Catcher Eric Fryer’s fourth game as a St. Louis Cardinal – during which he went 3-for-3 on Sunday to set a new team record with six consecutive hits to open his Cardinals career – was his first in meaningful action. There was a common thread across his prior three appearances as Yadier Molina’s interim reserve – they were all late in blowouts.
The 30-year-old entered each of his first three contests in the seventh or eighth inning with St. Louis either already there or well on the way to scoring double-digit totals in runs, with their respective opponents having averaged just two.
In each of those three games, Fryer had one plate appearance and singled each time. They were in Atlanta on April 7 (12-2 win) and at home against Milwaukee on April 11 (10-1 victory) and Cincinnati this past Friday, April 15 (14-3 win).
On Sunday, April 17 at home against Cincinnati, in his first start for St. Louis, Fryer established a new record for consecutive hits to open a Cardinals career by extending his current streak to 6-for-6. This time, he singled just once to go with two doubles and collected his second and third St. Louis RBI. Fryer’s contributions were key to St. Louis’ 4-3 win.
Researcher extraordinaire Tom Orf found several players who accomplished Fryer’s 3-for-3 over three games to open their Cardinals career, but they did not hold the prior record. That was owned by outfielder George Altman, who went 4-for-his-first-4 to jump-start his lone season with St. Louis – in 1963.
(The 3-for-3 new Cardinals were Terry Bradshaw (1995), current Pirates manager Clint Hurdle (1986), Vic Davalillo (1969) and Coaker Triplett (1941).)
All four of Altman’s hits, each for one base, were struck on April 9, 1963 in a 7-0 shutout of Casey Stengel’s Mets at the Polo Grounds in New York. St. Louis’ cleanup hitter did not get long to savor his streak while it was active, however, as he flied out in his fifth plate appearance that day.
Ironically, Altman, a former Cubs standout, was dealt by the Cardinals to the Mets following the 1963 season in return for the starting pitcher against whom he had begun the St. Louis segment of his career that prior April 9th, Roger Craig.
With Molina’s regular reserve, Brayan Pena, a proven Major Leaguer with a two-year contract, Fryer will need help to enjoy as long of a Cardinals career as Altman’s one season. Yet no one can take away his 15 minutes of fame!
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