This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: April 2017

Madison Bumgarner’s Not-so-excellent Dirt Bike Adventure    Cyclemania at Coors
Should the Marlins Bronze Jose Fernandez?    The Rejuvenation of Eric Thames

March 2017    Comebacker Index    May 2017 

Saturday, April 1

The Toronto Blue Jays make their annual late-exhibition trek to Montreal, where baseball fans there are still showing they can support a renewal of major league ball 13 years after the Expos’ departure (so long as Jeffrey Loria isn’t running the team). A crowd of 52,000 fills up Olympic Stadium as the Jays defeat Pittsburgh, 6-4, on the strength of two home runs—one by Melvin Upton Jr., who will be informed of his release from the club after the game.

Opening Day rosters for all 30 major league ballclubs are finalized with some surprises. Among the admissions is Los Angeles of Anaheim reliever Blake Parker, who makes the Angels’ squad on the strength of recording 17 straight outs by strikeout. No major leaguer has done that in regular season action since 1974.

Should Parker be demoted back to the minors, he’ll already be packed and ready to go; he’s living in a RV with his family.

Sunday, April 2

The 2017 regular season opens with three games, starting in St. Petersburg with the Tampa Bay Rays defeating the New York Yankees 7-3 behind seven sharp innings from Chris Archer and an early-and-often offense that produces all seven runs and knocks Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka out of the box before the end of the third inning. Tanaka—who allowed just one earned run in 23.2 exhibition innings—suffers the worst Opening Day line ever by a Yankees pitcher.

For the second game in Phoenix, it looks to be Madison Bumgarner’s historic day in the sunshine; he takes a perfect game into the sixth inning for the first time on Opening Day since J.R. Richard in 1980, and becomes the first pitcher ever to hit two O.D. home runs on to help give San Francisco a 4-3 leave upon his departure in the seventh. But a familiar, nagging problem crops up for the Giants: A bullpen that can’t hold a lead. In fact, the Giants blow two leads—the 4-3 edge in the eighth, and then a 5-4 advantage in the bottom of the ninth when newly acquired All-Star closer Mark Melancon, after retiring the first two Diamondbacks hitters, gives up four straight hits to hand Arizona a 6-5 walkoff win.

Bumgarner’s two home runs give him 16 for his career and puts him atop the all-time Giants home run list among pitchers, relegating Johnny Antonelli and Hal Schumacher to a second-place tie.

The Chicago Cubs open their defense of their 2016 championship by being shut down for seven innings by the Cardinals’ Carlos Martinez in St. Louis, as the young ace dials 7.1 shutout innings with 10 strikeouts and no walks. But a 3-0 lead for the Cardinals is erased in the ninth when Willson Contreras belts a three-run blast off St. Louis’ Seung-Hwan Oh, before the Cardinals recover and win the game in the ninth on Randal Grichuk’s run-scoring single, 4-3.

The Cardinals’ ninth-inning rally features the first intentional walk that does not require four actual pitches, per the new rule established by MLB. Yadier Molina is given a very free pass from Chicago’s Mike Montgomery. Despite the expedited walk, the time of game still checks in at three hours and 33 minutes—while the day’s other two games are 3:20, far from the sub-three-hour games commissioner Rob Manfred is seeking.

An odd moment occurs as the Cardinals rally for their first run of the year in the third inning, as a ground ball skirts past Cubs second baseman Javier Baez, who started toward second base before desperately trying to shift to his left as he belatedly spots the ball. He later complains that the reason he didn’t see it is because it got lost against the white background of an advertisement behind home plate. Chicago manager Joe Maddon asks umpires to ask ballpark officials to rotate the sign to something more amenable to infielders’ eyes.

The Opening Day payrolls of all 30 MLB teams tops $4 billion for the first time, a 4.7% increase over 2016. The Los Angeles Dodgers again top all teams with a $225 million payroll, though that’s $9 million lower than their 2016 budget. Detroit is second at $199 million, and the Yankees third at $195 million—a significant $30 million drop as the team no longer needs to pay salary to retired stars Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. Only seven teams are now below the $100 million mark, with Milwaukee at the very bottom with a $60.8 million payroll.

Also to note: 29.8% of all players on Opening Day rosters are born outside of America. That tops the previous high of 29.2% in 2005.

Monday, April 3

The Dodgers smoke the underwhelming San Diego Padres at Los Angeles in their home opener, 14-3; they have now won their last two Opening Day contests (both against the Padres) by a combined 29-3 count. Clayton Kershaw, whose 2017 salary is higher than the entire San Diego roster, throws seven sharp innings; switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal hits two of the team’s four home runs, one from each side of the plate—only the third time that’s happened in an Opening Day game. (The other two occurrences took place in the same game, in 2009.)

San Diego’s Christian Bethancourt, a catcher doubling as a reliever to start the season for the Padres, gets a chance to perform from the mound. It doesn’t go well; in 1.1 innings, he allows three runs on three hits, walks two and throws two wild pitches—the last of which leads to his departure from the game when he gets spiked in the knee at home plate trying to tag out Andrew Toles, coming home from third.

Bryce Harper’s solo home run in the sixth inning starts a comeback effort for Washington, which goes on to defeat the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park, 4-2. It’s the Harper’s fifth Opening Day home run in five years.

In a game with echoes to last year’s AL Wild Card playoff, Baltimore and Toronto take a tight game into extras—but this time it’s the Orioles who prevail as Mark Trumbo delivers a solo home run, the first Opening Day walkoff blast for the Orioles since moving from St. Louis in 1954.

What else is different from last year’s wild card game? Baltimore manager Buck Showalter uses closer Zach Britton, who keeps the Blue Jays at bay with shutout frames in the ninth and 10th innings. Maybe Showalter kept Britton in the pen last October to save him for Opening Day.

The Boston Red Sox break up a scoreless tie in the fifth with five runs, capped by a three-run home run from Andrew Benintendi, showing his value as the consensus preseason pick for AL Rookie of the Year, for a 5-3 victory over Pittsburgh at Fenway Park.

Atlanta ace Julio Teheran continues his mastery of the New York Mets, but he’s foiled by a Braves offense that scores no runs and a bullpen that gives up too many (six, after his departure). The Mets get the 6-0 home win behind six shutout innings from Noah Syndergaard—who leaves the game with a blister.

The Cincinnati Reds, who surrendered a major league-record 258 home runs last season, give up a dinger to the very first batter they face this season (Philadelphia’s Cesar Hernandez) and Freddy Galvis adds a second in the second inning as the Phillies go on to a 4-3 road victory.

Hernandez is the first Phillie to hit a leadoff homer in an Opening Day game since 1938.

The Minnesota Twins break open a 1-1 tie with six runs in the seventh inning—three on bases-loaded walks—and Ervin Santana and two relievers keep the visiting Kansas City Royals in check the rest of the way for a 7-1 win.

The Twins are already almost halfway to matching their entire 2016 total of bases-loaded walks (seven).

