MLB is postponing Tuesday’s Yankees-Phillies game in Philadelphia and Orioles-Marlins in Florida due to additional Marlins players testing positive. Ken Rosenthal reported four Marlins players tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday morning, bringing the total number of affected players to 15. No Phillies players tested positive over the last two days.
In Minnesota, the Twins host the Cardinals in the first of their two-game series. Nelson Cruz drove in seven runs in the Twins 14-2 win over the White Sox on Sunday, tying an MLB record for most RBI in the first three games of the season.
Most RBI, Single-Game
First three games of MLB season
Nelson Cruz at White Sox
Corey Patterson at Mets
Tino Martinez at Mariners
Reggie Jackson at Rangers
Brant Alvea at White Sox
Dolph Camilli vs Giants
After setting an MLB record for most strikeouts in an Opening Day shutout with 15 on Friday against the Mets, Atlanta helped Tampa Bay set a team record by striking out 19 times on Monday.
Atlanta designated Monday’s starter Mike Foltynewicz for assignment after surrendering six earned runs in 3.1 innings in the Braves 14-5 loss to Tampa. The 28-year old went 13-6 with a 2.85 ERA along with starting Game 1 of the 2018 NLDS against the Dodgers. In 2019 Foltynewicz suffered multiple injuries, limiting him to 21 starts. Against Tampa on Monday, his fastball averaged 89.3 mph and topped out at 92.9 mph. That same pitch averaged 95 mph last season and 96.5 mph during his 2018 All-Star season.
In the Cubs 8-7 victory over Cincinnati on Monday, the Reds Tyler Stephenson homered in his first career plate appearance. Stephenson was the first Reds player since Ted Tappe on September 14, 1950, and third in team history to accomplish that feat.
The first full weekend for one of the four major sports came and went yesterday. However, due to 14 Miami Marlins players and staff testing positive for COVID-19, MLB could suspend operations after it just began. Regardless, here are some numbers, figures, facts, and players to catch my attention over the weekend.
Every team won and lost: all 30 MLB teams recorded at least one victory. Yes, even the Royals and Pirates.
Tigers offense: through their first three games, Detroit hit six home runs (T-3rd in MLB), one double and 11 singles. Last year the Tigers finished 5th in the AL in doubles (292) and last in HR (149). Despite their porous numbers, Detroit took two of three against Cincinnati.
Indians pitching: Cleveland dominated the Royals lineup, allowing 20 baserunners in their three-game series. Kansas City struck out twice as many times (40) than runners on base (20). Cleveland’s 0.71 WHIP is .15 lower than the next closest (Atlanta 0.96)
Twins Offense: After setting an MLB record with 307 HR last season, the Twins continued their power surge in the first weekend. Minnesota’s seven HR, and 27 runs scored lead MLB.
Braves top-heavy?: through two games, Atlanta’s big three, Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies, and Freddie Freeman, combined to go 2-28 (.071) with zero runs scored. Their production modeled the Braves entire team who registered just one run in their first 17 2/3 innings against the Mets. However, Marcell Ozuna’s two-out, solo HR in the top of the ninth of game two, ignited Atlanta’s offense.
Weekend Series at Mets
1st 17 2/3 Innings
Final 10 1/3 Innings
The Rockies and Rangers post offensive numbers: Opponents playing the first games in Texas new Globe Life Field, combined to hit 16-187 (.184)
White Sox pitching implodes: Chicago’s south-side residents allowed 27 runs and 7 HR in their three-game series against the Twins.
Reds bullpen: The Reds bullpen wasted strong efforts from their starters on Saturday & Sunday, allowing seven runs in their five and two-thirds innings of work.
Last 2 Games vs Tigers
Nelson Cruz (Twins): the 40-year old OF/DH proved age is overrated. Cruz went *7-13 (.538) *3 HR, *7 R, *10 RBI against the White Sox (*leads majors).
Miguel Rojas (Marlins): tied with Cruz and four others with seven hits. Despite a roster decimated by COVID-19, Florida won two of three in Philadelphia, led by their SS (7-10, HR, 4 R, 5 RBI).
Jose Iglesias (Orioles): like Rojas and Cruz, Iglesias seven hits tie for most in MLB. Projected to finish last in the AL East, Baltimore defeated Boston twice at Fenway thanks to Iglesias’ production.
Trevor Bauer (Reds): while former teammates Shane Bieber (14) and Carlos Carrasco (10) recorded double-digit strikeouts against the Kansas City, Bauer outdid them both. MLB’s most famous geek, allowed three baserunners in 6.1 IP while fanning 13.
Lucas Giolito (7), Gio Gonzalez (6), Kelvin Herrera (4), and Reynaldo Lopez (4): allowed21 of the White Sox 27 runs against Minnesota.
