This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: April, 2019
It’s Home Run Season Again Why is MLB Not Counting Pre-1920 RBIs?
Nice Try, Whit Merrifield Did MLB Drop the Ball on Jackie Robinson Day?


Best and Worst of the Week

Okay, so we're fudging this a bit: It's the Best and the Worst through April 30, so it includes the season's first few days' worth of games played at the end of March.

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
123 28 30 11 1 7 19 13 0 4 3

It’s not often that we give this honor to someone who finished the month (and a few days) hitting below .250, but Haniger brought a whole lot more to the table than a blah batting average. He finished the month leading the AL in runs and is among the top leaders in doubles, while contributing his share of power to the Mariners’ lofty home run totals. Haniger had something of a breakout campaign last year, and his productive start to 2019 only suggests that he’s going to get better—sub-.250 or no sub-.250.


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
109 32 47 6 1 14 37 17 2 1 5

The battle for this honor came down to two red-hot guys who left all the other contenders so far back in the dust that the dust cleared by the time they got to it. In the end, it was Bellinger who outlasted Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich, in part because Yelich had to bow out of the last few days of the month with back issues. But trust us, Bellinger put up incredible numbers that hardly suggests that he won anything by default; after a sluggish sophomore campaign, the 23-year-old outfielder is back on track and then some—or, a lot, actually. Let’s put it this way; if Bellinger goes completely 0-for-May, he’d still be batting over .200.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Daniel Palka, Chicago White Sox

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
35 0 1 0 0 0 2 6 0 1 0

First things first: the Orioles’ Chris Davis avoids more notoriety after his record-setting slump (continued from last year) to start this season. So instead, we go with Palka, who unlike Davis didn’t get the chance to shake his only big-time collection of 0-fers; after finally getting a hit in an April 17 game after starting the season hitless in 32 at-bats, the White Sox told him, “That’s nice, but how does Charlotte sound to you?” (Charlotte, by the way, is the Sox’ Triple-A team.) Palka made a decent impression in his rookie 2018 season as one of many White Sox players who hit 20-something home runs with averages in the low .200s. But apparently he’s going to need to reprove himself to the parent club all over after this horrendous start.


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Aaron Altherr, Philadelphia Phillies

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
27 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0

What’s happened to this guy? Just a couple years ago, Altherr looked a like a star on the rise with solid numbers for an emerging Phillies team. But he hit just .181 last year, and it’s only gotten far, far worse to start 2019. Unlike Palka, Altherr hasn’t been sent to the minors—yet—but he hasn’t been getting much playing time either, making uneasy friends with the bench. If Altherr is looking for a fallback, he might want to consider a spot in the Phillies’ pitching staff; in an emergency appearance, he allowed a run over one inning but also struck out two with a fastball hitting above the 90-MPH mark.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
5-0 36 27 7 7 7 0 0 0 0 38

The 25-year-old right-hander has thus far given the Rays one more excuse not to use the ‘opener’—while also proving that Tampa Bay continues to have something of a Midas touch when it comes to whatever player comes its way. With five wins through the first month-plus, Glasnow has already surpassed his career total (four) in three previous seasons covering 68 appearances, 29 of those starts. A possible reason for his sudden success to start 2019: Better control, as he’s walked 1.75 batters per nine innings—as opposed to five per nine coming into the season.


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Luis Castillo, Cincinnati Reds

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
3-1 43.1 26 7 7 17 0 3 1 1 50

Shocking news: The Reds finish April with the NL’s best ERA. That’s right—the team that for the last several years couldn’t pitch for its life. (Bonus: The Orioles look likely to demolish the Reds’ recent mark for home runs allowed in a year.) Part of the reason for Cincinnati’s early resurgence on the mound is Castillo—no surprise, as he’s been one of the few guys in the staff with his head screwed on right. The 26-year-old Dominican has been consistently sharp to start the year, not allowing more than two runs in any of seven starts, winning just three of them because the Reds’ usually reliable offense has tanked


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Chad Green, New York Yankees

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-2 7.2 15 14 14 4 0 1 0 0 7

The Yankees have so many good relievers, but for now Green isn’t one of them. The right-hander certainly belonged in the previous two years, shutting down opponents on a par with the likes of Chapman and Betances. But so far in 2019, Green has been an exercise in misery, allowing at least one run in six of his 10 appearances. An 11th outing won’t happen until he shows he can at least be dominant at the minor league level, as he’s currently attempting to retire batters for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Trevor Rosenthal, Washington Nationals

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 3 7 12 12 9 0 3 5 0 3

There are some pitchers who have problems with their control on the mound. And then there’s Rosenthal. The former Cardinals closer, whose recovery from Tommy John surgery has been a bit erratic to say the least, began the season unable to retire any of the first 10 batters he faced over four-plus games. It was hard to know who was more nervous: Rosenthal or the batters he faced, all of whom edgy as to whether he’d uncork something wild at them. To say that that the big right-hander has settled down only means that he’s actually gotten a few outs—but not enough for the Nationals, who ended the month by sending him down to extended spring training.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Tampa Bay Rays (19-9)

They may have the lowest payroll and draw the fewest fans and accept no cash at the ballpark, but the Amazing Rays find a way to win. Kevin Cash—no relation to the method of payment no longer accepted at the Trop—already has to be under strong consideration for Manager of the Year with the way he has kept his players disciplined while maneuvering his lineup to get the results he’s wanted. Okay, so give the Rays the ol’ “You’re lucky” bit because the Red Sox have stumbled out of the gate and the Yankees’ roster resembles the Game of Thrones cast after the battle at Winterfell, but this team deserves the early advantage it has created.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
St. Louis Cardinals (19-10)

When all else fails, there will always be the Cardinals, who yawned at all those soothsayers who wowed over the prospects of the Cubs and Brewers and have taken early control of the NL Central. Much of the credit goes to a lineup that’s put together the league’s top batting average, strong power from Marcell Ozuna (10 home runs) and great starts for homegrown Redbirds in Jose Martinez and Paul DeJong. Even Dexter Fowler is back after a lost 2018 campaign. There’s a long way to go, but the Cardinals have served notice to divisional contenders that they’re not going to be easy to brush aside.


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Kansas City Royals (9-20)

We said in our season preview that the Royals would be somewhat fun to watch with all that speed—and sure enough, they end April leading the majors in both stolen bases and triples. But the Royals are proving that speed by itself doesn’t win ballgames—you need, among other things, pitching, and there’s been little of that to praise at Kansas City as most of the rotation is stuck with ERAs above the 5.00 mark. So while all that fast feet is not making for a dull time at Kauffman Stadium, it’s also not eliminating the fans’ frustration


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Miami Marlins (8-21)

Nobody was expecting the Fish to turn the corner in 2018—especially with four divisional opponents all aiming to win now—but at least, try to approach the corner. The Marlins are picking right up where they left off last year, struggling for wins, fame and fans as they fell fast behind in the NL East. The big problem, once again, is the hitting, as the Marlins are dead last in the majors in runs and walks. The only guy giving this team any panache at bat is catcher Jorge Alfaro, but his presence only serves to remind Marlins fans that J.T. Realmuto used to be that guy. Let us know when the corner is near.


Wild Pitches

Yes, They Can’t Believe This Really Happened
(April 2019 Edition)

We’re All Officially Old
Toronto pitcher Elvis Luciano, age 19, is the first player born after January 1, 2000 to appear in a major league game. By the end of the month, Luciano became the first such player to win a game.

It’s Just Not Fair
Typically, 99-MPH pitches are not supposed to have a whole lot of movement except for going straight ahead at a very fast speed. But Tampa Bay’s Jose Alvarado will disagree.

Would You Care for Some Leftover Scott Van Slykes?
The Dodgers filed a $175,000 lawsuit against a production company that failed to deliver 42,000 Tommy Lasorda bobbleheads.

That’s Not so Super, Superman
Bryce Harper tried to leapfrog over bulky Minnesota catcher Willians Astudillo on a sac fly attempt, giving Phillies management 330 million reasons to check its heart rate.

The Lady and the Trampling Over History
An historical display of press passes in the renovated Wrigley Field press box was called out on Twitter by Chicago Sun-Times reporter Madeline Kenney because one of the reproductions, from 1945, included an icon of a pink poodle and the phrase, “No women allowed.” After the image received angry reviews, the Cubs replaced the offending graphic with a picture celebrating their 2016 world title.

