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Monday, September 4
Brawls, ejections ... and a near no-hitter

All you need to know about that nutfest of a brawl game the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Devil Rays played Tuesday night is this:

The most dominating pitcher in baseball almost threw a no-hitter -- and even his own teammates forgot to notice.

As Pedro Martinez heads for another sub-2.00 ERA, he's already one of five active starting pitchers who have finished a season with an ERA under 2.00 and enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. Name the other four.

(Answer at bottom.)

"You've got everything else going on, and then you look up in about the seventh inning and you realize: on top of everything, Pedro's going to throw a no-hitter," Red Sox first baseman Rico Brogna told Week in Review. "Up until then, everybody was talking about all the fights, about who was doing what to whom, about all the crazy stuff with Brian (Daubach). Then all of a sudden, someone said: 'You know, Pedro's striking out a ton of guys.' Then we looked at the board -- and there was still a zero on it."

Yes, there was still a zero on it, all right -- in the old hits column. But even a no-hit bid -- by a fairly visible gentleman named Pedro Martinez -- turned into a sideshow in the wildest, craziest baseball game of the year. And what would you have figured beforehand it would take to obscure a Pedro no-no? An earthquake? A tidal wave? A strike by the local grouper fishermen?

Well, we know one thing: The plot line for this game wasn't drawn up by Abner Doubleday.

"Maybe Vince McMahon," Brogna suggested. "You know The Rock is a big Red Sox fan. And this was definitely WWF material."

Yup. All this thing needed was Roberto Alomar running out of the tunnel in disguise to pummel Pedro with a roll of dimes. But it sure had everything else:

  • Such as eight ejections for one team (Tampa Bay) -- and none for the other.
  • Such as one team (the Devil Rays) running through four managers in one game -- and they should have used five.
  • Such as Brian Daubach careening through an evening only Macho Man Savage could relate to -- sprinting in from first base to heave himself into a brawl, sending his own teammate (Lou Merloni) to the hospital by accident, then auditioning for the lead in "Tampa Bay's Most Wanted" by getting drilled twice, being thrown at six times and being partially or solely responsible for the ejection of five guys on the other team.
  • Such as two Red Sox -- Martinez and Carl Everett -- entering the ninth inning with a chance to do something that had never happened in any game since 1900: pairing a no-hitter and a cycle in the same game.

    How about all that in one action-packed evening? We'll let those other baseball columns out there rant and rave about the serious issues involved in this wackathon. We'll take the pure insanity. Here's our full report:

    The brawl
    It all happened so fast.

    Pedro nailing Gerald Williams. Williams examining his wrist to make sure it was still attached to the rest of him, then bolting toward the mound.

    It was all a blur after that. But we know Merloni came roaring in from third base to try to save Pedro. Then Daubach flew into the pile as if he were Tony Brackens on a blitz. And the guy he wound up plowing into and injuring was, naturally, Merloni. Daubach promptly knocked him -- in Brogna's words -- into "La-La Land."

    "I came across Lou sitting on the dugout steps two innings later, and he was out of it," Brogna reported. "He might have thought he was still in Japan, recalling all the split-fingers he saw. I don't know. I just know he was goo-gooed."

    Cheap trick
    Now you could understand why Merloni might not have been too thrilled with Daubach's work during this fracas. But it's still a little puzzling what exactly convinced the Devil Rays he was the biggest cheap-shot artist since Jack Lambert.

    "It's a fight," Brogna said. "Is there such a thing as a cheap shot in a fight?"

    Fists were the preferred equipment used during Tuesday's Red Sox-Devil Rays game.

    And even if there is, think about this from the Red Sox's standpoint: When a guy charges Pedro Martinez, they can see their season passing before their eyes.

    "You've gotta protect Pedro," Brogna said. "He's your postseason ticket. If a guy comes out to the mound swinging, how can you blame his teammate for trying to protect his own pitcher?"

