When Curtis Granderson stole his 20th base of the season on Sunday, he became the third player in Major League history to notch 20 home runs, 20 triples, 20 stolen bases and 20 doubles in the same season. The other two players were Frank "Wildfire" Schulte (1911) and Willie Mays (1957).
"What he did today is really remarkable when you think about it, with all the years in baseball, and he's the [third] guy that has ever done it," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told MLB.com. "It probably won't get the recognition it deserves. It'll probably make a splash for a day or so and people will forget about it. That's a big splash. I mean, that's big time. I would have never believed that."
Mays, though, never reached an even more exclusive club that includes only Granderson and Schulte -- 20 triples, 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 30 doubles. When he stole the base, there was acknowledgement of this achievement on the scoreboard, but not a lot of pomp and circumstance.
"I'm glad it kind of happened that way," said Granderson, who simply nodded to the applause of the crowd and gave a respectful wave to his teammates. "Not scripted at all, not planning what I was going to do, I think that's exactly how I wanted it to happen. I just wanted to go, 'OK, let's go through the moment and see what happens.'"
As rare as this accomplishment is, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, through Sunday, has 35 doubles, 28 steals, 26 home runs and 17 triples.
Smoltz inches closer to magical night: In his 19-year career in the Major Leagues, John Smoltz has experienced many highs in the game. He's a World Series winner, Cy Young Award recipient, he's posted a 20-win season and he's led the league in saves. About the only thing missing from his resume is a no-hitter. Smoltz carried one into the eighth inning but lost the bid when Ronnie Belliard led off the inning with a single.
"It had a chance to be a magical night," Smoltz told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It really felt like it. Unfortunately, I just ran out of gas."
Nationals manager Manny Acta was among those singing Smoltz's praises after the game.
"There's nothing left to say about John," Acta said. "He's John Smoltz. That's who he is. He just toyed with us. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer."
Some pitchers claim to be oblivious about pitching a no-hitter during the game, but Smoltz, who entered the game with a head cold, knew exactly where he stood.
""I told Bobby [Cox], 'Soon as I give up a hit, I'm [coming out],'" Smoltz said. "I don't say that very often ... I was gassed. Not from anything other than not feeling good. But it was a big game. I'm not disappointed at all."
Biggio gets touching farewell at Shea: Playing in his last game at Shea Stadium, Houston Astros second baseman Craig Biggio received a nice gesture from the fans Sunday. The Mets' public address announcer described the Long Island native, who is retiring after this season, as "a great local product."
Biggio also received a nice ovation from the Shea Stadium crowd in recognition of his 20-year career.
"It makes you feel good," Biggio told the Houston Chronicle. "Obviously I grew up here, 50 minutes from here. It was really nice to get a reception like this. It makes you feel good as a player. Respect from the fans is what it's all about. Obviously for them to appreciate my efforts for 20 years it's a nice feeling."
Biggio had several friends attend the game as well.
"It's nice," he said. "New York is always a (special) place. I remember when I first got here I was kind of like I couldn't believe I was in the big leagues. ... It's pretty special. We got a lot of good memories here."
LeCroy to make trek northward: Saturday night after watching the Clemson football game, Matthew LeCroy got a phone call from Twins general manager Terry Ryan. He figured when he heard Ryan on the line that he was planning to ask the veteran catcher -- who finished the season at Triple-A -- to help coach in the instructional league. Not so fast.
With catchers falling fast in Minnesota, Ryan was calling to let LeCroy know that the team wanted him to join them for the stretch drive. The chance to play in the Major Leagues one more time was very attractive to LeCroy, especially after enduring some time in the minors.
"Life is just not easy down there," LeCroy told MLB.com. "You don't have any scouting reports. You don't have planes, and we take buses pretty much all the places. The amenities are not the same. But that's the good thing about being in the big leagues, is it's so different. And that's what makes it good about making your way back up here."
As soon as he joined the Twins, LeCroy's sense of humor and relationship with his teammates was evident.
"I miss a lot of these guys," he said. "So hopefully I can help them out any way I can while I'm here ... and get some free meals out of [Michael] Cuddyer."
Manager Ron Gardenhire is glad to have LeCroy back in the dugout for a variety of reasons. "He can provide us with an emergency catcher or a pinch-hitter," said Gardenhire. "But more so, just having a quality person like him around is going to make September a little easier to deal with here."
Encarnacion 'living up to the promise': Back on May 10, things were not looking too good for Reds third baseman Edwin Encarnacion. He was batting .218, he had one home run, 14 RBIs and had just been sent to Triple-A Louisville and was there just under two weeks. Maybe, he admits in hindsight, that was a good thing for him. He now has his average up to .286 and has 12 home runs and 65 RBIs.
"I feel great. I feel very comfortable at the plate," Encarnacion told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "My defense is working hard; everything is working. If you are working hard every day, good things will come."
Reds manager Pete Mackanin is happy with the play of his third baseman -- offensively and defensively.