A Ballsy Celebration
The Rangers’ Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara celebrated a home run against the Angels by grabbing each other in the crotch.

Unfriendly Fire?
An Astros fan is suing the team for $1 million after her finger was broken by a T-shirt launched at her at close range from a T-shirt “cannon.”

Maybe He’s Just Scared of the Ball
The Cardinals’ Marcell Ozuna jumped up the outfield fence at St. Louis in an attempt to steal a home run from the Dodgers’ Kiké Hernandez—except that the ball didn’t have home run distance.

How Many Braves Does it Take to Fill Up a Stuck Elevator?
A Denver elevator containing roughly half of the Braves’ 25-man roster got temporarily stuck; it took firefighters to get them out.

Give me a “K”!
When the Giants’ K counter at Oracle Park ran out of “K” signs because the Rockies were striking out at a record rate (24 in total) during an 18-inning game on April 12, fans filled in and stretched their arms out to resemble the letter.

Ouch of the Month
Atlanta manager Brian Snitker literally became a pain in the neck during an April 13 game against the Mets.

Boured, Part I
That same day, the Angels’ Justin Bour experienced a little bit of everything on a double which became a single that became a double that finally became an out.

Boured, Part II
Just a week later, Bour made the Oops tape once again when he failed to run out a pop fly—leading to a double play.

Charlie No-Hustle
Reds pitcher Luis Castillo dropped a single into right field at Los Angeles on April 15—but for some reason didn’t run to first base.

Neo Would be Impressed
Houston pitcher Collin McHugh somehow managed to avoid being hit by a screaming liner from Oakland’s Kendrys Morales in a manner that drew immediate parallels to The Matrix.

Vicious Cycle
Ohio high school ballplayer Luke Borer hit for the “home run cycle,” belting a solo homer, a two-run homer, a three-run homer and a grand slam.

Nothing but a Couple of Zeroes
For the first time in major league history, two players wearing “0” on their backs faced one another when the Yankees’ Adam Ottavino pitched to the Royals’ Terrance Gore on April 19.

Nut Job
There’s a little devil in Mets prospect/devout Christian Tim Tebow after all.

When Does Mr. John Start Getting Royalties on This?
“Tommy John surgery” is being added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Jumpin’ Jack Bash
Kenji Akashi of Japan’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks finished a game-winning home run trot in style, backflipping onto home plate. Somewhere, Ozzie Smith was left to wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

This Month’s Proof That Everybody’s Striking Out
Major leaguers continue to shoot for the moon, and you know what that means. While they succeeded with more homers in April than ever before, they also struck out more trying, racking up an April-record 6,799—eclipsing last year’s previous mark of 6,656. If you’re still troubled by the never-ending trend on this and praying for a return to plate discipline and contact hitting, sorry.

League vs. League

The National League, looking to reign supreme in interleague action after breaking a 15-year drought against the American League last year, finishes April with a slim 22-21 edge over the Junior Circuit. Could this be the beginning of a new run of extended success for a different league? Stay tuned…





Monday, April 1
At Toronto, Baltimore’s David Hess has a no-hitter on 82 pitches with one out in the seventh—and that’s when rookie Orioles manager Brandon Hyde comes out to pull him, worried that an increasing pitch count will endanger future starts. (Even Blue Jays fans are booing.) Pedro Araujo, Hess’ replacement, gives up a walk, home run and single to the first three Blue Jays he faces, and two succeeding Orioles relievers nearly flub up the lead before the team escapes with a 6-5 victory. The Orioles, who finished a deplorable 47-115 last season, have won three of their first four games this year—all on the road.

The crowd of 10,460 is the smallest at Rogers Centre since 2010.

A year after initiating the “bullpenning” craze, the Rays return to the process for the first time this season and go with their bread-and-butter combo of “opener” Ryne Stanek (one inning, one hit allowed with three Ks) and long reliever Ryan Yarbrough (one run allowed through 4.1 innings) to stifle the visiting Colorado Rockies at St. Petersburg, 7-1. Tampa Bay is 4-1 to begin the season.

Stanek, almost dubiously, re-ties the Mets’ Jacob deGrom with 30 straight “starts” allowing three or fewer runs, an ongoing MLB record; it should be noted though that none of Stanek’s starts as the ‘opener’ have gone more than two innings.

The Braves finally get on the winning track in their home opener, while the Cubs continue to demonstrate no discipline whatsoever. Chicago commits six errors—the most the team has committed in 13 years—and despite 13 baserunners cannot score thanks in part to three double plays in an 8-0 loss at Atlanta. Once-and-current Braves catcher Brian McCann returns to Georgia in an Atlanta jersey with a two-run single in a four-run first.

The Red Sox’ defense of their world title continues to be, in a word, disappointing. At Oakland, Boston’s offense is muted by borderline major leaguer Aaron Brooks (making only his 19th big-league appearance since his 2014 debut) and four relievers in a 7-0 loss, dropping the Sox to 1-4. Khris Davis belts his fifth home run in seven games for the A’s.

Boston’s starting rotation continues to be a major letdown to start the season; its 11 home runs allowed through the first five games ties a major league mark to start the year, sharing record book space with the 1955 Milwaukee Braves and 1978 Blue Jays.

The injury list expands with some notable names making the grade of pain. The Yankees place All-Star slugger Giancarlo Stanton on the 10-day shelf with a biceps issue, and sophomore second baseman Miguel Andujar is discovered to have a torn labrum that results in an extended absence. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds learn that minor league pitcher Hunter Greene, the majors’ #2 draft pick last year, will need Tommy John surgery and won’t return to action until early 2020.

Tuesday, April 2
Bryce Harper enters the Nationals Park field from the visitors’ dugout for the first time and hears it from a boisterous gathering of 35,000 on a cold, rainy night in Washington—but by night’s end, his bat’s the only thing making noise. After striking out in his first two at-bats against former teammate Max Scherzer, Harper doubles, singles and then launches a 458-foot home run (his third of the year) complete with sensational bat flip to give the Phillies an 8-2 victory.

Adding injury to insult, the Nationals lose speedster Trea Turner when his right index finger is broken on a Zach Eflin pitch while attempting to bunt. The fracture will cost Turner at least a month of action.

In Arizona’s 8-5 win at San Diego, Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke belts two home runs and drives in four to become the first major league pitcher with multiple homers in a game since Opening Day 2017 when the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner hit two—one of them against Greinke. On the mound, Greinke strikes out 10 and walks none over six innings to pick up his first win of the year.

Player extensions continue to be the in-thing. The one that gets the most attention on the day is an eight-year, $100 million deal given to second-year Atlanta outfielder and reigning NL Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr.; an additional two team options could raise the total to $124 million. At age 21, he’s the youngest player ever to be guaranteed a nine-figure contract. Elsewhere, Colorado gives pitcher German Marquez a five-year, $43 million extension, buying out the right-hander’s four remaining years of arbitration and first eligible year of free agency. And in Toronto, the Blue Jays hand outfielder Randal Grichuk a five-year deal worth $52 million through 2023; he would have been a free agent after 2020.

The Grichuk signing is not the only move on the day by the Blue Jays. They trade popular veteran outfielder Kevin Pillar to the Giants, who are in desperate need for an outfielder; in return, San Francisco receives three players including reliever Derek Law.

For the second straight night, the Red Sox are shut down by the A’s at Oakland. The 1-0 loss comes with some drama in the ninth, as Xander Bogaerts’ bid for a triple is denied when Oakland outfielder Ramon Laureano—who’s quickly establishing himself as an everyday highlight reel in center field with his remarkable throwing arm—runs down a ricochet off the right-center field wall and guns down Bogaerts. Had the drive been hit a few feet to the left, it would have cleared the much shorter section of the center-field wall at the Coliseum for a game-tying homer. The Red Sox drop to 1-5 with the loss; it’s the worst start (after six games) by a defending champ since the Florida Marlins started the 1998 season at 1-5, on their way to a 54-108 record.

Wednesday, April 3
The Mets’ Jacob deGrom shows no signs of a drop-off from his fantastic Cy Young Award-winning campaign of 2018. At Miami, the right-hander fires seven innings of three-hit shutout ball with 14 strikeouts—and at the plate, hits his second career home run, a solo shot in the third—to help the Mets to a 6-0 lead before a too-little, too-late comeback attempt by the Marlins falls short in a 6-4 decision. For deGrom, it’s his 26th straight quality start—tying Bob Gibson’s 1968 record—and it’s his 31st consecutive start with three or fewer runs allowed, extending an existing mark. He’s the first pitcher since Nolan Ryan in 1978 to strike out at least 10 batters in each of his first two season starts without allowing a run.

