Things are finally starting to heat up in Major League Baseball. This week, we had the first no-hitter of the season, the return of a couple of key players, and the loss of a couple of key players. Let’s get caught up on everything you might have missed.
Congratulations if you picked Oakland’s Mike Fiers as the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter in 2019. Fiers pitched nine hitless innings against the Reds on Tuesday, making him the 35th pitcher in major league history to throw multiple no-hitters. The aging veteran barely topped 90 mph on the radar gun and barely made it all nine innings, needing 131 pitches to complete the feat in a 2-0 win for the A’s. However, Fiers pitched a heck of a game, even if he only dropped his ERA to 5.48.
Guess Who’s Back (Part-Time)?
The Angels got a big boost this week with the return of Shohei Ohtani. The two-way Japanese player will only be a one-way sensation this season. He’s still working his way back from Tommy John surgery, so he won’t be pitching this season. But his continued rehab for his elbow won’t prevent him from serving as the team’s DH. He’s started slowly, but Ohtani hit .285 with 22 home runs and 21 doubles in just over 300 at-bats last season, so he can be a difference maker once he gets going. The club has indicated he’ll be their primary DH moving forward, forcing the aging Albert Pujols to play a lot of first base, sharing the position with Justin Bour.
The Chicago Cubs also welcomed back someone this week, activating shortstop Addison Russell following the end of his suspension for violating MLB’s domestic abuse policy. Russell received mostly boos at Wrigley Field in his first game back Wednesday. He could also struggle to find consistent playing time with Javier Baez excelling at shortstop. He’ll get a chance to earn regular playing time at second base, although David Bote, Daniel Descalso, and Ben Zobrist are also options at that spot. In short, Russell has a lot of work ahead of him on the field, not to mention all that he has to do off the field.
The biggest injury news of the week came in Tampa Bay, with the Rays losing young ace Tyler Glasnow to a forearm strain. Glasnow left Friday’s start against the Yankees and was diagnosed with a mild forearm strain on Saturday. The Rays expect him to miss the next four to six weeks, which is a huge blow with Glasnow going 6-1 with a 1.86 ERA over his first eight starts. On top of that, the Rays lost catcher Mike Zunino earlier in the week to a quad injury that is likely to keep him out a month.
Dueling Hot Streaks
The Cubs and Brewers will play the rubber game of their three-game series on Sunday. This weekend has brought together two of the hottest teams in baseball. Before losing Saturday’s game in 15 innings, the Brew Crew had been rocking a seven-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Cubs have won 11 of their last 13 games, a stretch that dates back to late April. Both teams have overtaken the struggling Cardinals, who have lost eight of their last 10. As it stands, the Cubs hold a one-game lead over Milwaukee in the NL Central, although those teams will be tied if the Brewers can win Sunday.
Notes from a Three-Horse Race
Outside of the NL Central, the AL East is the most compelling division in baseball right now. After a slow start, the Red Sox have won eight of their last 10 games to finally get above .500. Meanwhile, the Yankees and Rays are set to play the rubber game of their three-game set on Sunday. The Rays are clinging to a 1.5-game lead atop the division, but that will shrink back to half a game if the Yankees get the win on Sunday.
Don’t Forget About Us
Here’s a fun fact, the team currently tied with Houston for the most wins in the American League is actually the Minnesota Twins. Despite splitting a doubleheader with the Tigers on Saturday, the Twins are 8-3 since the calendar flipped to May, quietly becoming one of the hottest teams in baseball. They also play their next 14 games against teams that currently have a losing record, meaning their five-game lead over the Indians in the AL Central has a chance to grow.