Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien gave his club an early lead on Wednesday night against the New York Yankees when he launched a two-run home-run off Gerrit Cole in the first inning of the game. Semien made history in the process, setting a new single-season record for most home runs by a second baseman.
Semien's home run, his 44th of the season, broke a tie with Davey Johnson, who homered 43 times in 1973 as a member of the Atlanta Braves. Johnson's record had previously been threatened in 2016, when then-Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier homered 42 times. In all, there have been just five 40-plus home run seasons authored by players who played at least 75 percent of their games at the keystone. The others were notched by Roger Hornsby in 1922 (42) and Ryne Sandberg in 1990 (40).
Semien, 31 years old, is winding down what's proven to be a remarkable season. He entered the night hitting .267/.338/.541 (135 OPS+) with 43 home runs and 15 stolen bases (on 16 tries). He's accumulated 7.2 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference's calculations. This is the first time in his career he's served primarily as a second baseman, having previously spent most of his big-league service on the other side of the bag, at shortstop.
Semien joined the Blue Jays on a one-year contract worth $18 million over the offseason. Needless to say, his next contract should be longer and more lucrative based on the year he's had.
The Blue Jays could use the win on Wednesday night. They came into play a game back of the Boston Red Sox for the American League's second wild card spot. The Blue Jays are also three games back of the Yankees for the top spot, but every loss looms large with so little time remaining in the regular season. CBS Sports is keeping track of all the action Wednesday night in the AL wild-card race. Follow along here for live updates, scores, highlights and analysis.