The Brewers’ vaunted but beat-up bullpen gets a relative rest as Freddy Peralta throws eight shutout innings, allowing just two hits and no walks while striking out 11, to silence the Reds at Cincinnati, 1-0. Milwaukee sweeps the series and improves to 6-1; the Reds drop to 1-4 (all at home) as early offensive woes have subdued them in a hitter-friendly ballpark.

A day after signing a $52 million extension, Toronto’s Randal Grichuk thanks the Blue Jays by clouting two home runs and a double in a 5-3 home win over Baltimore. Matt Shoemaker’s second start for Toronto is a carbon copy of his first, once again throwing seven shutout innings while allowing two hits. The victory denies the Orioles a chance to do something they could not do all of last season: Win five in a row.

The Yankees continue to sputter out of the gate, losing 2-1 at home to Detroit as they collectively strike out 18 times—setting a franchise record for the most in a nine-inning game. As if that’s not enough, they lose one more player to the injury list; the eternally fragile Troy Tulowitzki suffers a strained calf while popping out in the second.

The Nationals hand the Phillies their first loss of the year, coming from behind with two in the eighth to tie and one in the ninth to win, 9-8. The winning tally comes via a bases-loaded walk—the third in a row conceded by Phillies closer David Robertson—to rookie Jake Noll. In defeat, the Phillies’ Bryce Harper reaches base in all five of his plate appearances—with two singles and three walks.

Washington reliver Trevor Rosenthal becomes the first-ever major leaguer to allow a run without retiring a single batter in each of his first three outings of the season. Going back to his last appearance in 2017—he missed 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery—Rosenthal has allowed the last nine batters to reach; they all scored.

Thursday, April 4
The Indians’ Trevor Bauer is removed after seven no-hit innings, 117 pitches and six walks against Toronto, and the Cleveland bullpen keeps the no-no intact until Freddy Galvis’ leadoff single in the ninth. The Blue Jays do grab a run as well but the Indians prevail, 4-1 at Progressive Field. It’s the third time in eight games this season that the Blue Jays have been hitless going into the seventh inning.

No Indians pitcher has thrown a no-hitter since Len Barker’s perfect game in 1981. That’s a span of 6,010 games—98 shy of the all-time AL record held by the Detroit Tigers from 1912-52.

Despite an ever-deepening injury list and a 0-for-5 (four Ks) performance from Aaron Judge, the Yankees rebound from an early 4-1 deficit to fly past the Orioles at Baltimore, 8-4. Large thanks for the win go to second-year infielder Gleyber Torres, who singles, doubles, smashes two homers and drives in four runs. While Torres shines, the Orioles’ Chris Davis sinks further into darkness—and the Baltimore fans, in the team’s home opener, let him know about it with a din of boos. Davis strikes out in each of his three at-bats and is now 0-for-17 on the season with 11 Ks—and he’s 0-for-38 going back to the end of last season.

Déjà vu all over again: Torres’ homers come off of Baltimore’s Alex Cobb and Mike Wright Jr.; in one of his two other multi-homer games, on August 1, 2018, he homered off the same two pitchers. Only six other players have ever done something similar.

The Braves blast the reeling (1-5) Cubs with a 9-4 victory at Atlanta behind Nick Markakis, who becomes the first player to collect three doubles and five RBIs since…Markakis, who did it in June 2017. It’s also the fourth time that the 35-year-old outfielder has hit three two-baggers in a game; his two other hits, both singles, gives him a career-tying five.

Friday, April 5
The Phillies pummel the Twins at Philadelphia, 10-4, but the star of the day comes from the Minnesota side as Jorge Polanco hits for the cycle and adds a fifth hit. It’s the first cycle by a Twins player since Michael Cuddyer in 2009, the 14th in franchise history, and the earliest date on which any ballplayer has accomplished the feat. (Of course, until the 1970s, they typically didn’t start the regular season until mid-April.)

Tyler Glasnow throws six shutout innings and Tommy Pham reaches base for a Tampa Bay-record 40th straight game as the Rays (6-1) suppress the Giants at San Francisco, 5-2. Pham breaks the old mark held by Johnny Damon in 2011.

The hot-hitting Dodgers take their slugging act to hitter-happy Coors Field, disappointing no one but the Rockies’ faithful. Los Angeles scores in six innings and belts three more home runs, including the sixth of the year from Cody Bellinger, to pound Colorado, 10-6. Bellinger joins Alex Rodriguez (2007) and Eddie Mathews (1953) as the only major leaguers with at least six homers and 16 RBIs through their team’s first eight games.

Imagine the Dodgers are collectively one player; based on what they've done through eight games, that one guy, over a 162-game season, would hit .297 with 47 home runs, 144 RBIs and 97 walks.

While the Dodgers can do no wrong at the plate, Cincinnati can do no right—at the plate, at least. For the third straight game, the punchless Reds are shut out with a 2-0 loss at Pittsburgh, despite a strong and encouraging start for Sonny Gray (one run allowed on three hits through 6.2 innings)—but the Bucs’ Joe Musgrove is better, firing seven shutout frames. The Reds have scored just 11 runs through their first six games and are batting at a rotten .157 clip; their outfielders have combined to go 6-for-75 (.080) thus far.

The Reds’ scoreless run will last a total of 30 innings before Kyle Farmer’s home run in the third inning of the next game. The Cincinnati franchise record is 45 innings, from 1931.

No Jake Lamb? No Steven Souza Jr.? No problem. Despite long-term injuries to two of Arizona’s prime hitting assets, the Diamondbacks on this night have firepower to spare as they blast the staggered Red Sox at Phoenix, 15-8. Ketel Marte launches a pair of bombs and knocks in five runs, while late offseason signee Adam Jones hits his fourth homer of the infant season. Boston starter Rick Porcello, shelled for seven runs over four-plus innings, perhaps speaks for the Red Sox’ early-season frustrations by lobbing a water cooler across the dugout.

Saturday, April 6
The Miami Marlins, who’ve lost nine straight games at Atlanta, end the jinx with an improbable 4-2 win over the Braves. Improbable, because starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara walks five and strikes out none over four innings, and the Braves leave 14 men on base—including three in the ninth. Former Phillie Jorge Alfaro belts two homers to lift the Marlins offensively.

The Dodgers continue to roll with a 7-2 victory at Denver over the Rockies, as the newsworthy moment comes when Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen, who’s past heart issues have made it difficult for him to pitch in the mile-high Colorado air, finishes the game by allowing a hit with two strikeouts over 1.1 innings. Jansen had offseason surgery to fix an irregular heartbeat.

What a difference a year makes. At this time last season, the Red Sox were being praised after a franchise-best start; this year, Boston is off to its worst start ever, as the Sox’ record drops to 2-8 with a 5-4 loss at Arizona. Carson Kelly breaks up a 4-4 tie with two outs in the ninth on a run-scoring single.

Adding both injury and insult to injury, the Red Sox lose infielder Brock Holt to the IL after his son pokes him in the eye.

The Cubs snap a six-game losing skid, but it ain’t easy. Chicago rides to a 7-2 lead behind Cole Hamels’ six solid innings of work, but then its continually abysmal bullpen nearly scarfs it up, allowing six runs over the next two innings. But a seven-run Cubs rally in the eighth gives them plenty of cushion to survive a 14-8 decision. Epitomizing the Cubs’ wild start is catcher Vince Caratini; he’s 3-for-3 with a home run, three RBIs and two walks, but also commits two passed balls and one instance of catcher’s interference.

This is the third straight game in which a Cubs’ catcher has committed interference, the first time that has happened in baseball’s modern (post-1900) era.

The Cubs become the first ever to score 60 runs in their first eight games—but only win two of them.

Sunday, April 7
The Reds’ Derek Dietrich launches two homers at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park that both end up in the Allegheny River beyond right field—but the Pirates get mad just after the first one. That’s because in their view, Dietrich takes too much time to admire the shot—and in his next at-bat, Pittsburgh’s Chris Archer throws behind him, leading to a benches-clearing scrum that gets intense twice because the Reds’ Yasiel Puig wants to take on anyone wearing black and gold. Puig and four others are ejected from the melee and, despite Dietrich’s twin blasts, the Reds lose their eighth straight game, 7-5.

