Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph homers into history books
By By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun|
Aug 09, 2014 | 7:00 PM
Frustrated by toiling in the minor leagues for six years and questioning whether he'd ever get the opportunity to make it to the majors, Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph considered retiring this offseason when he went unprotected by the O's and went unselected in December's Rule 5 Draft.
But now Joseph, a 28-year-old rookie, has homered his way into franchise history, becoming the first Orioles catcher and the first rookie to hit a home run in five straight games after his two-run homer in the second-inning of Saturday's 10-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
"I don't know if I've ever hit five in a row before," Joseph said. "I hit quite a few last year [he hit 22 last season at Double-A Bowie] and I know it's in there, and I've known since I've been here that it's in there. Not that you're trying, but it's just about making solid contact, and then whatever happens after that happens. You know, sometimes you miss low but you hit it square and that's kind of where you get the home runs. But the most important thing is we won today and we created some more space [in] first place, so that's really the most important thing."
Joseph's home off Cardinals pitcher John Lackey gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead; it just cleared the left-center-field fence and the outstretched glove of St. Louis centerfielder Jon Jay.
He is now one shy of the Orioles record for consecutive games with a home run, set by Chris Davis in 2012 and Reggie Jackson in 1976.
He's also one game away from tying the major league record for consecutive games with a homer by a catcher. That mark belongs to former New York Giants catcher Walker Cooper, who homered in six straight games from June 22-28, 1947.
Joseph is the 15th different catcher in major league history in to homer in at least five straight games, a feat last accomplished by Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco in June. He's the first American League player to do it since A.J. Pierzynski of the Chicago White Sox from July 30 to August 5, 2012.
Heading into today's game, Joseph was one of three Orioles catchers to homer in four straight games, joining Ramon Hernandez (2006) and Gus Triandos (1959). Joseph and Jay Gibbons (2001) were the only Orioles rookies to homer in four straight games.
After a 2-for-4 game on Saturday, Joseph is hitting .357 with five homers and nine RBIs since July 22.
He recently tinkered with approach at the plate, standing more upright in the box and swinging down at the ball to create more backspin. It's worked to give him more power off his bat.
And after hitting Saturday's home run, Joseph – usually a calm character –showed some rare emotion. Before reaching home plate, he clapped his hands excitedly and gave an emphatic fist bump as he ran back to the Orioles dugout.
"That's probably the most animated you'll see. I was pretty excited to hit that one," Joseph said. "It's just a big whirlwind of emotions. You set a record and maybe seven, eight months ago I was thinking about hanging it up. Every day in the big leagues is such a blessing and especially to be on this team with this group of guys and to be in first place -- it's just a great feeling. Winning's fun. Winning is the cure to everything, so it's just kind of one of those things where it just kind of came out. I'll try and keep it low key next time."
Here is a list of the four players in franchise history to homer in five or more consecutive games. The list doesn't include Ken Williams, who homered in six straight games from July 28 to Aug. 2, 1922, for the St. Louis Browns, who moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles in 1954.
Chris Davis (6) – Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2012 Reggie Jackson (6) – July 18-July 23, 1976 Caleb Joseph (5) – Aug. 2-Aug. 9, 2014 Melvin Mora (5) – Sept. 30, 2005-April 5, 2006