"He's playing consistent baseball on both sides of the ball. He's making all the plays and then some at third base," said Mackanin. "He's kind of living up to the promise that we all would hope that he would. And he's still pretty young. He's got a high ceiling, I think."
It's the defense that has Encarnacion excited, though. After making 25 errors in 2006, he has just 12 so far this year. "Last year that was my problem," he said. "This year I've made a lot of good plays," he said.
Phillips wants the trophy: Brandon Phillips has a 30-30 season in his sights, but it's his defense that has the folks in Cincinnati talking. For that matter, it has Phillips talking, too.
"In my eyes," the Reds second baseman told the Cincinnati Post, "I think I'm a Gold Glover, and I really hope I win it this year. The only person I know who can probably get me defensively is the guy who won a Gold Glove the last two years at second base (Orlando Hudson). The thing is, if a person wins a Gold Glove, it's kind of hard to beat that person the next time.
"O-Dog is my boy. We talk in the offseason. He talked to me and said he thinks I'm better than him. We go back and forth, but he's got the Glove to prove it. But I think I deserve one also."
Martinez also strong with the bat: Pedro Martinez was the star Sunday in his first start of the season at Shea Stadium. The Mets' right-hander threw five shutout innings and hit a double to lead New York past the Houston Astros and ace Roy Oswalt 4-1.
Martinez, who is now 2-0 in two starts this season, received a standing ovation after the fifth inning, though he joked that he expected it earlier.
"I was expecting the curtain call after the double, but it didn't happen," he told Newsday of the rare shot to the left-field fence in the third inning that led to the Mets' second run. "It was great to actually give something back to the fans after they've been so loyal, so faithful all year. I know that they have been waiting."
With two straight wins, Martinez is already excited about helping the Mets make a possible run for a World Series title in October.
"I don't want to think that far ahead, but I can tell you one thing for sure. I want to be part of that team that's out there. I don't care if it's at 82, 84, 80," he said, referring to pitch speeds. "I want to be able to contribute. I want to be able to do something. And I'm going to play it cautious from here to the playoffs to after the playoffs because I know this team has a very good chance to win and I don't want to be left out. I want to repeat that again: I don't want to be left out."
Though his fastball topped out at 88 mph, Martinez allowed only six hits and one walk and struck out four. Martinez's outing made everyone in a Mets uniform feel comfortable.
Detwiler first from '07 to get the call: Nationals pitcher Ross Detwiler became the first player selected in the 2007 Draft to appear in the Majors when he hurled a scoreless inning in Friday's game against the Braves at Turner Field. Detwiler was Washington's first-round pick and the sixth player overall in the draft.
"I'm kind of beside myself right now," Detwiler told the Washington Post. "Just glad to have the chance. I kind of find it hard to call this a job -- out there playing."
The first batter faced by Detwiler was Andruw Jones. Detwiler was well aware that Jones has 366 lifetime home runs.
"It was kind of unbelievable he was my first hitter," Detwiler said.
The rookie got Jones on a groundout to second base. He ended the inning with a strikeout. Detwiler's fastball reached 94 mph but he had trouble locating his breaking ball.
"The adrenaline was flowing a little too much," Detwiler said.
Saito due back next season: After his first season in the United States in 2006, Dodgers closer Takashi Saito was unsure if his family would let him return the following year. They did and Saito has been one of the top closers in the game. He's already received permission from his family to return to the U.S. in 2008.
"My hope is to play here," Saito told the Los Angeles Times. "I haven't thought about the contract or any of the small things, so I don't have too much to say. But my hope is to play again next season."
Saito's family visited from Japan in August and he got approval from his wife and two daughters.
"They told me to do what I want," Saito said.
Thome has made an impression on Twins: After Jim Thome his the 498th home run of his career on Sunday against the Minnesota Twins, he opted out of talking about the possible milestone that's right around the corner. That didn't stop some of the Twins from offering their two-cents, though.
"He's a great guy," Minnesota starter Johan Santana told MLB.com. "He deserves 500 or 600 home runs and should be in the Hall of Fame. He's a true gentleman of the game."
"When he gets hot, you'd better watch out," added Minnesota center fielder Torii Hunter. "When Jim Thome gets hot, he's very impressive. I love watching him swing the bat."
Santana, who has allowed one home run to Thome in his career, says there is no shame in allowing number 500 -- whoever ends up doing so.
"Someone has to give it up," he said. "I've been there in the past, and there's nothing wrong with that. I'll challenge him and everyone else. But one day I'll be able to say I was part of [500 home runs]."
Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire has seen plenty of Thome over the years -- more than enough, actually. "I don't know how many he's got, but it seems like 400 against us," said Gardenhire. "One year, I think he hit eight or 11 off one of our pitchers.
"So, I think that Thome, really, when he gets inducted, he should wear some kind of Twins uniform or something with Twins on it. We have definitely been a big part of him going to the Hall of Fame."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.