This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: April 2022

Miggy at 3,000    Two More Years Without Trevor Bauer
The Yankees Cheated, Too    Don’t Speak, Phil Castellini

March 2022    Comebacker Index    May 2022

Friday, April 1

In a trade that makes absolute sense, the Chicago White Sox trade closer Craig Kimbrel to the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder A.J. Pollock. Both players were, essentially, spare tires on their former team’s depth chart; Kimbrel was reduced to the Sox’ set-up guy while Liam Hendriks took over ninth-inning duties, while Pollock was shuttling about a crowded Dodgers outfielder. Kimbrel will likely get the closer job in Los Angeles (with Kenley Jansen gone to Atlanta) while Pollock should be an everyday outfielder for Chicago.

What’s baseball season without an injury report regarding Jacob deGrom? The oft-injured New York Mets ace undergoes an MRI and is diagnosed with a “stress reaction” to his shoulder blade; he is expected to miss the first four weeks of the regular season. deGrom was sidelined for the entire second half of the 2021 campaign with elbow issues; beforehand, he posted an electrifying 1.08 ERA over 92 innings.

A new wrinkle has been added to video replay this year, in that umpires will now use a mic to audibly communicate their reviews to everyone at the ballpark. In other words, it’s what NFL referees have been doing for years since they began video review back in the 1980s. But at least umpires will now be able to “explain” things rather than use hand gestures as has been the case since comprehensive video review began back in 2014.

Saturday, April 2

Veteran outfielder Justin Upton is waived by the Los Angeles Angels, which means he can be claimed by any other major league team—provided, likely, that it pays the $28 million owed to Upton in 2022. The 34-year old has been fading in recent years, batting just above .200 in each of his last three seasons; his 1,948 career strikeouts are the most of any active player, and good for #7 on the all-time list.

Cleveland closer Emmanuel Clase is given a five-year, $20 million extension by the Guardians, with two additional club options of $10 million in 2027 and 2028. The 24-year-old Clase, for whom Texas is still kicking itself after trading before the start of the 2020 season for ace Corey Kluber—who immediately flamed out with the Rangers—was excellent in 2021, posting a 1.29 ERA and 24 saves over 71 appearances.

Not many people remember pitcher Wilmer Font, who amassed a career 5.82 ERA over six MLB seasons. But the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) will certainly remember him after his astonishing Opening Day effort for SSG Landers. The 31-year-old Venezuelan throws nine perfect innings on 104 pitches—no one in the 40-year history of the KBO has ever thrown a perfect game—but the game is scoreless after nine innings, the Landers notch four runs in the top of the 10th, and the bullpen takes over to finish the 4-0 win. Because Font doesn’t finish what he started, he does not get credit for the perfecto.

Sunday, April 3

The Oakland A’s continue to be in a giving mood, sending pitcher Sean Manaea to San Diego for three minor leaguers. The 30-year-old southpaw, who has a no-hitter on his career bio, doesn’t waste any time putting on a Padres uniform and taking the mound, making a spring start against…the A’s. He allows a run on six hits over 3.1 innings.

Monday, April 4

Tommy Davis, who started strong, finished solid and amassed 18 years and 2,121 career hits in the majors, passes away at the age of 83. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Davis was drafted by the Dodgers and joined the parent club after its move to Los Angeles. In his third full year with the Dodgers in 1962, Davis had an out-of-body performance by leading the majors with a .346 batting average, 230 hits and a whopping 153 RBIs. (He never knocked in 90 or more runs in any other year). Davis won a second batting title in 1963 and starred in that year’s World Series sweep of the New York Yankees, going 6-for-15 with two triples. A broken ankle suffered early in the 1965 season kept him from returning to the statistical heights of 1962, but he remained a worthy presence as he was shipped from one team to the other, starting in 1967 when he was traded to the New York Mets; overall, he played for 10 different teams. The advent of the designated hitter in 1973 gave Davis renewed life, thriving for the Baltimore Orioles through 1975.

In our interview with Davis in 2020, he recalled being one of the less toxic subjects in Jim Bouton’s notorious tell-all book Ball Four while the two were teammates of the one-year, 1969 Seattle Pilots. Davis said the book was “well written and damn funny.”

A late move is made when the Detroit Tigers acquire Tampa Bay outfielder Austin Meadows for young backup infielder Isaac Paredes and a future draft pick. The 26-year-old Meadows bashed 27 homers with 106 RBIs last season, but batted only .234. The Tigers are hoping he’ll return to 2019 form, when he launched 33 bombs with a .291 average. Payroll concerns didn’t seem to be the issue with Meadows in Tampa Bay; he’s due to make $4 million this year, and won’t be a free agent until 2025.

Tuesday, April 5

In what might be one of baseball’s smarter attempts to speed up the game, MLB teams will start the regular season using a device that allows pitchers and catchers to electronically and quietly communicate with each other on what pitch they want to throw. It’s called PitchCom, and it works like this: A catcher wears a device on his catching arm and pushes buttons to suggest the next pitch; the signal goes to the pitcher, wearing a hearing device in his cap.

Blessed by MLB, PitchCom theoretically eliminates sign-stealing and potentially speeds up the game. Already being used in Spring Training, PitchCom will be administered by some 15 teams on Opening Day; if successful, it’s likely that the remaining 15 or so will get on board by the end of the year.

The question some people raise is whether PitchCom is fool-proof. The truth is, nothing is fool-proof, but it’s safe to say that the device won’t be an easy target for opponents who’ll think of some way to beat the system.

Catcher Pedro Severino, brought on at Milwaukee to back up to Omar Narvaez, has been suspended 80 games by MLB for testing positive for PEDs. The drug in question is Clomiphene, an infertility drug typically used…by women. (Yes, Manny Ramirez did something of the same thing.) Severino says he was using the drug to help he and his wife start a family, unaware that it was banned by MLB. Or so we’re led to believe.

