LEADING OFF: Corbin debuts with Nats, Harper in the swing
A look at what’s happening around the majors Sunday:
$140 MILLION MAN
Patrick Corbin begins earning the $140 million contract he signed with the Nationals, making his first start for his new team against the visiting Mets. The 29-year-old lefty was considered the top starting pitcher on the free agent market and got a six-year deal to slot in behind Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals couldn’t win behind either Scherzer or Strasburg in the first two games of the season, though, and they’ll be hoping Corbin can prevent a sweep and an 0-3 start.
After have to fight for his roster spot throughout spring training, Mets rookie slugger Pete Alonso is fast rewarding New York for giving him the job at first base. Alonso had three hits Saturday in an 11-8 win and is 4 for 8 in his first two big league games. Criticized often for his glove work as a minor leaguer, Alonso even made two nifty stretch plays at first in his second game. Zack Wheeler tries to pitch the Mets to 3-0.
BRYCE ON THE BOARD
Bryce Harper and the Phillies conclude their first series a day after he hit a mammoth home run and got a rather enthusiastic curtain call for the second game of the season. Harper’s homer was projected to 465 feet, traveling well into the second deck in right-center field at Citizens Bank Park. The crowd responded with a long ovation, including the Phillie Phanatic, who wore cleats bearing Harper’s face after Harper did the same for the green, fuzzy mascot in his Phillies debut. RHP Jake Arrieta is scheduled to start for Philadelphia against Braves rookie RHP Kyle Wright.
It will be the first of the ESPN Sunday night telecasts that start an hour earlier this season.
The Astros hope to get Carlos Correa back at shortstop after he missed the season’s first three games with neck stiffness. Aledmys Diaz filled in for the first two games against Tampa Bay and made two errors. Alex Bregman slid over from third to short Saturday and hit his first homer of the season on his 25th birthday. Correa dealt with back pain throughout the 2018 season, setting career lows with a .239 average, 15 homers and a .728 OPS. Veteran lefty Wade Miley is slated to make his first start with the Astros after signing a $4.5 million, one-year free agent deal. Tampa Bay was expected to use an opener for the first time this season, but manager Kevin Cash said Saturday night that Yonny Chirinos will be used as a traditional starter instead.
Twins RHP Michael Pineda will step onto a major league mound for the first time since July 5, 2017, when he was pitching for the Yankees. He had Tommy John surgery later that month, signed with the Twins in the offseason, and spent all of 2018 on the disabled list. Pineda pitched a team-high 20 1/3 innings in spring training and struck out 20. He’ll face Cleveland RHP Carlos Carrasco, who is coming off a year in which he set a career high with 231 strikeouts in 192 innings.
The Blue Jays and Tigers are set to finish a four-game series after each of the first three ended in a shutout. The Tigers won 2-0 on opening day, and the Blue Jays followed with 6-0 and 3-0 victories. Toronto threw just three shutouts all of last season, the fewest in the majors. Detroit was last with two. Matt Moore is set to make his first start with Detroit, and Trent Thornton is tabbed to make his major league debut for the Jays.
Tigers star Miguel Cabrera left Saturday’s game after being hit on the right hand by a pitch. X-rays were negative.