MLB News & Moments You Should Know: 4/17/2024

Javy Baez finally drew a walk!

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Today’s Headlines


Madness in the Desert

In an early candidate for game of the year, the Cubs and Diamondbacks delivered a crazy back-and-forth contest, with Arizona coming out on top with an 12-11 score. Arizona jumped to an early 4-1 lead, and then both teams traded four-run fifth innings to expand on the early wildness. The Cubs then went supernova with a six-run seventh frame, which was capped by a two-out grand slam by Ian Happ. Arizona responded with another run and then made it interesting in the eighth, but the Cubs’ bullpen barely made it after loading up the bases with no outs. It was all spoiled by a Ketel Marte game-tying homer with two outs off closer Adbert Alzolay. In extras, the Dbacks pitched a scoreless frame before Randall Grichuk wasted no time and hit a walk-off double.  When it was all settled, the box score showed that both teams combined for 23 runs, 26 hits, 10 walks, 2 errors, 13 extra-base hits, and a bunch of excitement.



Lopez Silences Slumping Astros


In another rematch of the 2021 World Series, the Braves came out on top again, defeating the Astros by a 6-2 score. Reynaldo López was the hero for Atlanta, delivering his third straight gem to lower his season ERA to 0.50. His line today included only five baserunners over six innings, with seven strikeouts and no runs allowed. He was almost matched by Hunter Brown, as he only allowed a couple of runs in six innings, but the Braves blew the game open with a 4-run ninth inning that secured their 11th win of the season. While the Astros have made slow starts a habit on their inevitable runs to the ALCS, this year’s version appears to be more concerning, with several key injuries and veterans off to terrible offensive starts. While there is plenty of time to recover, Houston’s 6-13 start places them as the second-worst team in the American League.



Rest in Peace, Whitey Herzog


Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog passed away this Monday at age 92, as informed by his family. While he broke through with the Texas Rangers, California Angels, and Kansas City Royals, Herzog made a name for himself with the St. Louis Cardinals, leading them through the 1980s with three pennants and a World Series title in 1982. During that time, he was known for what the media dubbed “Whiteyball”, a style of play that relied on speed, athleticism, and a very particular way of running a bullpen. Over his 18-year career, Herzog amassed 1,281 wins and made the Hall of Fame via a veterans’ committee in 2010, endearing himself to the baseball community with his blue-collar style and sense of humor. He will be missed.



Best Moments From Yesterday


Run, Amed, Run

Games are not supposed to last 13 innings in 2024, but the Rays and Angels reminded us of just how crazy a ballgame can get deep into extras. Following a strong outing from starter José Soriano, the Angels held a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, but José Caballero delivered a clutch two-run triple with two outs to tie the game. In classic Angels fashion, they took leads in both the 10th and 11th innings, only to squander them. Following a scoreless 12th, LA did it again in the 13th, scoring a single run to take the lead and then recording two outs in the bottom half. Alas, Caballero broke their hearts and drove in the ghost runner. With the game threatening to go to the 14th, reliever Carson Fulmer completed the implosion, with two walks to load the bases, followed by an improbable infield hit by Amed Rosario that won the game.



Guardians of the Road


In another game full of twists and turns, the Cleveland Guardians improved to an MLB-best 9-3 record on the road, defeating the Red Sox in 11 innings. Boston’s huge 5-run sixth inning appeared to be enough for the win, but Cleveland battled back in the ninth and gave Kenley Jansen his first blown save of the season. After the teams traded ghost runners scoring in the tenth, the Guardians exploded for three runs in the 11th, as Estevan Florial delivered the key hit in that frame. With the loss, Boston dropped back to .500.



Kikuchi Shares Ks, Whisky


While the pregame news of Yusei Kikuchi sharing a $3,000 rare Japanese whisky with his teammates added a fun layer to the game, his actual performance in the game made it even better. Kikuchi outdueled Carlos Rodón as the Blue Jays reached double-digit wins thanks to his six-inning gem, which limited the Yankees to one run against nine strikeouts. Even as New York clawed back into the game and made it 5-4, closer Jordan Romano was able to convert the save in his first appearance of the year. Cheers, Yusei.



A Wild Chart


The Tigers earned a nice comeback win early in the day, which included Javy Baez drawing a walk for the first time in 75 plate appearances. However, it naturally came with a classic Javy Baez strikeout, swinging at a slider that was at least a foot off the plate. Now with 15 Ks over 15 games, it seems appropriate to produce a chart depicting all the pitches that Baez has swung and missed against in his career. The color-coding makes for a fascinating image, as I am still wondering just how he could swing at a changeup that almost hit him in the ribs.



The Iron Man Passes the Baton? 


In what looks like an old-school Sportscenter commercial crossed with a cryptic tweet, the Orioles released this video showing franchise legend Cal Ripken Jr. seemingly ceding his spot to young hotshot Gunnar Henderson. While many Baltimore fans hoped this was an announcement for a Henderson long-term extension, they can at least be happy that Ripken and the new ownership group in Birdland have hit it off, following years of a strained relationship with the late Peter Angelos.



Injuries and Other Moves


⚾ Former MVP Christian Yelich has been placed on the 15-day IL, retroactive to April 13, due to a lower back strain. The tough news comes after Yelich has been one of the best hitters of the young season, turning back the clock with a scorching .744 slugging percentage over 11 games. While the issue is not expected to be serious, it will be interesting to monitor how the outfielder returns, considering his past health problems. Milwaukee recalled Owen Miller to feature in the team’s outfield mix. 

⚾ The Braves placed Ozzie Albies on the 15-day IL after additional testing revealed a fracture on his right big toe, which came on a hit by pitch during Monday’s game. The second baseman was enjoying a strong start, with an .805 OPS. Infielder David Fletcher’s contract was picked up to take Albies’ spot on the big league roster, as Atlanta continues to battle with injuries to key players.  

⚾ The Texas Rangers are calling up the #2 overall selection from the 2021 draft, as Jack Leiter is expected to be the starting pitcher Thursday against the Tigers. While Texas’ crop of injuries has made this debut necessary, Leiter’s 2024 performance in AAA warranted a call-up sooner rather than later. While he has been bugged by the long ball (four homers allowed in only 14.2 innings), he also amassed 25 strikeouts and a sub-1 WHIP during that time. The young Leiter will become the fourth member of his extended family to reach The Show. 

⚾ Elsewhere in the Lone Star State, the Astros are finally promoting Forrest Whitley to the big league roster. Whitley, who was a first-round pick in 2016, suffered many setbacks in his minor league career, including suspensions and several injuries that hampered his top prospect status. While his role with Houston is not yet clear, his long-awaited debut will serve as proof of his perseverance. 


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Pablo Figueroa

Pablo Figueroa is a Baseball Writer here at Pitcher List, with experience as a writer since 2013. He lives in Aguascalientes, Mexico - proud home of Los Rieleros. When he´s not thinking about baseball , he's a husband, owns two dogs, watches random episodes of The Sopranos , plays padel, and works on his day job to pay the bills.

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