Archer will be suspended five games while Puig will miss two.

It’s time for Puig to get anger management counseling. He was a hothead in Los Angeles and he continues to be one in Cincinnati; some believe that’s good for the game and healthy for clubhouse chemistry, but we disagree. His actions will one day get the worst of him—and more importantly, the worst of his teammates.

After a middling start, the Yankees come alive and destroy the Orioles at Baltimore, 15-3, behind seven home runs—three from Gary Sanchez, who with six in less than two weeks is already a third of the way to matching his entire output (18) from 2018. Among the four Orioles pitchers who take the abuse is David Hess, making his first appearance since throwing 6.1 hitless innings in his last outing—and veteran Dan Straily, recently picked up by the Orioles after his release from Miami.

Mike Trout continues to single-handedly win games for the Los Angeles Angels. In a 7-2 home win over Texas, the star outfielder homers for the fourth straight game, and his five shots over that stretch are the most ever hit by an American Leaguer throughout a team’s first four home games of the season. In 10 games so far, Trout is hitting .393 with seven extra-base hits (including five homers) among 11 hits over 28 at-bats; he’s also walked 11 times for a .581 on-base percentage. Meanwhile, the rest of the Angels collectively are hitting .192 and have fewer homers (four) than Trout all by his lonesome.

Four National League players have hit five homers over their first four home games of a season, most recently by Adrian Gonzalez for the 2015 Dodgers.

The game is temporarily delayed when a swarm of bees settles into the Rangers’ bullpen behind the left-field wall.

Seattle continues to pound at the ball as they beat up on the White Sox at Chicago, 12-5. Leading the slugging parade for Seattle is Daniel Vogelbach, who collects a double, two homers and six RBIs. Seattle’s 9-2 record is its best after 11 games, ever.

Monday, April 8
In a 12-4 bashing of the A’s at Baltimore, the Orioles rack up 15 hits—none of them from Chris Davis. The struggling slugger’s 0-for-5 performance runs his string of hitless at-bats to 49, breaking the all-time record of 46 previously held by Eugenio Velez. The rest of the Orioles are having no such issues at the plate, as they combine for three triples and a pair of homers against Oakland pitching.

There’s no stopping the home run derby known as the Seattle Mariners. At Kansas City, the Mariners muscle out five more homers—including two in one inning from Edwin Encarnacion, part of an eight-run sixth to catapult them past the Royals, 13-5. Encarnacion becomes just the fifth player to twice go deep multiple times in an inning, having also done it for Toronto in 2013; the other four players are Alex Rodriguez, Jeff King, Andre Dawson and Willie McCovey.

The Mariners’ 32 homers are the most ever accumulated by a team through its first 12 games of a season; only seven other teams have even half of that total thus far. Seattle’s slugging percentage is .571.

It’s home sweet home for the Cubs, who after a staggered (2-7) road trip to start the year finally get to Wrigley Field and plaster the visiting Pirates, 10-0. The Cubs get generous assistance from Pittsburgh shortstop Kevin Newman, whose three errors in the second inning allow six unearned Chicago runs to score.

This is already the third time this season that a player has committed three errors in one inning.

MLB’s offseason agreement with the Cuban Baseball Federation, allowing the island nation’s players to sign with major league clubs rather than risk life and limb trying to defect, is derailed by the Trump Administration—which states in a letter that “a payment to the Cuban Baseball Foundation is a payment to the Cuban government.”

Leave it to Donald Trump to deny MLB from actually doing something right.

Tuesday, April 9
Stop the presses: Jacob deGrom has a bad outing. The Mets’ ace, facing the Twins in an interleague matchup at New York, concedes six runs through the first four innings before being removed in a 14-8 loss. This ends two streaks for deGrom; a 31-start run in which he had allowed three or fewer runs, and a record-tying 26 straight quality starts. Both teams combine for a Citi Field-record 10 home runs, including two from Mets rookie Pete Alonso—who becomes the first modern major leaguer to accumulate 11 extra-base hits through his first 10 career games.

Whit Merrifield singles and triples to run his hit streak to 30 games, tying George Brett’s 1980 Kansas City record—but it’s not enough to stop the rampaging Mariners, who collect 15 hits (including another homer, from Jay Bruce) to defeat the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, 6-3. The game is also noted for being the first since 2017 to feature a baserunner (the Royals’ Billy Hamilton) scoring from second on a sacrifice fly.

The Reds finally crank up the offense after a cold start, demolishing the Marlins at Cincinnati, 14-0. The high moment comes in a seven-run sixth as Matt Kemp, Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler hit back-to-back-to-back home runs. Reds starter Luis Castillo becomes the first major leaguer ever to allow two of fewer hits with eight or more strikeouts in each of his first three season starts—yet this is only his first win of the year.

The Phillies blow a 6-1 lead—wasting Bryce Harper’s fourth home run in the process—as the visiting Nationals get a two-out, two-strike homer from rookie Victor Robles in the ninth to tie and four more runs in the 10th to take a 10-6 victory. Juan Soto’s three-run shot in that extra frame unknots the tie, before Robles adds an insurance RBI double.

Wednesday, April 10
At Kansas City, the Royals rally for two runs in the bottom of the eighth, the last coming on a bunt single by Whit Merrifield to extend his hitting streak to 31 games—breaking a franchise record. But the red-hot Mariners rebound in the ninth when Mitch Haniger hits a solo home run, extending Seattle’s run of consecutive games with a homer to start a season to an MLB record-tying 14. The Royals’ 6-5 loss comes despite Merrifield’s mark and a sizzling first career start for Terrance Gore, who for the last five years has been used solely as a pinch runner; Gore finishes with three hits—a single, double and triple—and steals two bases.

The Mariners’ 110 runs through their first 14 games is the most by a major league team since the 1932 Yankees (111).

The Mets are virtually handed a 9-6 win by the Twins at New York. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth, the Mets rally for six runs through almost no effort of their own; Jake Odorizzi and two Minnesota relievers combine to allow seven straight baserunners either via walk or hit batsman, and Wilson Ramos caps the scoring with a two-run single. Overall, the Mets have only five hits but 10 walks on the evening.

The Nationals build up a 15-0 lead going into the bottom of the ninth at Philadelphia—and they conclude that now is a safe moment to put beleaguered reliever Trevor Rosenthal on the mound. The former Cardinals closer, who enters the game having not retired any of the last 11 batters he’s faced, makes it 12 with a leadoff walk and eventually walks the bases loaded—but he does get three outs and concedes one run to drop his season ERA from infinity to 72.00. It’s the first time, however, that any major league pitcher hasn’t retired a player until his fifth appearance of the season.

Jose Altuve goes deep twice and the Astros defeat the Yankees at Houston, 8-6, to sweep New York for the first time ever. Overall, Houston has now won six straight games.

The Cardinals give veteran infielder Matt Carpenter a mild extension, guaranteeing him $39 million with a two-year deal covering 2020-21; a club option for 2022 could gross him another $16.5 million on top of that.

Forbes releases its annual, unofficial accounting of MLB’s most valuable and profitable franchises, with the Yankees once again taking the top spot at $4.6 billion in value. They are distantly followed by the Dodgers, Red Sox, Cubs and Giants, who are all estimated to be worth just over $3 billion. At the bottom end of the totem pole, the Marlins ($1 billion) and Rays ($1.01 billion) are the least valuable. The news is worse for the Marlins; Forbes claims they lost $22 million in 2018, one of only three teams (besides the Blue Jays and Orioles) to finish in the red.

Thursday, April 11
One streak ends and another continues in Kansas City. The Mariners score two in the ninth to tie and get a Daniel Vogelbach solo homer in the 10th to defeat the Royals, 7-6, improving their record to 13-2. Vogelbach’s shot is one of two on the day for Seattle, which breaks the major league mark for most consecutive games (15) to start a season with at least one home run. On the Kansas City side, Whit Merrifield is hitless in six trips to the plate, ending his 31-game hit streak.

The A’s finish a three-game sweep of the Orioles at Baltimore with an 8-5 victory, as two players with similar sounding names continue to go in completely opposite directions. Oakland’s Khris Davis belts two homers for the second straight day and runs his MLB-leading total to nine; meanwhile, the Orioles’ Chris Davis goes 0-for-3 with a walk, running his record-worst slump to a staggering 0-for-53. If that’s not enough, Davis has not had a hit in his last 60 plate appearances, breaking that record previously held (at 57) by Tony Bernazard for the 1984 Indians.