Tuesday, April 4

It’s good to be the Padres, at least for a day. After getting trounced the day before by the Dodgers, San Diego performs an impressive rebound thanks largely to Clayton Richard, who tosses eight shutout innings in a 3-0 win. It’s only the second time in major league history (1902 Detroit Tigers) that a team has lost on Opening Day by 10-plus runs only to win the next game by shutout.

In a rain-belated opener at Chicago, the Tigers get a three-run homer from rookie JaCoby Jones and 6.1 sharp frames from Justin Verlander (who strikes out 10) to defeat the White Sox, 6-3. Though the paid crowd at newly renamed Guaranteed Rate Field is over 36,000, the actual number of people in the stands is far less; many had showed up the day before for a game that got rained out, and didn’t bother to take advantage of their rain checks.

Pedro Guerrero, one of the more potent (and somewhat forgotten) offensive forces of the 1980s and 1990s, suffers a massive stroke—his second—in New York. His wife reports that he is recovering, but also says that the situation initially looked so bleak that doctors recommended that they pull the plug; she refused. The next day, Guerrero is awake and talking.

Wednesday, April 5

The Orioles ride a couple of home runs—one each from Chris Davis and Adam Jones—to the ninth inning, where Zach Britton survives a bases-loaded jam to extinguish the Blue Jays at Baltimore, 3-1. Britton becomes the fifth player in major league history to record 50 straight saves without a blown opportunity.

Atoning for an earlier error, Francisco Lindor belts two home runs—including a grand slam with one out in the ninth—to give the Indians a 9-6 comeback victory over the Rangers in Arlington. Cleveland sweeps the three-game series over Texas, as Rangers closer Sam Dyson—who blew just two saves last season—now has a blown save and two losses through three games of 2017.

In one of three games on the day to go at least 12 innings, Boston and Pittsburgh go scoreless into extras before the Red Sox’ Sandy Leon finally decides things in the 12th with a three-run homer to win, 3-0. Chris Sale, making his official Red Sox debut, and the Pirates’ Jameson Taillon match each other with seven shutout innings at Fenway Park.

George Springer, batting leadoff for Houston, knocks in all five Astros runs—including a three-run homer in the 13th—to help defeat Seattle at Minute Maid Park, 5-3, and push the Astros out to a 3-0 start on the year.

Thursday, April 6

A successful—to say nothing of odd—rally propels the Cubs to a 6-4 win and series victory over the archrival Cardinals in St. Louis. With one out in the seventh, Brett Cecil appears to strike out Matt Szczur, but Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina doesn’t glove the ball and can’t find it; all along, it’s somehow stuck to the front of his chest protector. By the time Molina realizes this, Szczur reaches first on a strikeout-wild pitch. Two batters later, Kyle Schwarber launches a three-run jack off Cecil that gives the Cubs the lead to stay.

After the game, Molina finds himself being asked to explain if he intentionally puts a foreign, sticky substance on his chest protector to possibly slow down the ricochet of any ball glancing off of it. “That’s a dumb question,” he retorts.

The ball that stuck to Molina will go to sell in an online auction for $2,000.

After starting the previous season with nine straight losses—on their way to a Minnesota-record 103 for the year—the Twins finish off their first series of 2017 with a three-game sweep over the Royals as a two-run seventh-inning rally breaks a tie and leads to a 5-3 triumph.

Come back, Mark Melancon! The Nationals, without a proven closer, blow two leads in regulation before Joe Blanton concedes a go-ahead run to the Marlins in the 10th on a Justin Bour double, giving Miami a 4-3 victory. Washington had a 2-0 lead entering the eighth and a 3-2 lead going into the ninth, but couldn’t hold either.

It’s the first time in 95 games in which the Nationals lost after taking a lead into the ninth inning. That had been the majors’ longest active run.

The Reds overcome two early home runs from the Phillies’ Daniel Nava with two of their own—including, most unlikely, a pinch-hit solo shot from reliever Michael Lorenzen that breaks a 4-4 tie and gives Cincinnati the lead to stay in a 7-4 triumph. The Reds weren’t merely crossing their fingers with Lorenzen; it’s his second career home run, and improves his batting average to .262 in 42 at-bats.

The Diamondbacks make it three of four against the visiting Giants with a 9-3 win, scoring 27 runs for the whole series—the most piled up by Arizona through its four games of any season to date.

On a related note, the Diamondbacks announce that they will follow the lead of the Colorado Rockies and install a humidor at Chase Field, which after Coors Field is one of the majors’ most offensively productive ballparks. But after apparent delay, the team won’t install the device until the 2018 season.

For all it’s worth: Tim Tebow homers in his first minor league at-bat for the Class-A Columbia Fireflies. Tebow stops at second, thinking that the ball hopped over the wall for a ground-rule double, before being told to complete his trot around the bases.

The blast by Tebow, a devout Christian, was hit off Domenic Mazza—the 666th pick in the 2015 amateur draft.

Friday, April 7

The Rangers get into win column with a 10-5 rout of the A’s at Texas. The game is all but decided in the first two innings when the Rangers notch three in the first and five in the second, mostly on the strength of a grand slam from Nomar Mazara, who overall knocks in six runs on the evening.

Two young pitchers make good on their major league debuts. In St. Louis, the Reds’ Amir Garrett tosses six shutout innings and allows just two hits, and two Cincinnati relievers follow with three hitless innings to shut down the Cardinals, 2-0. Out west in Colorado, the Rockies’ Kyle Freeland impressively stifles the Dodgers at Coors Field by allowing a run on four hits through six innings in a 2-1 victory.

The Cubs experience a frustrating and painful 2-1, 11-inning loss at Milwaukee. Javier Baez and Jason Heyward collide while chasing a pop-up (Baez gets the worst of it), Kris Bryant extends his season-opening hitless streak to 14 at-bats before reaching on an infield single, and Mike Montgomery’s wild pitch brings home the Brewers’ Ryan Braun to give Milwaukee its winning run.

Bryant’s 0-for-14 to start the year is the longest by a reigning MVP.

The Cubs-Brewers game is the first major league contest to be streamed live on Twitter.

In his season debut, Washington’s Max Scherzer is terrific, departing the mound two outs into the seventh with a 7-0 lead at Philadelphia—but the Nationals’ beleaguered bullpen nearly has it go to waste, barely extinguishing a furious Phillies rally to escape with a 7-6 win. In defeat, Phillies starter Vince Velasquez strikes out 10 Nationals in just four innings, but also surrenders four runs.

Velasquez is the sixth pitcher over the last four years to work four or fewer innings yet strike out at least 10 batters. Prior to that, you have to go back over a century to find the last such previous line, when Smoky Joe Wood did it for the Boston Red Sox in 1909.

Making his first start since 2014, the Mets’ Zack Wheeler gives up five runs over four innings and is charged with the loss in a 7-2 home defeat to Miami. Picking up the win for the Marlins is Wei-Yin Chen, who also connects on his first base hit after starting his career 0-for-51.

