Adam Jones first since 2005 with five RBI, two steals in a game

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It’s a very rare combination and one that was very profitable for those fortunate enough to own him in fantasy leagues; Adam Jones knocked in five runs and stole two bases Saturday in Baltimore’s 8-4 win over Oakland.

Jones had a three-run homer off Jason Hammel in the first inning and then a two-run single in the fourth. Both times, he drove in Nick Markakis and Steve Pearce, the two guys hitting ahead of him in the Baltimore lineup. Those two reached base safely eight tiems in all.

Jones’ steals came after the single in the fourth and after he reached on a fielder’s choice in the seventh. It was just the third two-steal game of his career; he entered with a total of four steals this season.

That made Jones the first player since the Pirates’ Matt Lawton in 2005 to amass five RBI and two steals in the same game. Lawton did it in a 16-2 win over the Diamondbacks. Carlos Guillen is the other player to accomplish it since 2000, driving in six (without the benefit of a homer) and stealing two bases for the Tigers in an 11-10 defeat of the Mariners in 2004.

In all, 23 players since 1914 have had five RBI and two steals in a game. Rogers Hornsby, Mickey Mantle, Mickey Cochrane and Gary Sheffield are some other famous names to pull it off. Oddly enough, Dante Bichette did it twice two years apart for the Rockies. Both games were against San Diego: a 12-7 win on June 27, 1994 and an 8-5 victory on July 11, 1996.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.