Lots of history in today's Rays-Blue Jays game

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Some good, some bad.

I’m gonna throw you for a loop and start with the bad. James Shields tied a modern day major league record by giving up six home runs in this afternoon’s 17-11 loss to the Blue Jays. Shields is the eighth pitcher since 1920 to do it and the first since R.A. Dickey as a member of the Rangers in 2006.

There’s something inherently fluky about an outing like this, but the Jays entered the day with more home runs than anyone and Shields has struggled with the gopher ball all year long, so there was obviously the potential for disaster here. That’s pretty much what happened, as the Rays dropped their fourth consecutive game, a season-high.

Okay, now on to the good stuff. The Jays connected for eight home runs this afternoon. According to the fine folks at STATS LLC, the Yankees were the last team to hit eight homers in a game, back on July 31, 2007. Yes, Jose Bautista padded his major league lead with his 34th home run and Aaron Hill hit two homers of his own, but everybody is talking about the major league debut of J.P. Arencibia.

Arencibia, who was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas after John Buck was placed on the DL this week, went 4-for-5 with two home runs. In fact, he slugged a two-run homer off Shields on the very first pitch he saw in the second inning. He became the first Jays player to homer in his first major league at-bat since Junior Felix on May 4, 1989.

Arencibia later added a solo shot in the sixth. With a single and double, the former 2007 first-round pick finished a triple short of the cycle. According to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, Arencibia is the first player since 1900 to have two homers and four hits in his first major league game. That’s quite an introduction. I hate using the old Wally Pipp analogy, but Buck might have to take a back seat to Arencibia when he returns.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.