The first-place Baltimore Orioles are absolutely mashing the baseball right now, and it's not Chris Davis, Adam Jones or Manny Machado who are leading the way. It's actually 28-year-old rookie catcher Caleb Joseph who's setting the pace and making the headlines thanks to an unexpected power surge.
Joseph's latest blast, a two-run homer on Saturday, gave the Orioles their first lead in an eventual 10-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. And in hitting that home run, Joseph became the first Orioles catcher to ever homer in five straight games.
Considering the Orioles just celebrated their 60th anniversary, that actually covers a lot of ground. And considering that just earlier this year Joseph considered giving up baseball because he didn't think an opportunity was going to come his way, it makes for quite a story, too.
"It's just a big whirlwind of emotions," the 28-year-old Joseph said. "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."
And yes, that was a fist pump and a yell from Joseph after his home run on Saturday.
"That's probably the most animated you'll see. I was excited to hit that one."
No explanation needed.
Added to the roster on May 7 after starting catcher Matt Wieters was placed on the disabled list (he's now out for the season following Tommy John surgery), Joseph was finally given an opportunity to play multiple games a week at the big league level. Unfortunately, the acclamation process didn't go as smoothly as he'd hoped, at least offensively. In his first 11 games, Joseph went just 2-for-29 (.069), but he kept getting playing time, and he slowly worked his batting average over .200 for the first time on July 31.
That might not sound like an accomplishment, but it seems to have served as a turning point for Joseph. In the 47 games prior, he homered only three times. In the next seven games, he's gone on this historic tear, and it seems his confidence has done a 180 from where it was in the offseason.
"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."
If what's happening continues happening, the Orioles will be happy to continue riding his hot streak.
Speaking of which, Joseph is the second player in MLB to have a five-game homer streak this season. Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco was the other.
However, such a streak really becomes notable when it reaches six games. That's only happened 10 times since 1994. The MLB record is eight games shared by Dale Long (1956), Don Mattingly (1987) and Ken Griffey Jr., (1993), so Joseph is on the cusp of doing something special.
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