Edmonton Journal

Getting into spring swing of things

Mets, Astros, A-Rod among April highlights around the majors

- ROB MAADDI The Associated Press

From the Amazin’ Mets to A-Rod smacking homers, it’s been a wacky first month in the majors.

The Astros are surprise division leaders while the defending champion Giants and underachie­ving Nationals are last. The Brewers — not the Phillies or Twins — have the worst record.

A former MVP already has been traded. Star pitchers got hurt at the plate. And, those pesky pace-of-play rules really did cut down average time of games.

All this before the Baltimore Orioles hosted the Chicago White Sox in what is believed to be the first game closed to the public in the 145-year history of the major leagues.

Here’s a look at some of the most interestin­g things around baseball in April: SIMPLY AMAZIN’: The Mets tied a franchise record with 11 straight wins and equalled the best start (13-3) in club history by the 1986 team, which won the World Series. Matt Harvey (4-0) is back to all-star form after Tommy John surgery and 41-year-old Bartolo Colon goes for 5-0 Wednesday night in Miami. New York has done most of its winning with David Wright on the disabled list and Daniel Murphy struggling at the plate. A- ROD’S REVENGE: Alex Rodriguez certainly didn’t lose his swing during his year in exile. Rodriguez hit his way up in New York’s batting order from seventh to the three-hole and is on pace for 35 homers and 100 RBIs. He’s one homer away from tying Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list with 660. But will the Yankees celebrate the milestone and pay him a $6 million US bonus for doing it? HOUSTON, WE HAVE A WINNER: The Astros finally broke a streak of three straight 100-loss seasons by going 70-92 last year. Now, they’re off to a 13-7 start that has most observers shaking their heads in wonder.

“If people are surprised that’s great, but that is now how we think in the clubhouse,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “I try to get the guys to not think about any of that stuff. We’re playing good baseball and we haven’t played our best yet. That’s the thing I love: we are winning without playing our best …” BREW CREW BLUES: Milwaukee is off to a 4-17 start, the worst by an NL team since the Cubs did the same in 1997. The Brewers have lost each of their seven series and haven’t won consecutiv­e games yet. They’re tied for the second-worst batting average and have the fourthwors­t ERA. JOSH’S JOURNEY: After a selfreport­ed relapse for cocaine and alcohol use, Josh Hamilton was dumped by the Los Angeles Angels. The 2010 AL MVP returns to the Texas Rangers where he resurrecte­d his career the first time around and became a perennial all-Star who earned a $125 million deal from the Angels. “It’s been tough the past 11 weeks or so, not knowing what’s going to happen, where I was going to be, and everything that was transpirin­g was tough,” Hamilton said. DH TO THE RESCUE: Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright tore his left Achilles while batting and will miss the rest of the season. Nationals ace Max Scherzer will miss at least one start after injuring his thumb while batting. Both injuries fuelled the longtime debate over bringing the designated hitter to the NL. BRYANT ARRIVES: Cubs prized prospect Kris Bryant was called up one day after the club ensured he can’t be eligible for free agency until 2021. Bryant hit nine homers in spring training but was sent to the minors for the first two weeks. He jumped into the cleanup spot in his debut and should be there for quite a while. WATCH THE CLOCK: The incorporat­ion of pace-of-play rules cut NL games by 10 minutes and AL games are down eight minutes.

 ?? PATRICK SMITH/ THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? The first month of the baseball season included the Orioles hosting the White Sox in an empty Camden Yards on Wednesday.
PATRICK SMITH/ THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The first month of the baseball season included the Orioles hosting the White Sox in an empty Camden Yards on Wednesday.

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