Here is a look at this week’s “three stars” – according to X Marks the Sport.
1. Justin Bour (1B – Miami Marlins)
When the Miami Marlins lost Giancarlo Stanton to a broken left wrist, they desperately needed someone in the lineup to step their level of productivity up. After all, Stanton was leading the majors in both home runs and runs batted in at the time of his injury. Last week, Justin Bour did his best Stanton impersonation. He put together a four-game home run streak, including big home runs in key spots. On Wednesday, Bour hit a walk-off three-run home run with his team down two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. He followed that up the next day by hitting a go-ahead three-run homer in the 5th inning to help secure a win for José Fernández in his season debut. For the week, Bour hit .389 (7 for 18) with 4 HR and 8 RBI. Most importantly, the Marlins won all four games in which he hit one out of the park.
2. Steven Matz (SP – New York Mets)
Things didn’t start off so promising for Steven Matz when he made his Major League debut against the Cincinnati Reds last Sunday. He surrender a lead-off home run to Brandon Phillips, the first batter he’d ever faced in the big leagues. Matz rebounded quickly however, and ended up going seven and two-thirds innings, limiting the Reds to two runs and striking out six on his way to his first career win. The pitching performance was strong, but he made more noise at the plate than on the mound. Matz came up for three at bats in the game and came away with three hits, including a two-run double in his first at bat. He drove in a total of four runs, becoming the first Major League pitcher ever with 4 RBI in their debut. He also became the first player at any position since 1920 to go 3 for 3 with 4 RBI in his first Major League game. The 24-year-old hometown hero gave Mets fans plenty to be excited about in an historic effort which he will never forget.
3. Rakeem Cato (QB – Montreal Alouttes)
As the third string quarterback on the depth chart, Rakeem Cato was not supposed to be starting the second game of the season for Montreal but injuries forced him into duty. He surely was not supposed to beat the Calgary Stampeders, the defending champions of the league. But Cato did just that, performing almost flawlessly in the process. Cato completed 20 of 25 passes (80% completion percentage) for 241 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Cato’s quarterback rating of 148.9 leads the league (minimum 15 pass attempts) for the the young season. College football fans will remember that Cato was highly productive as Marshall’s quarterback over the last couple of years, but was spurned by the NFL due to his lack of NFL size (5’11”, 171 lbs.). Despite that setback, this debut performance as a pro may suggest that Cato has a bright football future after all, even if that future is north of the border.