Roger Schlueter

MLB Notebook: One day, two splashy debuts

MLB Notebook: One day, two splashy debuts

MLB Notebook: One day, two splashy debuts
Hall of Fame second baseman Bobby Doerr made his Major League debut in 1937. So did third baseman Ken Keltner, who in 1941 would play a significant role in ending Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. DiMaggio's brother Vince would start his Major League career in 1937, and would strike out 111 times to lead the National League. (It would take Joe four seasons to equal his older brother's first-year strikeout total.)

Johnny Vander Meer would also debut in 1937, and a year later would become the first (and still only) pitcher to throw back-to-back no-hitters. Vander Meer wouldn't make his first start until his fourth career game, on May 19, 1937. In that start, he fanned 11, becoming the second southpaw that season to strike out at least that many. The first was the Giants' Cliff Melton, who struck out 13 in his Major League debut.

Melton's memorable first dive into the waters came on April 25, only days before an Athletics pinch-hitter named Ace Parker stepped up to the plate for the very first time and became the 10th player in history to homer in his first at-bat. Since Parker and Melton made their splashes, many others have homered in their first Major League at-bat, and few have reached double digits in strikeouts in their debut.

But until July 26, 2012, the live-ball era had never seen both accomplishments take place on the same day. Pirates outfielder Starling Marte homered on the first pitch he saw in the Majors -- as well as the first pitch of the game -- in Pittsburgh's 5-3 win over Houston.

Marte is the 111th player to homer in his first at-bat; the first since San Francisco's Brett Pill did so on Sept. 6, 2011; and the third in Pirates history to accomplish the feat, following Walter Mueller (May 7, 1922) and Don Leppert (June 18, 1961). Among these 111 players, Marte is the first to homer to lead off a game since Kaz Matsui in 2004, when he was with the Mets.

Marte also singled in the game, becoming the first Pirates player with a homer and another hit in his Major League debut since Bob Elliot on Sept. 2, 1939.

In his Major League debut, Mets right-hander Matt Harvey struck out 11 and allowed three hits in 5 1/3 scoreless innings, earning the win in New York's 3-1 victory over Arizona.

Harvey's 11 K's are the most for a Mets pitcher in his debut. The previous best was eight, accomplished twice in 1967 over a four-day span. On April 13, Tom Seaver struck out eight, and on April 16, Bill Denehy matched Seaver's total.

Those 11 debut strikeouts are also tied for the fifth most for any pitcher since 1918. The breakdown, by strikeout total:

• 15: Karl Spooner (1954), J.R. Richard (1971)
• 14: Stephen Strasburg (2010)
• 13: Cliff Melton (1937)
• 12: Juan Marichal (1960), Steve Woodward (1997)
• 11: Dick Hall (1955), Danny McDevitt (1957), Luis Tiant (1964), Bob Shirley (1977), Don Aase (1977), Tim Hudson (1999), Harvey (2012)

With his line, Harvey posted a game score of 70 -- the best for a Mets pitcher in his debut since Dillon Gee authored that score on Sept. 7, 2010.

Harvey became only the third pitcher in Mets history to strike out as many as 11 in fewer than six innings. Sid Fernandez struck out 11 in five innings on July 30, 1986, and Oliver Perez fanned 11 in five on Sept. 12, 2006.

Harvey also doubled and singled, and according to Elias is the first pitcher in the modern era to have a debut that featured at least 10 K's on the mound and two hits at the plate.

• Joel Hanrahan recorded his 30th save of the season, joining Kent Tekulve (1978-79) as the only pitchers in Pirates history to compile back-to-back 30-save seasons.

• James Shields fanned 10 in the Rays' loss to the Orioles, giving him 17 career games with 10 or more strikeouts. That ties him with Scott Kazmir for the most in franchise history.

Blue Jays
• Edwin Encarnacion set a career high with his 27th home run of the season in helping the Blue Jays to a 10-4 win over the Athletics. He is now tied with teammate Jose Bautista for third in the American League in home runs. He is also tied for fifth in RBIs, is fourth in slugging percentage, tied for sixth in on-base percentage, third in OPS, sixth in extra-base hits and fifth in total bases.

With his two-hit game, Encarnacion has a line of .299/.393/.591; only two Blue Jays who qualified for the batting title have ever finished a season with a .300/.400/.600 line -- Carlos Delgado in 2000 and Bautista in 2011.

• Oakland's Josh Reddick hit his 22nd home run of the season and now has 46 extra-base hits -- the most for an Athletics player through 98 games since Jason Giambi had 52 in 2001.

Highest OPS, 2004-12 (min. 3,000 plate appearances)
Player OPS
Albert Pujols 1.026
Manny Ramirez .974
David Ortiz .962
Miguel Cabrera .961
Lance Berkman .945
Ryan Braun .942
Alex Rodriguez .930
Matt Holliday .930
• Matt Holliday hit his 17th home run in a two-hit game that improved his line to .321/.405/.536. Since 2004, 176 players have accumulated at least 3,000 plate appearances. Among those, Holliday's .930 OPS ties him with Alex Rodriguez for the seventh highest in the Majors.

• Edwin Jackson threw seven shutout innings, Adam LaRoche homered for the third straight game and the Nationals improved to 59-39 with their 8-2 win over the Brewers.

Jackson's performance gives the Nationals starters a 3.08 ERA, the best in the National League. The last season in starters for this franchise finished with an ERA lower than that was 1988, when they posted a 3.05, second best in the NL.

The Nationals are tied with the Yankees for the best record in the Majors. Washington's 59-39 tally is the franchise's second-best 98-game mark; the 1994 club had a 61-37 record.

• Pitching at home, Seattle's Jason Vargas allowed one run and one hit over eight innings en route to picking up his 11th win of the season. Over his past six starts, Vargas has four wins against no defeats, and has put up a 1.65 ERA in 43 2/3 innings. For the season, he has a 2.63 ERA in 65 innings at home and a 4.67 ERA in 81 innings on the road.

• The Royals' Billy Butler doubled twice and became the 41st player in history with at least 200 doubles through his first six seasons. He is one of 13 active players among the 41.

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