MLB in review: April
Here were the newsmakers and news breakers during the month of April in Major League Baseball.
By Anthony Castellano
RED SOX START SEASON 0-7
Armed with their newest additions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, the Red Sox stumbled out of the gate losing their first seven games. The first win of 2011 came at the expense of the Yankees during a weekend series at Fenway Park. The Red Sox remained under .500 in April (11-15) but have battled back in the AL East. Crawford is not living up to his $142-million dollar deal yet — .155, 1 HR, 6 RBIs and 4 stolen bases.
SIZEMORE REJUVENATES THE INDIANS
The Indians have gotten off to a hot start due in large part to a healthy Grady Sizemore swinging a hot bat. Sizemore homered on Opening Day. It was his first home run since Aug. 27, 2009, for the former All-Star who is the first man in franchise history to have 200 2B, 100 HR and 100 stolen bases. Starting pitcher Justin Masterson has won his first five decisions to open up the season.
They don't call the Yankees the “Bronx Bombers” for nothing. It seems like all of the Yankee offense has been via the home run. The Yankees hit 43 homers in April, seven ahead of the second-place Texas Rangers. Russell Martin provided six homers, a pleasant surprise. But it's Roninson Cano who leads the Yanks with eight in the month of April.
The Phillies in all likelihood will occupy first place on the final day of the season. Until then, the Marlins intend to make it interesting as they closed out April with a solid 16-9 record and 1.5 games behind the Phillies. The key to their success is the bullpen, led by closer Leo Nunez and his eight saves. They Marlins pitching staff rank fifth in the majors with a team ERA of 3.16.
WHITE SOX ARE OFF TO ROUGH START
Entering the 2011 season, the White Sox were picked by many baseball writers to win the AL Central and go far in the playoffs. The Sox lost seven in a row from April 13-20 and questions have started to swirl around Ozzie Guillen and his job security. Although, Ozzie’s answers always make for interesting headlines.
CHAPMAN THROWS 106 MPH FASTBALL. OR WAS IT BOGUS?
Cuban-born lefty Aroldis Chapman broke his record for fastest pitch in Major League Baseball with a 106 MPH fastball to Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates. The radar gun at The Great American Ballpark on April 25 might have been a little generous. Other radar guns suggest it was between 102-105 MPH. The fireballer recently had his previous record of 105.1 MPH tattooed on his wrist. Time to get new ink?
PHILLIES HANGING TOUGH DESPITE INJURIES
Despite no Chase Utley, Brad Lidge, Jose Contreras and J.C. Romero, the team is still very dangerous thanks to their starting rotation filled with All-Stars. As expected, their team ERA is a respectable 3.18 and tied for the MLB lead in WHIP. The Big Four (Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt) are a combined 12-5 with three complete games.
MANNY RAMIREZ RETIRES AFTER TESTING POSITIVE FOR A BANNED SUBSTANCE
Five games into the 2011 season, slugger Manny Ramirez abruptly announced his retirement from baseball. He reportedly tested positive for a banned substance and instead of facing the music, he called it quits. For the last time we can say it was “Manny being Manny.” Maybe.
GIANTS-DODGERS FAN FIGHT ON OPENING DAY
A brutal attack on a fan in the parking lot at Dodgers Stadium marred Opening Day in Los Angeles. Bryan Stow was attacked so badly that he continues to lay in a hospital in a medically induced coma. No one has been able to identify the attacker. The Dodgers recently named a retired LAPD captain as head of their security to prevent further tragedies.
THE STREAKY METS
Terry Collins and the Mets had an up and down to start the 2011 season. The Mets lost 10 of 11 games from April 6-16, which included dropping two doubleheaders to the Rockies and Braves. Then, the Mets won six in a row from April 21-27. But as the starting pitching goes, so will the Mets. R.A. Dickey continues to be the most reliable starter. Jon Neise and Dillon Gee have stepped up in recent games to propel the Mets to a five-game winning streak. The offense has been solid led by Ike Davis who currently led the team in average (.337) and RBIs (20) in April.
Jered Weaver of the Angels has gotten off to one of he best starts for a starting pitcher in baseball history going 6-0 with a 0.99 ERA. Only three other men have recorded six wins before May 1. The last being Randy Johnson in 2002. Weaver was scratched from his April last start denying him a chance to become the first pitcher since 1891 to win seven games before May 1, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Andre Ethier set the mark for the longest hitting streak in April at 26 games. The Dodgers' right fielder has a hit in every game since going 0-for-4 in the second game of the season on April 1 against the Giants. During the streak he's hitting a robust .380 with three homers and 16 RBIs. He's tied with the Phillies' Plácido Polanco for the National League lead in hits with 41.