Reds rookie dazzles in debut, Sanchez slugs homer: MLB Friday scores, news, highlights

The first full weekend of the 2017 regular season has arrived. We won’t see another weekend without baseball until November, and that is pretty darn awesome. Here are the highlights and notable stories from Friday’s action.

Friday’s final scores

Pirates 5, Braves 4 (box score)
Tigers 6, Red Sox 5 (box score)
Rockies 2, Dodgers 1 (box score)
Nationals 7, Phillies 6 (box score)
Marlins 7, Mets 2 (box score)
Padres 7, Giants 6 (box score)
Reds 2, Cardinals (box score)
Royals 5, Astros 1 (box score)
Twins 3, White Sox 1 (box score)
Rangers 10, Athletics 5 (box score)
Rays 10, Blue Jays 5 (box score)
Orioles 6, Yankees 5 (box score)
Brewers 2, Cubs 1 in 11 innings (box score)
Diamondbacks 7, Indians 3 (box score)
Angels 5, Mariners 1 (box score)

Tigers win battle of bullpen meltdowns

Through seven innings Friday, the Tigers held a seemingly comfortable 4-0 lead over the Red Sox at Comerica Park. Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer tossed six shutout innings in his season debut and James McCann smacked a two-run home run. The game was seemingly in hand.

Then the Detroit bullpen got involved.

Bruce Rondon faced four batters in the eighth inning, retired one, then Alex Wilson came in to allow another hit. Tigers skipper Brad Ausmus went to closer Francisco Rodriguez for a four-out save only to watch K-Rod allow a go-ahead three-run home run to Pablo Sandoval. Here’s the video:

Kung Fu Panda’s first home run of the season gave the Red Sox a 5-4 lead. That didn’t last very long. In the bottom of the eighth, three Boston relievers (Heath Hembree, Robby Scott, Joe Kelly) combined to allowed two runs, giving the Tigers a 6-5 lead.

That eighth inning went like so:

Two quick outs, then five straight batters reached base to give the Tigers the lead. Four of those five batters didn’t have to take the bat off their shoulders. Here is video of Mahtook’s game-tying double.

K-Rod came back out in the ninth inning to close out the win, though not before putting runners on second and third via an infield single and a double. It’s never easy with the Tigers bullpen, huh? Here is the win probability graph for the game, via FanGraphs:


Source: FanGraphs

In a nutshell, that graph shows each team’s chances of winning at any point in the game. When the top of the eighth inning started, the Tigers had a 96.6 percent chance to win. When that half-inning ended, the Red Sox had a 69.2 percent chance to win. Then, when the bottom of the eighth inning ended, the Tigers had an 83.5 percent chance to win.

This was the very definition of a seesaw game. Both bullpens wanted to lose. Only one succeeded.

Hometown kid Kyle Freeland makes MLB debut

The Rockies, for the first time in franchise history, have a rotation loaded with high-end young talent. Tyler Chatwood and Tyler Anderson are the oldest pitchers in the team’s current rotation, and both are only 27.

Left-hander Kyle Freeland, the eighth overall pick in the 2014 draft, made his MLB debut in Friday’s game, the home opener at Coors Field. Freeland was born and raised in Denver, so he is truly a homegrown player.

Freeland, 23, held the Dodgers to one run on four hits and two walks in six innings Friday. He struck out six. Not a bad debut for the Denver kid. Not a bad debut at all.

By the way, the Rockies won again Friday. They’re 4-1 on the season and their bullpen has been awesome.

Josh Harrison extends longest active hit streak

The season is still very young, so no player has had a chance to start an extended hit streak in 2017 just yet. Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison has baseball’s longest active hit streak dating back to last year though, and on Friday he extended it with a double:

The second longest active hit streak belong to Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons and Astros outfielder Norichika Aoki. Coming into Friday, they’ve both hit safely in their last nine games dating back to last season.

Gary Sanchez hit his first home run

When you hit 20 home runs in 53 games as a rookie, all eyes are going to be on you during your sophomore season. Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez went into Friday’s game with only one hit in his first 14 at-bats in 2017, giving him an .071 batting average. Fans in New York were starting to get a little antsy.