Trailing 4-0 after seven innings, the Red Sox explode for five runs in the eighth—the last three on Pablo Sandoval’s first home run since 2015—but the Boston bullpen suffers a meltdown in the bottom of the frame by walking four batters, two with the bases loaded, to hand back the lead and ultimately the win to the Tigers in Detroit, 6-5.

Saturday, April 8

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, coming into Coors Field having won 10 straight decisions against the Rockies—the longest such active win streak by any pitcher against one team—is defeated when he allows back-to-back home runs for the first time in his illustrious career to date. The consecutive blows come in the sixth inning courtesy of Mark Reynolds and Gerardo Parra, helping to break a 1-1 tie and give Colorado a 6-4 win.

Jeremy Guthrie, back in the majors despite producing a 7.17 ERA in 17 minor league starts in 2016, is given a starting assignment on his 38th birthday by the Nationals at Philadelphia—and the Phillies give him a big birthday present he hopes to quickly forget. In lasting just two-thirds of an inning, Guthrie gives up 10 runs on six hits and four walks; the Phillies aren’t done, adding two more in the inning to total 12—the most runs ever scored on the Nationals/Expos in one frame. Philadelphia cruises to a 17-3 rout.

Matt Holliday collects his 2,000th career hit and the Yankees build up a 4-1 lead at Baltimore, but the New York bullpen can hold it while Orioles relievers—who have yet to allow a run in 16.2 innings to start the year—hold theirs to turn in a 5-4 victory. It’s the second straight game in which Baltimore has won after trailing by three runs in each.

A day after the Rangers pile up the runs early and often against Oakland, they’re held hitless by the A’s Kendall Graveman two outs into the seventh before Mike Napoli knocks one out of the park. But Napoli’s sluggery is too little, too late, as the Rangers bow 6-1.

Sunday, April 9

Down 9-3 and headed into the bottom of the ninth, the Angels stun the visiting Seattle Mariners with a seven-run rally to triumph, 10-9. Albert Pujols starts the comeback with a solo home run, then ends it by scoring the game-winning run on a Cliff Pennington single. It’s only the second time in the past six years that a team has come from six or more runs in the ninth to win a game.

After Wade Miley pitches five shutout innings of one-hit ball (albeit with seven walks), the Baltimore bullpen finally blows a tire, allowing seven unanswered Yankee runs to give New York a 7-3 win at Camden Yards. The Orioles are the last team to enter the loss column to start the 2017 season; the Yankees’ Matt Holliday is officially 0-for-0 with five walks, as New York draws 11 passes overall.

The Diamondbacks, who came into the season having lost nine straight interleague games, finishes off a three-game sweep of the visiting Indians to improve to an MLB-best 6-1 after the season’s first week. Patrick Corbin hurls six shutout innings for Arizona, outdueling Corey Kluber.

Monday, April 10

For only the second time in 48-plus years of Padres history—and the second time in just the last three seasons—one of their own hits for the cycle as Wil Myers collects four of San Diego’s nine hits in a 5-3 victory at Colorado. Coors Field has now witnessed 15 cycles since its 1995 opening; Globe Life Park in Arlington is second during this same time, with seven.

Washington’s Trea Turner will make 16 cycles at Coors two weeks later.

The Yankees’ Michael Pineda is perfect until two outs in the seventh, and strikes out 11 Rays with no walks as New York rolls in its home opener over Tampa Bay, 8-1. Pineda has now struck 17 batters with no walks through two starts this year.

The Giants open their home schedule with a 4-1 victory over Arizona, but the mood is soured in the first inning when All-Star catcher Buster Posey gets beaned by the Diamondbacks’ Taijuan Walker; he’ll be placed on the seven-day concussion DL after the game. Matt Moore looks effortless for eight innings and provides the biggest hit of the day on offense when his 50-foot swinging bunt brings home three runs as Arizona fielders play Little League defense and commit two errors on the play.

The Cubs raise a championship flag for the first time since Wrigley Field opened over 100 years ago, and rain momentarily delays the start of a tense home opener with the Dodgers as Anthony Rizzo’s run-scoring single with two outs in the ninth gives Chicago a 3-2 win.

The evolution of Old Wrigley to a new one continues with the moving of the bullpens from an open area down each line to under the bleachers. This will suit visiting teams just fine—especially the Dodgers, whose relievers infamously got entangled with Wrigley fans down the right-field line in 2000.

Tuesday, April 11

Yoenis Cespedes goes deep in the first, fourth and fifth innings for three of the Mets’ seven homers on the night in their 14-4 pasting of the Phillies at Philadelphia. It’s the second hat trick in Cespedes’ career, having done it previously in 2015 at Colorado—and it’s the third time that the Mets as a team have hit seven or more homers in a game at Citizens Bank Park; no other team has hit that many in a visiting ballpark more than twice.

The loss is only the tip of a troubling iceberg for the Phillies; starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, removed after 2.1 innings after having allowed six runs, is discovered to have a torn muscle in his throwing arm and will need surgery that will keep him out of action for the bulk of the season.

The Rangers, who last year specialized in comeback victories, are so far specializing in allowing opponents to do the same. At Anaheim, Texas blows a 5-0 lead after seven innings and a 5-2 lead in the ninth when Sam Dyson blows his second save of the year to match his entire 2016 total. The Angels complete the comeback on Carlos Perez’s squeeze bunt in the 10th to win, 6-5; Mike Trout has as much to do with the victory as anyone, doubling twice in the late innings and robbing Mike Napoli of a possible home run in the 10th.

Things don’t quite as well for the Blue Jays in their home opener—but then again, it hasn’t for a while. Toronto drops its sixth straight home opener and falls to 1-6 with a 4-3 loss to Milwaukee.

Wednesday, April 12

Forbes checks in with its annual (and unofficial) audit of major league teams and estimates that the average franchise value has risen 19% over the previous year to $1.54 billion. Topping the list, not surprisingly, is the Yankees at a staggering $3.7 billion, followed by the Dodgers ($2.75 billion), the Red Sox ($2.7 billion), Cubs ($2.675 billion) and Giants ($2.65 billion). Seven teams remain worth less than $1 billion according to Forbes, with the two teams still desperately searching for a new ballpark—the A’s and Rays—bottoming out at $880 million and $825 million, respectively.

In a perhaps unrelated note, the A’s announce that they will remove the tarps that have hidden over 12,000 seats since 2006 from the Oakland Coliseum’s upper deck. Attendance has not been boosted by the artificial demand created by the tarps—and the team has suffered at the gate when big-name tickets such as the Giants, Yankees and Red Sox come to town, eliminating any possibility that those extra seats could be sold.

Break up the Reds! Rookie Amir Garrett extends his scoreless innings streak to start the year to 12 before surrendering two runs in the seventh, and Cincinnati (7-2) breezes to a 9-2 win and three-game sweep of the Pirates in Pittsburgh. The Reds, whose pitching staff in 2016 was simply atrocious, currently leads the majors with a 2.48 team ERA.

