from Jason Stark
The 50-50 Club
Only one pitcher in history has ever served up 50 home runs in one season. That was Bert Blyleven, who did it nearly two decades ago (in 1986) -- and has never looked at gophers the same since.
But this year, our man Bert might be getting company. Heading into the final three weeks of the season, Reds pitcher Eric Milton had given up exactly as many homers (39) as Blyleven did at the same stage of his historic 50-bomb summer.
Granted, he since has fallen behind -- by allowing just one homer Tuesday, on the 19th anniversary of Blyleven's serving up a five-spot. But that doesn't mean Milton doesn't have all the credentials needed to reach the hallowed half-century mark, too.
He warmed up by allowing 43 gopher balls last year. And this year, he has cranked out one four-homer game, four three-homer games and more two-homer games (six) than no-homer games (five). So a few more like those, and 50 here he comes.
But wait. There's more.
Milton also has given up 53 doubles this year. Which means that if he can get to 50 homers, he'd be the first 50-50 man in pitching history.
And through his first 31 starts, he'd already allowed 98 extra-base hits. Which means he could easily blow by Jose Lima (108 in 2000) for the most extra-base hits doled out by any National League pitcher in the last quarter-century.
And now that he's arrived at 40 homers, he has joined Robin Roberts (three times), Blyleven (two) and Phil Niekro (two) as the only multi-season 40-bomb offenders of all time.
So we don't know if Doris Kearns Goodwin cares about this man's historic season. For that matter, we don't even know if Bert Blyleven cares. But the rest of us will be hanging on every pitch.