    This is a logical question. But the Devil Rays' logical answer was to begin throwing at Daubach on every pitch, until he was out of the game or they were out of pitchers -- whichever came first.

    Since Pedro claimed he was just trying to establish the inside part of the plate, Devil Rays GM Chuck LaMar deadpanned: "We spent the rest of the game trying to establish the inside part of the plate against Brian Daubach." Just not very well, we might add -- since they missed him more than they hit him. Which LaMar acknowledged.

    "In our pursuit of trying to establish the inside part of the plate," LaMar said, "we could have done a better job."

    Daubach had pitches go over him, under him and behind him. He was nicked once on the shirt by Dave Eiland, then later drilled again mildly by Tony Fiore. In between, Cory Lidle also was ejected for throwing at him -- and missing.

    "The thing that made it so nuts was you had double and triple retaliations," Brogna said. "Usually, it's one and done. But the way this thing was going, I was thinking I might get hit -- just because I went in to replace the guy they were trying to hit. They might have been thinking, 'Let's get the first baseman -- whoever he is.' I didn't know. I was thinking, 'This one's not over until we're on the bus going back to the hotel.' "

    Ejection fever
    You may be asking yourself: When was the last game to feature eight guys from one team getting ejected and no guys from the other team getting gonged?

    And the correct answer would be, apparently: never.

    According to ejections expert Doug Pappas of SABR, there had never been more than a 7-0 ejection edge in any previous game. And the only game with even that bizarre a disparity happened on July 9, 1929, in a Reds-Giants donnybrook that earned seven Reds, but no Giants, the rest of the day off. We'd love to tell you more about that mess, but John McGraw and Mel Ott were unavailable for comment this week.

    The eight ejections in this game equaled the total number of Devil Rays thumbed in the previous 130 games put together. But once they got rolling in this one, they were getting ejected in waves. Once the warnings were issued, a manager and a pitcher got the automatic gate with every new attempt to perform gall-bladder surgery on Daubach with a baseball.

    "It was two-for-one for a while there," Brogna quipped. "It was Happy Hour. ... Or Unhappy Hour."

    But this game reached its true height of absurdity in the seventh inning. That was when the Devil Rays tried one last time to test out their strategic-missile system on Daubach -- and wound up using three pitchers in a span of four pitches (since Lidle and Fiore were both ejected for throwing at Daubach).

    "The game wasn't moving along too well at that point," Brogna said. "You had a pitcher get tossed, so the next guy could come in and take all the time he needed to warm up. So you'd have a guy taking 10 minutes to warm up, then throw the first pitch at Brian and get ejected. You'd think if he's just coming in to throw at the guy, come in, take seven or eight pitches, then get on with it."

    Manager by committee
    The upshot of all this was that the Devil Rays got to use four managers in one game: actual manager Larry Rothschild, plus three coaches -- Bill Russell, Jose Cardenal and Billy Hatcher. According to Pappas, they were the first team to rip through that many managers in one day since Aug. 12, 1984 -- when the Padres had three managers (Dick Williams, Ozzie Virgil Sr., Jack Kroll) ejected after Pascual Perez drilled the first batter of the game (Alan Wiggins).

    But the Devil Rays actually should have broken that record. Since they had three pitchers ejected after the first warning, they really should have had three more managers ejected, too. But after Fiore got thrown out and the benches emptied one more time, umpire Tim McClelland asked acting manager Billy Hatcher, "Who's in charge?"

    And Hatcher promptly lied, saying: "I don't know."

    But McClelland's thumb was so worn out by that time, he figured what the heck and let Hatcher stick around.

    In other news
    Meanwhile, Pedro was mowing down hitters. And Carl Everett had three legs of the cycle (triple, double, homer) by the fifth inning. So as the ninth inning came around, all Everett needed was a single for the cycle. And all Pedro needed to do to finish off Boston's first no-hitter in 35 years was keep doing what he was doing all night.