Rick Porcello (Mets): After watching fellow starters Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz allow three hits, one run and strike out 15, the former AL Cy Young Award winner added to the Mets misery. Eleven of 15 Atlanta batters reached base (2 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 7 R), humiliating New York 14-1 in front of a nationwide audience on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.
When Brody Van Wagenen receives his final verdict as Mets general manager, his one glaring error will live in the memory of fans like a drunken escapade. The tragedy of his fateful decision will linger for the foreseeable future, as Robinson Cano’s $24 million price tag (runs EACH SEASON through 2023) and Edwin Diaz’ relapses make each player untouchable. If watching both isn’t gut-wrenching enough, looking west starting in 2021 might produce sepsis.
The result of obtaining both albatrosses on the fateful day of December 3, 2018, is hard to fathom. Despite never producing a home-grown everyday player worthy of Hall of Fame induction since joining MLB in 1962, Van Wagenen’s first bold move as GM (hired on October 29, 2018), spit in the face of intelligence.
Despite recording two division titles and World Series appearances (both losses in five games) since 1989, the Mets lack of home-grown talent is alarming. Perhaps Van Wagenen viewed the 38 previous first-round selections since 1989 and drew his conclusions. From 1989 through 2017, the Mets 38 first-round draft selections yielded just three all-stars, David Wright (7x), Matt Harvey (1), and Michael Conforto (1).
Van Wagenen traded the Mets fourth (2018 first-round pick Jarred Kelenic) and fifth (2016 first-round draft pick Justin Dunn) highest-rated prospects, Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak for every Mets fan worst nightmare. Van Wagenen moved on the deal and even accepted paying Cano $100 of the $120 million remaining on his 10-year, $240 million contract signed in 2014.
The stalwart of the deal was Diaz, who at age 24 appeared to be one of the top relievers in baseball. Blessed with electric stuff, Diaz average 14.9 K per 9 innings, while posting a 1.01 WHIP, 2.64 ERA, .187 BA, .566 OPS, converted 109-121 save opportunities and Seattle won 82 percent of the games in which he appeared.
While the former Seattle closer fared well in his 24 appearances (Mets won 19 with Diaz posting 1.64 ERA, 13/14 Save/Save Opp.), his last 44 appearances have been a disaster.
Team Win Pct in App,
HR per 9
>>.545 win pct., 1.55 WHIP, 7.82 ERA in last 44 appearances
Cano meanwhile continues to struggle in his return to the Big Apple. Last season the former Yankee posted career lows in WAR (0.3), BA (.256), and OPS (.736). Now 37, there is little reason to foresee him returning to the form that saw him average 22 HR, 88 RBI, and a .848 OPS in the first 14 years of his career.
Meanwhile, Kelenic ranks 11th on MLB top prospect list, posting a .904 OPS (23 HR, 20 SB, .291 BA) across three levels in 2019. The former sixth pick in the 2018 draft, Kelenic’s rapid improvement, and five-tool ability have scouts drooling.
While the Mets lost Zack Wheeler to free agency and Noah Syndergaard to injury, watching Justin Dunn blow away his competition must sting. Dunn posted a 1.19 WHIP in 2019, striking out 158 in 131.1 innings and reached the majors in late September.
Watching Diaz melt under the New York spotlight and Cano growing older each minute, Van Wagenen’s gaffe could rank among the worst trades in team history. For a franchise known for their legendary blunders on the trade market (Nolan Ryan, Amos Otis, Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack, Ken Singleton, and Scott Kazmir, to name a few), that is saying something.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Such is the story of the New York Mets against the Atlanta Braves. Regardless of health, epidemic, flood, natural disaster, or an act of God, the New York Mets never fail to self destruct against their nemesis. Facing a top-heavy Braves lineup incapable of reaching scoring position without assistance from MLB’s new extra-inning rule, the Mets still shake with fear when seeing Atlanta.
Marcell Ozuna joined Brian Jordan, Freddie Freeman, Adeiny Hechavarria, Nick Markakis, Greg Norton, Chris Johnson, Erik Hinske, and two others this millennium to tie or give the Braves the lead in 9th inning on the Mets home field. The culprit once again was Edwin Diaz, who continues his fall from superior closer with Seattle, to court jester with the Mets. In his last 44 appearances, the Mets are 24-20, with Diaz allowing 13 HR and blowing seven saves.
Braves to hit game-tying or go-ahead HR
Ninth inning or later, at NY Mets
L, 5-3 (10)
L, 4-1 (10)
L, 8-7 (12)
W, 8-7 (14)
L, 5-4 (11)
>>Adeiny Hechavarria hit game-tying HR in 9th and go-ahead HR in 11th on 9/29/2019
In winning the NL East the previous two seasons, Atlanta thrives on defeating the Mets, winning 25 of 35 meaningful games, including winning 12 of 14 games at Citifield (does not include six late September games when Braves already clinched NL East).
