MLB Notebook: Harper a teen bopper
From Ted Kazanski to Ken Griffey Jr. to Tommy Brown. From Jose Reyes to Adrian Beltre. From Whitey Lockman to Johnny Callison to Johnny Hodap.
These eight are among the 15 players since 1920 who share the connection of having collected a two-base hit while making their big league debut as a teenager.
In 1945, Lockman was still 18 years old when he debuted, and all he did was homer, double and drive in four runs. Kazanski had a pair of doubles and four RBIs in a three-hit debut at the age of 19 years and 151 days. Griffey doubled off Dave Stewart in his first plate appearance in 1989, Callison was a perfect 3-for-3 with two doubles in his beginning, and Hodap, Reyes and Beltre each added a single to go along with their two-base hits.
Tommy Brown was 16 when he got his first double with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1944. A variety of stories and an array of subsequent career narratives are attached to this group, which gained its newest member Saturday night, when Bryce Harper saw a Chad Billingsley offering on a 3-2 pitch in the seventh inning and sent a blast to the base of the center-field wall.
Harper, at the age of 19 years and 195 days, doubled and drove in a run on a sacrifice fly in his big league debut. He was the second youngest player in Expos/Nationals history to make his debut, older only than Balor Moore, who was 19 years and 116 days old when he pitched in his first game on May 21, 1970.
Harper is the youngest player to make his debut since Adrian Beltre got started for the Dodgers at the age of 19 years and 78 days on June 24, 1998. Harper is the youngest outfielder to debut since the Braves' Andruw Jones began at the age of 19 years and 114 days on Aug. 15, 1996.
Matt Kemp's 11th home run of the season -- a walk-off shot in the bottom of the 10th -- gave the Dodgers a 4-3 victory over the Nationals.
Since 1918, Kemp is the 10th player to have as many as 11 homers through his team's first 21 contests. The others: Alex Rodriguez (14 in 2007), Ken Keltner (12 in 1948), Mike Schmidt (12 in '76), Albert Pujols (12 in 2006), Mickey Mantle (11 in 1956), Willie Mays (11 in '64), Willie Stargell (11 in '71), Luis Gonzalez (11 in 2001) and Larry Walker (11 in '01).
Kemp's walk-off home run was the 19th for the Dodgers since the start of the 2006 season, tying Los Angeles with the Nationals for the fourth most in the Majors. The Rays have 25 since '06, the Reds have 22 and the Tigers have 20.
Here and there
Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg took a no-decision vs. the Dodgers after allowing one run on five hits in seven innings. For the fourth time in his 22-game career, the right-hander struck out at least nine and walked none. In the live-ball era, only six other pitchers have even had two such games so early into their careers: Larry Dierker, Gary Nolan, Roger Clemens, Hideo Nomo, Rick Ankiel and Mark Prior.
Yadier Molina went 4-for-4 with a homer, two runs scored and two driven in, giving him 10 career games with four hits. Those 10 -- all coming when he started the game at catcher -- are the second most for any Cardinals backstop in the live-ball era. Ted Simmons had 19.
The Yankees' Nick Swisher homered from both sides of the plate for the 11th time in his career. Those 11 tie Swisher with Eddie Murray and Chili Davis for the second most in baseball history, and tie Swisher with teammate Mark Teixeira for the most in American League history.
Cincinnati's Jay Bruce homered in his third straight game and drove in four runs to help lead the Reds to a 6-0 win over the Astros. Bruce has 11 career games with at least four RBIs. Since his debut season in 2008, that total is tied for the 14th most in the NL. Ryan Howard has 22 for the top spot.
Jordan Schafer went 1-for-4 and extended his streak of reaching base safely (by a hit, walk or hit-by-pitch) to 21 games. Schafer's streak to begin a season is the fourth longest in Astros team history, behind Denis Menke's 25-game run in 1969, Ricky Gutierrez's 23-game streak in '98 and Dave Magadan's 22-game streak in '95. Before Saturday's game, Schafer had been tied with Joe Morgan, who had a 20-game streak in '69.
The Red Sox beat the White Sox, 1-0, as Jon Lester (seven innings, five hits, seven K's, one walk) got the win while Jake Peavy (one run, four hits, seven K's, one walk) took the loss in a complete-game effort. Peavy's performance produced a game score (an equation used to measure a pitcher's dominance) of 81. Since 2008, only four other pitchers have taken a loss in a start in which they posted a game score of at least 81. The most recent time a White Sox pitcher had a loss with a score that high was in 1974, when Wilbur Wood did it.
White Sox slugger Paul Konerko had a pair of doubles and tied Eddie Collins for fourth on the franchise's all-time hits list, with 2,007. Konerko has 12 multihit games this season. The most recent time a White Sox player amassed at least 12 multihit games through the club's first 21 contests was in 1940, when Taffy Wright had 12.
Colby Lewis improved to 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA, as he allowed one run in six innings in the Rangers' 7-2 victory over the Rays. Lewis has gone at least six innings and allowed no more than two runs in each of his first five games of the year, a start that matches Rick Honeycutt's streak in 1983 for the longest to open a season in franchise history.
Anibal Sanchez struck out 14 D-backs, tying A.J. Burnett for the second most strikeouts by a Marlins pitcher (Burnett reached that total twice). Ricky Nolasco holds the team record, with 16 K's on Sept. 30, 2009.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.