The Dodgers were clinging to a slim 1-0 lead over the Braves in the bottom of the eighth inning Thursday night when, with one out, they loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a walk to bring up rookie Yasiel Puig, a right-handed batter, to face right-handed sidearmer Cory Gearrin. Gearrin's first pitch was a changeup that hung out over the plate, and Puig, who homered twice on Tuesday, did this to it:
On the Dodgers' TV broadcast, legendary announcer Vin Scully, 85, came about as close as he ever will to replicating the enthusiasm of his famous Kirk Gibson call when he said, "And a high fly ball into deep rightfield...I don't believe it! A grand slam home run!" (For the record, his call of Gibson's blast was "High fly ball hit to rightfield, she is gone!")
As is his style, Scully then remained silent as Puig circled the bases before offering this lesson to aspiring announcers everywhere: "I have learned over the years that there comes a rare and precious moment where there is absolutely nothing better than silence, nothing better than to be absolutely speechless to sum up the situation. And that was the moment. Oh mackerel."
Scully's silence was understandable considering that was Puig's third home run in his first four major league games, which is an impressive feat but not quite as rare as you might think. It has been done 13 times, including an amazing four times last season when Yoenis Cespedes, Will Middlebrooks, Yasmani Grandal and Manny Machado all turned the feat. Shelley Duncan (2007) and Trent Oeltjen (2009) also did it in recent seasons,and in 2005, the Mets' Mike Jacobs hit a record four home runs in his first four major league games. That one of Puig's home runs was a grand slam sets him apart a bit more, but even that isn't unprecedented. Middlebrooks had a grand slam among his first three major league home runs last year, and Dave Kingman had a grand slam among his first three major league blasts in 1971. Kingman, incidentally, would go on to have by far the best career of any of the eight men to hit three home runs in their first four games prior to last season, a good reminder that as impressive as Puig's has been in these first four games, his hot start is no guarantee of future success.