Steven Wright’s knuckler isn’t working tonight for the Red Sox as the visiting Orioles hammer him for eight runs on eight hits—four of those home runs—in just an inning and a third as Baltimore powers its way to a 12-5 rout. Two of the Orioles’ long balls come courtesy of rookie Trey Mancini, who now has hit five through his first 10 career games at the major league level.

Wright, who’s first-half performance in 2016 was good enough to warrant a nod from us to start for the AL All-Star team, has a 6.57 ERA since the start of last July.

For the second time this season, the Mariners (2-8) blow a lead of five or more runs as the visiting Astros claw back from a 5-0 deficit to notch 10 unanswered runs and romp, 10-5. Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, shaking off a bad start to the year, reaches base all five times he comes to bat with three singles and two walks.

The Mariners’ bullpen ERA is at 7.71 with five blown saves after 10 games.

Thursday, April 13

In Marlins Park’s longest game by innings since its 2012 opening, the Mets outlast the Marlins in 9-8 on Travis d’Arnaud’s 16th-inning solo shot off Miami’s Adam Conley—who had originally been scheduled to start the next night. Yoenis Cepsedes hits two more home runs early on, giving him a major league-leading six for the season.

Brian Anderson, who turned in an 11.91 ERA in 11.1 innings for the Dodgers while being paid $15 million last season, takes the mound for the Cubs at Wrigley Field and fires five shutout innings against his old teammates before the bullpen takes over with four shutout frames of its own in a 4-0 win over Los Angeles. The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell go deep for the first time this year.

The Royals defeat Oakland, 3-1, after eight straight losses to the A’s behind Jason Vargas’ 7.2 shutout innings.

Friday, April 14

After hosting a “soft opening” exhibition shortly before Opening Day, SunTrust Park officially debuts in Cobb County just outside of Atlanta as the Braves defeat the visiting Padres, 5-2. Atlanta outfielder Ender Inciarte all but monopolizes the list of firsts: He collects the first hit (an infield single in the first inning), the first run (scoring on Nick Markakis’ double), the first home run (a two-run shot in the sixth) and he makes the putouts on the first and last outs of the game. Julio Teheran pitches six solid frames to earn the ballpark’s first win.

Fears of additional traffic during Atlanta’s notorious evening commute around SunTrust Park do not materialize as many fans arrive early and, although the rush hour is congested as always on the nearby freeways, it’s said to be average.

Backed by four home runs—all of them coming off of reigning AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello through the first five innings—Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer allows a run through 5.2 innings and gets credit for the win in the Rays’ 10-5 beating of the Red Sox at Boston. Archer had lost 11 straight decisions to Boston, the longest active drought against a single opponent.

Red Sox first baseman Keith Moreland goes 0-for-4 in the game, ending a streak of seven games in which he collected at least one double—one short of the major league record.

The Blue Jays continue to flounder, buried again under the weight of four Baltimore home runs as they lose at Rogers Centre to the Orioles, 6-4, and drop to 1-9 on the year. As bad as it is for the Jays, home plate umpire Dale Scott has it worse; with the Orioles batting in the eighth, Scott staggers to the ground after being struck in the chin portion of his mask by a Mark Trumbo foul tip, and is carried off on a stretcher with a concussion.

In a highly anticipated match-up at Los Angeles between the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and ex-Dodger Zack Greinke—the two of whom are making a combined $67 million this year—the former easily gets the better of the latter in a 7-1 win over Arizona. Kershaw comes within two outs of a complete game, while Greinke gets beat up for five runs on 10 hits through five innings.

Greinke is 0-2 with a 12.10 ERA at Dodger Stadium since leaving the Dodgers for Arizona in 2016. Before that, he was 28-5 with a 2.01 at the ballpark.

Hall of Famer Rod Carew, 71, receives the heart and kidney of deceased ex-pro football player Konrad Reuland, who once went to school with Carew’s daughter and who died unexpectedly at age 29 last December.

We’re not doctors and we don’t play one on TV, so we have to ask: How does a heart “live” for four months between its removal from a deceased person and its insertion into a living one? (And how do they keep the living person alive after surgeons have removed the old heart?)

Saturday, April 15

On the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s major league debut, the Dodgers unveil a statue depicting his steal of home plate, the first sculpture to be planted in the 55-plus-year history of Dodger Stadium—but the eighth of Robinson you can see nationwide, including one nearby at UCLA where he attended college. That Robinson is immortalized in Los Angeles even though he never played there—the Dodgers moved west from Brooklyn two years after he stepped down from the game—shows his continued high standing and impact on baseball so many years later, as acknowledged once again with all major leaguers wearing #42 on the day.

Robinson is the second statue to be dedicated this past week, with one of Ken Griffey Jr. being unveiled at Seattle’s Safeco Field a few days earlier, making him the first former Mariner to have his likeness bronzed. (There’s currently a sculpture of late, long-time Mariners Broadcaster Dave Niehaus inside the ballpark.) And earlier in the week, the Marlins announce that they will commission a bronze statue at Marlins Park of Jose Fernandez, the All-Star pitcher who was killed along with two others in a late-night boating accident last September.

A debate heats up over news of the planned Fernandez statue: Should there even be one at all? The argument against it is that Fernandez was, according to toxicology reports, drunk with cocaine in his system and was responsible for the two other deaths because he was at the wheel when he slammed his boat at high speed into the Miami Harbor jetty. There was no doubt that Fernandez was a superior pitcher and a vibrant, refreshing clubhouse presence, but to immortalize him under these circumstances is troubling.

For the second time this week, the Astros storm back with 10 runs after trailing 5-0, this time coming from behind to oust the A’s at Oakland, 10-6. But this comeback effort is far stranger. The Astros don’t even get their first hit until Nori Aoki’s leading single in the seventh, after Oakland starter Sean Manaea had been pulled four batters into the sixth having allowed no hits but five walks and two runs (one earned). And Houston dries up their bench of pinch-hitters and field replacements so quickly, they are forced to concede the designated hitter spot (although a pitcher never comes to bat). Overall, the Astros use patience (eight walks), speed (five steals) and luck (two Oakland errors) to augment their offense.

This is the first time since 1969 that a team has been held hitless into the seventh and yet still ended up with 10 runs on the day.

The majors’ first two complete-game shutouts of 2017 are thrown. At Minnesota, the Twins’ Ervin Santana one-hits the White Sox, 6-0, to improve his record to 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA (he’s allowed one run in 22 innings). Later out west in San Francisco, the Rockies’ Tyler Chatwood, who led the majors last year with a 1.69 road ERA, retires the first 17 Giants before settling for a two-hit blanking.

Seattle’s James Paxton doesn’t go the distance, but his eight shutout innings give him 21 to start the season as the Mariners down the Rangers at Safeco Field, 5-0. Mark Lowe previously owned the Mariners record for scoreless innings to start a season, with 17.2 in 2006.

