Hey look kids, it’s time for the first edition of the wildly popular (not really) feature here at More Sports Now, Three Up and Three Down. The 2018 Major League Baseball season is not quite one month old yet, but some teams and players have gotten out of the gates rather quickly. On the flip side, some have not. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look around and see who made each of our lists.
The Boston Red Sox – It is hard to imagine that following the team’s brutal 6-4 opening day loss to the Tampa Rays, one in which their bullpen allowed six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, the club has now won 15 of 16 contests. I mean, who saw this coming? Certainly not I. But, here we are. Rookie manager, Alex Cora has the team firing on all cylinders. As of this writing, they lead the major leagues in runs per game (6.35), and starting pitching ERA (1.91). It’s kind of hard to lose when you post numbers like those. Already they have taken two of three games from their mortal enemies, the Yankees, outscoring them 27-14 along the way. Most recently, they opened a highly anticipated series in Los Angeles against the red-hot Angels. In game one Monday they faced rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani. Unfazed by the hype surrounding the 23-year-old, Mookie Betts led off the game with a home run. Mr. Ohtani was pulled from the game after just two innings (three runs, 66 pitches, one blister). The Sawx won the game 10-1, and they won again Tuesday evening 9-0. Can they keep this up? Probably not, but it is an impressive start especially when you factor in a brand-new manager who has never done the job before. Did you know that the Red Sox are only the seventh team to start 15-2 or better in the live ball era, which dates back to 1920? Me neither.
Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals – despite playing many of his games in unseasonably cold weather, the “big kid” has flat out mashed! As of this writing Harper is batting .288 and leads the bigs in home runs with eight and is second in RBIs with eighteen. This is shaping up to be an amazing contract year for the 25-year-old. He already is a five-time All-Star selection who won the 2012 National League Rookie Of The Year Award, and 2015 NL MVP Trophy. It is no secret that his agent, Scott Boras will be trying to secure a contract upwards of $400 million this off-season. Now Bryce is nice, but that’s a lot of scratch! I guess if you can hit long balls with broken bats, as Harper obviously can (see below), ask for the moon.
Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros – the former Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander has certainly gotten off to an impressive start with the reigning world champion Astros. Over four starts, he owns a 2-0 record with a 0.96 ERA, and has struck out 41 batters in only 28 innings. That my friends is what you call dominating. My wouldn’t he look nice in pinstripes? Remember this off-season, Cole to the Yankees was practically a done deal. The two teams however, could never match up on the prospects going back (Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier, etc.), and Houston swooped in and got their man. I wonder if Brian Cashman would like to revisit those negotiations?
Bryan Price, Cincinnati Reds – the Reds have gotten off to a league worst 3-15 record. The club has lost 10 of their last 11 games and someone had to pay a price for that. Unfortunately, it was manager, Bryan Price. He has been the skipper in Cincy since 2014, and owns a 279-387 (.419) record. So, if you had Price in your who will be the first manager fired in 2018 game, you win! Jim Riggleman takes over on an interim basis. Anyone for a return to Pete Rose? I’m kidding, of course!
Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer
Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees – how did we get here? Opening day in Toronto was so good. It was as if Hollywood had written the script for the newest Bomber. Giancarlo annihilated the second pitch he saw from JA Happ into the right-center field bleachers. It took about a nano second to go from the bat to the bleachers. Stanton wasn’t done however, he added a double, and for good measure another bomb, finishing the day 3-5 with two home runs and four RBIs. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and this was a doozy! In fact, he became just the seventh Yankee to hit multiple home runs on opening day, and the first since Joe Pepitone in 1963. Since game number one however, everything for him at the dish has gone wrong. At this moment, the reigning National League MVP is mired in a deep batting slump. For the season he is batting .197, and has just three home runs and ten RBIs. We all knew that he would strike out his fair share, all sluggers do, but Stanton is tied for second in the majors, having punched out 29 times in 66 plate appearances – ouch! Making things worse for him is that he has been dreadful in home games, batting .086 with just one home run and three runs batted in. Predictably, Yankees fans are not taking too kindly to their shiny new toy’s slow start, and so they’ve begun booing him on a nightly basis. You stay classy now folks!
Photo: Boston Herald
Justin Grimm, Kansas City Royals – no, I have never heard of Justin Grimm either, but his last few appearances on the mound were, you guessed it, Grimm! The 29-year-old right-handed reliever has made nine appearances on the young season and he has packed a lot into them. Over his 6.2 innings of work, Justin has given up ten hits (two HRs), walked seven batters, and allowed fourteen earned runs! His last appearance, Wednesday night against Toronto, was his worst. In just 1/3 of an inning, Grimm gave up six runs on four hits, two walks and a home run. To date, his ERA is 18.90! In case you were wondering, Benjamin Harrison was the president in 1890. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Photo: The Kansas City Star
Feature photo: Boston Herald