3-HR games: History, facts and figures

Powerful performances by Betts, Encarnacion give MLB 6 such games in 2018

May 2nd, 2018

It was a memorable afternoon for the long ball on Wednesday, as both Mookie Betts and Edwin Encarnacion powered up for three home runs.
Betts did a lot of the heavy lifting to help the Red Sox escape with a 5-4 victory over the Royals at Fenway Park, going 4-for-4 with a trio of solo shots off left-hander Danny Duffy. Betts went deep in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings, for the fourth three-homer game of his young career.
• Betts makes history with another three-homer game

There were eight big flies at Progressive Field in the Indians' 12-4 blowout of the Rangers, and Encarnacion certainly did his part. The 14-year-veteran homered three times in a game for the third time in his career, slamming a three-run shot off lefty Matt Moore in the first inning, a two-run blast off Moore in the second and a solo shot off righty Jesse Chavez in the eighth. He finished 3-for-5 with six RBIs.

In light of this pair of powerful performances, here are 10 things to know about three-homer games:
1. This was the 15th time in MLB history that multiple players hit three home runs in a game on the same day and the first since May 29, 2013, when Ryan Zimmerman did it for the Nationals and Dioner Navarro for the Cubs. Only once have those two players been teammates: Jeromy Burnitz and Richie Sexson both went deep three times for the Brewers on Sept. 25, 2001, at Arizona. There has never been a day in which three players homered three times.
2. Johnny Mize and Sammy Sosa both slammed three home runs in a game six times, tying for the all-time record. While Mize spread his out between 1938-50 and pulled off the feat for three different teams (Cardinals, Giants, Yankees), all of Sosa's came for the Cubs from 1996-2002. Incredibly, just one of Mize's three-homer games came in a win.
3. Betts' four games with three home runs ties Albert Pujols for the most among active players. That's impressive company for Betts, considering that Pujols ranks seventh all time with 619 career big flies -- 530 more than than Betts. Encarnacion is now one of three other active players with three such games, joining Andrew McCutchen and Joey Votto.
• Most three-homer games in history
4. Sosa (2001) is the only player in history to homer three times in a game three times in the same season. And only two players have done it twice in multiple seasons. Mize (1938, '40) had that record to himself before Betts -- who also had a pair of three-homer games in 2016 -- joined him on Wednesday.

  1. MLB already has seen six three-homer performances in 2018, with Matt Davidson of the White Sox, Christian Villanueva of the Padres and A.J. Pollock of the D-backs joining Betts (twice) and Encarnacion. That puts the league nearly halfway to last year's total of 14. At that pace, MLB hitters would smash the single-season record of 22, which was set in 2001. The second-highest single-season total occurred in '16 (19 games).
  1. Betts, who won't turn 26 until Oct. 7, is the first player to collect four three-homer games before his 26th birthday. Boog Powell and Ralph Kiner both did it three times through age 25.
    7. Wednesday was Betts' 534th career game, making him the fastest player to reach four games of three-plus homers in terms of games played. The next quickest is Mize, who produced his fourth three-homer effort in his 702nd career game in 1940.
    8. Betts passed none other than Ted Williams for the most three-homer games in Red Sox history, and he has each of the club's past three-homer games, as well as four of the past five.
    9. Encarnacion, who posted his first two three-homer games with the Blue Jays in 2010 and '15, became the first Indians player to have one at home since Hall of Famer Jim Thome on July 6, 2001. Thome (twice), Ellis Burks and Manny Ramirez are the only other Indians to have accomplished the feat at what is now called Progressive Field (open since 1994).
  1. Hall of Famer Al Kaline is the youngest player to produce a three-homer game, doing it for the Tigers at 20 years and 119 days in 1955. Hall of Famer Stan Musial is the oldest player to do it, at 41 years and 229 days when he pulled it off for the Cardinals in 1962. Encarnacion (35 years, 115 days) is the second-oldest player to have a three-homer game with Cleveland, trailing only Burks (36 years, 281 days in 2001).