Stats & Info: J.P. Arencibia

Arencibia's long blast powers Blue Jays

April, 4, 2013
In the first two games of the Blue Jays-Indians series, the two teams combined to score a total of 10 runs. On Thursday night, they reached that total before the sixth inning was over.

Toronto avoided its fourth 0-3 start in franchise history with a wild 10-8 win over Cleveland. The game saw two ties and three lead changes before the Blue Jays pulled away in the final innings.

Six different players went deep, combining for seven total homers among the two teams, the most combined homers in a game in this short season. Eight of the first nine runs scored came via the longball, and a homer was hit in five of the nine innings played.

The Blue Jays hit five of those homers – it is just the second time in franchise history they hit five longballs in one of their first three games of the season. The only other time it happened was in 2001.

Who Went Deep
J.P. Arencibia was the star for Toronto with his seventh career multi-homer game. That breaks a tie with Ernie Whitt for the most games with at least two home runs by a Blue Jays catcher.

Arencibia’s second-inning homer traveled a career-long 460 feet, matching Justin Upton (on April 1) for the longest home run hit this season. His second home run in the sixth inning came off an 88-mph sinker. Arencibia had only one homer in 49 career at-bats ending in sinkers before launching that pitch over the fence.

Arencibia, who went 3-for-4 with two RBI, had only one hit in seven at-bats prior to Thursday night. He had whiffed on nearly half of his swings in the first two games (6 of 13), striking out three times.

Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus also hit homers for Toronto. Bautista has now gone deep in consecutive games for the first time since last June.

Encarnacion turned on a high fastball in the fifth inning for his first homer of the season. Last year Encarnacion struggled against pitches in the upper third of the zone or above, with only six hits in 44 at-bats (.136) and just one home run.

Rasmus’ home run off righty Cody Allen was his first hit of the season, after 10 straight hitless at-bats. It came on a 95-mph fastball over the plate. Rasmus last year slugged .621 on fastballs of at least 95 mph vs right-handed pitchers, the eighth-best rate among AL hitters.

Rewriting the Opening Day record book

April, 5, 2012
Pitching was the story of the day as opening week continued with 13 teams playing their first game of the season.

After Kyle Lohse tossed a gem on Wednesday, Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Justin Masterson and Ryan Dempster all allowed two or fewer hits while throwing at least 7 innings. Even with 13 teams yet to make their 2012 debut, this is the first time in the Modern Era (since 1900) that there have been five season-opening starts to meet that threshold. According to Elias, the previous high was three in 1910.

The New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds all opened their season today by throwing shutouts. Elias points out that the last time there were three shutouts thrown by teams that opened their season on the same day was April 9, 1976. That season, the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals all pitched Opening Day shutouts.

The Miami Marlins became the first team with two losses this season and have managed a single run on seven hits in their two games. From Elias, they are the first team with that low an offensive output in their first two games since 1993. That season, the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies each had one run on six hits after two games.

Not all of the pitching news was good. Justin Verlander was denied a win after pitching 8 shutout innings after Jose Valverde blew a save for the first time since Sept. 2, 2010. Valverde was 49-for-49 in save opportunities last season and had converted 51 in a row dating back to 2010.

Going Long
The highest scoring game of the day was the Toronto Blue Jays' 7-4 win over the Cleveland Indians. But that won’t be what the game is remembered for.

The game wasn’t decided until J.P. Arencibia hit a three-run home run in the top of the 16th inning. Elias confirmed that this was the longest season opener in MLB history. The Indians have the dubious distinction of losing two of the three season openers that lasted at least 15 innings. In the other, Walter Johnson threw a 15-inning complete game as the Washington Senators beat the Philadelphia Athletics.

Matt Kemp
Going Deep
The wait for a National League home run is finally over. Jay Bruce hit a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth as the Reds beat the Marlins. Four NL games had been completed before Bruce went deep, and his homer came in the 44th NL inning of the season.

After nearly winning the MVP Award last season, Matt Kemp added to his legend in the season opener this year. Kemp became the first right-handed hitter with two opposite field home runs at Petco Park since the start of the 2009 season.
J.P. Arencibia

The Toronto Blue Jays scored 13 runs in their season opener against the Minnesota Twins thanks to a big game from rookie J.P. Arencibia. The 25-year-old catcher who played in 11 games last season went 3-4 with a triple, two home runs and drove in five runs.

Arencibia is the first rookie to hit two homers on Opening Day since Gary Gaetti did it for the Twins on April 6, 1982. On August 7 of last season, Arencibia blasted two homers in his major-league debut. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last player to start consecutive seasons with multiple-homer games—at any point in his career—was Joe Torre for the Braves in 1965 and 1966.

Jon Lester
Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox dropped their season opener 9-5 to the Texas Rangers. Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester allowed five runs including three home runs and did not record a strikeout. The last Red Sox Opening Day starter to give up three home runs was Hall-of-Famer Dennis Eckersley back in 1980.

It was the second time in Lester's career and the first since April 9, 2008 that he did not record a strikeout. Bob Stanley in 1987 was the last Boston Opening Day starter to not record a strikeout.

Also, the Philadelphia Phillies overcame a four-run deficit to defeat the Houston Astros Friday afternoon in the season-opening game for both teams. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the third time in franchise history that the Phillies overcame a deficit of at least four runs to win on Opening Day; the last such instance came 106 years ago.

On April 14, 1905, the Phillies trailed Brooklyn, 4-0, entering the fifth inning before rallying for a 12-8 win on the strength of a six-run fifth inning. And back on April 18, 1895, the Phillies trailed Baltimore, 6-0, entering the eighth inning, but scored twice in the eighth and five times in the ninth for the win.

