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Marty’s Musings: week one, the Shohei Ohtani show

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The rookie slugger / ace made his mark in his first week in the Bigs.

Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Welcome to ‘Marty’s Musings’, my weekly column of numbers summarizing the happenings in the baseball world. I am your guide for taking an analytic look at the news and notes throughout baseball, and highlighting this week’s key pitching matchups.

MLB’s first full week did not disappoint. Shohei Otani went above and beyond even his most ardent supporters’ expectations, while the smoking hot Red Sox seemingly can’t lose. Gerrit Cole looks like he’s taken a major leap in his arrival in Houston, and Giancarlo Stanton has a horrible, no-good, very bad week. It’s all in this week’s Musings.

News and Notes

3 - Home runs last week for ‘Shohei Ohtani the batter’ who had a great week DHing for the Angels. On Tuesday night he went 3-for-4, hitting his first-ever Major League home run, driving in three runs. Wednesday he went 2-for-5, with another home run, and Friday he went 1-for-four, with yet another home run, a most impressive 450 foot blast (with an exit velocity of 112.3 MPH to boot!). This however, was the secondary story when compared to ‘Shohei Ohtani the pitcher’.

27 - Consecutive batters retired over two starts by Shohei Ohtani. The story of the weekend was his six and a third perfect innings against Oakland on Sunday that got all of baseball buzzing. The start prior, also against the Athletics, Ohtani retired nine batters in a row. His starts are quickly becoming the most interesting in baseball.

6 - Home runs for Nationals’ slugger Bryce Harper. Harper has more homers than strikeouts so far this season, and he has outslugged seven teams including the Mets, Rays, Reds, Dodgers, Tigers, Royals, and Marlins, all of whom have fewer team home runs than Harper.

3 - Combined runs of support the Dodgers offense has provided Clayton Kershaw in his first three starts. Across 19 innings, Kershaw has given up only four runs (including three home runs) and has struck out 19 batters to three walks, but so far the Dodgers offense has yet to put it together.

25 / 1 - Innings pitched and runs allowed for the Red Sox one-two rotational punch of Chris Sale and David Price. Price has yet to give up an earned run this year, and Sale has looked as masterful as ever. Combined, the two starters have a 25:6 strikeout to walk ratio. The Yankees were the unanimous favorites to win the East going into the season, but if David Price reemerges as the ‘ace’ he once was, and Chris Sale is his usual self, the 8-1 Red Sox will not revert back to second-place easily.

9/24/2016 - The last time the Red Sox hit a grand slam before Xander Bogaerts smashed one in Saturday’s win against the Rays. In 2016, Boston hit six grand slams, but 2017 showed a definite power outage for the Red Sox, who did not hit any, and were last in the league in home runs. It was just another moment of frustration for the Rays who are off to a terrible start...

7 - Games out of first place for the Tampa Bay Rays, who have only played nine games. It was a forgettable start to the season for Tampa who got embarrassed by a late-inning Sunday afternoon rally, by giving up a huge lead. With two outs in the eighth inning, and up 7-2, the Red Sox strung together a six-run rally to snatch an unlikely victory.

3,059 - Career hits for Adrián Beltré,who on Thursday, moved into first place for the most hits all time by any Latin American play er. Beltré’s 3,054th career hit came against the A’s Daniel Megden. Beltré passed Rod Carew and trails only Ichiro Suzuki who currently is the all-time foreign-born hits leader.

41.7 - Percent strikeout rate for Yankees’ newly minted slugger, Giancarlo Stanton. Last week Stanton had two five-strikeout games, during which he went a combined 0-for-12 with zero walks. The boo-birds were out in full force in the Bronx this weekend, after Stanton book-ended the home-stand with two of the worst games of his career.

2 - Phillies grand slams in Saturday’s 20-1 thumping of the flailing Marlins. Led by grand slams by Maiken Franco and Aaron Altherr, the Phils took it to Miami on Saturday, but lost Jake Arrieta’s Phillies’ debut on Sunday 6-3. A series win by the Phillies put some of Gabe Kapler’s troubles behind him, though there are still complains abound. Kapler inexplicable brought in Hoby Milner without warming him up in the bullpen last week.

6 - Hits for Andrew McCutchen who walked-off the Dodgers on Saturday. Cutch had a rough start to his tenure in San Francisco, but came through in a killer 6-for-7 Saturday night performance that included a home run and a stolen base.

20 - Foot pop-up that somehow managed to drop in the San Diego infield and give the Astros a 1-0 walkoff win on Saturday night. To date, it’s been the most pathetic play of the year. The Padres are an NL-worst 2-8, and are an early contender for worst play of the year, despite the season being a mere ten days old.

Matchups to Watch

Monday, April 9

JA Happ (TOR) v. Dylan Bundy (BAL), 7:05 ET

The Orioles are coming off an improbable extra-inning win against the Yankees, and give the ball to their stud pitcher who so far, has delivered 13 innings of one-run ball over two starts. Bundy has a 15:3 strikeout to walk ratio, and has looked absolutely nasty against the World Champion Astros and 2017 wild card winning Twins.

Tuesday, April 10

Patrick Corbin (ARI) v. Johnny Cueto (SF), 10:15 ET

Patrick Corbin has been magnificent this season, allowing only two runs in 13 innings. His 20 strikeouts and two walks have demonstrated masterful command for a team that’s trying to solidify their standing in a difficult NL West. Cueto meanwhile has been equally effective allowing only one run in 13 innings, but not showing quite the power-stuff of Corbin. As the Giants try to climb back into relevance, this should be a fun matchup.

Wednesday, April 11

Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) v. Chris Sale (BOS), 7:05 ET

The middle game of the first New York / Boston series of the season is the most interesting on paper. Chris Sale has been excellent so far, but is still looking for his first elusive win thanks to poor run support and a bullpen that collapsed on Opening Day. The Yankees are coming off a rough four-game series against the Orioles, where they lost three of four in the Bronx, including two extra inning heart-breakers. They are looking to bounce-back this week against their hated divisional foe.

Friday, April 13

Mike Minor (TEX) v. Gerrit Cole (HOU), 8:10 ET

This is the second week in a row Cole has been on Friday’s must-watch list, and he did not disappoint last week, going seven shutout innings, and striking out 11 Padres. He has looked like one of the best pitchers in the game so far this year, and goes up against the Rangers Friday.

Shohei Ohtani (LAA) v. Jason Hammel (KC), 8:15 ET

As mentioned above, Ohtani is rapidly becoming must-see tv. His excellent performance on Sunday afternoon against the A’s showed the world that he can make Major League hitters look off-balance and silly. Against a putrid Royals offense that to date, has only scored 16 runs in seven games, may be something to behold.

Saturday, April 14

Jon Gray (COL) v. Max Scherzer (WAS), 1:05 ET

The Rockies have expectations that they can play with the best of the National League, and they have no better forum to do that than in a weekend series in Washington. Rockies’ number-one starter Jon Gray takes on a potent Nats lineup, and has his work cut-out-for him going up against the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner.

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Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano