Twins boast AL's best record: MLB Sunday scores, news, highlights, injuries

The first week of the new season comes to a close on Sunday. We’ll run it all down here, as we’ve done every day of the 2017 MLB season. Let’s start off with some scores and then dive in. 

Scores and box scores

Rays 7, Blue Jays 2 (box score)
Red Sox 7, Tigers 5 (box score)
Pirates 6, Braves 5 in 10 (box score)
Yankees 7, Orioles 3 (box score)
Phillies 4, Nationals 3 (box score)
Reds 8, Cardinals 0 (box score)
Twins 4, White Sox 1 (box score)
Cubs 7, Brewers 4 (box score)
Astros 5, Royals 4 in 12 (box score)
Rangers 8, Athletics 1 (box score)
Dodgers 10, Rockies 6 (box score)
Angels 10, Mariners 9 (box score)
Diamondbacks 3, Indians 2 (box score)
Giants 5, Padres 3 (box score)
Mets 5, Marlins 2 (box score)

Walkin’ it off

The Pirates got a victory on Sunday with what was their only lead of the game. Starling Marte dropped the hammer in the 10th inning. 

That gave the Pirates a 3-2 week in which they didn’t play all that well. Good sign there. 

Over in Houston, an intentional walk came back to haunt the Royals. With George Springer on second, the Royals put Jose Altuve on. Carlos Correa followed by reaching on a fielder’s choice and then Evan Gattis drew the bases-loaded, walk-off walk. Shrimp! 

And then, in Anaheim, the Angels scored seven runs (7!) in the ninth inning to walk-off over the Mariners. Cliff Pennington came through with the game-winning hit after Albert Pujols’ two-RBI single shockingly tied things up (for more on that, we have a full writeup here). 

Oh, and the Phillies got a walk-off victory as well (we’ll get to them). 

Four walk-offs on the first full Sunday? Not bad at all, baseball Gods. 

Souza keeps sizzling

Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. has become a punchline for reasons largely beyond his control -- it’s not his fault Tampa Bay effectively traded Trea Turner and Joe Ross for him and a few prospects. His so-so performance over the past two seasons, on the other hand? Fair game.

Yet Souza has performed much better to begin the 2017 season. He homered for the first time on Sunday, pushing his seasonal line to .417/.517/.667.

An important part of Souza’s performance? He’s walked more (five times) than he’s struck out (twice). He’s also improved his contact rate, from 68.6 percent in 2016 to 83.8 percent. Considering Souza’s career K rate is 33 percent, the Rays have to be encouraged by his improvements there. 

That’s not to suggest Souza will alter the perception of the three-way trade that landed him in St. Petersburg -- just that he might change the perception of himself.

Phillies win big series, likely to change closers

After losing three straight games, the Phillies destroyed the Nationals, 17-3, on Saturday and then pulled off the victory, 4-3 on Sunday. There was a pretty rough moment for the home team on Sunday, though. The Phillies held a 3-0 lead from the fifth inning until the ninth, when closer Jeanmar Gomez coughed up a game-tying, three-run home run to Ryan Zimmerman. Gomez has now allowed five runs on five hits -- including two home runs -- in just three innings this season. 

It could just be a bad start, sure, but the closer position is volatile by nature and let’s keep in mind Gomez’s rate stats last season (4.85 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 6.2 K/9). He’s just not very good. Hector Neris, Joaquin Benoit or even Pat Neshek would likely be better options at closer. It looks like we’ll find out soon, too. 

Prepare your fantasy baseball transactions accordingly. 

Jason Heyward is hitting the ball hard

We don’t really need to revisit Jason Heyward’s 2016 season with the stick. He was dreadful. He moved to Arizona in the offseason to work throughout the winter on his swing. His spring training results didn’t show any progress, but we’re starting to see some now. On Sunday, Heyward went 2 for 5 with a triple and three RBI. 

It wasn’t just the results, though. In his second at-bat, Heyward crushed a rocket to left-center only to see Ryan Braun lay out for a spectacular catch (video here). Jonathan Villar needed to make a diving stop on Heyward’s hard grounder on his next at-bat (video here). 

And then in Heyward’s last at-bat of the game, he nearly homered, with Keon Broxton making a jumping catch up against the center-field wall (video here). 

