LEADING OFF: Yelich back at it on HR streak, 3 home openers
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
Christian Yelich has picked up right where he left off last season. The 2018 NL MVP hit his fourth homer Sunday and then a two-run double in the ninth inning that gave Milwaukee a dramatic 5-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. He has homered in the first four games of the season to match a major league record and can break the mark by going deep when the Brewers visit Cincinnati.
“What we’re witnessing is greatness,” teammate Ryan Braun said. “I’ve never seen anyone this good at baseball for this long.”
Yelich batted .326 with 36 homers and 110 RBIs last year, leading Milwaukee to the NL Central title. He is 6 for 12 with six walks and eight RBIs already this season.
“Candidly, I can’t recall a series like that,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “I’ve had some guys that are smoking hot against us, but I’ve never seen that kind of damage over four days.”
The Indians, Pirates and Braves are set to play their home openers. Cleveland right-hander Mike Clevinger gets the ball following a breakout 2018 season. He’ll face Ivan Nova, making his first start for the Chicago White Sox after an offseason trade from Pittsburgh. The Pirates will start Chris Archer against St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright, and Atlanta (0-3) is calling on Sean Newcomb against Kyle Hendricks and the Chicago Cubs.
MONEY FOR NOTHING
Two of baseball’s biggest spenders are off to slow starts. Heading into the first full week of the season, the Yankees (1-2) and World Series champion Red Sox (1-3) are at the bottom of the AL East standings after both teams won 100 games last year. New York dropped two of three at home to a Baltimore team that went a major league-worst 47-115 last season. Next up, the Yankees welcome another rebuilding club to the Bronx in the Detroit Tigers. After losing three of four at Seattle, the Red Sox send October star David Price to the mound in Oakland for his first start of the season.
LONG ROAD BACK
Drew Smyly is set to make his Texas debut and his first major league start since September 2016 when the Rangers host Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros. Smyly, acquired from the Chicago Cubs in November, had Tommy John surgery in July 2017. The 29-year-old lefty is 31-27 with a 3.74 ERA in five big league seasons with Detroit and Tampa Bay.
KING OF THE CASTLE
For years, Felix Hernandez was a shutdown ace for Seattle, and the Mariners couldn’t score enough runs to back him. Times have changed. After being passed over for opening day for the first time in a decade, the 32-year-old Hernandez will make his first start this season against the Angels. King Felix had a 15.95 ERA in spring training a year after going 8-14 with a 5.55 ERA during a miserable regular season. The good news? With the way Seattle is swinging the bats, he might not need to be great. The Mariners took three of four from Boston last weekend, averaging 8.5 runs per game. They’ve hit 15 homers, at least one in every game during a 5-1 start.