50 years ago today: Ryne Duren strikes out seven straight Red Sox

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June 9, 1961

Making his first start of the year in the second game of a doubleheader, the California Angels’ Ryne Duren fans seven straight Red Sox to set an American League record in a 5-1 victory.

Duren’s streak started when Frank Malzone whiffed to end the first inning with two men on.  He went on to strike out the side in both the second and third innings before Carl Yastrzemski grounded out to begin the fourth.

The hard-throwing Duren ended his outing with 11 strikeouts.  He gave up one run and walked four in 6 2/3 innings.  Eli Grba took over in the seventh and finished the game from there for a save.

Duren’s rotation stint didn’t last, however.  He walked eight in 2 1/3 innings in a game against the Athletics later in June.  He was sent back to the pen in July after two starts in which he combined to allow eight runs and walk nine in 4 2/3 innings.

Duren was selected to his third and final All-Star Game in 1961 anyway, but he didn’t get to pitch.  He ended the year 6-13 with a 5.19 ERA in 14 starts and 30 relief appearances.  He struck out 115 and walked 79 in 104 innings.

Duren ended up making 32 career starts and going 7-11 with a 4.55 ERA.  A feared reliever in his early years because of his wildness and poor eyesight, he finished with a 3.57 ERA in 279 appearances out of the pen.  In 589 1/3 major league innings, he struck out 630 and walked 393.

Duren’s AL strikeout record was matched a few times during the 1960s before being broken by Nolan Ryan on July 9, 1972.  Ryan struck out eight in a row against the Red Sox then and again just a year later versus the Tigers on July 15, 1973.  The major league record for consecutive strikeouts is 10, set by the Mets’ Tom Seaver on April 22, 1970.  He fanned the last 10 Padres he faced and 19 overall.

Duren passed away earlier this year at age 71.

Travis d’Arnaud’s position in Wednesday’s box score read “3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B”

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The Mets had to scratch both Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores an hour before Wednesday’s game against the Yankees due to ribcage injuries, so Travis d'Arnaud — normally a catcher — borrowed David Wright‘s glove and played third base for the first time in his career. He had played some third base in spring training, but as far as an official professional game goes, he’s never been there.

The first two batters the Yankees sent up to the plate in the first inning were left-handed. But when the right-handed Aaron Judge came up, manager Terry Collins swapped second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera with d’Arnaud. It became a thing. The two swapped once more in the first inning, three times in the second, once in the third, five times in the fourth, once in the fifth, three times in the sixth, four times in the seventh, once in the eighth, and twice in the ninth. It worked, as d’Arnaud didn’t have an opportunity to make a play until catching Todd Frazier‘s pop-up for the first out of the ninth inning — as a second baseman. Cabrera had a handful of opportunities, including immediately after having swapped with d’Arnaud.

The Mets lost 5-3. At the plate, d’Arnaud went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly. Cabrera was 1-for-4.

Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini are being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas so the Mets don’t have to do the “3B-2B shenanigans,” as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo put it, again.

John Lackey stole the first base of his career

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Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.

Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.

Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.

Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.