Wednesday, April 6

It had seemed a forgone conclusion that, sooner or later, the Cleveland Guardians would trade prime hitting star Jose Ramirez as they continue to keep payroll relatively scant. But in a surprise move, the Guardians lock up the All-Star third baseman for five years and $124 million—that, on top of the two years and $26 million owed to him from 2022-23.

The deal is double the Guardians’ previous high-end salary package; in 2017, they signed Edwin Encarnacion to a three-year, $60 million deal. Ramirez’s new pact leaves just four teams—Oakland, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Chicago White Sox—that have never given a player a nine-figure contract.

Thursday, April 7

It seems like old times—and new—for the Kansas City Royals as MLB kicks off the 2022 regular season one week later than scheduled. Zack Greinke, returning to the team he played his first seven major league seasons with, pitches 5.2 innings and allows just a run on five hits against the visiting Guardians, officially playing their first game under their new nickname. The 38-year-old Greinke does not get a decision, leaving a 1-1 tie that remains knotted until the bottom of the eighth when 21-year-old third baseman Bobby Witt Jr.—considered the top MLB prospect entering the new year—doubles in the ultimate winning run in the eighth for his first career hit. The Royals triumph by a 3-1 count.

The defending AL champion Houston Astros set a modern major league mark—and tie the pre-1900 mark held by the Boston Beaneaters (1887-96)—with their 10th straight Opening Day victory, a 3-1 road win over the Los Angeles Angels. Framber Valdez outlasts Shohei Ohtani with 6.2 shutout innings, while back-to-back solo homers in the eighth from Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez adds crucial insurance.

Yu Darvish makes quite the first impression for his latest team as he keeps the Diamondbacks hitless through six innings and 92 pitches for the San Diego Padres at Phoenix before being removed. But the bullpen can’t hold it; ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the ninth, the Padres blow it by surrendering four tallies—the last three on a walk-off home run by the wonderfully named rookie DH Seth Beer—to give Arizona 4-2 win.

Outfielder Jurickson Profar makes his second straight Opening Day start for the Padres in left field, breaking a string of 17 straight openers in which a different player started at that position. Only one other team had a longer successive streak of Opening Day games in which different players were slotted at the same position: The 1937-55 St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles, who started 19 different left fielders in 19 openers.

The Pittsburgh Pirates gift promising third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes with the franchise’s largest-ever contract: An eight-year deal guaranteeing $70 million. So what happens? In the Bucs’ season opener at St. Louis, Hayes leaves the game in the first inning after injuring his hand while falling to the ground chasing a pop-up. The good news is that Hayes is day-to-day with no signs of serious injury. The bad news overall for the Pirates is that they get hammered by the Cardinals, 9-0, behind three home runs and six shutout innings from 40-year-old Adam Wainwright, who in his last nine starts against Pittsburgh is 8-0—allowing just four runs over 55 innings.

Friday, April 8

Former Oakland pitcher Sean Manaea, making his official debut for San Diego, becomes the second Padres starter in as many days to pitch at least six innings and later leave the game without allowing a hit. No team has ever experienced this achievement, regardless of the time of year. Better yet for the Padres, the bullpen this time holds firm once Manaea departs after seven innings, finishing off a two-hit, 3-0 shutout of the Diamondbacks in Phoenix.

The Toronto Blue Jays get off to a rocky start in their season opener at home against Texas, spotting the Rangers seven runs after four innings—but from that 7-0 deficit, they score eight unanswered runs and ultimately prevail, 10-8. It’s the third largest comeback by an MLB team in a season opener; topping that list are the Tigers, in their very first game in 1901—coming back from 10 runs down to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers, 14-13, scoring 10 in the bottom of the ninth.

In one of three walk-off wins on the day, the Yankees open their season with a 6-5, 11-inning victory over the visiting Red Sox as gift runner Isiah Kiner-Falefa crosses home plate on Josh Donaldson’s leadoff single. But perhaps the bigger Yankee news of the day takes place before the first pitch when slugger Aaron Judge refuses a seven-year, $210 million extension; he says after the game that there will be no more negotiations until after he becomes a free agent at season’s end.

Saturday, April 9

If you bet the under today, congratulations—you likely did very, very well. According to betting lines posted by ESPN, 13 of 15 MLB games scored fewer total runs than the over/under figure given; one was a push, and one (the Cubs’ 9-0 romp over the visiting Brewers) finishes in the over by just half a run. The nine total runs scored on the day between both those teams are the highest to be found anywhere in MLB on the day.

Carlos Rodon’s debut for the Giants is an impressive one, striking out 12 Marlins in just five innings of work while allowing a run on three hits. But his San Francisco teammates fail him on offense, as the Giants drop a 2-1 decision at home. Only Clint Melton in 1937 struck out more opponents (13) in his first game pitching for the Giants.

Like Rodon, Houston’s Justin Verlander—making only his second start since 2019—surrenders but a run on three hits through five innings, yet is also tagged with a loss as the Astros get blanked by the Angels at Anaheim, 2-0. Recovered from Tommy John surgery, the 39-year-old Verlander strikes out seven and walks three. Keeping the Astros in check is former Met Noah Syndergaard, making his Angels debut with 5.1 innings of two-hit shutout ball—though he curiously strikes out only one.

Sunday, April 10

The future is finally now for the Reds as top prospect Hunter Greene, the former #2 draft pick from the 2017 amateur draft, makes his MLB debut and holds firm against the world champion Braves in a 6-3 win at Atlanta. The big right-hander strikes out seven over five innings and throws 20 of his 92 pitches at or over 100 MPH—topping out at 101. Since official tracking of pitch speeds began in 2008, only five pitchers have thrown more pitches over 100 MPH in a single start.

