MLB Notebook: Middlebrooks impresses early

MLB Notebook: Middlebrooks impresses early

MLB Notebook: Middlebrooks impresses early
In his very first Major League season in 1939, Ted Williams had 86 extra-base hits, drove in 145 runs, and posted an OPS above one thousand. That season, Williams led the AL in RBIs, total bases and extra-base hits, finished in the top-five in the league in slugging, OPS, runs, hits, doubles, triples and home runs, set a (still standing) Major League rookie record with his RBI total and produced (what was at the time) the third most extra-base hits in history for a rookie.

Williams' freshman campaign is one of the truly outstanding, iconic and numerically brilliant rookie seasons ever produced; which is why it's so much fun to say that through his first four games, Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks has more home runs, more RBIs and more extra-base hits than Ted Williams had through his first four ballgames.

• Middlebrooks went 3-for-5 with two homers and a double, and drove in five runs. The two homers, three extra-base hits, and five RBIs were all career highs for Middlebrooks, who was playing in his fourth career game.

• Middlebrooks is the fourth Red Sox player since 1918 to have a multi-homer game within his first four Major League contests. Mike Ryan hit two in his second game in 1965, Billy Conigliaro hit two in his third game in 1969, and Dave Stapleton had a pair of homers in his second game in 1980.

• Middlebrooks joined Eddie Pellagrini as the only Red Sox players since 1918 to have three extra-base hits in one their first four games. On April 25, 1946, Pellagrini was playing in his fourth game when he doubled once, tripled once, and homered once.

• Middlebrooks joined Arquimedez Pozo as the only Red Sox players since 1918 to have a five-RBI game so early in their career. Pozo drove in five in his fourth game on July 28, 1996.

• In Middlebrooks' previous game, he drove in four runs. Middlebrooks is the third player since 1918 to have a pair of games with four-or-more RBIs so early on in his career. In 1954, the Cardinals' Joe Cunningham drove in five runs in his debut and followed with four in his second game. In 1971, the Giants' Dave Kingman drove in five in his second game, and then had four RBIs in his fourth contest.

• Middlebrooks has had at least one extra-base hit in each of his first four games. He is the first Red Sox player to do this (he was the first to do it in each of his first three games). Middlebrooks joins Enos Slaughter (1938), Coco Laboy (1969) and Yoenis Cespedes (2012) as the only players since 1918 to have at least one extra-base in each of their first four games.


• The Indians defeated the White Sox by the scores of 8-6 and 3-2 to sweep a doubleheader against Chicago for the first time since June 13, 1976.


• The Rangers collected 19 hits in a 14-3 win over the Orioles, giving Texas three separate games of 19 or more hits this season. Texas is the seventh team since 1918 to have at least three such games through their first 29 contests, joining the 1997 Rockies (4), the 1923 Cardinals (3), the 1934 Cubs (3), the 1991 Indians (3), the 2001 Yankees (3) and the 2006 Tigers (3).


• Bryan LaHair homered in a 1-for-3 night, giving him eight home runs for the season. The Cubs first baseman also has nine doubles, with his 17 extra-base hits tying him with Jay Bruce for second most in the NL behind Matt Kemp. LaHair is the 21st Cubs player since 1918 with at least 17 extra-base hits through the team's first 29 games, and the fifth first baseman to do it. The other first basemen: Mark Grace (17 in 1995), and Derrek Lee (three times: 20 in 2005; 19 in 2007; 18 in 2008).

Highest Game Scores of 2012
Pitcher Date Game Score Line
Matt Cain 4/13 96 9 IP, 1 Hit, 11 K's, 0 BB
Philip Humber 4/21 96 9 IP, 0 Hits, 9 K's, 0 BB
Jered Weaver 5/2 95 9 IP, 0 Hits, 9 K's, 1 BB
Brandon Morrow 5/3 89 9 IP, 3 Hits, 8 K's 0 BB
Carlos Zambrano 5/7 89 9 IP, 3 Hits, 9 K's, 1 BB
Big Z

• Carlos Zambrano threw a three-hit shutout with nine strikeouts and one walk, and picked up his first win of the year as the Marlins defeated the Astros, 4-0.

• The shutout was the first for Zambrano since September 25, 2009, when he threw a two-hitter against the Giants.

• The start produced a game score of 89 -- the highest for a Marlins pitcher since Anibal Sanchez threw a one-hit shutout with 11 K's and three walks for a score of 93 on September 10, 2011. Zambrano's game score is tied for the fourth highest this season


• Cincinnati's Jay Bruce hit his ninth homer, extended his hitting streak to 10 games, and collected his 17th extra-base hit. Bruce's total of 17 through Cincinnati's first 28 games ties him with Dave Concepcion in 1974 for the fifth most for the franchise through that many games, since 1918. Eric Davis had 20 in 1987, Vada Pinson had 18 in 1962, Bobby Tolan had 18 in 1970, and Adam Dunn had 18 in 2005. During his 10-game hitting streak, Bruce has 15 hits in 37 at-bats, six home runs, and 12 RBIs.


• Rafael Furcal hit his 30th career leadoff home run to tie Tony Phillips for the 12th most all-time. The players ahead of this pair: Rickey Henderson (81), Alfonso Soriano (54), Craig Biggio (53), Brady Anderson (44), Jimmy Rollins (37), Ichiro Suzuki (36), Bobby Bonds (35), Devon White (34), Ray Durham (34), Paul Molitor (33) and Chuck Knoblauch (31).

2003-2012: Pitchers to Win First 6 (or more) Starts to Season
Streak Pitchers (Year)
9 games Brandon Webb (2008)
8 games Jon Garland (2005)
7 games Mike Mussina (2003), Roger Clemens (2004), Dontrelle Willis (2005), Jered Weaver (2006), Josh Beckett (2007)
6 games Cliff Lee (2008), Zack Greinke (2009), Ubaldo Jimenez (2010), Jered Weaver (2011), Lance Lynn (2012)

• Lance Lynn pitched scoreless ball in a five-inning stint and came away with his sixth win of the season. Lynn is the third Cardinals pitcher in the liveball era -- joining Max Lanier in 1946 and Bob Tewksbury in 1994 -- to open a season by winning each of his first six starts. Over the past 10 seasons, Lynn is one of 12 pitchers to record a win in each of his first six starts.


• The Dodgers Ted Lilly allowed one run on four hits in six innings, and improved to 4-0 to begin the season. Lilly has pitched at least six innings in each of his five starts this season, and has allowed no more than two runs in any of them. Lilly is the eighth Dodgers pitcher since 1918 to open the year with at least five straight starts that finished with six-or-more innings and two-or-fewer runs allowed. The others: Fernando Valenzuela in 1981, Claude Osteen in 1972, Don Sutton in 1972, Jesse Petty in 1926, Claude Osteen in 1966, Tommy John in 1974, and Fernando Valenzuela in 1985.

Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.