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Higashioka joins rare company in throwing out 2 baserunners and homering in the same inning

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Kyle Higashioka had a game to forget in his first start for the San Diego Padres.

In his second start, he did something so rare only five other catchers have done it since 1961.

Higashioka caught two baserunners stealing and homered in the fourth inning to help the Padres beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 on Wednesday.

He joined Sammy Taylor of the 1961 Chicago Cubs, Johnny Romano of the 1966 Chicago White Sox, Ted Simmons of the 1975 St. Louis Cardinals, Joe Ferguson of the 1977 Houston Astros and Bengie Molina of the 2000 Anaheim Angels as the only catchers to catch multiple runners stealing and homer in the same inning, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

While Higashioka seemed non-plussed about it, the Padres certainly needed his contributions to avoid a three-game sweep.

“It felt good to have a pretty good game today after the first game I had as a Padre. That wasn’t one of my favorite days,” he said.

Higashioka struck out four times in San Diego’s 9-6 loss to San Francisco on Saturday.

Higashioka was pragmatic.

“I mean, I guess it’s cool. Two guys have to go in one inning, so you’re never in control of that. It just happened,” he said.

“There’s a lot of stuff there that’s like out of your control. What if you’re not batting that inning, or what if nobody steals? Or what if you do that but it’s the bottom of the fourth and the top of the fifth? Like I’m sure that doesn’t count. There’s so many things you can’t control, it’s kind of ridiculous.

“I’m just glad that I was able to do my job when the opportunity arose.”

One of the players he joined on that very short list, Simmons, is in the Hall of Fame.

“Nice. I don’t know if my trajectory is headed that way,” Higashioka said.

He threw out Brendan Donovan trying to steal second base during a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play in the fourth. After Willson Contreras doubled and Nolan Arenado singled, Higashioka threw out Arenado trying to steal second, which was upheld on review.

The only other time he threw out two baserunners was on July 9, 2022, at Boston while with the Yankees.

Higashioka returned to his native Southern California as one of five players obtained from the New York Yankees on Dec. 6 for Juan Soto and Trent Grisham.

Starter Joe Musgrove certainly appreciated his catcher’s work.

“It’s huge. As a pitcher I think I lacked a little bit in holding those runners on,” Musgrove said. “Some of them are guys you typically don’t see stealing. You don’t pay attention to them and they take a bag on you quick. You get a guy on base and your catcher throws them out, it just really kills momentum and it gives me a little bit more fire to go out and now I’m one out away from getting out of that inning. Saved me some pitches.”

Musgrove said Higashioka throwing out Arenado with Nolan Gorman batting to end the fourth helped him strike out Gorman leading off the fifth.

“I felt we had a lot of big open holes to him and that’s an out I would love to start off the next inning with him back at the plate,” Musgrove said. “I saw what he was swinging and missing at, saw what his approach was. So we get a chance to go back at that guy again and we punch him out first at-bat of the following inning which helps momentum. It’s very big.”

Higashioka hit a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth, his first.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

By BERNIE WILSON
AP Sports Writer

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