Big Starts in the Big Leagues

The trees have yet to blossom, snow is still falling in some parts of the country, but the beginning of the Major League Baseball season has already seen some surprises and unexpected feats.

Try this. New York Mets ace Jacob DeGrom saw his stellar streak of 26 consecutive quality starts end as he surrendered six runs in just four innings at home to the Minnesota Twins, who blasted three home runs off him. Two of the long balls came off the bat of catcher Mitch Garver, who continued his scorching start to 2019 by increasing his batting average to .467.

Or this. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash used his typical funky managerial tactics by moving relief pitcher Adam Kolarek from the mound to first base last weekend in San Francisco. This move was made in order to bring in right-hander Chaz Roe to face a right-handed batter but also to keep the lefty Kolarek in the game so he could come back and pitch to two consecutive lefties. All of Cash’s moves ended up paying off as the Rays beat the Giants 3–0 as part of their red-hot 10–3 start to the season.

Manny Machado came up clutch both offensively and defensively in the Padres April 10 victory over the Giants. In the third inning, he aggressively charged a slow ground ball off the bat of former Friars infielder Yangervis Solarte and showed off his arm to record the assist from third base. Two innings later the Giants were threatening to take the lead with runners on the corners and one out. Machado fielded a grounder and threw across his body to nab Erik Kratz at the plate and keep the game tied. Finally in the next half inning Machado lined a go-ahead opposite-field home run over the right field wall at AT&T Park, one of the rare feats in baseball.

Is this finally the year for the Mariners? The lovable losers from Seattle haven’t sniffed the postseason since 2001 but are off to a league best 12–2 start this season. They lead the majors in runs scored with 104 and their .294 team batting average also paces the circuit. The M’s have tied a major league record by homering in 14 consecutive games to start the season. Of their ridiculous 33 homers so far this year, two newcomers are leading the way. Jay Bruce has seven blasts while Edwin Encarnacion has already hit four, including two in one inning in a victory over the Royals on April 9. On the pitching side, southpaw Marco Gonzales has won his first two starts of the season and boasts a 3.16 ERA. Mike Leake is holding his own from the right side, emerging victorious in his initial two outings with a 2.92 ERA. The sky appears to be the limit in the Pacific Northwest.

The Dodgers experienced the highs and lows of baseball over the last week, especially at the plate. The two-time defending National League champions cruised to a series sweep in Colorado outscoring the Rockies 29–14. The bats were relentless in the mile high air as they blasted six home runs, two off the bat of NL Player of the Week Cody Bellinger. The left-handed batting right fielder went 10 for 24 with three home runs, two doubles, and one triple to garner the honors.

Leaving LoDo for the Gateway Arch was not a fond moment for the Dodgers as they have struggled mightily in the first three games of their series in St. Louis. The Cardinals have won all three games by a combined score of 15–5. The Dodgers have made uncharacteristic baserunning errors and have looked out of sorts against a quality pitching staff. In addition, left-handed opening day starter Hyun-Jin Ryu was once again felled by injury as he strained his groin in the series opener. This trip to the disabled list marks the eighth time in Ryu’s career, which is now in its seventh season.

Another noteworthy performance came in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League as Albuquerque’s Noel Cuevas had a career day on April 10. The outfielder went 5 for 5 while notching his first career cycle. In total, he scored five runs and also drove in five while hitting two home runs. The right-handed batter saw his first taste of major league action last season for the Rockies, batting .233 in 75 contests. He was around for Colorado’s September push that saw them end up reaching the postseason and defeating the Cubs in the NL Wild Card game before being swept by the Brewers in the division series.

Posted in: MLB

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