After scoring just one run over their first two games, the Guardians make up for lost offense by piling up 17 on the Royals at Kansas City, wrapping up a 17-3 rout. Of note is rookie outfielder Steven Kwan, who goes 5-for-5 while reaching base a sixth time after getting plunked. Overall, Kwan has reached base 12 times through the first three games of his career, which according to stat hawk Sarah Langs is a modern (post-1900) MLB record.

In Japan, 20-year-old Roki Sasaki has a performance for the ages, achieving Nippon Professional Baseball’s 16th perfect game—the first since 1994—while striking out 19 Orix Buffaloes for the Chiba Lotte Marines. Sasaki mixes a fastball that frequently hits 100 MPH and a forkball among his 105 total pitches to confound the Buffaloes.

Monday, April 11

Trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Phillies ring up a five-run rally to tip the visiting Mets, 5-4—but all everyone wants to talk about after the game is young Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm. Not because he reaches base all three times he comes to the plate, or because his leadoff walk in the eighth helps ignite the Phillies’ winning rally. On defense, Bohm commits a throwing error in each of the first three innings, and even though they don’t directly lead to any New York runs, the 24-year old still hears it from historically loud Phillies boobirds to the point that, after being mockingly cheered for not making an error, he’s shown saying to a teammate: “I f**king hate this place.” He later confirms that those were the words (minus the asterisks) and apologizes.

San Francisco fans think they’re seeing double before the first pitch as identical twins/relievers Taylor Rogers (Giants) and Tyler Rogers (Padres) bring out the lineup cards to umpires. Both will figure in the game to follow; Taylor enters in the seventh with the scored tied at 2-2 and gives up the eventual winning run on a soft Padres rally (infield hit, bunt single, ground-out RBI), while Tyler is credited with the save in a 4-2 win over the Giants. It’s the fifth time that twin brothers have appeared in the same game—and the first time that a pair were both credited (or charged) with a result on the mound.

Tuesday, April 12

It’s not by design, but San Francisco coach Alyssa Nakken becomes the first woman to serve as a base coach in an MLB game during the Giants’ 13-2 rout of the Padres at San Francisco. The 31-year-old enters the game after regular first-base coach Antoan Richardson is ejected before the start of the third inning when he enters the field to confront Padres third-base coach (and former St. Louis manager) Mike Shildt, who he claims called him a “motherf**ker.” (The Giants had just stolen a base a half-inning earlier with a nine-run lead, so perhaps that was part of the genesis that led to the heated exchange.) Nakken became a coach for the Giants in 2020 and had previously performed some base duty in exhibition games.

The losing pitcher for the Padres is Yu Darvish, who surrenders nine runs (one shy of a career high) in 1.2 innings, after throwing six hitless frames in his first start last week at Arizona.

The legend of Steven Kwan continues to grow. In Cleveland’s 10-5 victory at Cincinnati, the 24-year-old rookie outfielder from the Bay Area singles, walks twice and adds a sac fly in five plate appearances, and has now reached 18 times through his first five games—the most by any player to start a career since at least 1901. What’s more, Kwan has so far seen 115 pitches—and has yet to swing and miss at any of them. That, too, is a record as far back as that stat has been tracked—though one wonders how many pitches it took before Joe Sewell, who once struck out a mere three times over an entire season, missed on a swing.

Before the game, Reds owner Phil Castellini goes on local radio and has some unwise words to say. When asked why a fan should trust what he’s doing with the franchise, Castellini says this: “Well, where are you going to go? Let’s start there. I mean, sell the team to who?…If you want to look at what would you do with this team to have it be more profitable, make more money, compete more in the current economic system that this game exists? It would be to pick it up and move it elsewhere. And so be careful what you ask for.” After the game, realizing what a disconnect he’s made with his statement, Castellini apologizes—stating, “We love this city, we love this team and we love our fans.” Still, people in Cincinnati will always remember which statement was preceded by the truth serum.

Over 10 years after hitting his last home run for the Cardinals, Albert Pujols goes deep for St. Louis, a first-inning solo shot that gives him 680 lifetime dingers in a 6-5 home win over Kansas City. Pujols adds two singles and is 3-for-9 in two games thus far in 2022.

Wednesday, April 13

In his season debut, Clayton Kershaw looks like…Clayton Kershaw, and beyond. The veteran Dodgers ace retires all 21 Twins he faces at Minnesota, striking out 13 of them, before being lifted after 80 pitches. His replacement, Alex Vesia, gives up the Twins’ only hit on the day on a one-out Gary Sanchez single in the eighth, and the Dodgers roll to a 7-0 win. As to why he gets lifted two innings shy of potential nine-inning perfection, Kershaw admits: “Blame it on the lockout. Blame it on not picking up a baseball until January. It was time.”

Kershaw’s explanation isn’t good enough for Hall-of-Fame ace Ferguson Jenkins, a different kind of ace from a much different time who tweets, “Not even if I had a broken arm to roll the ball over the plate am I leaving a perfect game in the 7th.”

Kershaw is the second pitcher in MLB history to be taken out of a game after tossing seven perfect innings. The other: Rich Hill, also pitching for Los Angeles when a blister allegedly caused his departure in September 2016 against Miami. The manager for both games was Dave Roberts.

Toronto slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homers in the first inning at New York against the Yankees, then has his right hand accidentally spiked by Aaron Hicks an inning later, causing a bloody gash on his right ring finger. Done for the night? Nope. Guerrero stays in, goes deep over the fence two more times and adds a double in a remarkable display, driving in four runs to lead the Blue Jays to a 6-4 win. It’s the second career hat trick for Guerrero, who’s 23 years and 28 days old; only Boog Powell (22 years, 315 days) achieved something similar at a younger age.

The next night, in a 3-0 loss to the Yankees, Guerrero will strike out a career-high four times in four at-bats.

