Elias Says ...
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports.
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• The Mavericks overcame a deficit of 18 points to defeat the Suns 102-93 and advance to the NBA Finals. That was the largest deficit overcome by any winning team in the 2006 playoffs, and was a case of turnabout being fair play: A year ago, in Game 6 of their Western Conference semifinals series, the Suns eliminated the Mavericks in Dallas by overcoming a 16-point second-half deficit to take a 130-126 decision.
Dallas now goes on to face Miami, in what will be the first meeting of teams playing in the NBA Finals for the first time since the Bucks swept the Baltimore Bullets in 1971.
• Steve Nash came up short of the Finals for the 10th time in 10 NBA seasons, but he shot 50.2 percent from the floor (146-for-291) and 91.2 percent from the line (83-for-91). In the history of the NBA playoffs, only one other player who took as many field-goal attempts and free-throw attempts as Nash hit for 50 percent from the floor and 90 percent from the line. That was Larry Bird in 1986: 51.7 percent from the floor, 92.7 percent from the line.
• Thirty-six-year-old Damion Easley, who had hit only two home runs this season prior to Saturday, hit three in Arizona's 13-9 victory in Atlanta to complete a day-night sweep of the Braves. Easley went 4-for-5 with seven RBI in the game -- and that made him the oldest player in major league history to have a game of four or more hits, three or more homers, and seven or more RBI.
Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth came close. In 1925, at the age of 38, The Georgia Peach went 6-for-6 with three home runs, but settled for five RBI in a 14-8 win for the Tigers over the St. Louis Browns. And at age 40 in 1935, the Bambino went 4-for-4 with three homers -- his last three -- and six RBI as his Boston Braves lost 11-7 at Pittsburgh.
Yes, Cobb and Ruth were good ... just not quite as good as Easley!
• Travis Hafner will remember his 29th birthday: His grand slam was the big hit in Cleveland's 14-2 win over the Angels. It was the 275th bases-loaded homer in Indians history -- but the first one hit by a player celebrating his birthday!
It was the 91st home run of Hafner's career and the fifth with the bases full. He's tied for the major-league lead in grand slams among active major-leaguers who have hit fewer than 100 home runs. Randy Winn (75 home runs, including one on Saturday) and Damian Miller (82 home runs) also have hit five four-run jobs.
• Dodgers rookie Matt Kemp homered for the third straight game as Los Angeles took it to the Phillies 8-2. Kemp, who made his big-league debut on May 28, concluded his first week on the job with this distinction: He's the first player to have a three-game home run streak so early in his major-league career -- just seven games in -- since 1988, when Cleveland first baseman Luis Medina connected in the fourth, fifth and sixth games of what turned out to be a 51-game, 10-homer career.
• Nomar Garciaparra went 3-for-5 in the Dodgers' win, lifting his batting average to .369 and extending to 99 his streak of consecutive plate appearances since his last strikeout (which came against Houston's Dan Wheeler on May 9). The last major-leaguer to go 100 plate appearances without striking out was Juan Pierre, then with the Marlins, who went 147 trips to the plate without a whiff in August and September of 2004.
• Bronson Arroyo went 3-for-3 and drove in four runs in his 7-5 victory at Houston. You have to go back more than a third of a century to find the last pitcher to get at least three hits and four RBI while "batting 1.000" in a major-league game. Milt Pappas was the last one to do that, pitching for the Cubs on Aug. 11, 1972, when he went 3-for-3 with a home run and five RBI in a 7-2 victory over the Mets.
• Johnny Damon's 10th-inning home run off Chris Ray provided the winning run in the Yankees' 6-5 victory at Baltimore. That lifted his career batting average in extra innings to .350, the highest among the 37 active major-leaguers who have had at least 100 extra-inning at-bats.
Damon's two previous extra-inning home runs were also both hit in the 10th -- one off Anaheim's Scot Shields at Fenway Park in 2002, and the other off the Devil Rays' Danys Baez in St. Petersburg last year.
• The Yankees collected 13 hits off Orioles pitchers, marking the 10th straight game in which New York has amassed double-digit hits. They hadn't had a streak of 10-hit games that long since 1937, when the Lou Gehrig-Joe DiMaggio-led Bombers did it 11 games in a row.
• Corey Patterson had a ninth-inning steal in Baltimore's loss, the seventh consecutive game in which he has stolen a base. That's the longest streak by any major-leaguer since Kenny Lofton stole a base in eight straight games for Cleveland in 1996.
• Eliezer Alfonzo made his major league debut for the Giants in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader against the Mets in New York, and his two-run homer off Orlando Hernandez put San Francisco ahead to stay in its 6-4 victory.
Alfonzo, who was promoted from the minor leagues when regular catcher Mike Matheny went onto the disabled list, is the fourth player this season -- three of them catchers -- to hit a home run in his first big-league game. Seattle catcher Kenji Johjima did it on April 3, and two Angels did it: catcher Mike Napoli on May 4 and first baseman Kendry Morales on May 23.
Prior to Alfonzo, you had to go back 20 years this month to find the last Giants player to hit a home run in his first major-league game: Randy Kutcher did that at San Diego on June 19, 1986. (Among the other Giants who did it: Will Clark, Bobby Bonds, Orlando Cepeda and the Count, John Montefusco.)
• Armando Benitez earned the save in the Giants' first-game win; he's now 14-for-14 in save conversions against the Mets since being traded away in July 2003. In 16 games against The Big Guy, the Mets are hitting .115 (7-for-61), having scored just one run in 18 1/3 innings.
• The Mets lost the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, ending their streak of 13 consecutive home series openers won (the last three in 2005, the first 10 this season). But they picked up yet another walkoff win in the nightcap, winning 3-2 in 11 innings.
That was the Mets' ninth walkoff win in their 29th home game this season, tying the modern National League record for walkoff wins in the span of a team's first 30 home games. (The Padres had nine walkoff wins in their first 30 home games in 1986; Kansas City holds the American League record in that category with 11, back in the 2000 season.)