    Oh, well. Everett flied out to deep right. John Flaherty broke up the no-hitter. And eventually, all anyone will probably remember is all the hooliganism.

    "When I think back, I'm going to remember all the fighting," Brogna said, "just because it was so out of the ordinary. Although, come to think of it, a no-hitter is pretty out of the ordinary, too."

    Good point. But "that game was so crazy," said Devil Rays shortstop Ozzie Guillen, "that people forgot it was a no-hitter."

    And the degree of difficulty of that has to be harder than a quadruple lutz. But this was that kind of night.

    "If every game was like this," Brogna said, "we'd be out there every night in football gear, wearing Bike air helmets and shoulder pads. The sporting-goods guys would be making serious money selling brawl equipment for baseball players. They'd be coming to spring training, saying, 'What kind of face mask do you want to wear this year, Rico?'

    "But hopefully," said Brogna, speaking for all of humanity, "not every game will be like this."

    Streaker of the week
    It wasn't the longest hitting streak of all time. It wasn't the most famous hitting streak of all time. It was, however, one of the weirdest -- and most top-secret -- hitting streaks of all time.

    It was the stupendous, never-ending (well, until it ended Tuesday) streak of Astros backup catcher Tony Eusebio. It was a streak that lasted 24 games. And it was a streak that tied Luis Gonzalez's Astros team record.

    But most notably, it was a streak that went on for more than seven weeks -- 51 days to be exact.

    Which means, in other words, that Eusebio had more days in which he kept his streak alive by not playing than he did by playing. Now there's a great feat.

    "To be honest with you," Astros broadcast-witticist Jim Deshaies told Week in Review, "I think Tony's streak may have been harder than Joe DiMaggio's."

    We pause here, friends, for all of you readers to laugh as uproariously as we did over this theory. OK, settled down? We now resume our regularly scheduled programming.

    "No, really," Deshaies said. "Not to short-change the Yankee Clipper. But it's easy to hit when you're running out there every day."

    And come to think of it, the majority of the offensive populace proves that every day. Eusebio, on the other hand, had to forge his streak the hard way.

    When he started this tremendous run on July 9, he was hitting .203 for the season. Sixteen days into his quest for history, his streak was exactly four games long. So it was already building fabulous momentum without Eusebio doing much more taxing than eating a bag of sunflower seeds.

    "You could see the headlines," Deshaies said. "The streak lives!!! As Tony comes out between innings to warm up the pitcher."

    Eusebio had six different occasions in which he went at least four days without an at-bat during The Streak. He went six at-bat-free days just between Games One and Two of The Streak. Only 11 times during The Streak did he even have to get hits on back-to-back days.

    So this would explain the lack of magazine cover stories on Eusebio. Or the lack of nightly Baseball Tonight updates. For literally weeks, the only people who even knew The Streak was in progress were Eusebio, several close relatives and the CIA.

    "It was one of those things that was dramatic in hindsight," Deshaies said. "It was very dramatic. We just didn't know it at the time."

    So sure enough, just when us eagle eyes at ESPN were beginning to catch on, just when Eusebio was apparently getting so hot that Jose Lima was coming up with quotes like "I don't think Sandy Koufax could get him out right now," wouldn't you know it? The Streak screeched to a halt Tuesday.

    Sandy Koufax was unable to pitch for the Mets that night. But Al Leiter, Pat Mahomes, Jerrod Riggan and Dennis Cook did. And while they were giving up 11 runs and 16 hits to numerous Astros not named Tony Eusebio, The Streaker himself went 0 for 4, becoming the only Astros starter not to get a hit that night. Darn.

    "It was fun while it lasted," Eusebio announced afterward.

    It didn't last quite as long as DiMaggio's streak, which went on for 63 days. But the Elias Sports Bureau's Rob Tracy helped us determine that miraculously, Eusebio's streak did last longer than two of the three next-longest streaks of the 20th century -- Pete Rose's 44-gamer in 1978 (which went on for 48 days) and Ty Cobb's 40-gamer in 1915 (49 days).