Congratulations to the Giants’ Logan Webb, the first starting pitcher this season to pitch into the eighth inning. He accomplishes the feat and finishes the frame, allowing a run on four hits with seven K’s and no walks overall as the Giants tip the Padres at San Francisco, 2-1.

In another first on the year, the Red Sox’ Nathan Eovaldi is the first MLB pitcher on the year to throw 100 pitches, totaling 101 over five innings of work while gaining credit for the win in Boston’s 9-7 triumph at Detroit. Eovaldi allows two runs on four hits and a walk, striking out six.

Thursday, April 14

The average baseball salary to start the 2022 season is at $4.414 million, a 5.8% jump from last season, according to reporting from the Associated Press. This is welcome news to say the least for MLB players, whose average wages had been on the decline since 2017, when it reached $4.451 million—a figure which still ranks as the highest ever. The median salary—the number in which half of the players earn less and the other half more—rose slightly by $50,000 to $1.2 million; that’s still a bit off from the all-time high figure of $1.5 million, also from 2017.

As far as team payrolls are concerned, the AP findings reveal that the Dodgers are #1 at $285 million, a $44 million increase from last season; the Mets, with massive new paydays for Max Scherzer, Francisco Lindor and Starling Marte, jump from $186 million in 2021 to $266 million. Rounding out the top five are the Yankees ($237m), Phillies ($224m) and a tie for fifth between the Red Sox and Padres ($212m). On the other end of the scale, the Oakland A’s have the lowest payroll at $48 million, down from $83 million last year as they purged some of their more expensive talent during the offseason. Also in the bottom five are the Orioles ($58m), Guardians ($60m), Pirates ($62m) and Marlins ($80m).

Friday, April 15

Shohei Ohtani bashes his first two home runs of the season to help give the Angels a come-from-behind, 9-6 win at Arlington over the Rangers, but the more notable moment from the game is one of the rarest of rare baseball outcomes: An intentional walk with the bases loaded. It happens for only the eighth time in MLB history during the fourth inning, with the Rangers ahead 3-2 and the bags loaded with one out for Corey Seager; Angels manager Joe Maddon orders the free pass to force in a run to, as he later claims, fire up his team. At first, Maddon’s  strategy doesn’t quite work out; Mitch Garver next hits a sac fly to bring in one run, and reliever Austin Warren then balks, bringing home a second. But from that low point, the Angels score seven successive runs and keep the Rangers off the scoreboard the rest of the way.

Seager’s free pass and free RBI is the first given to a major leaguer since 2008 when another Ranger, Josh Hamilton, was given the honor. The manager giving it to him: Joe Maddon, then piloting the Tampa Bay Rays.

Saturday, April 16

The Dodgers pick up their 18th straight regular season home win—tied for the sixth longest in MLB history—while shortstop Trea Turner extends his hitting streak dating back to last season to 27 games (four shy of the franchise mark) in a 5-2 win over Cincinnati. In defeat, rookie Reds starting pitcher Hunter Greene throws 39 of his 80 pitches over 100 MPH, easily a major league record since pitch speeds officially began being logged in 2008. But he takes the loss, allowing three runs (two earned) over 5.1 innings.

Sunday, April 17

It’s time to start talking seriously about this Roki Sasaki kid. On April 10, the 20-year-old right-hander, armed with a 100-MPH+ fastball, threw the first perfect game in Japan since 1994. Today, he returns to the mound…and throws eight more perfect innings, striking out 14. One inning away from instant immortality, Sasaki is pulled from the game, having thrown 102 pitches. Overall, he’s retired 52 straight batters and struck out 33 of those.

With these two back-to-back gems, you can really bet that MLB GMs are fantasizing over seeing him in one of their uniforms. But he won’t be able to do it, per the rules, until at least 2027. It may take a twist in the current bylaws, a Roki Sasaki Rule if you will, to be invented to make it happen earlier.

The Dodgers finish off a four-game sweep of the visiting Reds to extend their streak of consecutive regular season home wins to 19, as Freddie Freeman knocked out four hits—all singles—while Andrew Heaney pitches six innings of one-hit shutout ball with 11 strikeouts in a 9-1 rout. Not extending his run is Los Angeles shortstop Trea Turner, whose hitting streak comes to an end at 27 games—tied for the fourth longest in franchise history. Turner walks and scores but fails to get a hit in five plate appearances.

In Baltimore, the Yankees’ Nestor Cortes, Jr. strikes out 12 Orioles over five shutout innings, including three on nine strikes in the fourth inning to make him the ninth Yankee—and the third in less than a year—to achieve the so-called “immaculate inning.” After Cortes’ departure, the game remains scoreless until the eighth, when the Orioles break out for five runs on the New York bullpen, leading to a 5-0 win.

No team has thrown more immaculate frames than the Yankees; though the Dodgers also have nine. Two teams have yet to throw one at all: The Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers. (Yes, we include each team’s time beforehand as separate versions of the Washington Senators.) 

The moving back of the left-field fence at Oriole Park at Camden Yards seems to, so far, made a big dent in offensive output. In six games played at the 30-year-old ballpark, there has been a total of 32 runs and three home runs; in the first six games last year, the venue yielded 69 runs and 22 homers.

Monday, April 18

The Braves come to Los Angeles and say hello to old friend Freddie Freeman—who promptly says hello back by slamming a home run in his first at-bat during the Dodgers’ 7-4 victory. It’s Freeman’s first homer as a Dodger; he also walks twice and scores a pair of runs. Another former Brave, closer Craig Kimbrel, earns his third save for Los Angeles after an offseason trade from the White Sox. The winning pitcher is Clayton Kershaw, who collects his 100th career victory at Dodger Stadium.

Freeman is only the fourth player in the “Expansion Era” (since 1961) to homer in his first at-bat against his previous team after going deep for that team in his final at-bat the year before.

