When the Milwaukee Braves opened the 1959 season in Pittsburgh, the two-time defending National League pennant winners featured a roster that included five-time All-Star catcher Del Crandall, three-time stolen-base champ Bill Bruton, power-hitting first baseman Joe Adcock and future Hall of Famers Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews and Henry Aaron. In the first game against the Pirates, Spahn tossed a seven-hitter for his 44th career shutout and the offense, spurred by a two-run home run by Mathews and three hits (including two doubles) by Aaron, scored eight runs.
Aaron's three-hit day was the start of something special for the 25-year-old right fielder. In his first seven games of the season, he had at least two hits in every one of them, and after that first week, he had five doubles, a triple and two home runs. On April 22, Aaron would go hitless, but after that rare day of failure, he went right back to collecting hit after hit after hit. Aaron hit safely in 25 of the Braves' first 26 games, and it was not some pedestrian sequence of 1-for-3 or 1-for-4 games.
Through those first 26 games, Aaron accumulated 110 at-bats, 53 hits, and had powdered the baseball to the tune of 10 doubles, two triples and eight home runs. He owned a .482 batting average, a .508 on-base percentage, a 1.335 OPS and was sitting on an 18-game hitting streak.
Aaron, who would win his second batting title and collect 400 total bases that season, would also lead the NL in hits, slugging and OPS. And those first three or four weeks of baseball still stand as one the great extended starts the game has seen.
Andre Ethier went 2-for-5 with a home run on Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to 24 games, the longest streak by a Dodgers player since Paul Lo Duca hit in 25 straight in 2003 and the longest streak in the Majors since 2009, when four players had hitting streaks of at least 25 games.
Hitting in at least 25 of a season's first 26 games Since 1919
|George Sisler||1925||26 of 26|
|Gee Walker||1937||26 of 26|
|Charlie Grimm||1923||25 of 26|
|Sam Rice||1930||25 of 26|
|Bill Terry||1930||25 of 26|
|Al Kaline||1955||25 of 26|
|Hank Aaron||1959||25 of 26|
|Rico Carty||1970||25 of 26|
|Dave Parker||1977||25 of 26|
|Ryan Zimmerman||2009||25 of 26|
|Andre Ethier||2011||25 of 26|
Ethier is batting .402 with a 1.074 OPS and has 12 extra-base hits (nine doubles, three home runs) during his hitting streak.
Ethier's streak began with the Dodgers' third game of the season. After going 1-for-4 in the opener, Ethier went 0-for-4 in the second game and then a 3-for-4 game on April 2 began his run. In all, Ethier has hit safely in 25 of the Dodgers' first 26 games. He is the 11th player since 1919 to hit safely in at least 25 of his team's first 26 games.
Among those 11, Ethier's 38 hits over the 26 games are ninth-most. Aaron's 53 hits are the most.
Meanwhile, teammate Vicente Padilla, pitching a scoreless 10th inning against the Marlins, earned his first save since Sept. 28, 2000.
Dodgers catcher Rod Barajas went 1-for-5, with his sole hit a home run. Five of Barajas' 14 hits this season have been home runs. Last season, Barajas had five home runs among his first 15 hits, and went on to have nine home runs among his first 20 hits.
Ryan Braun went 0-for-4 and was hit by a pitch. He has reached safely in all 24 Brewers games, passing Robin Yount (who reached safely in the first 23 games in 1983) for the franchise record for the longest such streak to begin a season.
Joey Votto went 2-for-4 with two walks and has reached safely in all 25 Reds' games this season. Votto's on-base percentage stands at .509.
Chipper Jones went 1-for-4 and drove in three runs to break out of a tie with Mickey Mantle on the all-time RBI list. With 1,512 RBIs, Jones has the second-most by a switch-hitter (Eddie Murray has 1,917) and is tied with Carlos Delgado for 49th among all hitters. Among players with 75 percent of their total games at third base, Jones' 1,512 RBIs are second-most, behind Mike Schmidt's 1,595. George Brett, who also drove in 1,595 runs, played 62.5 percent of his career games at third.
Tommy Hanson pitched seven innings and struck out 10 while issuing a single walk in the Braves' 7-0 win over the Padres. It was the 15th time this season a pitcher has reached double digits in strikeouts and issued no more than one walk. Those 15 occurrences have come in 714 starts. In 2010, through the first 720 starts, there were nine such games.
It was the seventh time this season San Diego was shut out. That is the most times being shut out through 25 games since the 1987 Royals were also blanked seven times through their first 25 contests.
Most extra-base hits as a shortstop since 2000
Jimmy Rollins went 2-for-5 with a double and a home run in the Phillies' 8-4 win over the Diamondbacks. Rollins has 624 extra-base hits since his first season in 2000. Those 624 are the second-most by any shortstop in the Majors over that span.
Placido Polanco went 4-for-5 and has 37 hits on the season. The 37 hits through the Phillies' first 24 games are tied with Bernie Friberg (1929), Lefty O'Doul (1929) and Pete Rose (1981) for the fifth-most by a Phillies player since 1919. O'Doul (41 in 1930) had the most, followed by Morrie Arnovich (40 in 1939), Cy Williams (39 in 1923) and Dave Cash (38 on 1975).
Cleveland's Josh Tomlin went six innings and allowed two runs on five hits to earn a win over the Royals and improve to 4-0.
Since his Major League debut on July 27, 2010, Tomlin has pitched at least five innings in all 17 of his appearances. That 17-game streak of five-plus innings to begin a career is tied for the ninth-longest since 1919, the others being Hippo Vaughn (1919), Fred Toney (1919), Dave Stieb (1979), Joey Hamilton (1994-95) and Bill Pulsipher (1995).
Tomlin and teammate Justin Masterson (5-0) give the Indians a pair of starters who are at least 4-0 through the first month of the season for the first time since 1988. That year, Greg Swindell won his first six decisions and Tom Candiotti began the year 4-0 in five starts.
The Indians improved to 15-8, the best record in the American League. They have won nine straight at home, their longest home winning streak since 2005.
The Cardinals' Kyle Lohse pitched seven innings of shutout ball to extend his scoreless streak to 19 2/3 innings. Lohse is 4-1 and owns a 1.64 ERA in 38 1/3 innings over five starts.
Roger Schlueter is a senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.