MLB News & Moments You Should Know: 4/2/2024

No joke: Astros' Blanco tosses April Fools' Day no-hitter.

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Social media accounts for MLB teams are usually pretty funny when they want to be. So I was on high alert Monday since it was April Fools’ Day. Turns out that the humor was missing on a day it shouldn’t have been. No one (that I saw) took the opportunity for a prank. The best baseball-related one took place in 1985 when famed author George Plimpton wrote about a fictitious player by the name of Sidd Finch. Not familiar with the story? Read all about it here. But there were some scoreboard shenanigans. (I wrote the first part before seeing this post. No joke.) Meanwhile, Monday served as the start of the second batch of home openers for teams (the term Opening Day is only for the first game of the season despite teams’ best noneditorial judgments).


Today’s Headlines


Astros’ Blanco Delivers Unlikely No-Hitter


Ronel Blanco didn’t make his MLB debut until he was 28 years old. Now 30, the only reason he made the Houston Astros‘ Opening Day roster was because of injuries to the starting rotation, a fact he found out the same day his daughter was born, the last day of spring training as he made a start against the Triple-A affiliate. But Monday, he was the star of stars as the right-hander threw the first no-hitter of the young 2024 season in the Astros’ 10-0 triumph over the Toronto Blue Jays. This was no joke. After walking George Springer to lead off the game, Blanco — in his eighth MLB start — retired the next 26 batters before Springer drew a dramatic two-out walk in the ninth inning. No worries, though. Blanco retired Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on a grounder to second baseman Mauricio Dubón to cement the 17th no-hitter in Astros history. Blanco, who had never pitched more than six innings in the majors, struck out seven — all on changeups — in his 105-pitch performance. Two defensive plays preserved the no-no. With one out in the eighth, Blanco deflected an Alejandro Kirk comebacker to Dubón, a 2023 Gold Glover, who had just entered as a defensive replacement. Dubón threw out Kirk at first. In the ninth, there was one out when Cavan Biggio hit a hard grounder that first baseman José Abreu stopped with a dive to his right, then while still on the ground threw to Blanco as he covered first to nail Biggio. Oh, and it was the Astros’ first win in five games this season.


Imanaga Dazzles In MLB Debut


Making your MLB debut is stressful enough. Now imagine doing it not only in a city you are new to but in a country you have only been in for a few months. Shota Imanaga shook off all of that to turn in an impressive first game in the majors. The Japanese left-hander threw six shutout innings, not allowing a hit for the first 5.2 innings, to headline the Chicago Cubs‘ 5-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies. The 30-year-old rookie struck out nine and allowed two hits while walking none during his 92-pitch outing. He electrified the home crowd as the Cubs played their home opener at Wrigley Field. Imanaga threw his final pitch in a 0-0 game, but the Cubs scored three in the bottom of the sixth (more on that below) and two more in the seventh.


Four Remain Perfect


Only four teams made it through the weekend with undefeated records. Three of those four were in action Monday. The Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees, each coming off four-game sweeps to open the season, improved to 5-0 in 2024. The Pirates used a three-run eighth inning to beat the Washington Nationals 8-4 for their first 5-0 start since 1983, while the Yankees have won their first five games for the first time since 1982 after toppling the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-2. The young Detroit Tigers broke open a scoreless game with five runs in the 10th inning to drop the New York Mets 5-0 and their first 4-0 beginning since 2015. The 3-0 Milwaukee Brewers had the day off before their home opener today against the Minnesota Twins.


Best Moments From Yesterday


Trout Still Mashes


Mike Trout might be lacking support in the Los Angeles Angels‘ lineup. That doesn’t mean he still won’t do Mike Trout things. The three-time American League MVP hit a pair of homers, but jaws dropped with his second one — a 473-foot blast that feels shortchanged even at that distance. It was Trout’s seventh career homer of at least 450 feet, the second-most in the Statcast era (2015). Giancarlo Stanton has 10.


Big Leaguers Love Little League Homers


Christopher Morel only was credited with a single, but thanks to a pair of errors by Rockies left fielder Nolan Jones on the same play (fielding and throwing), the Cubs’ third baseman not only brought in two runs but came all the way around to score himself during the sixth inning.


Can Someone Turn On The Heat?


Atlanta superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. notched his first double of the season in the sixth inning, but that also took him far away from the warmth of the dugout in the Chicago White Sox’s home opener. The temperature at first pitch was 46 degrees and it was raining during the game, which added to the chill.


Homer Happiness


Well, those crazy Baltimore Orioles are at it again. A year after the Homer Hose, the youngsters have grown up a little with the Homer Handlebars. Ryan Mountcastle was the first to take them for a ride. No telling if Jordan Westburg got to try them out after his walk-off blast beat the Kansas City Royals 6-4.


Don’t Laugh


Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ Japanese stars, were the subject of a new feature on the Dodger Stadium scoreboard. Who do you think laughs first?


Injuries and Other Moves


Texas Rangers third baseman Josh Jung has a broken wrist and is likely to be out for about six weeks. Surgery could accelerate Jung’s return.

⚾ Diamondbacks outfielder Alek Thomas (strained left hamstring) was placed on the 10-day IL.

New York Mets right-handed starter Tylor Megill was placed on the 15-day injured list with a strained right shoulder. Right-handed reliever Reed Garrett was called up from Triple-A.

Free-agent right-handed starter Mike Clevinger has agreed to a one-year, $3 million contract with the White Sox, whom he pitched for last year.

The Dodgers called up right-hander Dinelson Lamet and designated right-handed reliever Nabil Crismatt for assignment.

Mets right-handed reliever Yohan Ramírez’s three-game suspension was shortened to two games following an appeal. Ramirez was sanctioned after he threw near the head of Milwaukee Brewers slugger Rhys Hoskins on Saturday.

Speedy Oakland A’s outfielder Esteury Ruiz was optioned to Triple-A as infielder Tyler Nevin was added to the 26-man roster. Nevin was claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend.


Articles You Should Read


Inside ‘very predatory’ word of illegal gambling that snared interpreter — Andy McCullough, The Athletic

Who does Chourio compare to? Brewers teammates chime in — David Adler, MLB.com

Austism Awareness Night has special meaning for Astros’ Espada — Chandler Rome, The Athletic


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Steve Drumwright

Steve Drumwright is a lifelong baseball fan who retired as a player before he had the chance to be cut from the freshman team in high school. He recovered to become a sportswriter and have a successful journalism career at newspapers in Wisconsin and California. Follow him on Twitter and Threads @DrummerWrites.

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