Monday, April 8, 2013
Kernels: Favorite quirks from Opening Week
By Doug Kern
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY SportsAstros open AL play in style
The Upton brothers did something that none had ever done before.
The Astros picked up their first American League victory -- and their first March win in franchise history. Justin Maxwell helped the cause with a pair of triples, becoming just the second player in the past 60 years to have a multi-triple game on Opening Day. The other was the Royals' Tony Pena (son of the catcher) in 2007.
By the way, if it felt strange to see the Astros playing in the first game of the season, it was. At most, it was the second time in their history they had done that.
On April 8, 1976, they were the guests at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati while the Yankees opened in Milwaukee. Both games were scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET, so there's no way to know for sure which one started first.
A lot has been made of Astros strikeouts this week. They whiffed 60 times in their first five games, including 13-plus in each of their first four. That's the longest streak of 13-whiff games by any team in at least 90 years.
Five teams didn't have four 13-strikeout games all of last season.
Adding 14 strikeouts on Sunday brought their six-game total to 74, putting them on pace for 2,000 for the season.
Unusual walk-off for Brewers
The Brewers broke a string of four Opening Day losses Monday with a 10-inning "walk-off" sacrifice fly from Jonathan Lucroy.
It was the first game-ending sacrifice fly on Opening Day in 11 years, and there's a "Baseball Tonight" connection to the previous one.
On April 1, 2002, in Cincinnati, Aaron Boone hit one against the Braves, scoring Barry Larkin.
Milwaukee was the only team this season to win its opener via walk-off.
Did "U" Know?
In Monday's opener in Atlanta, Chase Utley of the Phillies went deep. Dan Uggla and Justin Upton of the Braves both went deep. It's the first time in major league history that three U-named players have homered in the same game.
B.J. Upton got in on the act later in the week, hitting a tying homer in the ninth inning on Saturday, two batters before Justin hit a walk-off.
According to Elias, they were just the third set of brothers to homer in the same game (Hank and Tommie Aaron; Cal and Billy Ripken) but the first ever to hit an equalizer and a walk-off.
Star of the Week: Chris Davis homers in first four games
Chris Davis of the Orioles mashed home runs in each of Baltimore's first four games, culminating in a grand slam Friday afternoon.
Only Nelson Cruz (2011), Mark McGwire (1998) and Willie Mays (1971) had homered in each of his team’s first four games, and Davis' 16 RBIs through four games were easily the most in major league history.
Davis also joined Mike Devereaux (1994), Brooks Robinson (1966) and Jack Graham (1949) as the only players in franchise history with at least one RBI in each of the team's first five games.
Game of the Week: Diamondbacks win a marathon
Arizona's walk-off victory on Wednesday capped a five-hour, 32-minute game -- the longest in Chase Field history -- which didn't end until 12:12 a.m. MST.
There hasn't been a walk-off hit after the 16th inning in MLB since Mark Teixeira singled off Tim Byrdak on July 6, 2008, to win a game for the Braves in the bottom of the 17th.