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MLB Notebook: Heyward puts in extra effort

Braves slugger has five hits vs. Phils, including homer and three doubles

The home-team advocates inside Connie Mack Stadium must have been holding their collective breath in the top of the ninth inning on May 3, 1962. For when the Braves' Mack Jones led off with a walk against Phillies right-hander Jack Baldschun, the tying run came to the plate.

That tying run took the form of center fielder Hank Aaron, who had already homered, tripled and doubled in the game. Needing a single for the cycle but something more spectacular for the team, Aaron went with the latter option and delivered a two-run home run to tie the game at 8-8.

Undeterred, the Phillies took advantage of their own leadoff walk in the bottom half of the ninth and won the game on a single -- spoiling Aaron's brilliant effort.

It would be 51 years until another matchup with the Phillies featured a Braves center fielder having a game with four extra-base hits. And unlike the game in 1962, this most recent showing ended with the author of the splendid day -- Jason Heyward -- on the winning side.

In the Braves' 7-1 win over the Phillies on Thursday, Heyward went 5-for-5 with a home run to lead off the game and three doubles. Since 1916, Heyward was the 43rd player to collect four extra-base hits from the leadoff spot, and was the first to do it since Erick Aybar (two doubles, two home runs) on Sept. 18, 2011.

Among these 43:

• Heyward was the 12th to do it during a five-hit or six-hit day.

• Heyward was the third Braves leadoff man to do it, joining Rico Carty (Aug. 24, 1964) and Felipe Alou (April 26, 1966).

• Heyward (24 years and 48 days old) was the third youngest, older than only Gregg Jefferies (22 years and 37 days on Sept. 7, 1989) and Adolfo Phillips (23 years and 264 days old on Sept. 6, 1965).

Heyward became the 17th Braves player since 1916 to have at least four extra-base hits in a game, with Joe Adcock (July 31, 1954) holding the team record -- and sharing the all-time MLB mark -- with five.

At 94-65 (.591), the Braves are tied with the Cardinals for the best record in the National League. When Heyward is in the starting lineup as the leadoff hitter, the team is 21-6.

Royals pitchers enjoying a majestic season
The Royals defeated the White Sox 3-2, and improved to 84-75 for the season. Aside from helping the club to its most wins since the 1993 team went 84-78, Royals pitchers continue to put together some notable numbers.

• Starter Jeremy Guthrie allowed two runs in seven innings and picked up his 15th win of the year. He is the first Royals pitcher since Zack Greinke in 2009 to win at least 15.

With Guthrie's work, Royals starters now own a 3.88 ERA (fifth in the American League). The most recent year in which Kansas City's starters finished the season with a mark that low was 1989 (3.75).

• After Luke Hochevar threw a scoreless eighth inning, Greg Holland pitched around a two-out single to record his 46th save of the year. Holland's 46 saves established a new franchise record, surpassing the 45 collected by Dan Quisenberry in 1983 and Jeff Montgomery in '93.

• With two strikeouts in the scoreless outing, Holland has fanned 101 of the 249 batters he has faced this season. Holland is one of 40 pitchers to record at least 46 saves. Among this group, his 40.56 strikeout percentage (strikeouts per plate appearances) would be the third highest behind only Eric Gagne (55 saves, 44.77 strikeout percentage in 2003) and Craig Kimbrel (46 saves, 41.50 strikeout percentage in '11).

• Holland's current 1.23 ERA would be the fifth lowest for any pitcher with at least 46 saves. And with Hochevar and Holland combining for two scoreless innings, the Royals' bullpen ERA now stands at 2.56. The 2.56 mark is the lowest in the AL and would be the second lowest for an AL team (minimum 400 innings) in the DH era. The 1990 A's produced a 2.35 bullpen ERA.

• The Royals also lead the AL with a 3.46 team ERA. That mark would be the lowest for the franchise since the 1978 club finished with a 3.44 ERA that was the third lowest in the AL.

Cleveland rolling in September
The Indians defeated the Twins, 6-5, to improve to 18-6 (.750) in September.

In the franchise's history, two clubs have produced a winning percentage of at least .750 in a September-October. In 1952, Cleveland went 19-5 (.792), and in '17, the team was 19-6 (.760). The '18 team was also 1-0 in September.

The Indians' team ERA for the month is 2.86 (lowest in the AL). The most recent September-October during which the club produced an ERA that low was in 2005 (2.57).

Rookie Profar comes through in clutch
Jurickson Profar's pinch-hit home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth gave the Rangers a 6-5 victory over the Angels.

At 20 years and 218 days old, Profar was the youngest player since Jimmie Foxx on May 14, 1928, to produce a pinch-hit game-ending home run. In that contest, Foxx, who was 20 years and 205 days old, hit a three-run shot in the bottom of the 10th to give the Athletics and Lefty Grove a 6-3 victory over the Indians.

Trout reaches safely again and again
In the Angels' loss to the Rangers, Mike Trout had a pair of hits and has now reached safely 303 times this season. Trout is two shy of matching Darin Erstad (2000) for the most times reaching base in a season in Angels history.

The 303 times reaching base safely represent the highest total in history for a player in his age-21 season. At 301, Trout had been tied with Rickey Henderson. In 1980, Henderson had 179 hits, 117 walks and was hit by a pitch on five occasions. Trout currently has 189 hits, 105 walks and nine hit-by-pitches.

Trout's OPS+ now stands at 178. No qualifying player since 1893 has finished an age-21 season with a mark that high. Foxx, with a 173 in 1929, has been the standard.

Cobb has Yanks' number
Behind seven innings of three-hit ball from Alex Cobb, the Rays defeated the Yankees 4-0.

Cobb has made four starts against the Yankees this season, going 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA. Since 1916, for pitchers with at least four starts against New York in one season, that ERA is the 14th lowest. The most recent pitcher to produce a lower mark was Chuck Finley in 1996. That season, Finley was 4-0 in four starts vs. the Yankees, with a 0.57 ERA.

This season, Cobb has gone 8-3 with a 2.51 ERA in 17 starts against teams with record of at least .500. Against teams with losing records, he has posted a 3-0 record with a 3.77 ERA in five starts.

Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions.

Alex Cobb, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Heyward, Luke Hochevar, Greg Holland, Jurickson Profar, Mike Trout