Chris Johnson sets Braves record with eighth consecutive multi-hit game

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Braves third baseman Chris Johnson went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run in the Braves’ 6-4 victory over the Phillies tonight, marking the eighth consecutive game in which he has had two or more hits. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman confirms that it is a team record since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966. Johnson entered the night leading the National League in batting average at .346. Tonight’s performance bumped it up to .347.

An obscenely high batting average on balls in play has been the backbone of his offensive success this season. It stands at .430, 38 points above the next-highest BABIP (Joe Mauer, .392) and 65 points above his career average. Per ESPN’s Jayson Stark, if the .430 BABIP holds, it would be the highest mark since Ty Cobb and Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1911. According to Baseball Reference, there have been 27 instances of a .400+ BABIP among hitters that had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. The most recent was accomplished by Jose Hernandez in 2002, but he struck out so often (a league-leading 188 times) he didn’t put the ball in play all that often — his overall batting average was .288.

The full list (bolded averages indicate a league-leader):

Player Year BAbip Age Tm BA
Chris Johnson 2013 .430 28 ATL .346
Jose Hernandez 2002 .404 32 MIL .288
Manny Ramirez 2000 .403 28 CLE .351
Rod Carew 1977 .408 31 MIN .388
Roberto Clemente 1967 .403 32 PIT .357
Luke Appling 1936 .400 29 CHW .388
Bill Terry 1930 .400 31 NYG .401
Rogers Hornsby 1924 .422 28 STL .424
Babe Ruth 1923 .423 28 NYY .393
Harry Heilmann 1923 .414 28 DET .403
George Sisler 1922 .422 29 SLB .420
Ty Cobb 1922 .416 35 DET .401
Rogers Hornsby 1921 .409 25 STL .397
George Sisler 1920 .401 27 SLB .407
Ty Cobb 1919 .401 32 DET .384
Ty Cobb 1917 .400 30 DET .383
Benny Kauff 1914 .400 24 IND .370
Ty Cobb 1913 .415 26 DET .390
Ty Cobb 1912 .424 25 DET .409
Shoeless Joe Jackson 1912 .405 24 CLE .395
Heinie Zimmerman 1912 .400 25 CHC .372
Shoeless Joe Jackson 1911 .434 23 CLE .408
Ty Cobb 1911 .444 24 DET .420
Ty Cobb 1910 .412 23 DET .383
George Stone 1906 .416 29 SLB .358
Nap Lajoie 1901 .418 26 PHA .426
Jesse Burkett 1901 .415 32 STL .376
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/2/2013.

Kershaw-Sale anything but a pitcher’s duel

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World Series Game 1 was billed as a battle of aces, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw against Chris Sale of the Red Sox. Between them, they have 14 All-Star Game nominations. Kershaw has won three Cy Young Awards. Sale could his first Cy Young Award this year. Among his 10 seasons with at least 110 innings pitched, Kershaw has never posted a sub-2.92 ERA. Sale has been at 2.90 or below in each of the last two seasons. The two have combined for over 4,000 career strikeouts and both have averaged better than a strikeout per inning over their careers.

And yet Tuesday’s Game 1 was anything but a pitcher’s duel between Kershaw and Sale. Though a couple of fielding mistakes weren’t of any help to Kershaw in the first inning, Red Sox batters were squaring him up good. Of the five balls put in play in the first inning, three had exit velocities of 100 MPH or higher. Of the 12 total balls put in play against him overall, five reached triple digits in exit velo.

Kershaw gave up a pair of runs in the first, another run in the third on a J.D. Martinez double to straightaway center field, and another two in the fifth. Kershaw led off the fifth by walking Mookie Betts, then giving up a single to Andrew Benintendi, ending his night. Ryan Madson relieved Kershaw and proceeded to allow both inherited runners to score. All told, Kershaw yielded five runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts on 79 pitches in four-plus innings.

Sale, meanwhile, was on the hook for individual runs in the second, third, and fifth. Dodger hitters weren’t squaring him up quite as well as the Red Sox batters squared up Kershaw, but Sale was still more hittable than usual. Of the eight balls put in play against him, four were at least 90 MPH in exit velo. One of the runs was a no-doubt solo home run to Matt Kemp in the second. The Dodgers chased Sale in the fifth when he issued a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier. Matt Barnes relieved him allowed the inherited runner to score. Overall, Sale threw 91 pitches in four-plus innings, serving up three runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.

The game is now, as has been generally the case throughout this postseason, a battle of the bullpens.