Sunday, April 16

The Blue Jays continue to look awful, and the Orioles’ Trey Mancini continues to look to be the real thing. In an 11-4 pasting of Toronto (now 2-10), Mancini goes deep twice, giving him seven homers over his first 12 major league games—tying a record co-owned by Trevor Story (from last year) and Dino Restelli.

You’ve certainly heard of Story, but who the hell is Restelli? The Pirates grabbed him from the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League in 1949 and began to tear it up—and more impressively, was doing it against many of the game’s premier pitchers, including Warren Spahn and Robin Roberts. But just as fast as he caught the national eye, he suddenly went into a funk from which he never recovered. The reason, according to many, is that he got plunked in the neck by an irate Ewell Blackwell after asking for time to clean his glasses, putting a fear within him that he never was able to shake. Restelli went back to the minors in 1950 and made his way back to the Pirates in 1951—albeit briefly, hitting .184 with one home run in 38 at-bats before never being seen in the majors again.

After the Phillies break a 3-3 tie with a single run in the top of the ninth at Washington, Bryce Harper comes to the rescue, swatting a three-run, two-out blast—his second of the game—to give the Nationals a 6-4 walkoff victory. Harper has three hits and five RBIs overall on the day.

The Rangers, crossing fingers, send embattled closer Sam Dyson out to the bottom of the ninth to hold a one-run lead at Seattle; maybe they’ll need a rabbit’s foot next time. Dyson concedes two runs, his third blown save (he had two for all of 2016) and third loss as the Mariners rally for a 7-6 win.

As often happens when a pitcher like Dyson goes terribly out of whack, the Rangers place him on the disabled list after the game, citing a deep bruise on his pitching hand.

Monday, April 17

Eric Thames, back from four years of major league exile—the latter two spent in Korea—is looking to be baseball’s biggest bargain thus far in 2017. The muscular first baseman goes deep for the fifth straight game, tying a Milwaukee record, and adds two hits to raise his season average to .405 in the Brewers’ 6-3 win over the Cubs at Chicago. Thames has six dingers over the last five games, and leads the majors with seven.

This is the seventh loss of the year for the Cubs; they didn’t lose their seventh last season until May 11.

The Braves sweep their first series at SunTrust Park, taking all four games against the Padres with a 5-4 victory. Freddie Freeman has four hits including two doubles and two home runs, the last of which ties the game in the eighth; Atlanta wins in the ninth on a Dansby Swanson single.

Who was the last team to win their first four games at a new ballpark? The Braves, who did it with five straight wins to open Turner Field in 1997.

The struggling Cardinals earn a pair of firsts with a 2-1 home victory over Pittsburgh. Recovered Tommy John patient Lance Lynn dials in seven shutout innings to pick up his first win since 2015, while Seung-Hwan Oh picks up the Cardinals’ first save of the season (in their 13th game)—and barely, as he allows one run in the ninth and leaves the tying run on second.

Tuesday, April 18

The first major PED suspension of 2017 is handed down to Pittsburgh outfielder Starling Marte, who tests positive for nandrolone. He will miss the next 80 games without pay and be ineligible for postseason play—should the Pirates get that far.

It’s all but become a mess for the Bucs, who are out to a wobbly start and now have to content with this as well as Jung Ho Kang’s DUI-related absence. Also to note: Marte is one of only two major league outfielders with a 4.5 or better WAR (Wins Above Replacement) over the last four years; Mike Trout is the other.

Miami’s Wei-Yin Chen is removed seven innings into a no-hitter, having thrown 100 pitches and walking two, and the Marlins’ bullpen keeps the no-no intact until one out in the ninth when Seattle’s Mitch Haniger knocks out a double. The Marlins still prevail with the combined one-hitter, 5-0.

Chen’s effort comes almost a year to the day that teammate Adam Conley was pulled four outs shy of a no-hitter against Milwaukee; the Brewers broke up that bid with two outs in the ninth.

Once-and-current Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo picks up his first major league win since June 15, 2014 as he goes the minimum five innings and gets plenty of early support, especially from Adam Duvall—who knocks in five runs over the first two innings, four on a second-inning grand slam. The Reds coast to a 9-3 interleague victory over the visiting Orioles.

At age 40, Arroyo is the oldest Red to earn a win since Boom-Boom Beck, a virtual wartime replacement, in 1945.

The Giants return to Kansas City for the first time since winning the 2014 World Series and defeat the Royals in 11 innings, 2-1. Not there for San Francisco is manager Bruce Bochy, resting back in California after undergoing a minor heart procedure that will keep him off the job for several days; in the lineup for the first time in over a week, however, is All-Star catcher Buster Posey, returning from the seven-day concussion DL with three singles for the Giants.

Wednesday, April 19

A couple of infield errors in the second inning befall the Red Sox and pitcher Rick Porcello, leading to three unearned Toronto runs—the only tallies of the game in a 3-0 Blue Jays victory. In defeat, Boston’s Mookie Betts strikes out for the first time in 129 plate appearances, the longest such run since Juan Pierre’s 147 in 2004.

During his K-less streak, Betts batted .353 in 114 at-bats with a pair of homers and nine RBIs.

The first two grand slams are hit at Cobb County’s SunTrust Park, and none of them come from the Braves—who haven’t hit one in almost two full years. They instead are belted by Washington’s Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, part of a 14-4 onslaught of Atlanta. Harper overall has a pair of homers and a double among four hits with five RBIs, and his season average through the Nationals’ first 14 games is at .404—suggesting that whatever mysteriously ailed him last season is no longer an issue.

Both of Harper’s homers come off of Atlanta starter Julio Teheran, who allows seven runs in four innings; Harper has 15 hits in 33 career hits with seven home runs against Teheran.

In what may be his last at-bat ever at Seattle—where he starred for a decade—43-year-old Ichiro Suzuki belts his first home run of the season for Miami, making him the oldest player to go deep since Julio Franco became the oldest ever in 2007 at age 48. But Suzuki’s rare blast is not enough for the Marlins, who are beaten up 10-5 by the Mariners; rookie Mitch Haniger, who provided the M’s lone hit the day before, has three hits and drives in four runs to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.

Thursday, April 20

Noah Syndergaard strikes out 10 Phillies—he now has 30 for the year with zero walks—and Jeurys Familia makes his season debut after serving a 15-game domestic abuse suspension and throws a shutout inning, but it’s not enough as the Mets bow at New York, 6-4. Worse potential news for the Mets; Yoenis Cespedes departs from the game midway through with an injured hamstring.

At typically offensive-minded Globe Life Park in Arlington, the Rangers and Royals battle it out scoreless until the bottom of the 13th when Delino DeShields Jr. wins it for Texas, 1-0, on a run-scoring single. It’s the longest a game has gone 0-0 since the ballpark opened 23 years ago.