    This was not the longest hitting streak -- in days -- among the non-DiMaggio set, however. George Sisler once took 53 days to compile a 41-game streak in 1922. In fact, Lloyd Waner once had a very Eusebio-esque streak of 23 games in 52 days in 1935.

    Then there were other, flukier-type streaks. In 1981, Bobby Grich kept a 21-game streak going for 91 days. Of course, he had a strike in the middle of it to help him out.

    And Deshaies pointed out that Jon Shave once was able to keep an eight-game streak alive for a full five years. Then again, he had to avoid playing in the big leagues for just about all five of those years (July, 1993 to May, 1998) to do that.

    But somehow, none of those efforts quite compares to Tony Eusebio, a 33-year-old career backup who has never gotten 375 at-bats in any season, despite his reputation for unfailing good humor and a fine, though seldom-used, stroke.

    "The problem here," Deshaies said, "is that he got so hot, the manager said, 'This guy needs to play every day.' It took him out of his pattern."

    In other words, it destroyed Eusebio's carefully crafted non-rhythm.

    "Exactly," Deshaies said. "It's like the old Larry Andersen tee-shirt: 'Am I in a groove or a rut?' "

    We haven't done the exact math on this. But at Eusebio's feverish pace of extending the streak by a game every two or three days, Deshaies computed: "It would have taken him three more years to pass DiMaggio." But if you look at this another way, Eusebio needed only 12 more days to pass Joe D.

    "You know that old black-and-white film clip of Joe running through the banner with the '56' on it?" Deshaies reminisced. "I wanted to have Tony walk through a big banner with '24' on it. Except he would have walked through two banners -- one with '24,' the other with '51.'"

    This could give rise to a whole new method of computing hitting streaks -- in days, not games. But come to think of it, that might not be good for the sport.

    "That would give guys incentive to demand three days off," Deshaies said, sounding concerned. "Guys would turn in their personal lineup cards -- pitchers they'd prefer to face, guys they think they have no chance against. I don't know how that would go over."

    Actually, we do know how that would go over. But the beauty of Tony Eusebio's streak is that he made no "bench me or trade me" demands. He just went about his business, extending his streak without doing much of anything. And for that, plus his ability to furnish us with excellent column fodder, we salute him from the bottom of our hearts.

    Shifty guys of the week
    There's nothing we like more in baseball than good old-fashioned creativity. And boy, did we see a lot of it in this week's Angels-Blue Jays series in Anaheim.

    We saw third basemen turning double plays -- at second base. We saw second basemen running down balls -- in the outfield. We saw routine ground balls turn into doubles -- because they hopped through territory less occupied than regions of the Mojave Desert.

    So what we're getting at here, in short, is that over the course of three games, Angels manager Mike Scioscia and Blue Jays manager Jim Fregosi employed more shifts than the Cowboys.

    They never used the nickel defense or the triangle-and-two. But that's about all they didn't try -- in an attempt to foil, or at least confuse, left-handed pull-hitting fanatics Mo Vaughn and Carlos Delgado.

    At one point, with Toronto shifting farther to the right than George W. Bush, Vaughn bounced into a 4-5-3 double play -- with Blue Jays third baseman Tony Batista turning the double play, just because he was the closest infielder to second base.

    At another point, Vaughn grounded out to the shortstop, Alex Gonzalez. Except that Gonzalez was playing on the second-base side of the bag. Three times, meanwhile, Delgado hit rockets through the right side of the infield -- but because Scioscia had his second baseman and shortstop playing 30 feet into the outfield grass and on the right side of second base, those rockets turned into 4-3 outs.

    But that brings us to the defining question of the day: When a guy grounds out to an infielder standing in the outfield, is it really descriptive enough to score it with the traditional old 4-3?