Finally, Cleveland Indians starter Fausto Carmona got roughed up in his first start of 2011 allowing 10 runs, all earned, in three innings pitched against the Chicago White Sox on Friday. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us Carmona is the first starting pitcher in major-league history to allow at least 10 runs while throwing no more than three innings in his team’s first game of a season.
Today’s Trivia: Happy 27th Birthday to Joey Votto. Can you name the only two players to win the Triple Crown after turning 30?

Quick Hits: Let’s check in on some eye-popping pitching stats being put up since the All-Star break.
• In his last six starts, Felix Hernandez has a 0.20 ERA (Side note: All 11 of his wins have come in games where he allowed two runs or fewer). Since the break, King Felix has a 1.32 ERA. Over the last 25 years, only two AL pitchers have had a lower post-ASB ERA: Roger Clemens (0.97 in 1990) and Johan Santana (1.21 in 2004).

• Lost amid Chris Nelson’s straight steal of home Thursday was the fact that Cincinnati Reds’ reliever Nick Masset actually gave up an earned run on Troy Tulowitzki’s home run. (Nelson’s run was unearned). It was just the second earned run allowed by Masset in 29 innings since the All-Star break. That 0.62 ERA is best among relievers.

• Barry Zito’s eight losses since the break are the most in the majors. The last San Francisco Giants pitcher with 10 losses after the break is sitting in the opposing dugout tonight. Back in 1992, Bud Black went 3-10 in the second half after starting the season 7-2.

Minnesota Twins starting pitchers are 28-9 with a 3.14 ERA since the break. Oakland Athletics starters are 22-21 with a 3.06 ERA.

• The Chicago Cubs have issued 44 more walks than any other MLB team since the break. Their 4.44 BB per nine would be the worst over the second half by an NL team since the 2000 Pittsburgh Pirates.

• Which team has held opponents to the lowest batting average since the break? Here’s a hint: They are just 20-33 since the All-Star Game. Yes, the Los Angeles Dodgers have held opponents to a .229 average. That would be the lowest in the NL since the 1986 Houston Astros held opponents to a .218 average post-ASB.

• Meanwhile, the New York Mets offense is hitting just .226 since the break. That would be the lowest since the 1974 San Diego Padres hit .212.

Today’s Leaderboard: Hiroki Kuroda takes the hill against the Astros on Friday. No pitcher has held opponents to a lower OPS since the All-Star Break.

Key Matchups: WILSON
• Texas Rangers’ starter C.J. Wilson has been a lefty killer this season, holding them to .132 average and .381 OPS, both best in the majors. To find a starting pitcher who was this effective against lefties, you have to go back 10 years. In 2000, Al Leiter held them to a .119 average while with the Mets. But as he gets ready to face the New York Yankees, it’s a right-handed hitter that he has really dominated. Oh, and it’s not just any righty. Alex Rodriguez is 0-for-12 in his career against Wilson. That’s the most he’s faced any pitcher without a hit.

James Shields would certainly like to forget his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays. On August 8, he tied a modern MLB record by allowing six home runs. Shields has allowed 30 homers on the season, most in the AL. Of the 11 active Blue Jays to face Shields, eight have hit home runs. That includes J.P. Arencibia, who went deep on the first pitch he saw as a major leaguer in that last meeting. Shields is 7-3 when he doesn’t allow a home run this season, compared to 6-9 when he does.

Trivia Answer: Frank Robinson was 31 in 1966 and Lou Gehrig was 31 in 1934 when they won their Triple Crowns.
A lot of history was made on Saturday north of the border in the MLB's highest-scoring game of the season. The Toronto Blue Jays hit eight home runs, two shy of their franchise and major-league record 10 set back in 1987 against Baltimore.

The biggest story of the 17-11 win for the Jays over the Tampa Bay Rays was a player making his major-league debut. J.P. Arencibia had 31 HR in 379 AB at Triple-A Las Vegas this season before being called up Wednesday when John Buck (right thumb) went on the 15-day DL. The 24-year old was the 21st overall pick in the 2007 draft and Arencibia made the most of his day at the plate, hitting two HR, including one off of the first pitch he ever saw as a big leaguer. He's the second player to do that this season, the other being Boston's Daniel Nava on June 12.

Arencibia is the 6th player in the last 30 seasons to have 4+ hits in his MLB debut, and the second this season joining Wilson Ramos, then of the Twins. He is also the first player with 2+ HR in his MLB debut since the Royals' Mark Quinn in 1999. Both homers were on first-pitch fastballs.

The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that Arencibia is the first player in the modern era (since 1900) with four hits AND two HR in his major-league debut.

It's unfair to expect him to keep that pace up in the majors but it's worth nothing that his minor-league .639 slugging clip this season has been topped by 300-AB catchers just three times in MLB history: Javy Lopez (2003), Ivan Rodriguez (2000) and Rudy York (1937).

For those curious, his last name is pronounced "air-in-SEE-bee-uh". If he's going to become a household name, we better start learning how to say it.

And then there's James Shields, who allowed six of those Toronto homers before being pulled after four innings. Shields is just the 3rd pitcher in the Divisional Era (since 1969 when the mound was also lowered) to give up six HR in a game. Shields surpasses Rodrigo Lopez and Dan Haren for the ML HR allowed lead with 28.

Six homers are a lot. But the three NON-home runs that Shields allowed on Saturday were all doubles. Thus he gave up nine hits, ALL for extra bases. Since 1920, the Florida Marlins' Ricky Nolasco is the only other pitcher to do that (9+ H, all XBH). That was April 17, 2008, when he allowed four HR, four doubles, and a triple.