It took 13 years, but Carlos Beltran finally goes deep for the Astros again. The veteran slugger, resigned over the offseason by Houston and just days away from his 40th birthday, belts a first-inning homer that’s his first since lighting up the Astros in a brief stay late in 2004. Beltran’s shot is one of two solo homers on the day for Houston, who edge out the visiting Angels, 2-1.

Friday, April 21

A bad April for the Giants gets worse, both on and off the field. Before the start of a weekend series at Colorado, it is learned that team ace Madison Bumgarner, while deciding to do some ill-timed dirt biking, takes a spill and injures both his ribs and throwing shoulder; he’ll be ruled out of action through the All-Star break. Meanwhile, the Giants drop to 6-11 with a 6-5 loss to the Rockies, who score all of their runs in the fourth inning thanks to a Trevor Story grand slam and inside-the-park homer by Charlie Blackmon after San Francisco outfielder Hunter Pence loses the ball in the lights. It’s the first time since 1950 that a major league team has collected a grand slam and inside-the-parker in the same inning.

All six Colorado runs are hit off of the Giants’ other ace, Johnny Cueto, who gives up the first grand slam of his career.

Now, as for Bumgarner: Some will harken back to what other teams have done when finding out that one of their players has gotten hurt doing recreational activity, such as when Ron Gant had a new contract voided by the Braves in 1994 when he his broke his leg riding an ATV. Don’t look for the Giants to do something similar here; they reeled Bumgarner in with a long-term, exceptionally team-friendly contract that’s near its end, and it would almost be an insult if they docked him with whatever wages they are currently giving him. Perhaps the best thing is to not tick him off, give him a nice extension (so long as his shoulder is repairable) and tell him, never, ever again on the dirt bike.

For the third straight game, the Cubs come back from three runs down to win, this time in edge-of-your-seat fashion as Anthony Rizzo’s two-out, three-run homer in the ninth ties the Reds at Cincinnati; Kris Bryant’s sacrifice fly two innings later wins it, 6-5.

The last time the Cubs won three straight games when trailing by three or more runs in each was in 1929.

In the season’s first meeting of what is expected to be the NL East’s top two teams, the Nationals earn a 4-3, 11-inning win over the Mets at New York as Trea Turner—back in the lineup as a pinch-hitter after missing 10 games—draws a bases-loaded walk off Jeurys Familia to give Washington the winning run. The Nationals are again buoyed by Bryce Harper, who knocks out his seventh homer and sixth double of the young year.

In defeat, the Mets get a moral victory of sorts as the Nationals’ Daniel Murphy—who had at least one hit in all 19 games played against his former team last season—is held hitless in four at-bats.

Cleveland ace Corey Kluber, a notorious slow starter having another underwhelming April, is in midseason form at Chicago as he throws his fourth career shutout, a three-hit, 3-0 win over the White Sox. Jose Quintana pitches well for Chicago but drops to 0-4 on the year with a 6.17 ERA.

The Rangers give up on Josh Hamilton, releasing the 35-year-old ex-MVP who’s found it difficult to stay in one piece. Hamilton is undergoing surgery on his right knee after an injury during rehab for an earlier surgery on his left knee. Texas said, “enough.”

There is little pain for the Rangers in regards to Hamilton from a financial perspective; they owe him only $2 million of the $28 million to be paid to him this year, with the Angels picking up the rest of the tab.

Saturday, April 22

A day after Corey Kluber’s shutout, teammate Carlos Carrasco nearly matches him but is removed after eight innings of zeroes in the Indians’ 7-0 win at Chicago. The lone bit of good news for the White Sox is that rookie Jacob May finally gets his first career hit after a 0-for-26 start; Vic Harris’ major-league record (pitchers omitted) of 35 hitless at-bats to start a career in 1972 remains safe.

The Yankees’ Chris Carter, who began his career with 33 hitless at-bats in 2010, breaks a 5-5 tie at Pittsburgh in the eighth with a three-run homer—his first of the year after co-leading the NL last year with 41—and New York pulls away with an 11-5 interleague victory. With the series split at one game apiece, it means that the Pirates will not sweep or be swept in this, their sixth series of the season.

David Peralta becomes the 42nd major leaguer in the post-1900 modern era to crank out four doubles in a game, and Yasmany Tomas has his eighth multi-homer effort since the start of 2016 (the most in MLB) as the Diamondbacks pound the Dodgers for the second straight night, 11-5.

The Los Angeles loss goes to Kenta Maeda, who was 16-9 with a 3.20 ERA through his first 30 career starts last season—but is 1-5 with an 8.17 in nine outings since (2016 postseason included). He has yet to pitch past the seventh inning in any start.

Miami’s Dan Straily strikes out 14 and walks none over seven innings and Giancarlo Stanton pounds out two home runs, but the Marlins have to go 11 innings to defeat the Padres at San Diego, 6-3, thanks primarily to a wacky, error-filled sequence in which Dee Gordon rounds the bases on a 30-foot grounder.

Sunday, April 23

The end of a tense series between the Red Sox and Orioles in Baltimore gets somewhat ugly when Boston reliever Matt Barnes throws behind the head of the Orioles’ Manny Machado and is ejected. It was Machado who, two days earlier in the series opener, slid aggressively (but likely sans nefarious intent) into the Red Sox’ Dustin Pedroia—injuring the veteran second baseman’s knee. The Red Sox win the game, 6-2, as 22-year-old rookie Andrew Benintendi supplants Babe Ruth as the youngest Red Sox player ever to go 5-for-5 in a game.

Injured Baltimore closer Zach Britton, after the game on Pedroia: “…if he can’t control his own teammates, then there’s a bigger issue over there.”

Barnes will be suspended four games for his actions.

The Yankees had been hearing about how improved Ivan Nova has been since he wore pinstripes. Today, they see the new Nova up close and personal, as the former New York pitcher gives up just a run on four hits through seven innings to help the Pirates defeat the Yankees at PNC Park, 2-1. Since joining the Bucs last August, Nova is 7-4 with a 2.65 ERA; with the Yankees, he was 53-39—but with a 4.41 ERA.

Part of Nova’s renewed success in Pittsburgh has been his ability to not walk opponents; ironically, a streak of 154 straight batters faced without conceding a base on balls ends when he allows a pass to opposing Yankee pitcher Jordan Montgomery—who’s making his major league debut at the plate.

The Nationals (13-5) sweep the banged-up Mets at New York, 6-3, as Daniel Murphy sets the pace with a first-inning grand slam to help back Max Scherzer (who throws eight innings and strikes out nine). It’s Washington’s seventh straight win, while the Mets have lost eight of nine.

When all else fails for the Cardinals, there’s always Milwaukee. St. Louis finishes off a four-game series at Miller Park by defeating the Brewers, 6-4, to take three of four games in the weekend set. The Cardinals have not lost any of their last 17 series against Milwaukee, winning 15 and splitting two.

After Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz departs having thrown seven sharp innings in a 1-1 tie at Philadelphia, reliever Arodys Vizcaino takes over and gives up home runs to the first three (and only) Phillies batters he faces. The back-to-back-to-back shots by Cesar Hernandez, Aaron Altherr and Odubel Herrera help propel the Phillies to a 5-2 victory over the Braves.