The Dodgers and Cardinals enter today’s game against each at St. Louis having won exactly 1,029 games against the other (with 16 ties), but the Redbirds grab the series edge with an 11-7 victory to complete a four-game sweep. The Cardinals’ Harrison Bader has the painful honor of becoming the first player since Toronto’s Reed Johnson in 2005 to be hit twice with the bases loaded.

The extension of the day is rewarded to Atlanta second baseman Ozzie Albies—though many loudly opine whether it’s a good deal for such a talented player. The 22-year-old is given a total of $31 million from 2019-25—with team options of $7 million per year in 2026-27 or a $4 million buyout. Covering four seasons of potential free agency, the deal is criticized by pundits and fellow players for being decidedly low. ESPN’s Jeff Passan tweets: “It's typical that agents criticize competitors' deals. But I've now heard from executives, players, analytics people, development side and scouts who are saying the same thing: The Ozzie Albies extension might be the worst contract ever for a player. And this is not hyperbole.” Albies admits that he takes the money now at the risk of losing more down the road, so that he could take better financial care of his family back in his native Curacao now.

Scott Sanderson, a veteran pitcher of 19 major league seasons with a 163-143 record, dies at the age of 62. The cause of his passing is not immediately released. Though hardly regarded as a great pitcher, Sanderson was established enough to last as long as he did as he moved about, playing for eight different teams—including postseason entrants as varied as the 1981 Montreal Expos, 1984 Cubs and 1990 A’s. He came closest to a 20-win season in 1990 when he racked up 17 (against 11 losses) for the A’s, leading to his only World Series participation—allowing two runs in 1.2 innings of work over two relief appearances against Cincinnati.

Friday, April 12
There’s a little bit of everything going on as Tampa Bay wins 11-7 at Toronto to continue taking advantage of an AL East void as the almighty Yankees and Red Sox struggle early on. The Rays score in the first inning for the seventh straight game, the longest streak in club history and the longest by any AL team since 2006; “opener” Ryne Stanek throws two scoreless innings, extending his (somewhat dubious) streak of “starts” without allowing three or more runs to 32 (breaking a tie with Jacob deGrom); Tommy Pham extends his Rays-record on-base streak to 46 games; and Austin Meadows and Brandon Lowe each hit a pair of homers in an 11-7 victory. The Rays’ 11-3 start is their best ever after 14 games.

Meadows and Lowe each deposit one of their home runs into Rogers Centre’s fifth level, a rarified landing spot that has previously only been reached 20 times. Only three of those had been hit over right field; Meadows and Lowe, in one evening, make it five. Famously, Jose Canseco was the first to reach the 500 Level, doing do for Oakland during the 1989 ALCS.

Two teams with six-game winning streaks clash heads in Seattle—and it’s the Astros who come out victorious with a 10-6 triumph thanks to a pair of grand slams from Jose Altuve and Yuli Gurriel. George Springer adds a two-run shot.

In the White Sox’ rain-shortened 9-6 victory at New York over the Yankees, highly touted rookie Eloy Jimenez crushes his first two career home runs, at 425 and 446 feet each. The 22-year-old Dominican is batting .319 in 12 games thus far.

A couple of star catchers who found new employers this past offseason return to their old haunts—and haunt their former teams. At Miami, J.T. Realmuto has two singles, one of which knocks in a run during a five-run rally in the third to lift the Phillies to an easy 9-1 victory over the Marlins; Jake Arrieta gets credit for his 100th win. Out west in Los Angeles, former Dodger Yasmani Grandal knocks in three runs—two on a go-ahead homer in the fifth—to ultimately give Milwaukee an 8-5 win, while handing the Dodgers their fifth straight loss.

In a five-hour, 35-minute marathon that matches the longest game by innings in Oracle Park history, the Giants eke out a 3-2 win over Colorado in the 18th when Erik Kratz hits a bases-loaded grounder to the right side—but although the throw home appears to beat Brandon Belt, Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta fails to touch the plate. It’s the seventh straight loss for the Rockies, who strike out a franchise-record 24 times; their 3-11 record represents their worst start ever.

Shades of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium in 1985: When the game is done just minutes before 1:00 in the morning, a fraction of the crowd of 33,000 is treated to postgame fireworks.

According to STATS, Kratz is the first catcher to work all 18 innings of a game and have the game-winning RBI since Bob Boone in 1982. He’s also the oldest catcher since 1950 to catch at least 18 innings.

For Iannetta, not touching the plate isn’t his only bad note on the night; he strikes out four times, despite not even entering the game until the ninth inning. He’s the fifth player ever to have done that.

Saturday, April 13
It’s all over for Chris Davis—in a good way. The beleaguered Orioles slugger ends an historic 0-for-54 drought with three hits, including two doubles, and four RBIs as he helps lift Baltimore to a 9-5 win at Boston. It’s only the second win for the Orioles in their last 10 tries, but they are one game ahead of the defending champion Red Sox (5-10) in the AL East standings.

In the 210 days in between Davis’ hits, 577 other major leaguers had at least one hit; the Nationals’ Anthony Rendon and the Brewers’ Christian Yelich had 43 each. Oakland bopper Khris Davis—obviously no relation, genealogically or baseball-able—hit 16 home runs during the other Davis’ slump.

A bar in Baltimore went into open bar mode for two hours when Davis rapped out his first hit, per a promotional promise it had made.

Before a crowd of nearly 17,000 in Monterrey, Mexico, St. Louis and Cincinnati begin a short two-game series with the Reds breaking open a close game late and prevailing, 5-2. Derek Dietrich homers, triples and drives in three.

Is there still life in Homer Bailey? The former Reds pitcher, completely dogged by injury and ineffectiveness over the previous four years, is excellent in his third start as a Royal—firing seven shutout innings and allowing just two hits. Kansas City benefits with a 3-0 home win over Cleveland.

Sunday, April 14
Colorado’s German Marquez takes a no-hitter into the eighth inning at San Francisco before allowing a one-out single to the Giants’ Evan Longoria. But the consolation prize for the young Rockies pitcher is that he becomes the first major leaguer with a complete game this season, two weeks and change after Opening Day. Marquez’s one-hitter, with no walks and one hit batsman, is his first career shutout and complete game; Nolan Arenado, the NL’s home run leader in three of the past four years, goes deep for the first time this season as the Rockies break an eight-game slide and defeat the Giants, 4-0, to improve to 4-12.

Seattle may still be in first place in the AL West, but the Astros finish serving notice to the Mariners that the road to winning the division still has to run through Houston. The Astros erase an early 2-0 deficit and climb back for a 3-2 win and a three-game sweep of the Mariners at Seattle, improving to 11-5 and reducing the M’s lead in the West to a single game. Jose Altuve five-game streak of going yard comes to an end, but the Mariners get a leadoff, first-inning jack from Mitch Haniger to extend their record streak of consecutive games with a homer to start the season to 18.

Toronto reliever Thomas Pannone becomes the third Blue Jays pitcher to throw an immaculate inning—nine pitches, nine strikes, three outs—and overall throws three innings of perfect mid-relief. But four other Jays pitchers are far less effective, allowing eight runs over six innings—two errors leading to three unearned runs don’t help—resulting in an 8-4 loss to the visiting Rays.

The Mets’ Jacob deGrom looks less than immortal for a second straight start, allowing three runs (on two homers) through five innings at Atlanta; three New York relievers are worse, and the Braves go on to a 7-3 win. The loss snaps a seven-game streak in which the Mets had scored at least six runs, a team record.

In his past 7.1 innings thrown, deGrom has allowed five home runs—matching the total he gave up in his 134.2 innings previous to that.

Less than a week later, deGrom will be placed on the injury list as he complains of a “barking” elbow.

Monday, April 15
In his first game back at Los Angeles in the uniform of the Cincinnati Reds, Yasiel Puig slams a two-run homer in the first inning off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw—making his first start of the year after spring injury issues—but Joc Pederson’s two-run shot of his own in the bottom of the ninth seals a 4-3 comeback win for Los Angeles. Kershaw overall allows just the two runs on Puig’s blast and four other hits through seven innings.

