What’s Happening in Baseball Today

The First Pitch: June 3, 2023

It’s a night of big moments from leadoff hitters. 

At New York against the Mets, Toronto’s George Springer starts the night with a home run on the game’s second pitch; it’s his 54th career leadoff bomb, tying Alfonso Soriano for the second-most in MLB history. Only Rickey Henderson (81) has more. 

Springer’s shot springs the Blue Jays to a 3-0 win, preserved by former Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt—who throws 7.2 innings shutout innings, allowing just three hits and no walks, all while baseball is probably among the least things on his mind; after the game, he hurries back to Toronto as his wife is in labor with their second child. 

Out in Los Angeles, the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts belts his 41st career leadoff homer—good for ninth on the all-time list—to set the pace for a six-run first inning against long-time interleague rivals New York Yankees in an 8-4 home win. Betts adds another home run in the sixth, extending his own all-time record of multi-homer games from the leadoff spot to 22. Overall, Betts reaches base all five times on the night (two homers, doubles, single, walk and a steal). 

Finally, up in San Francisco, Giants leadoff man LaMonte Wade Jr. lines the first pitch he sees in the first from Baltimore’s Dean Kramer into McCovey Cove for the 100th “Splash Hit” by a Giants player since Oracle Park opened in 2000. The ball lands right next to one of many kayakers out in the cove, who quickly scoops it up; he returns the ball to Wade in exchange for a couple of bats and balls signed by the Giants’ first baseman, as well as a picture of the two together. Wade’s shot isn’t enough for the Giants, who lose to the Orioles, 3-2.

Congrats, Your Box Score Line Was the Best (Hitters Edition)

5-2-4-5—Nick Castellanos, Philadelphia
The second-year Phillies outfielder almost single-handedly engineered a big comeback after the host Nationals were spotted to a 6-0 lead; he belted a solo homer to put the Phillies on the board in the fourth, added a two-run shot in the sixth and knocked in two more runs an inning later to cut Washington’s lead to 7-6. Trailing 8-7 in the top of the ninth, Castellanos doubled to represent the tying run, but neither Bryce Harper nor J.T. Realmuto could follow up and the Phillies bowed, 8-7.

Congrats, Your Box Score Line Was the Best (Pitchers Edition)

7.2-3-0-0-0-8—Chris Bassitt, Toronto
It was a splendid night for the reliable starter, who improved to 6-4 with a 3.41 ERA as he outdueled Justin Verlander in a 3-0 win over the Mets—all before being rushed off on a private jet back to Toronto to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.

It Was Whatever-Something Years Ago Today

1925: The White Sox’ Eddie Collins collects his 3,000th career hit in a 12-7 win at Detroit. He’s the fifth player to reach the milestone. 

1927: The Pirates’ Paul Waner collects a home run it what will be his first of 14 straight games with at least one extra-base hit, a major league record. 

1932: Lou Gehrig pounds out four home runs in the Yankees’ wildly offensive, 20-13 victory at Philadelphia over the A’s. He is the first player in the 20th Century to hit four homers in one game; a chance for a fifth is denied in his last at-bat when a deep fly to center is caught at the wall. 

1932: Hall-of-Fame Giants manager John McGraw, facing declining health and an unusually poor start by his team, announces his retirement after 30 years at the job. First baseman Bill Terry takes over and guides the Giants to a 72-82 finish—the team’s worst showing in 17 years. 

1944: A game between the Giants and Braves at the Polo Grounds comes to a standstill when it’s announced that the Allies have launched a massive invasion on Nazi-occupied France. It turns out that the news is premature; a wire operator in London, in the know about the approaching D-Day, is testing her writing skills and accidentally sends out the item. 

1958: By a thin margin, Los Angeles voters approve the building of Dodger Stadium

1995: Montreal pitcher Pedro Martinez retires all 27 batters he faces through nine innings against the Padres at San Diego—but he’s asked to face more as a scoreless game enters extra innings. Martinez allows a double to the 28th batter, Bip Roberts, and is removed; he’ll get credit for the win as Mel Rojas saves a 1-0 Expos win. 

1998: Toronto’s Roger Clemens wins his first of an AL-record 20 straight games, going the distance in a 5-1 home victory over Detroit. His streak will last nearly a year and end after he signs with the Yankees. 

2017: With a grand slam belted against Minnesota at Anaheim, the Angels’ Albert Pujols becomes the ninth major leaguer to surpass 600 career home runs.

You Say It’s Your Birthday

Milwaukee pitcher Eric Lauer is 28; Yankees outfielder Harrison Bader is 29; injury-prone Cleveland slugger Travis Hafner is 46; two-time All-Star outfielder Carl Everett is 52; early 1960s power hitter and TGG interview subject Jim Gentile is 89. Born on this date is gone-too-soon Kansas City pitcher Yordano Ventura (1991).

A special Bushers Birthday Salute to third baseman Urbane Pickering, who wasn’t polished enough to hang at the major league level with only two seasons under his belt for the Red Sox of the early 1930s.

Shameless Link of the Day

Yes, it’s that time of the month again—as in the beginning of the month, which means that a new edition of the Monthly Comebacker is upon. Find out the highs, lows and just plain weird from May, including our picks for the Best and Worst of the month that was.

To Whom It May Concern

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