The Red Sox remain multiple touchdowns away from reaching the rarified air of the 2017 Indians or 2002 Athletics' epic wins streaks, but they notched their seventh consecutive victory, thanks to a 4-2 comeback win over the Twins on Tuesday, and are officially the hottest team in baseball to open the 2021 campaign. Despite temperatures in the low-30’s, and snowflakes falling throughout the contest, rookie slugger Bobby Dalbec snapped out of an extended cold spell to open the season, delivering a pair of opposite-field, RBI doubles to kick-start the eventual comeback. Meanwhile, burgeoning superstar Rafael Devers homered for the fourth consecutive game, launching a mammoth 404-foot blast to right field off Twins’ righty Jorge Alcala in the ninth inning, to put the finishing touches on the impressive come-from-behind victory.
While on-field performances at Target Field in downtown Minneapolis merit headlines, the entire four-game series has justifiably been overshadowed by an ongoing series of deeply troubling incidents in Minnesota. Monday’s series opener was postponed in response to the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis last weekend. While the series resumed on Tuesday, the Twins found themselves without veteran middle-of-the-order stalwart Nelson Cruz, who was scratched from the Twins’ starting lineup due to a non-COVID-related illness. It’s unclear whether he will be ready to return when the two teams square off in a seven-inning doubleheader on Wednesday afternoon, but manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters that Josh Donaldson is likely to be activated from the 10-day injured list for the afternoon twin-billing. The 35-year-old third baseman has been sidelined ever since suffering a hamstring injury back on Opening Day earlier this month.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Shane Bieber vs. White Sox
9.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K
41% CSW, 20 swinging strikes
Lucas Giolito vs. Indians
7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
32% CSW, 13 swinging strikes
The most highly-anticipated matchup since Godzilla vs. Kong, the early-season pitchers’ duel between Bieber and Giolito certainly lived up to the hype. Both lineups took a backseat as the electrifying aces locked horns and traded zeroes into the late innings on Tuesday evening. Giolito was lifted from the contest after 107 pitches when he issued a leadoff walk to Roberto Perez in the eighth inning. Bieber managed to go the distance, completing nine scoreless frames on 113 pitches. The tandem combined to allow only nine baserunners and finished with 19 strikeouts. In an era with stratospheric over-the-fence power, and fewer top-of-the-rotation workhorses, it’s rare to see a throwback showdown like this. If you missed it, go back and check out the highlights.
Zac Gallen vs. Athletics
4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
37% CSW, 12 swinging strikes
Gallen pitched exceptionally well in his regular season debut, generating a whopping 12 swinging strikes, and finishing with an elite 37 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs). The 25-year-old righty showed zero signs of rust, coming within two punchouts of matching his previous career-high, after missing the first few weeks of the 2021 campaign due to a fractured right forearm. He’ll aim to work a bit deeper his next time out on Tuesday in a road tilt against the Reds.
Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Yankees
6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
37% CSW, 13 swinging strikes
Ryu displayed pinpoint command of his four-pitch repertoire, generating double-digit whiffs for the third consecutive start, to open the 2021 campaign. The 34-year-old southpaw carried a shutout bid into the seventh inning, and the lone tally against him came as a result of a throwing error behind him. He’s in line for a favorable matchup on the road against the Royals his next time out on Sunday.
Brandon Woodruff vs. Cubs
6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
27% CSW, 11 swinging strikes
With a massive 17-game slate, it can be easy to overlook a few performances, but Woodruff merits a mention here, despite being saddled with a no-decision after the Brewers’ bullpen coughed up the lead in the eighth inning. The 28-year-old righty was dominant for the second consecutive outing and has allowed only one run over his last 13 innings of work. He’ll take on the Padres in a road tilt next Monday.
Trevor Bauer vs. Rockies
7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K
35% CSW, 16 swinging strikes
Rockies hitters have struggled away from Coors Field, historically speaking, and they didn’t have much of a chance against Bauer on Tuesday night. The 30-year-old righty was staked to a massive lead and cruised through seven shutout frames. He'll carry a 2.70 ERA, 0.60 WHIP and 29/5 K/BB ratio over 20 innings (three starts) into a road tilt against the division-rival Padres on Sunday.
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Hitters with an EDGE
Adam Duvall vs. Braves
4-for-5, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R
Yes, you’re reading those numbers correctly. Duvall recorded his eighth career multi-homer game, and also came within two RBI of matching his career-high mark, in the Marlins’ blowout victory over the Braves. The 32-year-old outfielder did all of his damage against a pair of southpaws, blasting a solo shot off Max Fried in the second inning and a two-run dinger against Grant Dayton in the seventh inning.
Shohei Ohtani vs. Royals
3-for-5, HR, RBI, R
Ohtani connected on a hanging slider from Royals' lefty Danny Duffy, depositing a towering 431-foot blast into the right-center field seats in the fifth inning. He also singled twice to record his fifth multi-hit effort of the season. The 26-year-old two-way sensation has recorded an absurd 18 batted balls with an exit velocity greater than 95 mph, with 14 of those eclipsing 100 mph, through 11 games this season. He's looked completely locked-in at the dish so far, hitting .364/.391/.795 with 10 runs scored, four homers, 12 RBI and a pair of stolen bases across 46 plate appearances.