The Oakland A’s are the last team to play ball at home in 2022, and the pregame optics aren’t promising; six players go on the COVID-19 list while the team’s fans, seething over an offseason in which the A’s slashed payroll, spiked up ticket prices and continued to threaten a move to Las Vegas, largely stay home. Before a Coliseum gathering of 17,503—the smallest opening crowd of all 30 MLB teams this year—the A’s satisfy those who show up, defeating the Orioles by a 5-1 count. For a team that’s supposed to stink it up in 2022, the A’s haven’t done too badly to start the season; they move to 6-5 with the win.

For the record, the smallest first-game crowd of any season in Oakland (the pandemic-restricted 2020-21 campaigns not included) remains the 9,912 the A’s managed to muster in 1972—the year they went on to win their first of three straight World Series titles.

Two veteran pitchers call it quits on Monday. Jake Arrieta, the 2015 NL Cy Young Award recipient and winner of 115 career games, officially steps down after sputtering badly in 2021 and not receiving a call from a potential major league employer this spring. The right-hander stumbled early in his career with Baltimore, but blamed it on mismanagement by his coaching staff. Sent to the Cubs midway through the 2013 season, Arrieta immediately became a born-again ace; in 148 career starts with Chicago, he went 73-42 with a 3.14 ERA, the 2015 Cy and a 2016 World Series ring.

Also tossing in the towel is 36-year-old reliever Tony Watson, who couldn’t get an ailing shoulder into enough shape to attract an MLB suitor after going 7-4 with a 3.92 ERA in 62 appearances split between the Angels and Giants last year. Overall, Watson appeared in 689 games, saved 32 others and, for what it’s worth, is the all-time major league leader in holds with 246.

Tuesday, April 19

A day after Freddie Freeman roughed up his old Atlanta teammates in a Los Angeles uniform, the Braves get even with the help of a former Dodger: Kenley Jansen, who earns his third save of the year and first against the Dodgers after signing an offseason pact with the Braves. Jansen preserves a 3-1 victory by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth; he retires Freeman for the last out on a fly ball. Max Fried allows just two hits over seven shutout innings to pick up his first win of 2022 after losing his first two decisions.

The Dodgers’ loss ends their 20-game win streak at Dodger Stadium, which was tied for the fifth-longest in major league history. The record remains a tie between the 1978 Pirates and 1988 Red Sox, who each won 24 straight at home.

The Padres become the first team to announce that they’ll be wearing advertising on their jerseys starting in 2023, per the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The team will carry the Motorola logo on its right sleeve; most if not all other MLB teams are expected to follow suit and have some form of uniform advertising next season.

The Colorado Rockies extend starting pitcher Kyle Freeland for five years and $64.5 million. The 28-year-old lefty has had an up-and-down career in Colorado, with a superb 2018 season (17-7, 2.85 ERA)—but has since gone 12-24 with a 5.30 figure; he’s 0-2 after three starts in 2022, posting a 7.71 figure.

Wednesday, April 20

Three pitchers—the Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin, the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani and the Brewers’ Brandon Woodruff—each take no-hit bids into the sixth inning, with the latter two seeking perfection. All three give up a hit in the sixth and are removed before the seventh.

Perhaps the most impressive of the three efforts is that of Ohtani, who strikes out 12 Astros in his six innings of work; contrary to default belief, Angels manager Joe Maddon says that had Ohtani kept his perfect game alive, he would have kept him in the game—no matter the pitch count. Since he is, of course, Ohtani, he doesn’t merely contribute from the mound; at the plate, he singles, doubles and walks while driving in two runs as the Angels ease to a 6-0 win at Houston.

Miguel Cabrera pleasantly surprises a crowd of over 17,000 at Detroit by knocking out hits in each of his first three at-bats against the Yankees—placing him within one hit of 3,000 for his career. He has a shot at the milestone in his final at-bat, but strikes out. After the game, a 5-3 Tigers loss, Cabrera is in no mood to begin thinking about the impending achievement, telling reporters: “Who the f**k cares. We lost.”

The Oakland A’s opt to begin its scheduled evening game against Baltimore three hours early with nighttime rain expected, and lose 1-0—but the bigger number of the day is 2,703. That’s the announced crowd at the Coliseum—in reality, even fewer actually show. It’s the smallest crowd for an Oakland home game since 1980.

Some would say that moving the game time kept the crowd count down, but the narrative has become more sinister than that. The A’s have one of the majors’ richest owners (John Fisher), yet slashed payroll from $83 million to an MLB-low $48 million this year while doubling season ticket prices. Meanwhile, they’ve been combative with local officials on a new ballpark and continue to threaten a move to Las Vegas—even as plans seem to be moving forward, albeit not as fast the A’s would like, on a new waterfront ballpark. Understandably, Oakland fans have had enough. There’s talk that they’re boycotting the team, and perhaps that’s true—but others sense that the A’s are content with the situation. “Hard to see how this wasn’t the plan,” wrote The Athletic’s Grant Brisbee. “The increased season ticket prices last fall made it move from ‘conspiracy theory’ to ‘only reasonable explanation.’ I would like to think that John Fisher feels at least some shame, but probably not.”

Thursday, April 21

Detroit fans will have to wait one more day to watch Miguel Cabrera become the 33rd player to reach 3,000 hits, and fans at Comerica Park hoping to see history are peeved to say the least—not at Cabrera for going 0-for-3, but at the visiting Yankees for denying him the chance in his final at-bat. Ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth, Cabrera comes up with two outs and runners at second and third. The Yankees do what any team in that situation would do, regardless of who’s batting: Give the hitter an intentional walk to load the bases, setting up a third-out force at any base. But when a potential milestone is involved, the emotion hits a higher level—and the Detroit crowd of 21,529 lets the Yankees and manager Aaron Boone have it after giving Cabrera the free pass. Even after the next batter, Austin Meadows, doubles home two runs to give the Tigers a comfortable 3-0 lead that would turn out to be the final score, angry boos still rain down on the scene.