    "This whole scoring thing is tripping me up a little bit," admits Rex Hudler, the lovable former turbo-charged utility man who's now broadcasting Angels games. "It presents a challenge for a guy like me."

    So a couple of series back, Hudler got an idea. After a Yankees game in which he watched Derek Jeter go barreling out to left field to call off Glenallen Hill on a fly ball to medium-short left, Hudler went over to confer with Jeter.

    "Jeter called it the 6½ hole," Hudler said. "When he has to go out and catch those fly balls with Glenallen Hill in left, he told me to score it as a fly ball to 6½. So it got me to thinking how some of these numbers in the game just don't work. If they keep doing these shifts, I might have to start my own numbering system -- fire out some 6½'s and some 4.3's. That's the only way I can keep track."

    Our buddy, David Vincent, SABR's esteemed Sultan of Swat Stats, was also attending this series. And he's begun thinking along the same lines. After watching Adam Kennedy throw out Delgado from short right field, Vincent tried writing down 8.5 to 3 on his scorecard, then decided that was "too confusing."

    But if he thinks that's confusing, how about all those five-man infields Scioscia is always using in the ninth and extra innings, when the go-ahead run reaches third?

    "If an outfielder is at the second-base bag," Vincent wondered, "is he 4.5 or 6.5?"

    Depends on which side of the bag he's standing on, obviously.

    And if Kennedy threw out Delgado from right field this week, "does he get an outfield assist?" Vincent asked.

    But there are no good answers, because the baseball computers aren't programmed to adjust for all this innovation. All 4-3's are created equal to the computers. And we think it's time we started working on that. But it isn't just the computers who get confused by this shifting.

    "Mike Scioscia kept bringing in an outfielder to play in the infield, and I kept saying he was playing a six-man infield," Hudler said. "Finally, somebody wrote me a letter and said, 'Hud, there's only five men in there. Better count again.' My alibi was: I was counting the catcher. He's a big part of the infield to me."

    Well, all we know is that after watching Delgado go 6 for 14 in this series (with two doubles, a homer and seven RBI) despite all that shiftiness, it isn't a shift that they need to stop him. They need 12 fielders. That would work a lot better.

    Promotion of the week
    How do you break a losing streak? Everyone has a theory. We thought we'd heard them all: Pull the socks up. Lucky tee-shirts. Pick the lineup out of a hat.

    But only those free-thinking Seattle Mariners thought of this:

    Barry White Night.

    The Mariners had lost 11 of 12 before their game last Saturday against the White Sox. So they did the only logical thing: They brought in soul music's most legendary baritone, Barry White, for what he claimed was the first professional sporting event of his lifetime and had him take charge.

    He threw out the first pitch. He introduced Seattle hitters for the first three innings. He loved them just a little bit more. And sure enough. The Mariners couldn't get enough of his love -- and won, 8-4.

    Alex Rodriguez, whom White introduced as Alex "Glove Machine" Rodriguez, homered, scored twice and was on base three times. Mark McLemore got a hit in his first at-bat, then said that after hearing White announce his name, "How can you not get a hit? That's why I got a hit."

    But no one was more inspired than the man White introduced as Rickey "Show You Right" Henderson. He got White's autograph. He caught the ceremonial first pitch. Then he went out and walked to lead off the game, in which he later also singled and scored.

    Henderson, who holds or shares 13 different records, was later asked by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Jim Caple where he would rank catching that first pitch from Barry White among his many career achievements.

    "Probably No. 1," Henderson replied, without much hesitation.

    And why was Rickey in such reverence of this man? Easy. Fond teenage memories.

    "He's the one," Henderson said, "who helped me get girlfriends."

