home plate in the eighth inning last Friday, only six men in Orioles history had ever hit for the cycle. And whaddayaknow, all Mullins needed to join them was a home run.

Should we mention here he hadn’t hit one of those in his previous 62 trips to the plate? Nah, what’s the point, because … this happened.

So we interrupt that tsunami to wonder: Hmmm, how many other Orioles have ever needed to hit a home run in their final at-bat to finish off a cycle? And that answer is …

Just one. Some guy named Calvin Ripken Jr., on May 6, 1984. Good company!

I’LL SEE THAT SLAM … AND RAYS IT — Who the heck knows how the Rays lineup turned into the 1961 Yankees this year. But last weekend in the Bronx, they did one of the best ’61 Yankees impressions ever — by hitting grand slams two days in a row: Yandy Díaz on Saturday, then Taylor Walls on Sunday.

Now here comes the Weird and Wild angle on all this. I took a little trip on Baseball Reference through all the grand slams ever hit at any Yankee Stadium and found … that the Rays just became the first visiting team in history to launch slams at any Yankee Stadium on back-to-back days.

That was wild (and also weird) enough. Except … it overlooks the fact that two visiting teams have hit two slams in Yankee Stadium in the same game. The 1960 Orioles (Albie Pearson/Billy Klaus) on April 24. And the 1995 Red Sox (John Valentin/Mo Vaughn) on May 2. But no team had ever done it two days in a row … until now!

BUT WHAT’S IN A SLAM — And while we’re on the subject … Anthony Volpe!

Whom we bring up because he did this last week.

As so many of you pointed out that day, this brought the all-important Yankees shortstop grand-slam standings to this noteworthy juncture:

Anthony Volpe — 1
Derek Jeter — 1

All right, since you went there. At the time of their first slam …

PLAYER  GAME  PA HIT HR

Jeter

1,431st

6,544th

1,811th  

157th

Volpe

38th

148th

27th

4th

You’re welcome. That’ll do it for the Yankee grand-slam portion of this program.

DON’T TRY THAT AT HOME, JUAN PIERRE — It can get pretty breathtaking to behold the talents of Ronald Acuña Jr. But especially when he does stuff like this.

That’s a sweet little 470-foot home run on May 10 against the Red Sox. It’s a stunner under any circumstances. But now think about this …

The guy who did that is leading the league in stolen bases!

So I got to wondering. Has any stolen-base champ in the Statcast era ever hit a home run that traveled that far? You know the answer. Of course not.

I should mention that Mike Trout and Trevor Story once led their leagues in steals, and they’ve also hit home runs as prodigious as Acuña’s. But they never did it in the same year they were the king of steal.

And I’m guessing there was once a day when four-time SB champ Willie Mays once splattered a home run off a building halfway down the street from the Polo Grounds or something. But Juan Pierre? Mallex Smith? Bert Campaneris? They’d have to hit ’em twice to launch a baseball as far as Acuña.

So every time he hits one of these monsters over the next few months, think of those guys. And then think of the National League stolen-base leader in 2023. What a talented human.

WALKING THE WALK(OFF) — It was a huge development in the history of the Soler System. Tuesday in Miami. The Marlins one strike away from losing a one-run game to the Nationals. When Jorge Soler had himself a moment.

But hold those goosebumps. This is the Weird and Wild column. And what’s that swing doing in this column? It’s here because that was Soler’s first career walk-off … except it came four years after he won a home run title in 2019, back when he was a Royal.

So how rare is that, you ask, for any player to lead his league in homers that many years before finally hitting a walk-off home run? I’ll tell you how rare, thanks to the diligent work of Baseball Reference’s Katie Sharp.

Over the last 50 years, only four other men have won a home run title in any league at least four years before their first walk-off bomb. It’s an awesome list:

Fred McGriff — first HR title in 1989, first walk-off in 1993

Mark Teixeira — first HR title in 2009, first walk-off in 2016 (last home run of his career!)

José Bautista — first HR title in 2010, first walk-off in 2018 (eight years later!)

Aaron Judge — first HR title in 2017, first walk-off in 2022

Baseball is a weird game (and also a wild game). Isn’t it?

FIELDS OF GOLD(SCHMIDT) — There’s no such thing as a bad time to roll out a three-homer game. But some times are better than other times. And for all the evidence we need of that truism, let’s bring up the name Paul Goldschmidt.

Last week in win-starved St. Louis, the Cardinals first baseman fired up three home-run trots in one game against the Tigers. But as you know, he’s done that before. You know what he’d never done before?

Hit three home runs in one game to stop an eight-game losing streak.

Then again, it wasn’t just Goldschmidt who was in uncharted territory. Only two players since 1901 have ever done what he just did — hit the trifecta in a game that stopped a losing streak that long. Here are the other two, courtesy of the stellar work of Katie Sharp:

Eddie Mathews, Braves — put an end to a 10-gamer on Sept. 27, 1952.

