At 22 years, 202 days, Harper is the youngest player to hit three home runs in a game since Joe Lahoud (22 yrs, 53 days) on June 11, 1969. It was Harper's sixth multi-homer game of his career.
Jim Breuer is an accomplished man. He was a cast member on Saturday Night Live, he had his own show on MTV and he does some of the most inspired recaps of Mets games out there. But his true calling just might be play-by-play broadcasting for the Mets.
PITTSBURGH -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto was ejected from Wednesday's game vs. the Pirates and could be facing further discipline after bumping home-plate umpire Chris Conroy.
During a scoreless game, Votto struck out to end the top of the third inning and was visibly upset, yelling and spiking his helmet as he walked away. Votto also appeared to say something toward starting pitcher Gerrit Cole in the Pirates' third-base dugout before Conroy ejected him while Votto's back was turned.
It's the classic baseball barroom argument: Take two similar spectacular defensive plays and argue about which one was more impressive. It's the perfect baseball discussion simply because one side could never conclusively prove the other wrong. As long as the out was made, the rest was just speculation and perspective. You could take two or 10 or 20 similar plays, and they'd all be essentially tied for first place.
For decades, particularly before the advent of nationally televised games, there was no way to do better.
Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
HOUSTON -- Astros outfielder George Springer will miss Wednesday night's game against the Rangers as he continues to undergo further evaluations for a potential concussion, manager A.J. Hinch said Wednesday afternoon.
The team expects to have a diagnosis or decision on Springer, who careened into the wall while making a catch during the seventh inning of Tuesday's 7-1 loss to Texas, sometime before or during Wednesday's game.
Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
CHICAGO -- Justin Verlander is throwing again. The 2011 American League Cy Young Award winner, sidelined since late March with a right triceps strain, threw 50 times off flat ground Wednesday afternoon after doctors reviewed his MRI exam and decided inflammation had sufficiently subsided.
The Tigers confirmed that Verlander was examined Wednesday by Dr. Anthony Romeo, an elbow and shoulder specialist at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, to review the results.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Eddie Rosario didn't waste any time making an impact in his Major League debut.
Rosario, starting two days after being called up from Triple-A Rochester, homered on the first pitch he saw from A's left-hander Scott Kazmir on Wednesday to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead in the third inning. He became the first Twins player to homer on his first big league pitch and just the 29th player in Major League history to accomplish the feat.
MILWAUKEE -- Don Mattingly wouldn't use the word setback, but clearly Hyun-Jin Ryu's rehab from a left shoulder impingement has hit a snag.
"They've slowed him down a little bit," the Dodgers manager said of his No. 3 starter, who was suddenly scratched from making this trip after lack of velocity during a Friday bullpen session sent up a cautionary flag.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
SAN FRANCISCO -- If you know anything about Padres rookie catcher Austin Hedges, you might not be at all surprised to know he was willing to pass on talking about his first Major League hit Wednesday for a topic more near and dear to him -- his defense.
"All I cared about going into the game was that [starting pitcher Ian Kennedy] and I were on the same page and we go out and followed the game plan," Hedges said. "He made my job easy. He executed all his pitches."
CHICAGO -- Jeff Samardzija officially dropped the appeal of his five-game suspension, meaning the right-hander began serving his penalty on Wednesday following his seven-inning victorious effort on Tuesday night.
Samardzija's absence until Monday in Milwaukee leaves a starting spot open this weekend against the Reds. And that vacancy will be filled by Carlos Rodon, the No. 1 White Sox prospect according to MLB.com, who will likely start Saturday.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Diego Padres backed starter Ian Kennedy and took control with a five-run third inning Wednesday to cruise to a 9-1 victory over San Francisco at AT&T Park. The outcome averted a three-game series sweep for the Giants, whose five-game winning streak dissolved.
"We had a good run," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
DENVER -- Mark Trumbo hit a two-run homer and Aaron Hill added a long three-run shot and tied his career high with four RBIs in the D-backs' 13-7 victory over the Rockies in the first game of a doubleheader on Wednesday at Coors Field.
The D-backs, who ended a three-game skid and pushed the Rockies to a season-high sixth straight defeat, took advantage of lefty Tyler Matzek (2-1), whose two innings marked, statistically, the wildest starting performance in the last 15 years.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
WASHINGTON -- Here's the thing about baseball statistics. Those interesting numbers can serve as a guide to those trying to project the future. Some are stronger indicators than others, yet they are not infallible. There is a reason why the phrase, "That's why they play the game," was first muttered.
For example, Marlins starter Tom Koehler enjoyed tremendous success against Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper entering Wednesday's matinee that doubled as the rubber match for the three-game series. The right-hander held the lefty-swinging slugger to 2-for-15 (.133) with three strikeouts in their previous meetings.
Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
HOUSTON -- Commissioner Rob Manfred praised the Astros' dramatic reversal of fortune during a visit to Minute Maid Park before Wednesday's Rangers-Astros game.
"The nice thing about this turnaround is that [owner] Jim Crane, [general manager] Jeff Luhnow, the entire front office developed a strategy," Manfred said. "It was a strategy that took into account really significant changes that were going on in the game, most particularly in the talent acquisition area."
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Fantasy owners should be aggressive on the waiver wire in the coming days, with a pair of top-shelf closers on the comeback trail and several appealing two-start pitchers for the coming week. Those who need hitting help will find the options less plentiful, but there are some available bats that could contribute now or down the road.
Blake Swihart, C, Red Sox: The 23-year-old came into the season ranked as the Red Sox's No. 2 prospect by MLB.com, and he started off hot with a .338 average across 68 Triple-A at-bats. With Ryan Hanigan on the disabled list for a prolonged period, Swihart should be the team's No. 1 catcher for the foreseeable future.
Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
ST. LOUIS -- Diagnosed with a right shoulder strain on Wednesday, right-hander Jordan Walden will be shut down for the next 6 to 10 weeks and unavailable to the Cardinals for even longer as he allows his shoulder to heal.
General manager John Mozeliak announced the results of a second MRI reading and noted that the injury must be allowed to heal with rest before Walden can resume a throwing program. That timeline suggests a very real possibility that Walden might be missing from the Cardinals' bullpen until after the All-Star break.
PITTSBURGH -- Jung Ho Kang got right to the bottom of his MLB bucket list Tuesday night. He was neither disappointed, nor hopelessly overmatched.
Four months ago, before boarding the plane that would bring him to the land of baseball opportunity, Kang had been very specific about one of the things he most looked forward to.
PITTSBURGH -- The bunt was not only a weapon in Billy Hamilton's arsenal during his rookie season, but an effective one. In the early going of this season, the Reds' speedy leadoff hitter and center fielder has struggled to get bunts down for hits.
In 2014, Hamilton was 15-for-44 (.341) when he bunted for hits. Entering Wednesday, he was 0-for-6 this season. It's not for a lack of effort or attention to the skill -- Hamilton does early bunting work just about every day. Some credit goes to opposing defenses for neutralizing him.
On May 6, 1915, George Herman Ruth hit a home run. It was the first of 714 he'd hit in professional baseball.
The man by then already known as "The Babe" was pitching and batting ninth that day for the Red Sox as they took on the Yankees at the Polo Grounds. Ruth and the Sox lost 4-3 in 13 innings. On the mound, Ruth face 50 batters, striking out only three, but surrendering just two earned runs.
Settle in early and stay late for a full day of baseball today that features all 30 teams in action. Here are four things to watch for:
Cole streaking: CIN @ PIT, 7:05 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh right-hander Gerrit Cole, the National League Pitcher of the Month for April, has won his last eight decisions dating back to September 2014 and has only lost one of his last 14 PNC Park starts since August 2013. Mike Leake and the Reds will need to bring their A-game to PNC Park.
KANSAS CITY -- As expected, Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar could be activated as early as Saturday once his 30-day rehab assignment ends.
The Royals, though, will have 48 hours to activate him once the rehab ends. He is out of options.
BOSTON -- Red Sox starter Justin Masterson received plenty of help from his infield defense during Wednesday night's game vs. the Rays, but at no point was this more apparent than in the third inning.
With runners on first and second after Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead in the previous at-bat, James Loney swatted a first-pitch fastball hard toward the second-base gap. Much to Masterson's delight, however, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a nifty leaping grab, extending his body to stop the chopper before firing to first base to end the frame.
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
WASHINGTON -- Hiccups and haywires, Matt Williams said. That's how the Nationals manager refers to what's gone wrong for his team so far this season, the seemingly endless string of buzzard's luck that has afflicted a team many expected to run away with the National League East this season.
Left fielder Jayson Werth, coming off shoulder surgery, missed his 10th game of the season Wednesday afternoon against the Marlins at Nationals Park. Center fielder Denard Span came back from core surgery two weeks into the season, missed a couple games and has now played four straight. Third baseman Anthony Rendon has yet to appear as he recovers from a sprained left knee. He was on a rehab assignment, pulled his oblique and has been shut down.
Paul Hagen is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
NEW YORK -- Shortstop J.J. Hardy makes his third rehab start for Double-A Bowie on Wednesday night, and manager Buck Showalter said that it's possible he will join the team at Yankee Stadium on Thursday.
Hardy has been rehabbing along with infielder Ryan Flaherty, who isn't eligible to come off the disabled list until Friday. Still, the pair could travel together, and Hardy, who hasn't played in five weeks, could be nearing his season debut.
*** We will be doing daily ASG debates until balloting ends on July 2. We will frequently be pitting one player against another and have a writer make a case for one of them, but that doesn't mean there aren't other great candidates for that position. In fact, your comments could spark a new debate for us to tackle. So let us know what you think! ***
Say what you will about those instances when sentimentality swallows statistics in the All-Star Game voting, but at least it made last year's choice for American League shortstop last summer an unusually easy one. In his final go-around, Derek Jeter, a.k.a. No. 2, was No. 1, no question.
Though his glove might indicate otherwise, Astros outfielder George Springer still has less than a full season of MLB experience under his belt. Springer got the call to The Show in April of last year, but was shut down at the All-Star break thanks to a strained quad.
DENVER -- The D-backs players found different ways to remain occupied during Monday night's two-hour rain delay that resulted in a postponement at Coors Field, and they were thankful that Tuesday's game was called before the game started.
That's because baseball players hate just sitting around.
The maestro of the bat flip may be more restrained with his lumber these days, but after the Dodgers' win over the Brewers Tuesday night, the nation can sleep soundly knowing that there's at least one enthusiastic pupil ready to carry on the Ways of the Wood. The name on the jersey may be different, but make no mistake: You can take the bat flip out of the Puig, but you can't take the Puig out of the bat flip.
Maybe you've had a rough morning. Maybe your commute was a pain, or you spilled your morning coffee, or you happen to be a pitcher scheduled to face Nelson Cruz at some point in the near future.
Well fear not, weary traveler, for whatever may be ailing you, YouTube user Mcx110 has the cure: a ridiculously exhaustive, 37-video list of classic MLB team anthems -- from a rare '70s bootleg of "Meet the Mets" to at least four -- yes, four -- separate Indians fight songs.
Willie Mays' 3,283 career hits, 660 home runs, .941 lifetime OPS, two NL MVP Awards and the 1951 Rookie of the Year Award give him all the introduction he needs.