8/8/2014 10:57 A.M. ET
MLB Notebook: Baez making great early impression
After decisive shot in debut, Cubs rookie has two-homer day in game No. 3
By Roger Schlueter / MLB.com
Before Javier Baez showed up at Coors Field on Thursday, only six players younger than 22 in the past 101 years had delivered a multihomer game in one of their first three games.
The first of these six -- Charlie Gilbert in 1940 -- was playing center field when he produced a pair of roundtrippers. After Gilbert, the feat stayed among outfielders, with the next three to do this playing right, right, and left field, respectively. Then came a designated hitter.
Just two years ago, an infielder finally joined the party when Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado accomplished the feat, leaving the door open for Baez to become the first second baseman to join this privileged club.
Baez beginning career with a bang
In the Cubs' 6-2 win Thursday over the Rockies, Baez -- playing in his third game -- hit a pair of home runs as part of a three-hit, four-RBI day at the plate.
Baez , who also homered in his debut, is the second player in the past 101 seasons to have at least three homers through his first three games. In 1954, Cardinals first baseman Joe Cunningham opened his career with a long ball in his debut and then had a two-homer performance in game No. 2. Cunningham ended up playing 12 seasons in the Majors and had 64 home runs in 1,141 games.
Baez is the first Cubs player in the past 101 seasons to have a multihomer game within the first three games of his career. Across the Majors, Baez is the 23rd player since 1914 to do this. The previous two before Baez: Machado (20 years and 35 days old on Aug. 10, 2012, in his second game) and Yasiel Puig (22 years and 179 days old on June 4, 2013, in his second game).
Among the 23 players since 1914 to have a multihomer performance within their first three games, Baez -- at 21 years and 249 days old -- is the sixth youngest. In addition to the aforementioned Machado (the youngest), the others younger than Baez:
• Tom Brunansky (left field): 20 years and 234 days old for the Angels on April 11, 1981 (third game)
• Charlie Gilbert (center field): 20 years and 290 days old for the Dodgers on April 23, 1940 (third game)
• Manny Ramirez (designated hitter): 21 years and 96 days old for the Indians on Sept. 3, 1993 (second game)
• Billy Conigliaro (right fielder): 21 years and 244 days old for the Red Sox on April 16, 1969 (third game).
Baez is the 11th player since 1914 to have a stat line with at least two homers and four RBIs within his first three games. Puig drove in five during his big game, and Machado drove in four.
Yankees outduel Tigers … again
Shane Greene, in his seventh career appearance, worked the first eight innings and picked up his third win as the Yankees defeated the Tigers, 1-0, at Yankee Stadium.
Green was the first Yanks pitcher since Bill Stafford on Aug. 31, 1960, to have -- within one of his first seven career games -- a start and a win in a 1-0 game at home. Fifty-four years ago, Stafford (in his fourth appearance) threw a four-hit shutout against the Athletics in the first game of a doubleheader.
With the 1-0 win, the Yankees -- after facing Tigers starters Max Scherzer, David Price, Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello -- came away having won three of four. In the four-game set, those four Tigers starters combined for a 2.43 ERA in 29 2/3 innings with a 24:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In the four-game set, Yanks starters Greene, Brandon McCarthy, Hiroki Kuroda and Chris Capuano combined for a 0.99 ERA in 27 1/3 innings with 26 Ks and six walks.
The Yankees' 1-0 win marked the 45th 1-0 game of the 2014 season, leaving this year behind '10 (62), '11 (56) and '13 (48) for the most in any one year since the expansion to 30 teams in 1998. In that apex year in 2010, there had been 36 by the end of the day on Aug. 7.
Elias and Ackley trending up
The Mariners defeated the White Sox, 13-3, behind efforts from two players who have been assembling strong second-half resumes.
In 5 2/3 innings, rookie left-hander Roenis Elias allowed two runs and picked up the win. With the line, Elias owns a 2.08 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break.
Left fielder Dustin Ackley went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, hitting a solo homer and a two-run single to account for three of the four runs driven in. Ackley has a slash line of .367/.383/.620/1.003 since the break. Among players with at least 75 plate appearances in the second half, he is fifth in batting, fourth in slugging and eighth in OPS.
Ryu goes seven scoreless
Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed two hits in seven scoreless innings and the Dodgers blanked the Angels, 7-0. It marked the fifth time in his 52-game career that Ryu had finished an outing with at least seven innings and no more than two hits allowed (with two of the games coming against the Halos).
Those five through 52 career games are tied for the fifth most for any hurler since 1914, with Matt Cain's seven standing as the most. There are two other active pitchers -- both of whom began their careers with the Athletics -- to have as many as five such outings through their first 52 games: Tim Hudson and Trevor Cahill.
Here and there
• In the Cubs' win, Baez's double-play partner -- shortstop Starlin Castro -- also homered, with the two going back to back in the sixth inning. Castro was 24 years and 136 days old, making it the 60th time since 1914 that a second baseman and shortstop tandem -- each less than 25 years old -- homered in the same game. The Cubs have one other representation within this collection; on May 9, 1950, shortstop Roy Smalley and second baseman Wayne Terwilliger hit home runs in a 6-0 win against the Giants.
• Bryce Harper's two-run home run in the bottom of the 13th gave the Nationals a 5-3 win over the Mets, and gave Harper two career walk-off home runs. With this one coming at the age of 21 years and 295 days, Harper is the second player in Expos/Nats history to have two game-ending homers before his 22nd birthday. In 2006, Ryan Zimmerman had two at age 21.
• In a 6-5 Phillies win over the Astros, the winning margin was provided by a Ryan Howard grand slam in the eighth -- a blast that gave the first baseman 13 career slams. Those 13 tie him with Jeff Kent, Ralph Kiner, George Foster, Joe DiMaggio, Albert Belle, Carlos Delgado, Gary Sheffield and Harold Baines for the 19th most.
• Behind Jeremy Guthrie's eighth career complete game, the Royals finished off a three-game sweep of the D-backs, defeating Arizona, 6-2. With the victory, Kansas City improved to 12-7 since the All-Star break, and it is now 2 1/2 games behind the American League Central-leading Tigers. In this second half, the Royals' 2.95 team ERA is the fifth lowest in the Majors.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.