Freddie Patek, Angels — his only career three-homer game helped wipe out a nine-game streak on June 20, 1980.

Bet you didn’t think you’d see the names of Freddie Patek, Eddie Mathews and Paul Goldschmidt in the same note in this column, right? But that’s what we do here.

EASTBOUND AND DOWN — It isn’t often that the May 12 standings are a source of national fascination. But it sure happened this May 12, thanks to this weird (and wild) sighting in the eastern sky:

AL EAST STANDINGS

Rays — 30-10
Orioles — 25-13
Blue Jays — 22-16
Red Sox — 22-17
Yankees — 22-18

AL CENTRAL STANDINGS

Twins — 21-18
Tigers — 17-20
Guardians — 17-21
White Sox — 13-27
Royals — 12-28

I know you can do this math. But that’s the sight of all the teams in one division holding a better record than all the teams in another division. And since gazillions of you out there seemed to think I was in charge of telling you how rare this was, I got to the bottom of it, with the assistance of the always-helpful Chase Weight of STATS Perform.

Last time that happened in any two divisions (this late in a season) — May 24, 2006, when all five NL West teams had a better record than all four teams that were then in the AL West.

Last time it happened in the same league — Sept. 28, 2005, when all five NL East teams had a better record than the five NL West teams.

Other years this rarity was spotted in the baseball sky — 1996, when the NL Central was so mediocre that the whole AL West was out-winning it as late as May 23 and the whole NL West was lapping it as late as June 23. … And 1994, when the AL West never did produce a team with a winning record before the strike hit in August. So the AL East, AL Central and NL East teams all had better records at various times along the way.

And last time it happened with the AL East and Central — That would be never (of course) … until now … because …

Baseball!

This Week in Strange But Trueness

SUSPENDED ANIMATION — Here at the Strange But True division of Weird and Wild World HQ, there’s nothing we love more than a fun-filled suspended game. So along came the Mets and Nationals last weekend to provide one of those.

It was halted, by several billion raindrops, at 4:44 p.m. ET on Saturday. It resumed at 12:35 p.m. ET the next day. And that made all this possible:

• Mets speed demon Daniel Vogelbach pulled into third base on Saturday, just before the beginning of an enjoyable 3-hour, 56-minute rain delay. It then took him 19 hours and 52 minutes to cross home plate. Whoa. We knew Statcast ranked him as one of the 10 slowest men in baseball. But let’s hope they don’t count that leisurely 90-foot dash — in which he covered one foot every 13 minutes and 15 seconds.

• Nationals starter Trevor Williams gave up the hit to Vogelbach that started all that. Which means … he got charged with a run on Sunday … on a day he never threw a pitch.

• And finally, there’s sweet-swinging Nats shortstop C.J. Abrams. So what did he do? He launched a tie-breaking seventh-inning home run in this game. And that’s the good news. Now here’s the Strange But True news: It left his bat on Sunday … but according to the box score, it apparently came down on Saturday.

So whoever told you time travel wasn’t humanly possible didn’t know anything about …

Baseball!

BLOWN SAVE OF THE WEEK — There must be a thousand ways to blow a save. I thought I’d seen ‘em all. Then along came Kenley Jansen, Saturday against the Cardinals, pitch clock ticking, Willson Contreras up to no good.

You very well might think you know what happened. It sure generated a bunch of memes and headlines. But here’s what the Strange But True department thought about that you probably didn’t:

This whole blown save revolved around a walk on three pitches! And one of them was a strike!

We’ll explain how historic that was. But just to do a quick recap …

The Red Sox rolled into the ninth inning leading 3-1. The Cardinals had only three hits all night. So here came Jansen, Mr. 400 Save Club himself.

He walked Paul Goldschmidt to open the ninth. On four pitches. Then up stepped Contreras, who was clearly messing with Kenley. Kind of in the box. Kind of not. Kind of eyeballing Kenley. Kind of not.

So then came those three pitches. Jansen got a quick-pitch warning on one of them. There was a strike. There was a clock/quick-pitch violation for ball one. Then came actual balls on the next two pitches. Then came another timer/quick-pitch glitch, for another violation and a walk. And it all led to the Strangest But Truest blown save of 2023.

All right, let’s do that math again for you, in case you stopped adding along at home. This man just walked Willson Contreras on three pitches, which is supposed to be hard. And one of them was a strike!

So I asked legendary researcher Kenny Jackelen of Baseball Reference to look into whether this was the first blown save ever to include a three-pitch unintentional walk. Here’s what he told us …

It turns out that Emmanuel Clase of the Guardians blew a save on April 3 against Oakland and had a three-pitch walk in the inning. But he’d already blown the save at the time he did that. So it’s not quite the same thing.

But here’s the most important part: This was the 16th three-pitch unintentional walk of 2023, thanks to the pitch clock. So what made this one the Strange But True Blown Save Hall of Fame entry it became?

It was the first three-pitch non-intentional walk in history that also included a strike! What else?

