Elias Says: July 2, 2017

Spectacular start for Stephens, one of four starting pitchers to debut on Saturday

Jackson Stephens, in his first big-league game, threw five innings and connected for a two-run single in the Reds’ 5–3 triumph over the Cubs. Stephens is the second pitcher ever to earn a win and to produce multiple RBIs against the defending World Series champion in his major-league debut. Gerrit Cole also did that, defeating the Giants and knocking in two runs at PNC Park in June 2013.

Four starting pitchers made their major-league debuts on Saturday: Stephens, Luke Farrell (Royals), Felix Jorge (Twins), and Paul Blackburn (Athletics). It was the first time in 103 years that four players made their MLB debuts as starting pitchers on the same day. That had last happened on April 17, 1914 when Red Faber (White Sox), Erv Kantlehner (Pirates), Pete Henning (Kansas City of the Federal League), and Ed Porray (Buffalo of the Federal League) each did so. Faber spent 20 seasons in the majors, all with the White Sox, and his total of 254 wins is the second highest in team history, behind Ted Lyons (260). Faber was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964.

Frazier is cool like Clyde in debut

Clint Frazier connected for a home run and a double on Saturday night to become the first player to produce two extra-base hits––including a home run––for the Yankees in his major-league debut. Two others collected two extra-base hits for the Yankees in their first game in the majors: Dixie Walker in 1931 (two doubles in a 14-inning game) and Mike Pagliarulo in 1984 (two doubles).

Forsythe: eight straight at-bats with a hit

Logan Forsythe went 4-for-4 on Friday night at San Diego and he registered hits in each of his first four at-bats on Saturday night before striking out in his final trip to the plate. The only other major-league player to record a hit in eight straight at-bats this season was Danny Valencia, who did so in nine consecutive at-bats––spanning three games––in early June. Forsythe joins DJ LeMahieu as the only major leaguers with consecutive four-hit games this season.

Giants win in extras

The Giants outlasted the Pirates, 2–1, in 11 innings on Saturday. It was San Francisco’s eighth extra-inning victory this season. The Giants have the second-fewest total wins in the major leagues this season (32, six more than the Phillies) but they have the second-most extra-inning victories (the Orioles have nine).

Royals’ sixth-through-ninth batters go deep

The Royals smacked four home runs––one apiece by Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Brandon Moss and Alex Gordon––in their 11–6 victory over the Twins. It is the first game in Royals history in which their starters in the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth positions in the batting order each homered.

Sano homers in two games

Miguel Sano had one hit in each of the Twins’ two games at Kansas City on Saturday and each cleared the fence. The only other major-league player to homer in two games in one day this season was Salvador Perez on May 21, conversely for the Royals at Minnesota.

Sale baffles Blue Jays with another scoreless 10–K game

Chris Sale threw seven scoreless innings and struck out 11 Blue Jays batters on Saturday. It was the second time this season that Sale did not allow a run in a game in which he recorded at least 10 strikeouts; his other game of that type came back in April, also against Toronto.

No pitcher had ever before recorded 10 strikeouts without permitting a run in two different games against the Blue Jays in one season. And the only other time since 2012 that any major-league pitcher did that against a particular team in one season was when Sale himself did so in 2015 for the White Sox against the Rangers.

Swanson drives in another game-winning run

The Braves have taken the first two games of their series against the Athletics, with Dansby Swanson producing the game-winning RBI in each contest by virtue of a third-inning double on Friday night and a ninth-inning double on Saturday. The only other rookie to drive in a game-winning run in consecutive games this season is the Padres’ Hunter Renfroe (in late May) and Swanson is the first Braves rookie to do that since Evan Gattis in April 2013.

Indians let down by middle relief

Cleveland reliever Bryan Shaw came out of the bullpen to start the bottom of the seventh inning of a 4–4 game, but he allowed three runs to the Tigers in that frame and Detroit went on to win, 7–4. The Indians’ middle relievers––defined as those who entered a game prior to the eighth inning––began the day with a 2.12 ERA this season, by far the lowest in the major leagues. The Braves (2.83) and Dodgers (2.86) were the only other teams whose middle relievers began the weekend with an ERA below 3.00 this year.

Andrus breaks tie with his first home run against White Sox

Elvis Andrus’s fifth-inning homer broke a 2–2 tie and the Rangers went on from there to a 10–4 victory on the south side of Chicago. It was Andrus’s first home run in 206 career at-bats versus the White Sox. He had by far the most lifetime at-bats against the White Sox by any active major-league player who had never homered against them. (That distinction now falls to Ben Revere, 131 at-bats.)

Cabrera clubs clutch home run

Asdrubal Cabrera’s two-run homer in the seventh inning gave the Mets a 7–6 lead over the Phillies and that held up as the final score. Cabrera entered that at-bat 13-for-82 (.159) with one extra-base hit in his Mets career in late-inning pressure situations––defined as the seventh inning or later with the game tied or the batter’s team trailing by 1-to-3 runs (or trailing by 4 runs with two or more runners on base).

Farrell, son of Red Sox manager, makes MLB debut

Luke Farrell made his major-league debut on Saturday afternoon, starting on the mound for the Royals. His father, Red Sox manager John Farrell, made the trip to Kansas City for the game. Earlier in this century father-son/manager-player combinations were common in the majors, with Buddy Bell, Felipe Alou and Bob Boone all serving as skippers while their sons were active players. But since 2007, the only other simultaneous tandem of that kind aside from the Farrells was Bruce and Brett Bochy, with the younger Bochy pitching in seven games—all for the Giants, managed by his father––from 2014 to 2015.

Murphy: 100 hits in 75 games

Daniel Murphy’s ninth-inning single on Saturday night gave him 100 hits in 75 games this year. Last season, Murphy collected 101 hits over his first 75 games. The only other active players who reached 100 hits through 75 games in each of back-to-back seasons are Ichiro (2001–2004, 2006–2007, and 2009–2010) and Matt Holliday (2006–2008).

Morrison goes deep twice

Tim Beckham homered twice in Baltimore on April 26 and teammate Logan Morrison cracked two home runs in a road win over the Orioles on Saturday. That matches the total number of two-homer games by Rays players at Camden Yards in the previous six seasons (2011–2016) combined. The only other season in which there were multiple two-homer games by a Rays player at Baltimore was in 2002, when Greg Vaughn did that in back-to-back days.