The Mets continued a trend started last season, allowing home runs in the 9th and extra-innings. Since the start of 2019, New York’s pitchers lead the majors with 41 HR allowed (Diaz leads with 16) with 11 tying or giving up the lead.
Last season the Mets inability to put away games cost them a playoff berth. Despite just as troubling as watching another game clenched from the jaws of victory, was their inability to pick up Diaz in the bottom of the ninth. Once the game reached the top of the tenth, everyone knew what was coming. Only two games into their 60-game schedule and Mets fans have little reason to believe the 2020 version is any different than 2019.
When MLB and the rest of the sports world shut down operations due to the spread of COVID-19 in March, few knew how important their season would become. After bickering between the MLBPA and MLB owners forced commissioner Rob Manfred to mandate a 60-game season, few in society thought MLB could manage the epidemic, player’s health, and what’s best for the fans.
Despite the minuscule sample size, Opening Day around MLB proved therapeutic. While it’s a small step for Aaron Judge, it’s a massive step for humankind’s mental health. New rules, faces in new places, and avoiding lengthy games entertained fans. Starting with Giancarlo Stanton’s mammoth blast off Max Scherzer on Thursday, and ending with Matt Olson’s walk-off grand slam early Saturday morning, MLB’s best was on display.
Here are some factoids from Opening Day
In Flushing, Queens NY, the Mets improved to 39-12 in their last 51 season openers (the franchise lost their first eight games on Opening Day) with a 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. New York won for the 22nd time in their last 25 home openers to start the season.
The Mets recorded their ninth shutout on Opening Day, and their third 1-0 victory. Yoenis Cespedes homered in the 7th inning for the Mets only run. It was Cespedes first HR since July 20, 2018.
The Mets are 5-1 against the Braves on Opening Day (won five straight). The Mets pitching staff has recorded 35 consecutive scoreless innings against Atlanta on Opening Day. The last player to score for Atlanta was Marcus Giles, won hit a two-run HR off Tom Glavine in the first inning of the 2004 season opener in Atlanta.
Despite not earning a win, Jacob deGrom extended his consecutive inning streak without allowing a run to 28. deGrom, Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson & Edwin Diaz, combined for 15 K for the Mets, the most for an Opening Day shutout since 1901.
Shane Bieber struck out 14 Royals in six innings, becoming the first pitcher to strike out 14 on Opening Day since Randy Johnson struck out 14 White Sox for the Mariners in 1996.
Shane Bieber, Nick Wittgren, and Brad Hand combined to strike out 18 batters for Cleveland, the most for a nine-inning game on Opening Day since 1901.
Sonny Gray held the Tigers to three hits in six innings in the Reds 7-1 win over the Tigers. Gray has gone 34 consecutive starts allowing six hits or fewer, setting an MLB record.
Toronto defeated Tampa 6-4, while the Jays top four batters, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, and Travis Shaw (all sons of former MLB players, each recorded a hit and scored a run.
The Red Sox 13-2 win over the Orioles marked their most significant margin of victory on Opening Day in franchise history.
Kyle Hendricks threw 103 pitches and going the distance in the Cubs 3-0 win over the Brewers. Hendricks was the first Cubs pitcher since Bill Bonham in 1974 to record a shutout on Opening Day.
Lance Lynn recorded six shutout innings while striking out nine Rockies in the Rangers 1-0 win. Lynn joined Jon Matlack (1980) and Charlie Hough (1989) in team history to record six shutout innings on Opening Day.
Texas won its inaugural game at Globe Life Field, marking the second time they were victorious in three home park openings (lost to Milwaukee Brewers in the first game at The Ballpark in Arlington in 1994 and defeated California at Arlington Stadium in 1972).
Max Kepler hit the first pitch from Lucas Giolito for a home run. He joined Ian Happ (Cubs in 2018 off Juan Urena), Kaz Matsui (Mets in 2004 off Russ Ortiz) and Dwight Evans (Red Sox in 1986 off Jack Morris) as the only players in MLB history to hit his team’s first pitch of the season for an HR.
Kepler also homered in his second AB, becoming the first Twins player since Jacque Jones (2002) and the fourth in team history (Gary Gaetti in 1982 and Brant Alyea in 1970)to homer twice on Opening Day.
Matt Olson ended Opening Day with a walk-off grand slam against the Angels. Olson joined Jim Presley (Seattle in 1986 vs. Angels) and Sixto Lezcano (Brewers in 1980 vs. Red Sox) to record a walk-off Grand Slam on Opening Day.