    We don't want to know much more about that particular development. But we did want to know the Top Five Baseball Terms That Sound Romantic When Spoken By Barry White. And here they are, courtesy of the Mariners' director of marketing, Jon Schuller:

    5. Hot corner
    4. Infield fly rule
    3. Squeeze play
    2. Home run
    And No. 1 -- what else? -- A-Rod

    Scrubeenie of the week
    Cal Ripken Jr. returned to the active roster in Baltimore Friday. That's the good news. Uh, here comes the bad news: He's no longer an every-day kind of guy. He's more like a pick-his-spots, certain-pitcher, limited-innings kind of guy, at least for now.

    In other words, we're afraid, he's finally reached that stage of his career where he more closely resembles Tony Eusebio than Lou Gehrig. And who'd have thunk that?

    Well, if Cal is going to adjust to life as an extra man, he's going to need some tips. So here, to furnish some, is an official expert on this concept -- Ripken's ex-teammate, and the man who leads all active players in most times designated for assignment (412 times, by his count), Mr. Jeff Manto.

    The 36-year-old Manto, who has changed organizations an amazing 13 times (and even changed countries a couple of times), currently is playing for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons for (believe it or not) the sixth time just in the last four years. But he also has made a career out of being a handy-dandy multi-position extra man.

    So here are his time-honed guidelines for Ripken now that he's got other things to do besides chasing Lou Gehrig:

    1. Oh say you can't see
    First off, Manto advised Cal, "don't worry about being out there for the Anthem. You're a bench player now. You don't need to worry about the Anthem anymore. It's a good time to go in, play with the satellite dish and work on scouting the Yankees or something."

    2. Busy signals
    "You never want to look preoccupied," Manto cautioned next. "Always look like you're doing something. If you're in the clubhouse (during the game), make sure you're sitting down or you have a bat in your hand. Otherwise, if the coaches come in, they'll think you're goofing off. If you're on the floor, start stretching right away. And if you hold onto a bat, they'll think you're getting ready to pinch-hit. But you can't be wandering around aimlessly. They'll think you don't care."

    3. Eating schedule
    "Don't worry about eating before the game," Manto said. "You'll have plenty of time to eat. And after the seventh inning, you can start eating a lot, because you're never going to get used. And if you do, it will only be for a couple of minutes, to pinch-hit. And the great thing about being a bench player is it doesn't matter what you eat. You only have to eat good when you're starting. If you're a bench guy, you can eat anything you want. It doesn't matter how we look."

    4. Pinch me
    "If you see more than three pitches, you're not a good pinch hitter," Manto said. "You swing at the first strike. That's the rule. Because the guys you're facing that late in the game aren't going to give you more than one pitch to hit, anyway. And if you swing at the first strike, it means a little more rest for you, because you should be inside already -- eating."

    5. Low pressure front
    "The best thing about being a bench player is, there's no pressure," Manto said. "You're not a star now. You're a bench guy. You're expected to make an out."

    6. Mail call
    "Another good thing about being a bench player: You can get your fan mail done," Manto said. "There's plenty of time -- from the first inning on."

    7. Shake baby shake
    There's a certain extra-man art to popping off the bench to shake the hands of your teammates after homers, runs, sacrifices and other acts of heroism, too. And only your true bench professional, like Manto, has it down pat.

    "I try to teach the young guys," he said. "If the camera pit is down at the end of the dugout, you've got to be the last one in the congo line. You let everyone else get up first, then you get up, so the camera can see the back of your jersey. You get in quick, then get out. Last one in. First one out. Do the hokey-pokey. And all they see is the name on your jersey."

    8. Pregame shows
    You might think there's a different kind of pregame ritual for your average bench guy, too. But in fact, when we brought this up, Manto said: "Pregame? There's no such thing. It's all pregame -- until you get in. Your game doesn't start till 10, 10:30."

    9. Postgame shows
    "Always come back into the clubhouse looking like you're tired," Manto cautioned. "Look like you were part of the win or you're down about the loss. Trust me. This is a big part of the job. I know. I do it for a living."