Brandon Nimmo vs. Phillies (DH)
3-for-6, 3 RBI, 2 BB, R
A certifiable on-base machine, Nimmo reached base safely in five of his eight plate appearances, leading the Mets to a sweep of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the division-rival Phillies. The Mets’ revamped lineup hasn’t realized its full potential quite yet, but he’s performed exceptionally well as their primary catalyst out of the leadoff spot, slashing .435/.581/.565 with eight walks in 31 plate appearances. The 28-year-old outfielder remains one of the most underrated hitters in the entire fantasy landscape and will see his fantasy value skyrocket once the middle-of-the-order masher in that lineup begin to heat up.
Wilson Ramos vs. Astros
2-for-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R
Ramos homered twice on Tuesday evening to take over sole possession of the major league-lead with six round-trippers this season. Unreal. He kicked off the multi-homer explosion by slicing an opposite-field, two-run homer to right field off Astros' reliever Bryan Abreu in the fifth inning and later belted a solo shot off Nivaldo Rodriguez in the ninth inning. The 33-year-old backstop has gone deep in four of his last five games and has already slugged more homers through nine games this season than he had in 45 contests with the Mets last year. He won’t sustain this level of over-the-fence pop, but he's well on his way to reaching the 20-homer plateau for the first time since 2016.
Akil Baddoo vs. Astros
2-for-4, HR, RBI, R
Baddoo lifted an opposite-field solo shot into the signature Crawford Boxes in left field -- his fourth round-tripper of the season -- off Astros' righty Jake Odorizzi in the third inning. He also singled in the ensuing frame to record his third multi-hit effort in eight games at the major-league level. The dynamic 22-year-old outfielder has exploded onto the fantasy scene, slashing .391/.400/1.043 with four homers, 10 RBI and one stolen base across 25 plate appearances. He'll cool off at some point, but his intoxicating blend of over-the-fence pop and stolen base ability isn't a small-sample-size mirage. He's carved out an everyday role with the Tigers and should be rostered in all fantasy formats.
Kendall Graveman, RP, Mariners (Available in 96 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues)
Imagine going back to 2014 and telling fantasy managers that Graveman, a soft-tossing back-end starter for the Athletics at the time, will be averaging 97 mph on his four-seam fastball, and recording astronomical strikeout rates as a high-leverage reliever for the Mariners, nearly a decade later. Well, it’s happening, folks. The 30-year-old righty has undergone a stunning metamorphosis in recent years, and appears to be on the precipice of taking over as Seattle’s primary closer moving forward. He recorded his first career save in the opening game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Orioles after teammate Rafael Montero melted down in spectacular fashion, failing to protect a one-run lead in the seventh inning, and was charged with his third blown save of the season. He’s worthy of a speculative roster spot for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues where reliable saves sources are at a premium these days.
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Christian Yelich remained absent from the Brewers' starting lineup on Tuesday. The 29-year-old fantasy superstar has missed two consecutive games as a result of lower back tightness. Brewers manager Craig Counsell told reports on Tuesday that he’s “improving.” It doesn’t sound like a trip to the 10-day injured list is forthcoming, but fantasy managers should keep a close eye on the situation moving forward. While it sounds like Yelich is on the verge of returning, the Brewers may be without center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who was removed from Tuesday night's game against the Cubs due to left quad discomfort. He’ll be re-evaluated on Wednesday and there should be more clarity on his status at that point.
Gleyber Torres was held out of the Yankees' lineup on Tuesday due to a jammed ring finger. He suffered the injury while diving back to first base in Monday’s win over the Blue Jays. The 24-year-old shortstop appears to have avoided a serious injury as X-rays and a CT scan turned up negative for structural damage. Yankees manager Aaron Boone expressed optimism that he could return to the lineup on Wednesday. The team also received some positive news regarding slugger Luke Voit, who has been cleared for light baseball activities, as he progresses towards a return from last month’s knee surgery. Barring any setbacks, he should be able to return at some point next month.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters on Tuesday that outfielder Teoscar Hernandez has tested positive for COVID-19. He also added that he’s been symptomatic, but is feeling a bit better recently. The 28-year-old outfielder had already been placed on the COVID-19 injured list last Friday, and will now be sidelined to quarantine for at least the remainder of this week. Finally, the George Springer early-season injury saga continues. The 31-year-old outfielder, who has been sidelined by oblique and quad injuries, won't travel with the Blue Jays on their upcoming road trip, which likely means that he won’t be activated from the injured list until at least April 27.