The Dodgers’ win comes on the 72nd anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s major league debut and, as recent tradition dictates, all major leaguers wear #42 in his honor. But today, baseball faces a different problem in regards to African-American participation than in 1947. Back then, the majors were at the very least reluctant to allow blacks into the game; now, they can’t seem to encourage them to join in, no matter how hard they try. Less than 10% of all active major leaguers are African-American—and 11 teams do no field a single such player. There are more players of African heritage in the game from other countries, notably Caribbean nations where baseball is still considered the gold standard among kids. But in America’s inner cities where many African-Americans still reside, baseball remains an afterthought compared to other sports such as basketball, football and now even soccer.

Outspoken Red Sox pitcher David Price criticizes MLB for a light schedule on Jackie Robinson day as 10 teams have the day off—although those teams will pay their respects to Robinson when they resume play the next day. In defense of MLB, it had to weigh who could participate and who needed the day off to travel, something the players pounded on MLB about in the last Basic Agreement.

Christian Yelich drops a pair of three-run bombs and a solo shot, driving in a Brewers franchise record-tying seven runs, to lift Milwaukee to a 10-7 home win over St. Louis. Yelich is the first Brewer with a hat trick of homers since Aaron Hill in May 2016.

Tuesday, April 16
The Cardinals lose for the 10,000th time in their 137-year-plus history, thanks again to Christian Yelich. A night after launching three homers against St. Louis, the reigning NL MVP drills another three-run shot over the fence to give the Brewers an 8-4 home victory. In six games against the Cardinals this season, Yelich has hit eight homers.

St. Louis becomes the sixth major league team to reach 10,000 losses. The Dodgers, currently with 9,770, are primed to be the seventh.

The Phillies get quite the jump on the Mets at Philadelphia, scoring 10 times in the first inning thanks to two home runs, four doubles, two walks, two errors and a hit batsman; from there they coast to a 14-3 victory. New York starter Steven Matz allows the first eight runs and is removed without retiring a batter; only five other starting pitchers have been charged with as many tallies without recording an out.

James Paxton is sensational while Chris Sale is, in his own words, terrible, as the Yankees bash the Red Sox 8-0 in their first regular season meet against one another in 2019. Paxton easily has his best start yet since donning pinstripes, throwing eight shutout innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out 12. Sale, meanwhile, drops to 0-4 with an 8.50 ERA as he gives up four runs in five frames, and declares after the game that he “stinks.” By the numbers, Sale certainly has; he’s given up more runs in 18 innings this year than he did last season over his last 83.

Texas’ Mike Minor needs just 103 pitches to complete a three-hit shutout—the first blanking of his career—as he and the Rangers shut down the Angels at Arlington, 3-0. The Rangers get help from Los Angeles outfielder Kole Calhoun, who inadvertently deflects an Asdrubal Cabrera deep fly over the fence for a two-run homer.

The Astros win their 10th straight game and take over first place in the AL West over the sliding (five straight defeats) Mariners with an easy 9-1 win at Oakland. Colin McHugh throws six shutout innings and Alex Bregman belts a grand slam—already Houston’s third on the year (no one else in the majors has more than one).

This is the third straight year that the Astros have fashioned together a winning streak of at least 10 games. That makes them only the second team in the last 40 years to achieve this, joining the Oakland A’s of 2001-03.

The Rays constantly protect ace Blake Snell to keep him from getting hurt, but perhaps they should have reminded him not to remove the bubble wrap when he steps in the shower. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner fractures a toe when he attempts to move a decorative stand and has a granite portion of it land on his foot.

Wednesday, April 17
One streak ends for the Mariners, and another continues—and that’s unfortunate on both counts for Seattle. Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco, sporting a 12.60 ERA after three starts, hurls seven shutout innings against the Mariners, allowing three hits while striking out 12, to help the Indians eke out a 1-0 victory and extend Seattle’s skid to six straight losses. The Mariners also do not hit a home run for the first time this season, ending a record streak of 20 games to start a year in which they had at least one—but for a moment, it appears that they have one when Ryon Healy shoots one past the foul pole in the second inning. But the Indians ask for a video review, and the War Room in New York overturns the umpires’ original fair call to foul.

The Rays eases past Baltimore with an 8-1 home victory and improve to 14-4, but few seem to be noticing (or caring) about the team’s hot start as a crowd of just 9,028 shows up at Tropicana Field. Yonny Chirinos allows just one hit over five shutout innings after taking over for ‘opener’ Ryne Stanek (who strikes out all three and allows a hit in one inning of work), while the Rays bulk up with three home runs. One anti-silver lining for the Rays is that Tommy Pham fails to reach base for the first time in 48 games, ending a streak that was the longest in Tampa Bay history.

Tempers flare in Chicago when the White Sox’ Tim Anderson, after hitting a home run and thrusting his bat in exaltation one at-bat before, gets plunked on the behind by the Royals’ Brad Keller, leading to the usual tense but ultimately harmless scrum between both teams. Anderson, off to a great start this year, is thrown out along with Keller, White Sox manager Rick Renteria and Kansas City coach Dale Sveum; the game lasts through to the 10th inning when the Royals win 4-3 on a Hunter Dozier home run.

There’s confusion as to why Anderson is ejected when he didn’t physically retaliate after getting hit, but MLB spells it out when handing out a one-game suspension to him—stating that Anderson had yelled a racially-charged epithet at Keller. (Interestingly, according to earwitnesses, Anderson, who is black, called Keller, who is white, a “nigger.”)

Midway through the game, the White Sox’ Daniel Palka replaces Yoan Moncada and gets his first hit after starting the season 0-for-32. Palka’s reward: He gets sent to Triple-A after the game.

Also losing in 10 innings are the Braves, who drop a 3-2 decision to Arizona when they walk Adam Jones with the bases loaded for the go-ahead run. If that sounds like a bad day for the Atlanta bullpen, it gets even worse off the field; Arodys Vizcaino, arguably the team’s best reliever, undergoes season-ending surgery on his throwing shoulder.

Maybe it’s time for Atlanta to check out a guy by the name of Craig Kimbrel. The Braves might remember him.

Thursday, April 18
Scratch another star off the future free agent list as the A’s Khris Davis signs a two-year, $33.5 million extension for 2020-21. Davis’ 143 home runs since his trade to Oakland in 2016 are the most in the majors; Giancarlo Stanton is second with 124.

The Dodgers defeat the Brewers at Milwaukee, 3-1, in a game the showcases a couple of players off to record fast starts. Cody Bellinger, shaking off a neutered sophomore campaign and getting hit in the knee by a pitch earlier in the week, deposits his 10th home run to break a 0-0 tie in the sixth inning; the 20 games he’s played to record 10 round-trippers are the fewest ever by any player age 25 or younger. The Brewers, meanwhile, get their lone run in the ninth when red-hot Christian Yelich belts his 10th of the year, making him the fastest (by games) to reach that figure in Milwaukee franchise history.

The Mariners, trying to shake off a sudden losing streak, build up a 10-2 lead in the seventh at Anaheim—but lose it, as the Angels counter with seven in the bottom of the frame followed a game-tying solo homer in the eighth from David Fletcher. But Seattle recovers in the ninth on a run-scoring single from Jay Bruce to end their skid, 11-10.

Friday, April 19
The Dodgers win their sixth straight game—all on the heels of six straight losses—with a 5-3 win at Milwaukee. The game’s defining moment comes in the eighth when Enrique Hernandez breaks up a 2-2 tie with a three-run smash off of supersonic Brewers reliever Josh Hader.

Hader had never given up a home run on a 0-2 pitch before Hernandez’s shot; in fact, opponents had only been 4-for-81 with 62 strikeouts when Hader had them down in the count at 0-2.

All appears to be well for the Cubs after a rough start. Kyle Hendricks is dominant for seven shutout innings, striking out 11, while struggling Kris Bryant drives in two runs to give Chicago a 5-1 home win over Arizona and even its season record to 9-9. The Diamondbacks’ lone run comes in the ninth, ending a 31-inning string of scoreless pitching by the Cubs—the fourth longest in franchise history, just four frames shy of the longest (35, in 1907).

Saturday, April 20
The Twins tee off on the Orioles at Baltimore in a weather-forced doubleheader, winning both games by 6-5 and 16-7 scores behind 11 total home runs. Four different players—Eddie Rosario, Mitch Garver, and one-time Orioles Nelson Cruz and Jonathan Schoop—each go deep twice in the twinbill, establishing an MLB mark for most multi-homer performances on one day. The eight homers in the second game tie a Twins/Senators franchise record.