    10. Deliver the news
    "Another thing the bench guy has to do, starting Sunday, is, get the football scores," Manto said. "That's real important, because a lot of guys have a lot of money going in their fantasy leagues. They need to know who's winning and who scored the touchdowns. See, Cal should know it's not an easy job. He thinks it's going to be easy, think again. These guys want info."

    11. Blend in
    Ripken has grown accustomed to doing his nightly autograph marathons, but that won't be necessary anymore, Manto assured us.

    "He'll actually be able to walk through the mall now," Manto said. "Nobody needs his autograph now. They'll be saying, 'There's Rip. Aw, he's a bench player. We'll get him later.' "

    12. Readjust your sights
    Finally, Manto thinks Ripken might get to like this extra-man stuff so much, he'll wonder why he ever wanted to play all the time.

    "If he'd known it was like this, he'd have never broken that record," Manto said. "My advice is: Don't worry about any more streaks. It's time to go for Consecutive Games not Played. My record for that is 19 or 20 games, if he wants to shoot for it."

    Wild pitches
    Box score line of the week (schizophrenia dept.) It was a tale of two Greg Madduxes on Monday during the Braves ace's start against the Reds. There was Maddux's line in the first inning, which looked like this:

    1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HR, 27 pitches to get three outs, 1 throwing error by catcher Paul Bako on a walk, one runner thrown out at the plate and a plot line that went: homer-single-walk, single-single-double, sacrifice fly, single, out.

    But then came Maddux's line for the rest of the night, which looked like this:

    7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 71 pitches to get the final 21 outs.

    It was the first time Maddux had allowed five runs in the first inning since June 6, 1990 -- 350 starts ago -- and only the third time in his career (the other being July 18, 1987, in the 24th start of his career).

    "In the first inning, he looked like Clark Kent," said Reds coach Dave Collins. "In the next seven innings, he looked like Superman."

    Box score lines of the week (one-hitter divisions)
    Four one hitters in one week? Three in one day? You don't see that much. So here come the lines by all four pitchers who started those one-hitters, just for novelty's sake:

    Monday: Tim Hudson vs. White Sox:
    9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 27-minute power failure that knocked out the lights just before the game started.

    "They could have kept the lights off," quipped White Sox manager Jerry Manuel.

    Tuesday: Kris Benson vs. Giants:
    8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 7 K, 1 manager (Gene Lamont) who took so much heat on the postgame show for not letting Benson come out for the ninth that pitching coach Pete Vuckovich had to call in to defend him from his car.

    Tuesday: Pedro Martinez vs. Devil Rays:
    9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 K, 1 HBP you may have heard about, 1 baseball game that turned into an episode of WCW Monday Nitro.

    Tuesday: Chan Ho Park vs. Brewers:
    8 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 14 K, 1 HBP.

    Park actually took a no-hitter into the sixth -- and almost walked the guy who got the hit. That was James (Don't Call Me Lyle) Mouton, who actually started for first base after Park's 3-1 pitch, only to be called back by umpire Las Diaz. So Mouton stepped back in and bombed a two-run homer on the next pitch. After which Park couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about.

    "I didn't know there was a no-hitter going on," he said. "After (the homer), I looked at people, and they were getting excited. I saw the scoreboard and said, 'Oh, one hit.' "

    Oh. One hit? Those three one-hitters in one day marked the first time three teams had been held to one hit (or fewer) on the same day since Sept. 24, 1988, when the games in question were started by this memorable trio: Dave Stieb. Mark Langston and Pascual Perez.

    Injuries of the week
    Third prize: Red Sox pitcher Rolando Arrojo hurt his foot kicking a dugout fence after allowing a home run.

    Second prize: Braves pitcher Kevin Millwood broke his nose -- by bunting a foul ball off his face in a bunting drill.

    First prize: Pirates first baseman Kevin young strained a groin muscle -- while taking the fourth ball of a walk. He actually did it by checking his swing.

