When MLB put Players Weekend on the schedule for 2017, they knew there were going to be some weird sights on the field. With customised cleats, nicknames on jerseys, and bats emblazoned with all colours the promotion was bound to be the topic of conversation.
But as the night went on during the Players Weekend debut on Friday, the nicknames stopped being the story as bizarre things began to pile up one by one.
Giancarlo Stanton starred for the Miami Marlins. His performance gave him 23 home runs in 39 second-half games, which tied him with Mark McGwire (1999) for the most home runs in the first 40 games of the second half of a season in MLB history.
Then came the errors -- and the Boston Red Sox made plenty of them in a 16-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. Five of them to be exact. Their five errors tied the Milwaukee Brewers (July 7) for the most errors in a single game this season. Even Rick Porcello got in on the action, but more on that below.
Sticking with the Red Sox, the story turned to first baseman Mitch Moreland, who looked great in a ninth-inning relief appearance. Moreland ran around 90-91 mph on his fastball, topping out at just under 93 as he tossed only the second scoreless inning of the day for the Sox. Moreland has seen the mound twice in his career and still sports a 0.00 ERA (in two innings of work).
Now for Scott Schebler, the 26-year-old Cincinnati Reds outfielder who has 25 home runs this season. Schebler started the night a perfect three for three with a single, triple and a home run through the sixth inning. He had a chance to lock up a cycle, but a hit by pitch limited him to a perfect night at the plate with three RBIs in a 9-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Rhys Hoskins started his career slow for the Philadelphia Phillies, hitting .200 through his first nine games. But in his last seven he has managed a seven-game hitting streak in addition to six home runs, 16 RBIs and has raised his average all the way to .291. He homered again in the 7-1 rout of the Chicago Cubs.
Philadelphia Phillies 7-1 Chicago Cubs
New York Yankees 1-2 Seattle Mariners
Cleveland Indians 4-0 Kansas City Royals
Miami Marlins 8-6 San Diego Padres
Atlanta Braves 5-2 Colorado Rockies
St Louis Cardinals 3-7 Tampa Bay Rays
Oakland Athletics 3-1 Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 Milwaukee Brewers
Washington Nationals 2-4 New York Mets
Toronto Blue Jays 1-6 Minnesota Twins
Cincinnati Reds 9-5 Pittsburgh Pirates
Boston Red Sox 3-16 Baltimore Orioles
Chicago White Sox 3-2 Detroit Tigers
Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Angels 1-2 Houston Astros
BELL STARS FOR PIRATES
Cody Bellinger is the overwhelming favourite in the NL Rookie of the Year race, but Pirates first baseman Josh Bell is making some noise to be in the top three. Bell smacked his 22nd home run of the year against the Reds, which makes him just the fourth Pirate of all time to hit 22 home runs in his rookie year. He joined Jason Bay, Ralph Kiner and Johnny Rizzo as the only Pirates to ever achieve the feat. He also went four for five with three RBIs and two runs scored.
PORCELLO CONTRIBUTES TO RED SOX LOSS
In a 13-run loss to the Orioles, Rick Porcello threw 101 pitches in just over innings, gave up nine hits, 11 runs (four earned) while walking one. And yes, seven runs were unearned, but he started that with a throwing error in the first inning that allowed a run to score and put two runners in scoring position. The runs might not have all been on him, but he set the tone with his mistake in the early going and put the Red Sox down a path they never got off.
Marlins slugger Stanton hit his 49th home run of the season, tying Ryan Howard for the most homers in the National League (NL) since 2008.
ROCKIES AT BRAVES
This is an interesting pitching matchup for more than one reason. Firstly, Kyle Freeland (11-8, 3.71 ERA) and Sean Newcomb (2-7, 4.13 ERA) are big, young, hard-throwing left-handers which are a rare commodity these days, but what is more interesting is that they were drafted just six picks apart in 2014 and from schools you would never guess they were drafted. Newcomb came out of Hartford while Freeland came out of Evansville. It goes to show you do not have to be drafted from a national powerhouse to make it in MLB and that guys that throw 97 are not always blue-chippers.