The Orioles have allowed a whopping 57 homers on the year over their first 22 games. (Second most: Milwaukee, with 38.) If the Orioles continue at that pace, they’ll give up 420 for the year. Of course, nobody expects that pace to be maintained…but these are the Orioles.

Christian Yelich, again. The Brewers’ white-hot star continues his MVP-level warpath, bashing two solo homers to give Milwaukee a 2-0 lead after six innings; when he shows up at the plate again the next inning, the visiting Dodgers want nothing to do with him and allow him first base with an intentionally walk—and Ryan Braun, the next batter, deposits a three-run homer to complete the scoring in the Brewers’ 5-0 win. Yelich now leads the majors with 13 jacks.

In the Angels’ 6-5 home loss to Seattle, Albert Pujols homers and doubles while driving in two runs to give him 1,993 for his career, which spur some sources to claim he now is fifth on the all-time list, surpassing Babe Ruth. The problem is, those sources base Ruth’s 1,992 RBIs on the fact that the stat was not “official” until 1920, thus disregarding the 222 he had amassed before then. Which is just plain dumb, since the accuracy on pre-1920 RBIs is solid. In reality, Pujols remains #7 on the true all-time RBI list, though with just four more will reach the #5 spot.

In an important early-season series, the Red Sox make it two wins in a row over the Rays at St. Petersburg with a 6-5 victory, as Andrew Benintendi’s ninth-inning sac fly—his fifth RBI of the night, following a second-inning grand slam—breaks a 5-5 tie. Benintendi’s early slam is charged to the Rays’ Charlie Morton, breaking a streak of 19 straight games in which a Tampa Bay starter had allowed two or fewer runs; the MLB record remains 20, set by the 1917 White Sox.

The Yankees upend the Royals at New York, 9-2, but this beat-up team again cannot avoid a critical injury. Aaron Judge limps his way to first base after a sixth-inning single and is later diagnosed with a “significant” oblique strain that will place him on the injury list—joining a majority of the Yankees’ Opening Day lineup including Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez. The Yankees still crank out four homers on the day, including a third by rookie Mike Tachman over his last four games.

The Blue Jays beat up on the A’s at Oakland, 10-1, in a game with more than its share of noteworthy moments. Toronto starter Matt Shoemaker, on his way to a likely fourth win, has to exit at the end of the third inning—and the season—after tearing an ACL muscle running down the A’s Matt Chapman during a pickle. Blue Jays shortstop Freddy Galvis makes an unbelievable, over-the-shoulder, bare-handed catch in the eighth. And in the ninth, umpire Jeff Nelson decides to help security guards and tackles an invading fan to the ground near second base.

Sunday, April 21
The final game of a lively series pitting last year’s NLCS foes may be the best game yet. After Joc Pederson’s two homers (among four hits) spring the Dodgers to a 5-0 lead in the fourth, the Brewers begin making waves with two in the fifth and three with two outs in the eighth to tie on Eric Thames’ pinch homer. But the Dodgers rebound in the ninth when Cody Bellinger—who had earlier denied Christian Yelich’s 14th home run of the year with an over-the-wall catch—takes reliever Josh Hader deep to secure a 6-5 triumph and 3-1 series win.

In defeat, the Brewers go errorless for the 12th straight game to set a team record.

The Red Sox make it an important three-game sweep of the AL East-leading Rays at St. Petersburg with an 11-inning, 4-3 victory on Christian Vazquez’s sac fly. David Price goes the first five innings, striking out 10; Boston wins all three games by a total of four runs.

The Yankees also go extras, defeating Kansas City in 10 by a 7-6 margin. New York is breezing with a 5-0 lead after six innings thanks to a second straight brilliant effort from James Paxton, who fires six shutout innings and becomes the first Yankee ever to record 12 or more Ks in consecutive outings. A six-run Royals rally off the Yankee pen in the eighth puts New York behind and wipes away a deserving win for Paxton, but Austin Romine—who ties the game in the bottom half of that inning on a single—brings home the winning tally in the 10th.

In yet another one-run game—there are 10 of them in the majors on this day—the Rangers survive a series of late rallies from the visiting Astros to escape with an 11-10 home win. Joey Gallo knocks in five runs, one of those on a sacrifice fly—the first in Gallo’s career in his 1,337th plate appearance. Only Steve Sax (1,388) had more PAs to start a career without one.

The Giants’ Buster Posey, recovering from end-of-year hip surgery in 2018, clouts his first home run in his last 237 at-bats—and it makes all the difference as his three-run blow is exactly what San Francisco needs to record a 3-2 win at Pittsburgh and avoid a three-game sweep.

Monday, April 22
It’s a different Steven Matz facing the Phillies in the Mets’ 5-1 win at New York. Matz, who in his last outing at Philadelphia couldn’t retire any one of eight batters he faced before being removed, allows just a run on three hits through six innings. Two of Matz’s six Ks on the evening come with the Phillies’ Bryce Harper at the plate—but Harper’s main source of frustration is home plate umpire Mark Carlson, whose borderline (at best) strike calls rile up the Phillies’ star past the point of his return to the dugout, leading to his ejection when he continues to bark away.

Harper’s ejection is the first for a Phillies player in nearly four years, since pitcher Justin De Fratus was ousted on June 16, 2015.

Minnesota continues its solid start to the year, improving to 13-7 with a 9-5 victory at Houston as Jorge Polanco collects four hits and four RBIs. The Twins’ Byron Buxton is caught stealing in the eighth, his first after successfully swiping 33 straight bases—the longest streak in Twins/Senators history.

Tuesday, April 23
The Mets continue to frustrate the Phillies with a 9-0 thrashing at New York behind Zack Wheeler’s terrific effort, both on the mound and at the plate. Wheeler throws seven shutout innings, allows five hits and strikes out 11; at bat, he collects a home run and double while driving in three.

It’s pointed out that the Mets are the first team since at least 1908 to have at least one homer from three different pitchers through its first 25 games. Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom have also gone deep for New York.

Wednesday, April 24
It’s not Eagles-Giants, but baseball’s rivalry between Philadelphia and New York’s nines is starting to heat up. At New York, the Phillies avoid a three-game sweep by knocking down the Mets, 6-0, behind Vince Velazquez’s five shutout innings and two long hits from Rhys Hoskins—the latter a two-run, ninth-inning homer off the Mets’ Jacob Rhame. Hoskins celebrates with a tortoise-like, 34.2-second jog around the bases, setting the Statcast record for the slowest homer trot by one-tenth of a second. Reason? The night before, Rhame threw a pitch over the head of Hoskins who, along with MLB (which will suspend Rhame two games), believes was deliberate.

Thursday, April 25
Five days ago, the Pirates had the NL’s best record (at 12-6) but they’re now barely breathing just above .500 as they suffer their fifth straight loss, a 5-0 home defeat to Arizona. The Diamondbacks’ four-game sweep at Pittsburgh is by an aggregate score of 30-7; Zack Greinke wins his fourth game of the year with seven shutout innings, and he’s 6-for-13 at the plate on the year with a single, two doubles, a triple and two homers.

Greinke becomes the first pitcher to hit for the cycle within a calendar month since Dontrelle Willis in August 2011.

The Indians’ Trevor Bauer faces off against the Astros and Alex Bregman for the first time since the two players feuded online over, well, anything, last postseason. Bauer gets the best of the battle by keeping Bergman hitless in three at-bats (with one walk) while neutralizing the Astros overall with eight superb innings, outdueling Gerrit Cole in a 2-1 Cleveland win at Houston.

Friday, April 26
At long last, top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. makes his official major league debut for the Blue Jays against the A’s at Toronto, and is hitless in the ninth when he doubles to lead off the frame for his first hit. After being removed for a pinch-runner, Guerrero watches as Brandon Drury later smokes a two-out, two-run game-winning homer to lift the Jays to a 4-2 victory. A crowd of 28,688—the largest since Opening Day at Rogers Centre—welcomes Guerrero to the fold.

Marcus Stroman does not get credit for Toronto’s win but certainly pitches well enough to earn it, allowing just one hit through seven shutout innings. Stroman is an early candidate for the year’s hard-luck pitching award; he is 1-3 with a 1.43 ERA—only the second lowest by a Blue Jay after six starts, bested only by Dave Stieb’s 1.29 in 1983.