    "How do you get hurt drawing a walk?" Young asked the Beaver County Times' John Perrotto. "That's incredible. I guess that pretty much sums up this whole team's season right there."

    In-and-outer of the week
    Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu did something Sunday that has never been done in history: In a game in which his team scored no other runs, he hit an outside-the-park homer and a game-ending inside-the-park homer to beat the Giants.

    On the inside-the-parker, Abreu barely beat Jeff Kent's relay throw, much to the relief of third-base coach John Vukovich.

    "If he's out," Vukovich told Week in Review, "I'm working for Seko Air Freight."

    The close play was a shock to Abreu, too. He said that when he saw Vukovich waving him around third, "I was 95 to 98-percent sure I was going to be safe. I figured he's not going to send me if it's going to be a tough play. (Laugh.) Whoops."

    Hit man of the week
    Darin Erstad got his 200th hit Tuesday. It took him the fewest number of games (131) anyone had needed to reach 200 hits since 1935 (Pepper Martin). Asked for his reaction to that feat, teammate Tim Salmon retorted: "Actually it surprised me. ... Didn't he have 200 hits about a month ago?"

    Trifecta of the week
    You might say Toronto's Darrin Fletcher wasn't the most likely candidate in baseball to become the 10th AL catcher in history to hit three home runs in a game. Going into his game Sunday in Texas, Fletcher hadn't homered all month (since July 30) and hadn't even driven in a run since Aug. 4. But then he hit three straight rockets off Rick Helling.

    Asked how he thought Fletcher compared to Johnny Bench, Rangers manager Johnny Oates quipped: "Fletcher has more power from the left side."

    Nemesis of the week
    Strange things happen in baseball. The Tigers are 13-4 against New York and Seattle, who are in first place, but they're only 4-6 (with six losses in their last eight games) against the Twins, who are tied for the worst record in the AL.

    "Somebody's pounding them," Tigers closer Todd Jones told Booth Newspapers' Danny Knobler. "But it ain't us."

    So while ordinarily, it would be a good development for the Tigers that if they can hang in the wild-card race, they get to finish with three games against the team in last place in their division, it isn't such a great development that that team is the Twins.

    "I'd rather play Cleveland," said Dean Palmer.

    Marathon of the week
    The Indians don't lose as much now as they used to. But when they do, at least they take their time about it. Their 14-7 loss to Texas on Thursday took 4 hours, 21 minutes -- one minute short of tying the record for the longest nine-inning game in baseball history.

    "That might be one record," said manager Charlie Manuel, "I'm glad we didn't break."

    But catcher Einar Diaz, who fouled off a bunch of pitches in the ninth, wasn't so sure.

    "I wish somebody would have told me," Diaz told the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes." I would have gone for it."

    Mocha scare of the week
    As we reported a couple of weeks ago, Tigers pitcher Brian Moehler has turned unbeatable ever since injured teammate Greg Jefferies began delivering a pregame Starbucks mocha to him this month. Moehler had won five straight starts and was going for a sixth Thursday in Baltimore when Jefferies discovered, to his horror, there was no Starbucks near the team hotel.

    After scouring around for information, he found a restaurant that at least sold Starbucks products.

    "It's a minor-league Starbucks," Jefferies said before handing Moehler the mocha. "It'll work, though."

    Well, kind of. Moehler allowed just one run to the Orioles but got a no-decision in the Tigers' 6-1 win. In the meantime, though, Jefferies revealed that after giving Starbucks all this nationwide pub, he got a surprise case of mochas delivered to his house. Which he's keeping.

    "Oh, he's not getting any of those," said the ever-selfless Jefferies.

    Trivia answer
    Greg Maddux (1993-94-95), Roger Clemens (1990), Kevin Brown (1996), Dwight Gooden (1985).

    Jayson Stark is a senior writer at ESPN.com. Week in Review appears each Friday.

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