What’s Happening in Baseball Today

The First Pitch: April 20, 2024

The last two top free-agent pitchers to sign during the spring face off at San Francisco, with Jordan Montgomery—making his first MLB appearance of the year for Arizona—easily getting the better of the Giants’ Blake Snell, battered in his third start before his bullpen mates totally implode in a 17-1 loss. 

Montgomery allows a run on four hits through six innings in his Diamondbacks debut; Snell is charged with five runs on nine hits through 4.2 frames before being removed to a mild chorus of boos at Oracle Park. The reigning NY Cy Young winner has an 11.57 ERA so far for the Giants. 

The Diamondbacks support Montgomery and two relievers more than adequately, racking up franchise record-tying numbers in hits (22) and run differential (+16); the latter mark ties a 2019 game in which Arizona won 18-2 at—wait for it—San Francisco over the Giants. 

The silver lining for San Francisco is that their only run comes on a solo homer from Jorge Soler—the first hit by a Giants player at Oracle Park in this, their eighth home game of 2024.

Justin Verlander, whose own 2024 season has been delayed not be free agency but injury, returns to the mound for the first time this year and looks sharp in Houston’s 5-3 win at Washington. The 41-year-old future Hall of Famer allows two runs on four hits over six innings, picking up his 258th career victory—tops among all active pitchers. His four strikeouts give him 3,346 lifetime K’s, breaking a 12th-place tie with Phil Niekro on the all-time list. 

The Braves topple the Rangers at Atlanta, 8-3, behind the strength of three home runs from catcher Travis d’Arnaud, with his final blast a sixth-inning, tie-breaking grand slam that gives the Braves the lead for keeps. It’s the second hat trick for d’Arnaud, joining Johnny Bench and Gary Carter as catchers with multiple three-homer games. 

It’s the first three-homer effort by an Atlanta player since September 2020, when it occurred three times within a nine-day period—two of those coming from Adam Duvall

The Orioles have a four-game win streak snapped with a 9-4 loss at Kansas City, also falling one game short of their own MLB record by failing to hit three or more homers for the sixth straight game. Baltimore gets one round-tripper from Adley Rutschman, but the Orioles play catch-up all evening as the Royals break the ice in the fourth and pound away at Baltimore relievers, scoring eight runs between the sixth and seventh innings.

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

4-3-3-6—Travis d’Arnaud, Atlanta
The veteran catcher’s three-homer night came with a career-tying six RBIs; the last Atlanta catcher to send three balls over the fence occurred in 1979, when Dale Murphy—a year before a permanent move to the outfield—performed the hat trick while stationed behind the plate.

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

7-1-0-0-2-6—Spencer Turnbull, Philadelphia
The 31-year-old right-hander already owned one no-hitter amid 13 career victories, and nearly grabbed a second as he held the visiting White Sox hitless (not a difficult thing to do these days) through 6.1 innings. His superb night lowers his season ERA to an NL-best 1.23.

It Was Whatever-Something Years Ago Today

1912: Fabled Fenway Park in Boston hosts its first-ever game as the Red Sox prevail in 11 innings over the New York Highlanders, 7-6. Second baseman Steve Yerkes collects five hits including two doubles for the Red Sox, but also commits three of the team’s seven errors on the day. 

1912: Debuting along with Fenway Park is Detroit’s Navin Field, the facility soon to be renamed Tiger Stadium. The Tigers also need 11 innings to win their opener, 6-5 over the Cleveland Naps. George Mullin goes the distance in securing the win. 

1997: After a NL-record 14 straight losses to start the season, the Cubs finally win in the second game of a doubleheader at New York over the Mets, 4-3.

You Say It’s Your Birthday

Unsigned first baseman Brandon Belt is 36; 1996 NL Rookie of the Year Todd Hollandsworth is 51; Yankee favorite and 12-year manager Don Mattingly is 63; 119-game winner Milt Wilcox is 74. Born on this date is gone-too-soon first baseman Harry Agganis (1929), Negro League outfielder/catcher with career .370 batting average Heavy Johnson (1895), Hall-of-Fame second baseman Dave Bancroft (1891), 1890s outfielder Tommy Dowd (1869), shortstop of 1,597 hits Germany Smith (1859) and, but of course on 4-20, 1900s outfielder Charlie Hemphill (1876).

Shameless Link of the Day

Who else, besides Travis d’Arnaud, has hit three home runs in a game for the Braves? The full list is included in our sidebar section here.

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