TORONTO -- Rowdy Tellez's Major League debut became such a feel-good story around the Major Leagues that it seemed rather fitting the Blue Jays first baseman returned the following day for an encore performance. The second one turned out to be even better than the first.
Tellez made MLB history by doubling in each of his first two at-bats in Thursday night's 9-4 loss to the Indians at Rogers Centre. He became the first player of the live ball era (since 1920) to record extra-base hits in each of his first three career plate appearances. Tellez even added another double in his final at-bat to finish the day 3-for-4 with an RBI. Not bad for a first week on the job.
The 23-year-old finally has something to celebrate after being on an emotional rollercoaster for the better part of two seasons. Tellez lost his mother in August after a long and arduous battle with cancer, but her presence was felt on Wednesday night after her son came through with a pinch-hit double in his first career plate appearance. After Tellez reached second base, he pointed to the sky and later wrote her name in the infield dirt and admitted after the game it took all his will power not to start crying on the field.
"It still doesn't feel real being here," Tellez said on Thursday night. "Childhood dreams are achieved and it's a great feeling. I'm ecstatic to be here. It's a great clubhouse and makes it really easy to be here and very comfortable."
The only thing missing from the memorable debut was Tellez's father, who was not in attendance for the series finale against the Rays because of a delayed flight to Toronto. Tellez instead picked his father up at the airport later that night and he was in attendance on Thursday as his son made history. First it was a single to left-center field in the second inning, then it was a double off the wall in left-center field during the fourth inning.
Tellez's playing time is expected to be somewhat limited over the final three weeks of the season. Justin Smoak is the starter at first and Kendrys Morales will still get regular at-bats as the designated hitter, but the Blue Jays felt it was important to reward Tellez for a strong season at Triple-A Buffalo and to begin acclimatizing him to the big leagues. The decision has been met with some immediate benefits and should pay off at some point next year when Tellez gets a longer look.
"He's the new cult hero in town," manager John Gibbons said of Tellez. "A great night at the plate. How many doubles does he have now? Four? He's already in the record books."
Outside of Tellez, the only real bright spots on offense for the Blue Jays came during a four-run fourth inning off Indians right-hander Shane Bieber. Teoscar Hernandez had a two-run double and Aledmys Diaz brought home another run when he reached first base on an error. Bieber picked up the win despite allowing the four runs, three earned, on seven hits and a walk while striking out six.
Blue Jays starter Sam Gaviglio was charged with the loss. He was staked to a 4-2 lead in the fourth inning, but he then allowed three consecutive hits in the fifth before getting chased from the game. Gaviglio allowed five runs on six hits while striking out four over 4 1/3 innings. Toronto has now lost three of its last four games at home, but what's clear is that the youth movement is in full effect.
"It definitely makes it more comfortable, easier to adjust to the level," Tellez said in reference to making his debut alongside a lot of other September call-ups. "I've pretty much played with half of these guys at some point. It's a pretty good group of guys and they make everything lax and easier for us young guys."
Catcher Reese McGuire made his Major League debut behind the plate and right-hander David Paulino made his Blue Jays debut out of the bullpen with a scoreless eighth inning. With the latest additions to the roster, Toronto has used a franchise-record 62 players this season. The Blue Jays have gone through 36 pitchers this season, which surpasses their previous high of 34 in 2012. The only roster record left to break relates to the starting rotation. The club has used 14 starting pitchers this season, which is tied for the most in franchise history. Toronto also used 14 starters in '17. More >
Paulino was part of the return package in the deal that sent closer Roberto Osuna to the Astros prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline. The 24-year-old allowed a leadoff infield single to Edwin Encarnacion, before retiring the next three batters he faced. Paulino flashed a mid-90s fastball, a plus changeup, and he even found a way to work in a couple of curves and sliders. He struck out Melky Cabrera and Yonder Alonso in the impressive inning of work. McGuire picked up his first Major League hit in the ninth inning with a double.
"Really good first inning," Gibbons said. "He has a very good changeup. I saw some good breaking balls. Those big, tall, lanky guys, it's never a comfortable at-bat. They'll let one fly every now and then. It's tough to zero them in. ... Real good stuff and it was good to get him back out there, because he had been banged up for a while."
Outfielder Billy McKinney led off the game with a single to left field, which extended his on-base streak to 15 games. That is tied for the third-longest such streak to start a career for the Blue Jays. Dave Martinez had a 24-game streak in 2000, Roy Howell did it for 18 games in 1977, while David Segui (1999) and Shea Hillenbrand (2005) both did it 15 times.
Veteran right-hander Marco Estrada (7-11, 5.43 ERA) will take the mound at 7:07 p.m. ET on Friday as the series against the Indians continues at Rogers Centre. Estrada has been plagued by a lingering back issue in recent starts and it played a role in his previous outing, which saw him allow six runs over 4 1/3 innings against the Marlins. Cleveland will counter with righty Carlos Carrasco (16-8, 3.52 ERA).