Polanco produces five-hit feat in just fourth game
First in modern era to have that many knocks with homer so early in career
MIAMI -- It took four games for Pirates rookie Gregory Polanco to show everyone that he was worthy of the hype that's revolved around his big league callup.
Polanco had a historic night -- with his mother in attendance -- in the Bucs' 8-6, 13-inning win on Friday night at Marlins Park. He went 5-for-7 and delivered his first Major League homer -- a two-run shot in the 13th that proved to be the game-winner.
Polanco became the only player in the modern era to have five hits and a home run in one of his first four MLB games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Mike Lansing was the previous fastest to reach the feat, in his fifth game in 1993.
While it took Polanco only four games to turn in a five-hit performance, he wasn't the fastest rookie to reach the milestone. According to Elias, Cecil Travis of the Washington Senators accomplished the feat in his big league debut. On May 16, 1933, the third baseman went 5-for-7 in an 11-10, 12-inning win over the Indians at Griffith Stadium.
According to baseball-reference.com, Polanco is the first Pirates player with four or more hits in a game within his first four career games since Brock Holt on Sept. 4, 2012. Polanco is also the first Bucs player to have at least eight hits in the first four games of his career since Jack Merson in 1951.
"This is my best game ever. It's the first time she's here, watching me play in the Majors," Polanco said of his mom. "I was excited."
Polanco did become the fastest Pirate rookie to collect five hits in a game. That topped John Wehner, who reached the feat in his fifth game in 1991. The 22-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic was called up in place of Neil Walker, who was put on the 15-day disabled list after getting an appendectomy on Monday. Walker, actually, was the last Bucs rookie to have a five-hit game, which he did on July 20, 2010.
Polanco only registered 500 at-bats above Class A, so it wasn't a sure thing that his .347 average, seven homers and 49 RBIs would translate to the Major League level.
"He had a really nice night tonight," said Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee, a former Pirate. "The time I was over there, I saw him come up to a couple of big league games in Spring Training. You could see there was something there. I think he's going to be fine."
Once he debuted on Tuesday against the Cubs, Polanco's average wasn't catching anyone's attention. He went 3-for-14 in his first three games -- a hit in each. He drove in the first run of his career on Wednesday, one that happened to be the go-ahead run in a rain-soaked Pirates win in Chicago.
But Polanco changed the narrative surrounding him on Friday night. Manager Clint Hurdle doesn't want him to get ahead of himself, but he did seem impressed with Polanco's "coming-out party."
"He's off to a good start. Just gotta give him some time to let him play," Hurdle said. "It's fun to watch. He's been taking it in strides. He's very grounded. He knows there are things he can continue to work on."
Maria Torres is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.