Hector Neris suffered his first blown save of the season Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader against the Mets … Jake McGee struck out two batters in a scoreless ninth inning against the Reds to pick up his major league-leading fifth save of the season … Matt Barnes tossed a perfect ninth inning against the Twins to collect his first save of the season … Lou Trivino fired a shutout ninth inning to preserve a two-run lead against the Diamondbacks and pick up his first save of the year … Craig Kimbrel slammed the door on the Brewers to net his third save … Greg Holland managed to hang on against the Angels for his first save … With Emmanuel Clase unavailable after pitching on consecutive days, James Karinchak closed out the Indians’ extra-inning victory over the White Sox.
Wednesday’s Matchup of the Day
The halcyon days of vintage Arrieta are a distant memory, but he’s looked revitalized in his return to the Windy City, compiling a sparkling 2.25 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 9/4 K/BB ratio across 12 innings (two starts) this season. Meanwhile, Burnes has evolved into one of the most dominant starting pitchers on the planet, tossing back-to-back gems against the Twins and Cardinals to open the 2021 campaign. The 26-year-old righty owns a microscopic 0.73 ERA, 0.16 WHIP and 20/1 K/BB ratio over 12 1/3 innings so far. It should be compelling theatre when the duo locks horns on Wednesday afternoon in the finale of a three-game intra-division series in Milwaukee.
American League Quick Hits: Mariners manager Scott Servais said Tuesday that left-hander James Paxton will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery … Carlos Rodon (illness) is expected to start for the White Sox on Wednesday against the Indians … Rays recalled LHP Josh Fleming from their alternate training site to start Wednesday’s game against the Rangers … Marcus Semien walloped his fourth homer of the season in the Blue Jays’ win over the Yankees … Jed Lowrie went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer in the Athletics’ win over the Diamondbacks … Charlie Culberson went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer, three RBI and a stolen base in the Rangers’ lopsided win over the Rays … Jose Marmolejos went 2-for-4 with a three-run long ball in the Mariners’ loss to the Orioles in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader … Jesus Luzardo was lit up for five runs over 2 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Diamondbacks … Ryan Yarbrough was tagged for six runs over six innings in a loss to the Rangers … Kyle Gibson allowed two runs (one earned) over seven frames to pick up a win against the Rays … Matt Olson was held out of the Athletics’ starting lineup for Tuesday’s contest against the Diamondbacks. The 27-year-old first baseman has been diagnosed with a left thumb contusion after being hit by a pitch on Monday … Hunter Dozier (hand) returned to the Rangers’ lineup on Tuesday … Rangers placed Ronald Guzman on the 10-day injured list with a meniscus tear in his right knee … Angels placed Juan Lagares on the 10-day injured list with a left calf strain. Angels placed Max Stassi on the 10-day injured list with a left thumb sprain … Kyle Lewis (knee) could return to the Mariners’ lineup on Friday … Royals purchased the contract of RHP Ervin Santana.
National League Quick Hits: Cubs manager David Ross told reporters that Kyle Hendricks tested negative for COVID-19 before he was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday versus the Brewers due to illness … X-rays turned up negative on Michael Conforto's right wrist after he was hit by a pitch in Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Phillies … Wil Myers departed Tuesday's game against the Pirates due injury and has been diagnosed with right knee inflammation … Cristian Pache was removed from Tuesday night's game against the Marlins due to left groin tightness and later placed on the 10-day injured list with a left groin strain, which could keep him sidelined for at least a few weeks … Mookie Betts homered in his return to the Dodgers’ starting lineup in a blowout win over the Rockies … Willson Contreras hit a go-ahead, two-run homer to lead the Cubs to a comeback win over the Brewers … Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and Matt Carpenter each homered and drove in three runs in the Cardinals’ blowout victory over the Nationals … Stephen Strasburg was lit up for eight runs (seven earned) over four innings in a loss to the Cardinals … Jack Flaherty struck out six batters over five innings of one-run ball to pick up a win against the Nationals … Blake Snell was pulled after throwing 38 pitches and recording only two outs in a no-decision against the Pirates … Jacob Stallings went 3-for-4 with three RBI to propel the Pirates past the Padres … Trent Grisham homered for the third consecutive game, and also reached base safely three times, in the losing effort … Carson Kelly belted a three-run homer in the Diamondbacks’ loss to the Athletics … Marcell Ozuna went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and three RBI in the Braves’ loss to the Marlins … Max Fried was shelled for eight runs (seven earned) over four innings and will undergo an MRI after appearing to injure his right hamstring while running the bases in a loss to the Marlins … Pablo Lopez surrendered six runs over four innings in a no-decision against the Braves … Reds’ outfielder Tyler Naquin was left on the bench for a second straight game Tuesday against the Giants. The 29-year-old outfielder is tied for the major-league lead with five round-trippers across nine games this season … Kwang-Hyun Kim (back) is set to join the Cardinals' starting rotation on Saturday against the Phillies … Ke’Bryan Hayes (wrist) has yet to resume throwing and is unlikely to be activated from the 10-day injured list when eligible on Wednesday … Cardinals optioned RHP Johan Oviedo to the team’s alternate training site.