The streaky Braves have lost six straight after a five-game win streak—itself preceded by a five-game losing snap. After today, they’ll next win four in a row.

Shelby Miller, who’s looked decent in his first three starts in an attempt to bounce back from a wretched 2016 showing for the Diamondbacks, doesn’t fare well in his fourth—and it’s later discovered as to why. The right-hander gives up three runs on four hits and five walks in a 6-2 loss at Los Angeles, and it’s later determined that he has a torn muscle in his pitching elbow that will require Tommy John surgery, thus ending his season. Since joining Arizona in a much-criticized trade before 2016, Miller is 5-14 with a 5.78 ERA.

Monday, April 24

In a clash of early season surprises at Milwaukee, the Brewers’ Eric Thames easily gets the better of rookie Cincinnati pitcher Amir Garrett—homering in each of the first two innings to run his season total to a major league-leading 10. It’s part of an overall onslaught by the Brewers upon Garrett, who gives up 10 runs (nine earned) in 3.1 innings as the Reds take an 11-7 beating.

Milwaukee is showing many of the same offensive traits as last season, hitting .236 with more strikeouts (214) than any other team, but they are also far and away the team with the most home runs thus far with 37; if you took away Thames’ 10 blasts, the Brewers would still be tied for second. All this, and the Brewers still remain a below-.500 (10-11) team.

The Royals’ bats continue to badly scuff, and it’s hurting them in the standings as they lose their fifth straight game, a 12-1 pounding by the White Sox in Chicago. Kansas City has scored only 10 runs over its last eight games and is batting .199 through its first 19 games of the year.

The Cubs waste no time teeing off on young Pirates pitcher Chad Kuhl, who after allowing five earned runs through his first three starts (17.1 innings) of the season is crushed for nine runs in less than two frames at Pittsburgh before being removed. Chicago breezes to a 14-3 win behind 17 hits, including a three-run homer from a rejuvenated Jason Heyward—batting .294 for the year with three homers and 16 RBIs after producing a horrible .230-7-49 line in 142 games last season.

Tuesday, April 25

Washington’s Trea Turner, who electrified in his major league debut last season but has been stalled out of the gates this year in part due to injury, is back on fire. The 23-year-old shortstop knocks in seven runs and becomes the first National since 2008 to hit for the cycle as Washington outlasts the Rockies at Colorado, 15-12. It’s the second cycle performed this year in the majors—both at Coors Field.

The next day, Turner will come within a triple of a second cycle in as many days—which would have been an MLB first.

Eric Thames continues to make news, extending his major league-leading home run total to 11 (a Brewers record for April) with a two-run shot in Milwaukee’s 9-1 pasting of the visiting Reds. Eight of Thames’ homers have come against the Reds—tying Willie Stargell’s all-time record for the most in April against one opponent. Perhaps not so coincidentally,

Thames after the game is asked to take his second PED test of the season. Thames happily complies, later telling reporters, “…if people keep thinking I’m on stuff, I’ll be here every day—I have lots of blood and urine.”

In Detroit, Seattle ace Felix Hernandez departs after allowing four runs in just two innings—the second shortest stint of his career—and later complains of a “dead arm.” The relievers that follow him look even deader, as the Tigers pile up 19 runs on 24 hits to defeat the Mariners, 19-9. There are a combined 55 batters who reach base, the most in a major league game since 2008.

Hernandez will be placed on the disabled list following the game; he is expected to miss up to a month of action.

Asked to pinch-hit in the 11th because no position players are left on the bench, Toronto’s Marcus Stroman smokes a double and later scores what will be the winning run for the Blue Jays in their 6-5 victory at St. Louis. It’s Stroman’s first career hit.

Stroman’s heroics are probably secondary to the headline-making, flying leap by the Jays’ Chris Coghlan to score a run in the seventh.

It’s an impressive day to talk the future of baseball. Brendan McKay, considered one of the top prospects in the upcoming amateur draft, belts four home runs and drives in nine runs for the University of Louisville. Later in the evening, Giants minor leaguer Domenic Mazza, pitching for Class-A Augusta in the South Atlantic League, hurls a perfect game on just 85 pitches against Lexington. And though he doesn’t do anything on the day, perhaps the one prospect commanding the most attention is 17-year-old Hunter Greene, who makes the cover of Sports Illustrated and is being talked up as the most talented high school player since Bryce Harper with tales of 450-foot home runs and a fastball clocked at 102 MPH. Enrolled at the same Los Angeles-area high school where Giancarlo Stanton once played, Greene has committed to UCLA but could be drafted as high as #1 in the 2017 draft.

Wednesday, April 26

Gift Ngoepe, a South African native and longtime minor leaguer, becomes the first African-born major leaguer when he takes second base for the Pirates midway through their 6-5 home victory over the Cubs. Primarily called up for his defensive skills, Ngoepe nevertheless has a single and walk in three trips to the plate.

There’s an international irony of sorts in that Ngoepe’s placement on Pittsburgh’s 25-man roster leads to the demotion of pitcher Dovydas Neverauskas, who appeared earlier this week as the first Lithuanian-born major leaguer.

Seems like old times—and new—for the Giants in their 4-3, 10-inning comeback victory over the Dodgers at San Francisco. Down 3-0 in the seventh, hot prospect Christian Arroyo—who two days earlier made his big league debut—pokes out a two-run homer, and an inning later it’s déjà vu all over again as Michael Morse, back with the Giants for the first time since knocking out a game-tying, eighth-inning homer against St. Louis in the decisive game of the 2014 NLCS—does it again against the Dodgers. The Giants will win it two innings later on a Hunter Pence sac fly.

Batting ninth for the first time in his career, Shin-Soo Choo becomes the first player in Rangers history to have a triple and home run in the same inning as Texas piles on eight runs in the eighth to run away from the visiting Twins, 14-3.

Fernando Rodney suffers his first blown save in the uniform of the Diamondbacks, and it’s quite the meltdown as the Padres gang up and unload five ninth-inning runs on six hits off him to win, 8-5, at Phoenix. Rodney’s season ERA currently stands at 11.00, as he has given up runs in four other appearances this month.

Thursday, April 27

The Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka battles with the Red Sox’ Chris Sale into the ninth and prevails as the last man standing, throwing his second career shutout with a three-hitter on just 97 pitches while Sale falters in New York’s 3-0 win at Fenway Park.

In defeat, Sale strikes out 10 batters, increasing his season total to 52; the only other pitcher with more K’s through his first five games with a team is Randy Johnson, who punched out 55 through his first five starts with Arizona in 1999.

The Nationals pull away with an 11-run seventh to again hammer the Rockies at Coors Field, 16-5. The 46 total runs for Washington is its second most in any series since the franchise’s 1969 birth in Montreal; the Expos scored 47 in a 1974 series against the Cubs—a series which lasted six games.

