The Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees kicked off an important four-game series on Monday night. The Rays entered the evening six games behind the Yankees in the American League East; they exited five back thanks to an unlikely contributor: catcher Travis d'Arnaud.
We'll skip to the heart of the matter: d'Arnaud became the first player in Major League Baseball history to homer three times while catching and batting leadoff.
Travis d'Arnaud is the first player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a game while catching and hitting leadoff.— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) July 16, 2019
D'Arnaud started the game with a dinger to put the Rays up 1-0:
Then he added another in the middle innings to make it 2-0:
Before launching a three-run shot in the ninth inning with two strikes and two outs to complete the hat trick. This one flipped the game, as the Yankees had been up 4-2. The Rays went on to win by a 5-4 final and d'Arnaud, obviously, drove in all five of those runs.
Keep in mind, d'Arnaud had previously been designated for assignment by the New York Mets, and was later acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers after appearing in one game for L.A. Clearly he's been a savvy pick-up by the Rays, as he entered Monday with a 105 OPS+ in 38 games with Tampa Bay.
The Rays and Yankees will continue their series on Tuesday. We're guessing d'Arnaud will be in the lineup.