You know, baseball used to be such a mathematically correct sport. What the heck happened?

CAUTION: ZOMBIE RUNNERS AHEAD! Here comes this week’s impossible way to win a game. This was Twins-Dodgers on Monday. The Twins hadn’t won a game in Dodger Stadium in 18 years at the time. Once upon a time, they’d even lost three in a row there in the 1965 World Series. But this was a Strange But True all-time classic.

Think how hard it is to lose a game in which your team …

• Comes from behind to tie the game in the eighth.

• Comes from behind again to tie the game in the ninth.

• Takes the lead by scoring in the 10th.

• Scores in the seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th innings.

Yes, the Twins did all that … and lost anyway — on a 12th-inning bases-loaded walk to Trayce Thompson … after an inning that went: Zombie runner, popout, intentional walk, strikeout, double steal, walk-off. So yes, the Dodgers went 0 for 2 in that inning … and won!

But let’s ignore all that Zombie nuttiness. We’ll even ignore the part about scoring in the seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th and losing. Katie Sharp could find only three other games in the Baseball Reference files (back to 1914) in which any team followed the Twins’ script: Tied the game in the eighth and ninth … took a lead in any extra inning … and still lost:

June 30, 1980 — Astros lose in the 11th at Atlanta, on a rare Glenn Hubbard walk-off homer.

Aug. 6, 1993 — Brewers lose in the 11th in Toronto, on a John Olerud walk-off single.

June 15, 2017 — Yankees lose in the 10th in Oakland, in the wildest game on this whole list. After scoring in the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th innings, the Yankees get two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the 10th … and still find a way to lose!

Baseball! Is any lead safe?

THE BUCCOS STOP HERE — I have friends who try their best to root for the Pirates. It’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it. So this month, as they watched that thing happen to their team that they knew was destined to happen to their team, they noticed something.

Hard as the Pirates were trying to let the Brewers (or anybody) take over first place in the NL Central, it wasn’t working. Let’s show you why.

First-place Pirates Second-place Brewers

L

L

L

L

L

L

L

L

L

L

L

L

Day after day, the Pirates lost. Day after the very same day, the Brewers lost. And so … the Pirates were leading the Central by a game and a half when this streak began … and six straight losses later … they were still leading the Central by a game and a half. And that, my friends, is the reason this column exists.

How often has any team in any division had a losing streak that long, only to find the team “chasing” them stuck in standings quicksand, thanks to a concurrent streak just as long? I knew you needed to know. I knew my Pirates fan friends definitely needed to know.

So I ran this past the great minds at STATS Perform and found … that’s never happened. Not in any race, in any division, in any season in the entire division-play era, now 54 seasons old.

Unfortunately for certain people I know, the Pirates haven’t taken advantage of that fortunate circumstance since all that went on. But still … what a thing!

XANDER’S STREAK TAKES A HIT — It looked like a hit. It wasn’t caught in the air by an outfielder, just like most hits. The guy who smoked this line drive even stopped at first base, the way it usually works with a hit. But if you thought this “hit” had just extended Xander Bogaerts’ Padres on-base streak to 31 games, well, ho-ho-ho.

Nope! Take a look.

“That’s a base hit,” said the great Don Orsillo, to his Padres TV audience. Except that … oops! … there was one man in America who didn’t get that memo.

And unfortunately for Bogaerts, a guy who thought he’d just extended the longest season-opening on-base streak in Padres history, the most confused man in San Diego happened to be his teammate Juan Soto. … Who missed the part where the baseball bounced … and hustled back to first base … where he found Bogaerts wasn’t as happy as usual to see him.

So that’s how the longest on-base streak of Bogaerts’ career ended back on May 3. With a “hit.” How Strange But True is that?

“I wish there was a loophole,” Padres manager Bob Melvin proposed after the game, “because he was standing on base at one point.”

That’s not how the loophole police viewed it, though. So ever since, America has pretty much demanded that I let you all know how many on-base streaks that long have ever ended on “a hit” or with a guy still “reaching base” or some variation of that. OK, excellent questions, but … sorry! That is not a researchable request. Not by me anyway.

But here’s what I can tell you. I turned to Statcast’s all-powerful wizard, Jason Bernard, for help trying to make sense of this. And here’s the upshot:

You know how many other line drives have been hit this season, by anybody, in which the hitter made it to first base … the runner on first made it to second, then U-turned back to where he started … and a “hit” turned into a very Strange But True forceout? Right you are. That would be none. Just this one.

So all we know is that the longest on-base streak in baseball this year ended with the guy who compiled it literally standing on base. And how do we explain that? Here’s how Xander Bogaerts explained it: “It’s …

“Baseball!”

(Top photo of Tony Kemp and Jose Herrera: Godofredo A. Vásquez / Associated Press)



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Golam Muktadir is the chief editor of Surprise Sports and the Proges News. He checks all the sports content and craft it to make it more digesting for the readers.