Mike Oz at Yahoo! Sports points out that the Nationals’ 46 runs against Colorado are just eight fewer than what the Royals have plated in 21 games this season to date.

It just gets worse for the Mets. Noah Syndergaard is scratched from a start against Atlanta, and Matt Harvey takes his place—except that nobody tells him until a few hours before the game; Yoenis Cespedes aggravates an already fragile hamstring, forcing his departure (he’ll be placed on the disabled list afterward) and Harvey himself limps through 4.1 ineffective innings as the Mets lose their sixth straight, 7-5 to the Braves at Citi Field. Earning the win for Atlanta is R.A. Dickey, his first at New York since being traded from the Mets to Toronto after 2012.

The Giants extend their NL-record shutout streak at AT&T Park to 500, but their fans are disappointed as the visiting Dodgers rally for four runs in the 10th to triumph, 5-1. The Red Sox’ run of 820 straight sellouts (which ended in 2013) remains the longest in baseball history.

Friday, April 28

Down 9-1 in the sixth after Mark Trumbo’s grand slam and a 470-foot Manny Machado blast—the majors’ longest this year to date—the Yankees bounce off the canvas and deliver an impressive 14-11, 10-inning comeback victory over the Orioles at New York. Starlin Castro’s three-run shot in the ninth off Baltimore closer Brad Brach (filling in for an injured Zach Britton) ties the game, and Matt Holliday wins it an inning later with a three-run blast of his own.

Rookie Aaron Judge hits two of the Yankees’ three other homers on the night, giving him an AL-leading nine for the season; his first of the game is measured off the bat at 119.4 MPH, the fastest recorded since MLB’s Statcast went into service in 2015.

In what many believe is a possible preview of this year’s World Series, the Red Sox pile up five runs in the first inning off the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta and hang on to defeat Chicago at Boston, 5-4. Arrieta’s post-Cy Young wobbliness continues; he’s removed before the end of the fifth inning for the first time in his last 73 starts, and the five first-inning runs he surrenders are the most he’s ever given up in his career—topping by one the old mark he set in his previous start, on April 22 vs. Cincinnati.

Behind 12 strikeouts from Jacob deGrom and a pair of home runs (with five RBIs) from Travis d’Arnaud, the struggling Mets slow down the Nationals’ red-hot momentum with a 7-5 victory at Washington. Worse news for the Nats: Outfielder Adam Eaton, third in the majors with 24 runs, tears his ACL while beating out a throw to first and will not return this season.

Saturday, April 29

The streaky Braves win their fourth straight as Matt Kemp unloads three home runs for the first time in his career—all from the fifth inning on—in an 11-3 trouncing of the Brewers in Milwaukee. Kemp is the first Brave to perform the hat trick since Mark Teixeira in 2008.

It’s the eighth time someone has hit three homers at Miller Park since its 2001 opening—with only two of those wearing the visitor’s uniform. The Dodgers’ Shawn Green went deep four times and tied a major league record with 19 total bases in a 2002 game.

The Rangers end the Angels’ five-game winning streak with the help of Carlos Gomez, who hits for the cycle in a 6-3 win. Gomez completes the feat in the seventh with a two-run homer; it’s his second career cycle, having done it previously in 2008 as a member of the Minnesota Twins.

It’s the sixth cycle earned by a Rangers player this decade; in their 49 seasons before 2010, it had only been accomplished five times.

The Phillies, who earlier in the week hit three homers in a row against Atlanta, now knows what it feels like to be on the other side. With the Phillies ahead 5-2 at Los Angeles in the bottom of the ninth, closer Hector Neris gives up home runs to the first three Dodgers he faces: Yasiel Puig, rookie Cody Bellinger (his second of the night, and of his career) and pinch-hitter Justin Turner. After Neris’ removal, the Dodgers continue the rally with more small-ball-like theatrics off Joely Rodriguez to complete the comeback victory, 6-5.

The Dodgers were the last team to hit at least three consecutive homers in the ninth inning or later, when they smashed four in a row against San Diego in 2006.

The Pirates’ Ivan Nova continues to impress, needing just 95 pitches to hurl a three-hit shutout with seven strikeouts and no walks as Pittsburgh downs the Marlins at Miami, 4-0. It’s Nova’s fifth complete game—and first shutout—in 16 starts since joining the Pirates from the Yankees late last year.

In 100.2 innings since his trade to Pittsburgh, Nova has walked only four batters.

Picking up from where they left off from the night before, the Yankees manhandle the visiting Orioles 12-4 as rookie Aaron Judge continues to rake. Judge reaches base all four times he comes to bat, walking twice, singling and hitting his 10th home run to tie a major league record for the most hit in April by a rookie (Jose Abreu, 2014 and Trevor Story, 2016).

There’s a personal silver lining to the loss for Orioles back-up catcher Caleb Joseph, whose two-run homer in the ninth ends a drought of 193 straight plate appearances without a run batted in.

Sunday, April 30

After a couple offensively quiet days at Nationals Park against the Mets, the Nationals’ high-octane offense gets back on track—and then some, to say the least—thanks to a historic performance from Anthony Rendon. One of the few statistically quiet guys in the Washington lineup, Rendon—who over his first 22 games of the season had no home runs and five RBIs—explodes with six hits including three homers and 10 RBIs as the Nationals set a franchise record for runs in a 23-5 destruction of New York. Rendon becomes the 13th player to knock in 10 or more runs in a game, and only the second of those to also have six hits and three homers in the same performance.

Being humiliated by the Nationals is the least of the Mets’ concerns. Pitcher Noah Syndergaard, who earlier in the week had bicep issues but refused the Mets’ request for a MRI, leaves in pain after grabbing his lat muscle midway through the second inning. Another MRI request follows from the Mets; this time, Syndergaard agrees. He will not pitch again until the final week of the season, making two relief appearances.

If Miami’s Justin Bour is seeking the limelight, he picked the wrong day to knock in six runs. While Rendon is bringing home 10 runs up in Washington, Bour brings in his relatively small payload with a double, home run and two singles in the Marlins’ 10-3 rout of the visiting Pirates.

It took the Blue Jays almost an entire month, but they win back-to-back games for the first time this season. After defeating the Rays, 4-1, the day before, they do it again in a 3-1 victory at Toronto. Six relievers group to keep Tampa Bay in check after Aaron Sanchez is forced to leave after one inning with a split fingernail.

Dallas Keuchel, looking to be his 2015 Cy Young Award-winning self, becomes the majors’ first five-game winner as he stifles the visiting A’s at Houston with 7.2 innings of three-hit pitching, allowing just one run in the Astros’ 7-2 victory.

Given the high-powered offenses of the Rockies and Diamondbacks, one would think plenty of runs would follow as the two meet at Phoenix—but a 0-0 game goes scoreless to the bottom of the 13th when Arizona finally breaks the ice on a two-run Daniel Descalso homer to win, 2-0. It’s the longest any game ever played at Chase Field has gone scoreless.

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