Then, on Friday night, Sanchez got off the schneid with a long two-run home run against Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez:

No, he’s not going to repeat last year’s 60-homer pace, but Sanchez’s power is very real, and there are lots more home runs to come.

Manuel Margot hit his first two career home runs

The Padres are in the middle of a massive rebuild, and one of their best young players is center fielder Manuel Margot, who came over from the Red Sox in the Craig Kimbrel trade. He led off Friday’s game with a home run, the first of his big-league career. Then, a few innings later, he smacked his second career home run. Here’s the video:

The Padres don’t figure to be very good this season, but Margot is a really exciting player. He’ll give the San Diego faithful a reason to tune in each night.

The Giants are having big-time left field problems

The season is not yet a week old, and already the Giants have resorted to playing veteran infielder Aaron Hill in left field. Yikes. Hill went 0 for 3 with a walk on Friday, and for the season, San Francisco’s left fielders are now 0 for 20 with one walk. Ouch. Jarrett Parker, Chris Marrero, and Gorkys Hernandez have seen time out there in addition to Hill.

Through five games the Giants are 1-4 this season, and they’ve allowed at least six runs in four of those five games. The pitching hasn’t really held up its end of the bargain yet. Left field is a glaring hole however -- the plan coming into the season was a Parker/Mac Williamson platoon before Williamson got hurt -- and I have to think San Francisco will look for some outfield help once we get into trade season.

A Reds rookie had an excellent MLB debut

Left-hander Amir Garrett is one of several rookies who will get a chance to show the Reds they can be part of the future this season. He got the start Friday night and held the Cardinals to two hits in six scoreless innings to earn the win in his MLB debut. Here’s some context about the quality of his outing:

Garrett has an interesting backstory. The Reds drafted him in 2011 and signed him to a $1 million bonus, though they allowed him to play college basketball. He played at St. John’s and Cal State Northridge before deciding to focus on baseball full-time in 2014. 

Shelby Miller’s first start of 2017 went well

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Shelby Miller’s first season with the Diamondbacks was a disaster. He had a 6.15 ERA (71 ERA+) in 101 innings and had to be sent to the minor leagues for several weeks. Watching Ender Inciarte and Dansby Swanson thrive with the Braves only added salt to the wound.

On Friday, Miller made his first start of the 2017 season, and it went fairly well: 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K. He threw 105 pitches. That isn’t great by any means, but it is a heck of a lot better than what Miller gave the D-Backs last season. That’s something he and the team can build on going forward. Keep in mind Miller had a 3.02 ERA (127 ERA+) in 205 1/3 innings and was an All-Star in 2015. He’s only 26 as well. There’s a lot of talent here.

Zack Wheeler’s first start since 2014 did not go well

For the first time since September 25, 2014, Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler appeared in a major league game Friday night. He missed both the 2015 and 2016 seasons with Tommy John surgery and subsequent setbacks. Steven Matz’s elbow injury opened a rotation spot, and with Wheeler looking good in spring training, the team decided to give him the job.

While I’m sure Wheeler was happy to be back on the mound and the Mets were glad to see him out there, his return did not go well Friday. He allowed five runs on six hits and a walk in four innings in the club’s loss to the Marlins. Christian Yelich broke the game open with a two-run home run in the third inning:

The good news: Statcast measured Wheeler’s fastball at 94.1 mph on average and 97.7 mph at its peak. That’s not quite where he was in 2014 -- Wheeler’s heater averaged 96.2 mph and topped out at 99.4 mph in his final season before elbow reconstruction -- but it is plenty good enough. Besides, it was a cold night in New York and it’s only April 7. Wheeler isn’t in midseason form yet.

I’m sure Wheeler still has some rust to knock off and I’m sure he had some butterflies too. How could he not? Once he gets a few more starts under his belt and settles in, he should again be an effective starter for the Mets. They’ll need him too. Their rotation is very good but also risky.

News, notes, and links

Here are some bits of news and notes worth checking out:

A full slate of baseball is on tap for Saturday, the first Saturday of the regular season. Here is the day’s schedule.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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