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Sunday, June 1, 2014
Kernels: A week of firsts

By Doug Kern

Our weekly roundup of the interesting and unusual finds that It was a week of firsts for rookies and veterans alike.

• On May 22 the list of most career plate appearances without a home run (among active non-pitchers) featured Ben Revere (1,547), Austin Romine (264), and Brock Holt (190).

Romine went deep the next day. On Tuesday, Revere's three-plus seasons of home-run futility finally ended when he launched a 357-footer into the front row in right field. That put Holt on the hook, and he didn't take long. On Saturday he hit a two-run shot that included the game-winning RBI for the Boston Red Sox. (He added four doubles on Sunday, a first for Boston since Victor Martinez did it exactly four years earlier.)

Your new top three in plate appearances without a homer: Kolten Wong (198), Leury Garcia (162), and Luis Jimenez (139).

• As for the most career plate appearances with only one homer, that belongs to San Francisco Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper with 3,754-- a distinction that earned him his own bobblehead night at AT&T Park earlier this season.

• Aaron Brooks made his first start for the Kansas City Royals. It didn't go quite as well as hoped. The first eight batters all reached, and Brooks left the game after only two outs and seven runs. It wasn't Brooks' debut (he made one prior relief appearance), but he is the second pitcher in the live-ball era to have either of his first two appearances be a seven-run start that lasted less than an inning. Ron Robinson of the Reds did it in 1984, but only one of his runs was earned.

• The Texas Rangers pinch-hit for starter Nick Tepesch in the third inning Saturday. Sent to the plate was Nick Martinez, who is himself a pitcher. Although he had pitched in 10 games, it was his first major-league plate appearance. He grounded out. But in so doing, he became just the fifth pitcher since 1973 (the DH era) to make his batting debut as a pinch hitter, the last being Chris Hatcher of the Marlins (2010). And Martinez was just the second pitcher in franchise history to pinch hit within the first three innings of a game. Claude Osteen batted for starter Don Rudolph exactly half a century earlier-- against the Cleveland Indians on May 31, 1964.

• Yovani Gallardo of the Milwaukee Brewers also made his first-ever pinch-hitting appearance on Tuesday. It was in the 10th inning. He hit a walk-off double to beat the Baltimore Orioles. It was the the first walk-off hit by any pitcher since Randy Keisler of the Reds earned his own victory with a 14th-inning single in 2005. And it was the first one by a pitcher as pinch hitter since another Brewer, Glendon Rusch, blooped a bunt attempt over the second baseman's head (!) on April 19, 2003.

• Newly-called-up Oscar Taveras of the St. Louis Cardinals homered in his second big-league at-bat Saturday. He's the first major-leaguer this season to homer in his debut, and the first Cardinal since Steven Hill in 2010. Still a couple weeks shy of his 22nd birthday, he's also the youngest Cardinal to do it since outfielder Eddie Morgan in 1936.

• Lance Lynn of the Cardinals, in his 75th career start, finally threw a complete game. He needed 126 pitches to shut out the New York Yankees, but that made him the first Cardinals pitcher to throw any complete game against the Bronx Bombers in regular-season interleague play. Their last complete game against the Yankees was by Bob Gibson in Game 7 of the 1964 World Series, and their last shutout came from Ernie White in 1942.

• Arizona Diamondbacks starter Josh Collmenter allowed three hits in his first career complete game and shutout on Thursday. All three runners were retired on double plays. Collmenter threw the rare "FM", a shutout in which the pitcher faces the minimum, but which isn't a perfect game because he allowed at least one baserunner. It was the first one in Diamondbacks history; their only other pitcher to face 27 batters in a complete game was Randy Johnson's perfecto in 2004.

Andrew Cashner's one-hitter for the San Diego Padres was the only "FM" last year, and there were none in 2012. Since the start of 2009, there have been six perfect games ... but only four pitchers have faced the minimum and not thrown a perfect game.