LEADING OFF: Offense ticking up, Twins falling down
A look at what's happening all around the majors today:
It's only been a week, but offensive is back on the rise in major league baseball. Teams averaged 1.14 homers per game through the first week, according to STATS, which is up nearly 26 percent from last season. Teams averaged 4.43 runs per game in the first week, up 6 percent. ''It is a little surprising, particularly early in April, the runs that are being scored,'' Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
IT'S EARLY, BUT…
The Twins are 0-7 after dropping their home opener to the White Sox on Monday, and even with less than 5 percent of their schedule complete, a turnaround could be tough. According to STATS, no major league team has ever started 0-7 and qualified for the postseason. Three teams did so after dropping their first six games: Pittsburgh (1974), Cincinnati (1995) and Tampa Bay (2011).
Marlins ace Jose Fernandez faces Mets flamethrower Noah Syndergaard in a game matching two of baseball's most electric young arms – Syndergaard was first and Fernandez fifth among major league starters in average fastball velocity last season, minimum 60 innings. ''It's going to be exciting to see,'' Mets manager Terry Collins said. ''If you're a baseball fan, you're going to enjoy (Tuesday) night.'' Both pitchers are 23, born less than a month apart. ''With Jose, you match him up with anybody, you really don't care. At that point, you think that your guy is as good as anybody out there,'' Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. ''You feel like he's capable of throwing zeros with anybody.''
Kenta Maeda makes his second major league start when the Dodgers host the Diamondbacks. In his debut, the Japanese right-hander struck out four and walked none during six scoreless innings in a 7-0 win over San Diego.
GIO'S TURN, FINALLY
Gio Gonzalez finally makes his first start in Washington's sixth game, more than two weeks after his final spring training appearance. The Nats' quirky schedule – including two planned off days and a postponement so far – has allowed manager Dusty Baker to shuffle the rotation. Baker and pitching coach Mike Maddux want Gonzalez slotted between Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, and holding Gonzalez back until the sixth game allowed that to happen.
Horror novelist Stephen King has taken a public stance against new safety netting installed at Fenway Park and other stadiums intended to protect fans from foul balls and flying bats. In an opinion piece published in The Boston Globe , King said the netting is ''one more step toward taking the taste and texture out of the game I care for above all others.''