Friday, April 22

The Hall of Fame is yet again restructuring eras for the Veterans Committee. The four existing “eras” will be simplified to two—a “Classic” era before 1980, and a “Contemporary” one for all years afterward. The Contemporary branch will be broken into two groups: One for players, the other for managers, executives and umpires.

This is the third change by the Hall for the Veterans Committee in the last 12 years.

Each restructured committee will get together every three years and choose from a list of eight candidates—down from the current 10. A candidate will still need 75% of the vote to be admitted into Cooperstown.

Saturday, April 23

After a couple days of frustration (intentional walks) and delay (bad weather on Friday), Miguel Cabrera finally cashes in on his 3,000th career hit, becoming the 33rd member of the prestigious club with a first-inning single against Colorado’s Antonio Senzatela at Detroit. Once Cabrera reaches first with the historic hit, first to greet him is Rockies shortstop and ex-teammate Jose Iglesias, who enthusiastically gives him a big, long hug as the game is halted to acknowledge the achievement. Overall on the day, Cabrera knocks out three hits—two in the Tigers’ 13-0 afternoon rout of the Rockies, and one more in a second game played in the evening, a 3-2 Colorado win.

Cabrera is the seventh member of the 3,000-hit club to also have 500 home runs. The other six are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Albert Pujols, Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez.

Forty-seven years after they suffered a brutal 22-0 home loss to the Pirates, the Cubs get even. Back at Wrigley Field, Chicago scores in six of eight innings—including eight in the second, five in the fifth and four in the eighth—to finish off a 21-0 pouncing of Pittsburgh. It’s the largest shutout win in 150 years of Cubs baseball. Five Cubs collect at least three hits, among 23 total for the team; 18 of them are singles, four go for doubles, and Alfonso Rivas hits the contest’s only home run, driving in a game-high five runs. Everyone in the lineup has at least one hit.

The 21 runs are far from the most scored by a Cubs team. In 1897, they piled up 36 against the Louisville Colonels. (In modern, post-1900 times, the high-water mark is 26.)

The Pirates will eventually win three of the four games in this series, despite being outscored by an aggregate 17 runs; that’s the worst-ever run differential for a major league team winning a four-game series. 

For what it’s worth: STATS says that this is the first time that there’s been two shutouts on the same day with one winning side scoring 20-plus runs and the other winning with 10-plus.

It’s a bullpen game for both the Rays and Red Sox at St. Petersburg, and the relievers certainly do their job—at least those who pitch during the first nine innings. The Rays hold the Red Sox both scoreless and hitless through nine—but Boston keeps Tampa Bay off the board as well (conceding two hits), sending the game to extra innings at 0-0. That’s when Boston’s Brian Dalbec triples as the first batter to greet Rays reliever Matt Wisler, sparking a two-run rally and ruining the Rays’ shot at an extra-inning, multi-pitcher no-hitter. But the Rays get the last laugh; against the Red Sox’ Hansel Robles, Taylor Walls reaches on a two-out error by Trevor Story to score the gift runner, and then Kevin Kiermaier pushes a drive over the right-field wall to walk off with a 3-2, 10-inning win before 19,000 delirious fans. The game will not go into the Rays’ record book as a no-hitter, because it has to be played to completion without allowing a hit.

For the second time in less than a year—and quite possibly the second time in major league history, period—both leadoff hitters in the same game begin the first inning with a first-pitch home run. This time it happens in Atlanta, where Miami’s Jazz Chisholm Jr. crushes Ian Anderson’s first offering over the fence, before Ozzie Albies does the same in the bottom half of the frame against the Marlins’ Elieser Hernandez. Chisholm is not done on this night; he’ll go 4-for-6 with three runs and RBIs each to help the Marlins outlast the Braves, 9-7.

The Marlins were also involved in the first known occurrence of multiple first-pitch homers to start a game. (Pitch-by-pitch accounts began in 1985.) On September 2, 2021, Mel Rojas went deep for Miami against the Mets, who had Jonathan Villar do the same.

Remember back on Opening Day when Reds president Phil Castellini sounded off on fans who felt he wasn’t doing enough, finishing his radio tirade by saying, “Be careful what you wish for”? Right now, all Reds fans want to wish for is a simple win. And Castellini’s team hasn’t been delivering. With a 5-0 home loss to the Cardinals, Cincinnati has now lost 11 straight and drop to 2-13 on the year, but here’s where it gets optically worse; no previous team in MLB history had ever suffered an 11-game losing streak in April with each game decided by multiple runs—until this Reds team came along.

It’s a raucous finish of the ugly kind to the Yankees’ walk-off, 5-4 victory at New York over the Guardians. The fun starts with two outs in the ninth when Isiah Kiner-Falefa sears a drive that Cleveland left fielder Steven Kwan pursues to the scoreboard fence—crashing face-first into it and knocking him temporarily woozy without the ball, as Tim Locastro scores the tying run for the Yankees. While the Guardians tend to Kwan, center fielder Miles Straw takes issue with some bleacher taunting directed at Kwan and climbs to the top of the Yankee Stadium fence to chastise a few of the fans nose-to-nose. When Gleyber Torres next hits a gapper to right-center to score Kiner-Falefa with the game-winning run, the bleacher fans really let the Cleveland outfielders have it—tossing beer cups, cans and water bottles at Straw and right fielder Oscar Mercado. Straw and (especially) Mercado are not thrilled and look ready to take the initiative to the stands, but are cooled and pushed back by teammates as well as some of the Yankee players, who plead with fans to celebrate peacefully and go home.

This is the second time in as many days that belligerent bleacher fans empty their drinks out onto the field, following a less intensive (yet still troubling) incident in which a beer can came close to hitting Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger while throwing a ball back into the infield at San Diego. If this keeps up, guess what—alcohol in the bleachers could become a thing of the past.