Heyward was a few inches from being 5 for 5 with three extra-base hits. As things stand, he’s hitting .333/.391/.429 on the season. He’s hitting the ball with authority to center field and the other way, which he almost never did last season. He’s far from a sure thing moving forward, but let’s keep in mind Heyward carried a career slash of .268/.353/.431 (114 OPS+) before the 2016 disaster. 

As good as Heyward is defensively and on the bases, him hitting the ball hard has to be a scary proposition for the rest of the NL Central. 

Now the Cubs return home to their banner unveiling and ring ceremony after a 4-2 road trip. 

The Twins have the best record in the AL

The Yankees made a late comeback on Sunday to take down the Orioles, 7-3, meaning the Orioles dropped to 4-1. The Twins -- behind a good outing from Ervin Santana and homers from Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano -- won 4-1 and moved their record to 5-1. 

twins.jpg
The Twins boast the best record in the AL. USATSI

Sano is hitting .350/.458/.850 with two homers and eight RBI. Polanco and catcher Jason Castro are also off to nice starts for the offense. Santana is 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA. Phil Hughes and Hector Santiago made good starts. The bullpen has only allowed four runs all season and three of those came off one guy (Justin Haley). 

It’s not as though everything has been glowingly perfect, either. Kyle Gibson and Adalberto Mejia didn’t have good starts. Brian Dozier isn’t hitting well, nor are Joe Mauer, Max Kepler or especially Byron Buxton

And yet, the Twins are 5-1 with a plus-17 run differential. 

Through six games last season, the Twins were 0-6 with a negative-14 run differential. 

What a difference a year makes, eh? 

Rough week for some hopeful contenders

The Blue Jays lost to the Rays again on Sunday, meaning they went 1-5 in the first week of the season. Following two straight playoff appearances, that’s a pretty terrible week for a team looking to make the next step and advance past the ALCS for the first time since 1993. 

They weren’t alone in a majorly disappointing week. 

I don’t think 3-3 on the road to start the season is bad for the Indians, but after starting 3-0 in Texas, the sweep in Arizona had to be tough to swallow. 

The Cardinals were blown out by the Reds on Sunday, despite having ace Carlos Martinez on the hill, and dropped to 2-4 on the week. That came at home. 

The Cards’ fellow Missouri residents, the Royals, went 2-4 on the week, including being swept by the Twins. 

The Rangers salvaged a win Sunday to move them to 2-4. The Yankees’ aforementioned comeback win moved them to 2-4, which is still a disappointing week. 

The Giants managed to escape San Diego with a win on Sunday, but that’s still a 2-5 week against the D-Backs and Padres. 

And then, there are the Mariners. They blew a six-run lead in the ninth inning to lose and they close the first week with a dreadful 1-6 record. The blown lead was the cherry on top of the garbage sundae that was the first week for Seattle. 

It’s one week and it happens. We notice it a lot more now than when a contender has a 2-4 week in mid-June.  

On the flip-side ...

Good week for some with moderately low expectations

How about the Reds sitting tied with the Cubs atop the NL Central at 4-2? Of course, this seems to be the rebuilding Reds’ thing. They were 5-1 in the first week last season and 4-2 in 2015. 

After their amazing comeback victory on Sunday, the Angels moved to 5-2 on the young season. 

And with their win over the Indians on Sunday, the Arizona Diamondbacks boast the best record in all of baseball at 6-1. We discussed earlier how their offense was spear-heading their early success, but on Sunday they pitched beautifully, with Patrick Corbin throwing six scoreless innings. Also, long reliever Archie Bradley now has eight strikeouts and just one walk in 5 1/3 scoreless innings this season. 

What an outstanding first week for the D-Backs. 

Conforto shines in first start

Mets youngster Michael Conforto was relegated to bench duty for the first five games of the season in 2017, thanks to the Mets having an outfield logjam and some other circumstances, such as the handedness of opposing pitchers. The talented 24-year-old finally got a look on Sunday night and he made his mark, homering and drawing a walk. The two-run shot wasn’t cheap, either: 

So long as Jay Bruce is hitting well (he also homered on Sunday), there won’t be much room for Conforto in the Mets outfield along with Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson. If Conforto continues to play well in his spot starts, though, maybe he starts stealing playing time from Granderson. 

Quick hits

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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