Guerrero is hardly the only top prospect making his big-time debut. Justin Sheffield, Seattle’s #1 prospect who was part of the James Paxton deal, takes the mound in the second after Yusei’s Kikuchi first-inning appearance as ‘opener’ and allows two runs on two hits and four walks through three innings to help hold an early Mariners lead against the visiting Rangers. Texas ties it in the ninth, but the Mariners rebound in the 10th to win 5-4 on Mitch Haniger’s bases-loaded grounder.

In Washington, shortstop Carter Kieboom makes his debut with an eighth inning solo homer (his first hit) to tie San Diego at 3-3. But the Padres rebut in the ninth on a solo shot of their own from Hunter Renfroe to prevail, 4-3.

The Nationals become the first team since the 1997 Florida Marlins to start three position players (Kieboom, Victor Robles and Juan Soto) age 21 or younger in one game.

Max Scherzer starts for the Nationals and strikes out 10 batters through seven innings to become the third fastest pitcher in history (by innings and games) to accumulate 2,500 for his career. He also ties Clayton Kershaw for third on the all-time list with 22 starts striking out at least 10 batters while walking none.

The unstoppable Cody Bellinger smacks his 13th homer of the year and raises his season average to an eye-popping .433 after 28 games as the Dodgers hand the Pirates their sixth straight loss, 6-2 at Los Angeles. Bellinger’s blast helps the Dodgers set an all-time mark for most consecutive home games with at least one home run hit, at 33; the old mark was 32 by the 1999 Rockies.

The streak will end the next night when the Dodgers go homerless in a 3-1 victory over the Bucs.

The White Sox and Tigers, who twice have combined for a major league-record 12 homers in a game, threaten that mark tonight in Chicago. The two teams slug nine between each other—it could have been 10, but the White Sox’ Jose Abreu’s three-run blast is reduced to a single when he accidentally passes Tim Anderson (who had gone back to first to tag up). Anderson connects for the ninth and final homer of the night with a solo walk-off shot, giving the White Sox a 12-11 victory.

Among the home runs is the first by the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera in almost exactly a year, a span of 161 plate appearances—the longest such drought of his career.

Madison Bumgarner is on the mound and the Giants score in the first inning for the first time in 26 games this season, so all is good for San Francisco, right? Wrong. The visiting Yankees, resembling a virtual Triple-A version of themselves with so many of their everyday players on the injured list, compile 11 hits off of Bumgarner—tied for the most he’s ever allowed—and pull away with a 7-3 win. Cameron Maybin, released by the Giants in spring camp, helps set the pace for the Yankees with an RBI single in the first inning in his first game wearing pinstripes.

Saturday, April 27
The Orioles’ pitching staff continues to have all the potency of batting practice pitchers. In Minnesota, the Twins add five more homers to the total allowed by Baltimore this year—which has now reached 69—and smash the Orioles by a 9-2 count. In five games against the Orioles this season, the Twins have bashed 21 homers—the most in a five-game stretch against a single opponent since the Red Sox accumulated the same number against the Yankees in 1977.

This is the sixth time this year that the Orioles have surrendered at least five home runs in a game—already setting a team record before April is even done. The major league record is nine.

Christian Yelich has three hits including his 14th home run—tying Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez for the most before the end of April—and the Brewers blow past Noah Syndergaard (1-3, 6.35 ERA) and the Mets at New York, 8-6. Mike Moustakas’ seventh-inning throwing error ends a Milwaukee-record streak of 16 straight games without a miscue—just two shy of the MLB mark held by the 2009 Yankees.

The Padres turn a tight game into a rout with six runs in the 10th to drown the Nationals at Washington, 8-3. It does end a string of 15 straight wins in which San Diego had won each by no more than three runs.

Sunday, April 28
In the Angels’ 7-3 win at Kansas City, Albert Pujols moves up on two all-time lists with a two-run double in the first inning. The two RBIs gives him 1,997 for his career, putting him ahead of both Lou Gehrig (1,995) and Barry Bonds (1,996) in fifth place on the true all-time list, counting RBIs before they became “official” in 1920. The double, the 643rd of Pujols’ career, also places him in a ninth-place tie with Honus Wagner.

Four White Sox pitchers combine to strike out 20 Tigers in a 4-1 win at Chicago; it’s the seventh time that many have been registered in a nine-inning game. Reynaldo Lopez has 14 of the Ks in just six innings of stellar work; three relievers (Jace Fry, Kelvin Herrera and Alex Colome) each strike out two.

Two days after becoming the first trio of 21-or-younger ballplayers in 21 years to start for the same team in the same game, Washington’s Juan Soto, Carter Kieboom and Victor Robles become the first such trio to all homer in the same game, ever. But it’s the Nationals’ other home run of the day—a solo shot from Matt Adams in the 11th—that wins the game over the visiting Padres, 7-6. As grand a day as it is for the Nats’ young guns, it’s a painful one for San Diego and its budding 20-year-old star, Fernando Tatis Jr.; he injures his hamstring while doing a gymnastics-style split of his legs trying to catch a low throw in the Padres’ fateful final frame. Tatis leaves the game, and his timetable for a return is anyone’s guess by day’s end.

After losing all seven games to Oakland a year earlier, the Blue Jays finish their 2019 season series against the A’s undefeated in six matchups with heart-stopping drama. Trailing 4-1 going to the bottom of the 11th, Toronto gets a three-run homer from Brandon Drury—who hit a walk-off shot just two days earlier—and Justin Smoak applies the game-winning blow four batters later as the Jays prevail, 5-4.

A week after getting swept at Tampa Bay by the Red Sox, the Rays extract revenge and finish off a rain-shortened, two-game sweep at Boston with a 5-2 victory. Tyler Glasnow goes 6.2 sharp innings for the Rays to improve to 5-0; on the other side of fortune, Red Sox ace Chris Sale drops to 0-5—giving him one loss more than he suffered all of last season.

One day after Christian Yelich becomes the third player ever with 14 or more homers before the end of April, the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger becomes the fourth. Bellinger’s solo homer sparks a Los Angeles comeback as it’s the first of six unanswered runs to push the Dodgers past Pittsburgh at Chavez Ravine, 7-6.

Of the four worst defeats ever suffered by the Mariners at 20-year-old T-Mobile Park (nee Safeco Field), two of them have come in the past two days. The visiting Rangers follow up a 15-1 romp the day before with a near-identical 14-1 drubbing, as first-year Ranger Hunter Pence leads the way with three hits (including his third homer) and four RBIs.

According to STATS, the Rangers are just the second team in AL history (after the 1936 Yankees) to win consecutive road games by 13 or more runs.

Monday, April 29
Cody Bellinger raises his season average to .434 with two hits and knocks in his 37th run—the most ever by a major leaguer before the end of April—but it’s not enough as Evan Longoria’s bases-clearing double in the seventh lifts the Giants to a 3-2 home victory over the Dodgers.

The Astros’ Justin Verlander allows just one run for the fourth straight game—and for the fourth straight game, that run is a solo home run. The only difference between tonight’s blast by the Twins’ Ehire Adrianza and the other three? Adrianza’s blow is the only run of the game, pegging Verlander with his first loss of the year after a 4-0 start.

Only one other major league pitcher—San Diego’s Greg Harris in 1991—has ever allowed a solo homer as the only run in four straight starts.

Casey Mize, the 2018 amateur draft’s #1 selection as chosen by Detroit, has proven that he’s too good for Class A+—and tonight, he’s proving that he’s probably too good for Class-AA, too. In his first start for the Erie SeaWolves, The 21-year-old Mize throws a no-hitter, walking one while hitting another. With the Class-A+ Lakeland club in the Florida League, Mize allowed just one run on seven hits over 26 innings.

Tuesday, April 30
CC Sabathia becomes the 17th pitcher—and the third southpaw—to accumulate 3,000 career strikeouts when he earns his third K of the night at Arizona, striking out the Diamondbacks’ John Ryan Murphy in the second inning. But the hefty 38-year-old Sabathia fails to get the win as the Yankees lose, 3-1.

With the end of the month, there are 1,010 home runs hit in April—smashing the record for that month. The previous record for April was 930, set in 2000. The Orioles by themselves give up 69 homers in April—easily the most every surrendered by a team in any month.


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