Mike Trout, in his second game back after missing much of the previous week, belts two solo home runs and surpasses Tim Salmon and Vladimir Guerrero for the most multiple-homer games in Angels history with 21. Alas for the Angels, it’s not enough as the Orioles rally for three runs in the seventh to take a 5-4 lead, a score which would hold to the end at Anaheim.

ESPN notes that all six of Baltimore’s wins this season have occurred with the team managing no more than nine hits and zero homers in each. Last year, the Orioles were 8-37 when compiling ≤ 9 hits + 0 deep flies.

It’s not all good news for the Orioles on the day. John Means, one of Baltimore’s few competent pitchers—though to be fair, the Orioles have collectively thrown the ball well to start 2022—is headed for Tommy John surgery after making two appearances this season. In total, he allowed three runs on eight hits over eight innings. Last year, Means made news by throwing the Orioles’ first solo no-hitter since 1969; in five years with Baltimore, he’s 20-24 with a respectable 3.81 ERA.

Sunday, April 24

The Reds finally get themselves a win, ending an 11-game snap and defeating Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals at Cincinnati by a 5-1 count. Key to the Reds’ triumph is rookie pitcher Nick Lodolo, who garners his first major league win after suffering defeats in his previous two starts; the 24-year-old southpaw allows a run on five hits and no walks through 5.2 innings, striking out seven.

The White Sox’ Eloy Jimenez, who missed two-thirds of the 2021 season after tearing a pectoral muscle, will now miss six-to-eight weeks after suffering a severe strain of his right hamstring while running out a ground ball to first during Saturday’s 9-2 loss at Minnesota. The 25-year-old Dominican native was hitting .222 through his first 11 games this year with a home run and seven RBIs.

Roki Sasaki isn’t so perfect after all. After throwing 17 straight innings without allowing a baserunner over the past two weeks, the 20-year-old Japanese phenom concedes a hit on his very first pitch against the Orix Buffaloes—the victims of his perfect game two weeks earlier. Overall, Sasaki has a more ordinary outing by most pitchers’ standards, tossing five innings and allowing two earned runs on six hits and three walks; he also plunks two batters. Still, Sasaki gets the win, as the Chiba Lotte Marines triumph, 6-3.

Monday, April 25

The Dodgers’ Walker Buehler is the first pitcher this season to go the distance, netting a three-hit shutout with no walks and 10 strikeouts in a 4-0 victory at Arizona. It’s the young right-hander’s third career complete game and first shutout; he throws 108 pitches, five shy of a personal high. For the 6-11 Diamondbacks, batting .185 as a team, it’s the fourth shutout loss of the year.

The Cardinals are one out away from wrapping up a 2-0 home win over the Mets—and then it all falls apart. The Mets rally for five runs, enhanced by a Nolan Arenado error, to stun the Redbirds with a 5-2 decision. Dominic Smith’s two-run infield single puts the Mets ahead; Brandon Nimmo’s two-run blast in the next at-bat provides the exclamation point.

Tuesday, April 26

The letter that MLB and the Yankees don’t want you to see is obtained and published by New York sports TV outlet SNY, detailing the methods used by the team to steal signs during the 2015-16 seasons. Using the video replay room, Yankee officials communicated with the dugout to study signs from opposing catchers; the dugout then relayed those signs to the runner on second base who, in turn, relayed them to the hitter. It’s not as flagrant and omnipresent a system as that used by the 2017 Houston Astros on their way to a world title, but it was enough for MLB to fine the Yankees $100,000. The letter was released as part of a lawsuit brought on by fantasy sports participants suing MLB. The case was dismissed, but the presiding judge said that the letter should be made public, to the vociferous objections of both the Yankees and MLB.

On the field, the Yankees get a hat trick of heft from Anthony Rizzo as his three home runs and six RBIs propel New York to a 12-8 victory over the visiting Orioles. All three of Rizzo’s long drives aren’t terribly long; they clear the fence in the right-field corner with a combined distance of 1,050 feet, the shortest aggregate by a three-homer guy since Statcast began its official tracking back in 2015. It’s Rizzo’s first trey of power.

Another mighty night of offense comes from Milwaukee’s Willie Adames, who punishes the Pirates at Pittsburgh with a single, double, two home runs and a Brewers record-tying seven RBIs in a 12-8 triumph. In 117 games since joining the Brewers after a trade from Tampa Bay last year, Adames has 24 homers and 70 RBIs.

The Twins come back from behind in the ninth to defeat the Tigers, 5-4, winning with a wild walk-off play that defies written description—so let’s go to the video

If you have an Honus Wagner T206 card from 1909, it’s very valuable—regardless of what condition it’s in. Case in point: One of 60 existing Wagner cards, with clipped corners and two distinctive creases going through the middle, sell for $1.528 million as a 17-day online auction comes to an end. There were 75 separate bids on the card; the final buyer wishes to remain anonymous.

To remind people why this particular card is so highly sought, the story goes that Wagner asked to halt printing of his card because the maker was a tobacco company which the Hall-of-Fame shortstop didn’t want to associate his name with. The highest-paid fee for a Wagner card came last August when someone purchased one in much better condition for $6.6 million. This past February, $475,960 was paid for a Wagner card that was essentially torn in two, with one half missing.

Wednesday, April 27

Anyone who adored 1980s baseball will recall how much the Mets and Cardinals hated one another. Well it seems like old times again after the two teams end a contentious series at St. Louis that boils over with a mass scrum on the field. At issue is a series of hit batters; six were plunked through the first two games—four of them wearing the jersey of the Mets, who complained afterward not so much about the Cardinals’ wildness but the theory that MLB has changed up this year’s ball with less tack, thus making it difficult to control and throw.

