The tennis world is anxiously awaiting Monday's start of the US Open, which is one of its Grand Slam events. Baseball had its own grand slam event this week, with at least one hit on each of the past six days. That's the longest such stretch since Aug. 28 through Sept. 2, 2012. Our weekly roundup of MLB nuggets and oddities looks back at the most notable.
Saturday was "Yan Gomes Jersey Night" in Cleveland. The player wearing the original Yan Gomes jersey didn't disappoint, belting his first career grand slam and driving in five runs. It was the Indians' second grand slam of the season; they had only one last year, also against the Angels.
Joe Smith gave up Gomes' slam to cap a five-run appearance in which he got zero outs. Only one other Angels reliever has faced at least five hitters, had all of them score, and given up a grand slam in the process: Mike Holtz against the Rangers on Sept. 26, 1997.
No pitcher in the majors had done it since ... Wednesday, when Spencer Patton gave up a slam to Edwin Encarnacion. Before Patton, no Rangers pitcher had ever faced five hitters, allowed all of them to score, and surrendered a grand slam in the process. Patton was the first in the majors with that line since Jeff Gray in 2012.
That wasn't Encarnacion's only slam this week. On Saturday he belted three homers for the second nine-RBI game in Jays history; the other was in their inaugural season (Sept. 10, 1977) when Roy Howell did it in a 19-3 win at Yankee Stadium.
The last player to have those three-fourths of the elusive "home run cycle" was Alex Rodriguez on April 26, 2005. His hits came in the same order as Encarnacion's (three-run, two-run, slam). Encarnacion's six grand slams put him third on the Jays' all-time list, behind George Bell (seven) and Carlos Delgado (nine).
Encarnacion also joined this list.
Marlon Byrd hit his eighth career grand slam, and the eighth for the Giants this season, as part of their win on Friday. The major league-best eight this season are a Giants franchise record (they last had seven in 2000).
Kelby Tomlinson hit a slam for his first career home run Thursday; he's the first Giant whose first homer was a slam since Brandon Crawford in 2011. It's the first time the Giants have hit slams in back-to-back games since June 11-12, 2003 (Pedro Feliz and Rich Aurilia).
The Yankees exploded for 20 runs against Atlanta, with Stephen Drew and Chase Headley each scoring three. Both players also drove in four; they are the first pair of Yankees with three hits, three runs and four RBIs in the same game since Aug. 23, 1999. Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius both posted that line (and Joe Girardi had seven RBIs but didn't score) in a 21-3 blowout of the Rangers.
Thanks to the Yankees batting around in the seventh, pinch runner Chris Young came to the plate before taking the field. He's the third player in the majors this year to have a plate appearance as a pinch runner, and the first Yankee since Ramiro Peña on May 7, 2010.
Reliever Branden Pinder, batting under National League rules at Turner Field, got his first career at-bat in the eighth since there was really no need to pinch hit with a 12-run lead. Naturally he doubled in another run. The last relief pitcher for any team to have a run-scoring extra-base hit in his first career plate appearance was Jim Ellis, who knocked a double off Jim Bunning for the Cubs' only run in a 2-1 loss to the Phillies on Aug. 11, 1967.
The one thing Sunday's outburst didn't feature was a position player pitching. Instead that happened in Friday's game when Jonny Gomes found himself on the mound in the ninth. He's the first position player to pitch for the Braves since June 25, 1989, when Joe Boever gave up eight baserunners in the ninth inning and catcher John Russell had to get the final out.
Meanwhile, Brendan Ryan pitched the eighth and ninth innings Tuesday, the longest mound appearance by a Yankees position player since shortstop Gene Michael threw the last three innings of a doubleheader against the Angels on Aug. 26, 1968. Thanks to rainouts, the Yankees played back-to-back doubleheaders; outfielder Rocky Colavito pitched three innings the day before. That was also the last time the Yankees had two different position players pitch in a season (Ryan joins Garrett Jones on May 23).
Excluding "all nine positions" stunts, Ryan is the first player to be a middle infielder, an outfielder and a pitcher in one game since Jack Rothrock of the Red Sox moved from left field to shortstop and then pitched the ninth against the Tigers on Sept. 24, 1928.
More from this week
Didi Gregorius, Friday: Third-youngest Yankee ever with four hits and six RBIs in a game, behind Yogi Berra (1950) and Joe DiMaggio (twice).
Carlos Torres, Thursday: First Mets pitcher to win an extra-inning game and score the winning run himself since Roger McDowell on June 29, 1988.
Blake Swihart, Friday: First inside-the-park homer by a Red Sox catcher since Hal Wagner against the Senators on July 7, 1946.
Ketel Marte, Tuesday: Second-youngest Mariner ever with single, double, triple in game, four days older than Alex Rodriguez, who hit for the cycle on June 5, 1997.
Indians, Tuesday: Top three hitters in lineup each had three hits and two RBIs, first for Cleveland since Aug. 12, 1948 (26-3 over Browns, at the time the team's highest-scoring game ever).
Trayce Thompson, Tuesday: First White Sox hitter with single, double, triple in any of his first 11 MLB games since Everett "Pid" Purdy on Sept. 15, 1926.
Brandon Phillips, Monday: First player with homer, triple, four RBIs in one inning since Brandon Inge on April 23, 2004.
Mets, Thursday: First time scoring four runs in a 13th inning or later since July 4, 1985, in Atlanta (the famous "Rick Camp home run" game that the Mets won 16-13 in 19 innings).