Dirk bounces The Big O from all-time NBA Top 10 in scoring

Dirk Nowitzki led all players with 21 points in the Mavericks’ victory at Utah last night. That boosted Nowitzki’s career total to 26,714 points, as he moved past Oscar Robertson into 10th place in NBA scoring—a significant moment for NBA historians.

Today marks the first time in more than 48 years that Robertson doesn’t rank among the league’s 10 highest scorers. It took the Big O just 418 NBA games to crack the top 10, which he did with a 40-point effort for the Royals at Cincinnati Gardens on December 29, 1965.

Robertson surpassed Bill Sharman’s career point total to gain the 10th spot at a time when Wilt Chamberlain was approaching the all-time NBA scoring record. Chamberlain would move past Bob Pettit seven weeks later. Wilt and Oscar ranked first and second, respectively, when the Big O retired following the 1973–74 season.

Wondolowski posts back-to-back multiple-goal games

Chris Wondolowski scored a hat trick against Belize and two goals against Cuba as the U.S. national team opened the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup with a pair of victories. Wondolowski became the first player in the history of the U.S. men’s program to record back-to-back multiple-goal games in one tournament.

Three other players posted consecutive multi-goal games for the U.S. men’s team, all with at least one friendly included: Bill Looby in 1954–55 (against Haiti and Iceland), and Dominic Kinnear and Joe-Max Moore in the same pair of friendlies in 1993, versus Cayman Islands and El Salvador.

No player has ever scored two or more goals in each of three straight matches for the U.S. men’s team, which completes its Gold Cup group matches against Costa Rica at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, CT on Tuesday night.  The U.S. has faced Costa Rica 30 times and only one American has scored twice in any of those games: Landon Donovan in 2005.

Puig & Ramirez rescue Dodgers with .400+ batting averages

Yasiel Puig (.407) and Hanley Ramirez (.404) are the first teammates in more than 80 years with concurrent batting averages of .400 or higher (minimum: 100 AB each).  The last players to do so were a pair of Hall of Famers on the 1931 Philadelphia Athletics, Al Simmons and Mickey Cochrane, both at .403 between games of a doubleheader on May 30, 1931.  (Mid-game BA’s were not considered; only those at the end of a game.)

The Dodgers have the best record in the majors since the date of Puig’s debut (21–13 since June 3).  Prior to that, Los Angeles was in last place in the NL West with a 23–32 mark.

Caps squander 2-0 lead in games, fall to Rangers in Game 7

The Rangers defeated the Capitals, 5–0, in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series at Verizon Center.  Washington led the series two-games-to-none, and Monday’s loss ended the sixth series in which the Caps were eliminated after holding a 2–0 lead in games.

Against all odds, the Capitals have a losing record (4–6) in series in which they won each of the first two games.  Historically, the NHL winning percentage of teams that took a 2–0 lead in a playoff series is 88 percent.

Two other teams have lost at least six playoff series after leading two-games-to-none. But both are members of the “Original 6,” having played and won many more such series than the Caps: the Red Wings (33–7) and Bruins (25–7).

Strikeout totals have reached a previously unseen level

The Orioles defeated the Mariners, 7–2, on Tuesday, with Brian Matusz coming out of the pen to get the last four outs for Baltimore. Matusz had a pair of strikeouts, and his whiff of Kyle Seager was the 5992nd and last strikeout in the majors during the month of April, capping the highest April strikeout total in any season in MLB history.

It’s not just the strikeout total that was noteworthy; the average of 15.29 strikeouts per game during April was the second highest in a full month in major-league history. (We’re not including fragmentary baseball months, usually March or October, in which fewer than 60 games were played.) The record was set last September, when there was an average of 15.47 strikeouts per game.

That brings us to the larger point: Over the 138-year history of Major League Baseball, the top eight months on that list — that is, the list of months with the highest average of strikeouts per game — are the most recent eight months. You read that correctly. Not eight of the last 12, or eight of the last 10, but eight of the last eight. There were 14.91 strikeouts in September 2011, 14.63 in April 2012, followed by 14.93 last May, 15.01 last June, 15.07 in July, 14.68 in August, the record 15.47 in September and now 15.29 in April 2013. Those are the eight highest monthly strikeout averages in baseball history.

Attention must be paid.