Two more batters are hit in St. Louis’ 10-5 romp, one for each team. But after the Mets’ J.D. Davis is nailed on the foot in the top of the eighth—leading to his departure—the tension bubble pops in the bottom of the inning when the Cardinals’ Nolan Arenado overreacts to a high-and-tight pitch that’s in no danger of hitting him, barks at Mets pitcher Yoan Lopez, then looks ready to go after him. Typically when the dugouts clear in such a scenario, the players have this “do we really have to do this” vibe about them—but not this time. Both teams race out, ready to start an all-out brawl with pockets of violence worthy of a climatic Marvel film fight. Fortunately, few punches are thrown among the heated conversations, though St. Louis first base coach Stubby Clapp is ejected (along with Arenado) for grabbing Mets first baseman Pete Alonso and forcefully dragging him out of the pile of anger.

The number of HBPs across MLB so far this season is in line with last year’s rate, but last year’s rate set a record. The Mets, understandably, are particularly piqued; they’ve been hit 19 times by pitches, six more than #2 Baltimore. Meanwhile, the Mets and Cardinals will reconvene in three weeks at New York’s Citi Field for a four-game series.

Oakland’s Chad Pinder leads off the game at San Francisco with a home run, and that’s all she wrote for the scoring on the night as the A’s survive numerous rallies to prevail, 1-0. It’s the first time since 2013 that the game’s lone tally comes in the first at-bat; it’s the first time that it’s ever happened for the A’s, and the first time ever against the Giants.

Thursday, April 28

Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. makes his return to the field for the first time since suffering a severe knee injury last July 10, picking up a single and stealing two bases as the Braves ease to a 5-1 victory over the visiting Cubs. Earning the win on the mound for Atlanta is Kyle Wright, who’s now 3-0 with a 1.13 season ERA and 34 strikeouts, while walking just six; in four previous seasons, he was 2-8 with a 6.56 ERA.

After allowing just two hits over six shutout innings in his last start, once-and-current Texas pitcher Martin Perez throws another six scoreless frames—without allowing a single baserunner—before the visiting Astros get to him for a run on two hits in the seventh. With Perez pulled for the eighth after the Rangers tie the game at 1-1, reliever Matt Bush gives Houston the lead for good by serving up Kyle Tucker’s two run-homer, and the Astros grab a 3-2 win. Justin Verlander pitches seven strong innings himself for Houston, picking up his second win against a loss with a 1.73 ERA.

The Cardinals draw their 50 millionth fan to Busch Stadium, which opened in 2006, for the team’s 8-3 win over Arizona. It took the Cardinals 1,221 home games to reach the milestone, the fewest games needed to do so; the old mark was 1,259, set by San Francisco’s Oracle Park.

Friday, April 29

Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer, on ice for nearly a year as MLB looked into allegations that he physically (and sexually) abused a San Diego woman last year, is handed a stunning two-year suspension by the league. He will not be given time served for the ‘paid administrative leave’ he was forced to take since his last appearance on June 28—so unless there is a successful appeal, Bauer will not pitch again until May 2024. Though he’s been cleared in the case against the woman by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office because it was deemed too difficult to prove against Bauer, several other women have come forward claiming past abuse from the 31-year-old pitcher—including one who today tells the Washington Post that she was sexually assaulted by Bauer “on multiple occasions” from 2013-14. Perhaps these additional allegations weighed heavily on MLB’s decision. Bauer, who has gained a reputation in the baseball arena for being outspoken and combative, vows to fight MLB’s decision. Until then, Bauer will not be paid the remainder of his three-year, $102 million contract by the Dodgers.

It takes five pitchers, but the Mets secure the second no-hitter in their 60-year history with a 3-0 blanking of the visiting Phillies. Tylor Megill starts the game and pitches the first five innings—giving him a 4-0 record—before being removed on 88 pitches. Drew Smith (1.1 innings), Joely Rodriguez (1.0), Seth Lugo (0.2) and Edgar Diaz (1.0) finishes off the no-no, the first for the Mets since Johan Santana’s sole effort in 2012—and MLB’s 17th no-hitter thrown by multiple pitchers.

Though the Mets’ quintet allows no hits, they walk six Phillies batters and total 159 pitches. ESPN reports that’s a record number of deliveries needed to complete a no-hitter, but it’s been well documented that Cincinnati’s Jim Maloney threw a 10-inning no-no in 1965 throwing 187 pitches.

Washington ends an eight-game skid, its longest since 2009, with a 14-4 rout at San Francisco as three Nationals (Josh Bell, Maikel Franco and Victor Robles) each garner four hits among 22 total for the team. The Giants, who recently completed a four-city road trip back east, are heavily handicapped by a COVID outbreak that has sidelined Mike Yastrzemski, Brandon Belt and relievers Dominic Leone and Zack Littell, while numerous other players are injured; to avoid further positive tests, the team closes off the clubhouse to the media and other non-essential folks.

Saturday, April 30

The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw strikes out seven Tigers and passes Don Sutton to become the franchise’s all-time strikeout leader, racking up 7 K’s to give him 2,700 over his (likely) Hall-of-Fame career. But once departed after six innings with the game tied at 1-1, Kershaw can only watch as the Dodgers’ bullpen, channeling Johnny Depp, drops a grumpy—and the Tigers roll away with a 5-1 victory, ending a six-game losing streak.

Maybe it was a bad idea to let go of George Springer, the Houston Astros must be thinking, as the former Astro cranks solo home runs in each of his first two at-bats to provide the Blue Jays with all the offense they need on the night to defeat Houston at Toronto, 2-1. Springer has six homers on the year—three against the Astros.

The Marlins make it seven straight wins with a 3-1 home victory over the Mariners, as Jesus Luzardo allows a run on two hits through six innings for his second W of 2022. The longest win streak in Marlins history is nine; they are the only MLB team never to have won 10 or more straight games.

The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits  Take a look back at the daily doings of baseball with the TGG Comebacker archive.