News

MLB | Three up, three down: Fans still have ‘Tebowmania’

Tim Tebow of the Class-A Columbia Fireflies hits a home run in his first at-bat on opening day. (Sean Rayford / Associated Press)

Three up and three down from the first week of baseball season:

THREE UP

1. Arizona Diamondbacks: It is impressive that the Diamondbacks boast the best record in the major leagues (6-1), even more impressive that they swept the defending American League champion Cleveland Indians over the weekend. The Diamondbacks lead the majors in runs scored, but their offense was not the issue last year; they had a 5.09 earned-run average, worst in the majors. In holding the powerful Indians to seven runs in three games, the winning pitchers were the beleaguered Shelby Miller (3-12, 6.15 ERA in 2016) and Patrick Corbin (5-13, 5.15), and the enigmatic Zack Greinke, who set off alarms by struggling to hit 90 mph this spring.

2. Angels: The Angels scored as many runs in the ninth inning Sunday as the Indians did all weekend, in the kind of epic comeback last accomplished in 1986. The Angels also made the playoffs in 1986. This year? Not impossible, given that they lead the American League in runs scored despite Albert Pujols batting .207 with a .578 OPS and Danny Espinosa batting .130 with a .461 OPS. They’ll need to keep their fingers crossed that the injury to ace Garrett Richards really is nothing serious.

3. Tim Tebow: In his Class-A debut, he hit two home runs in his first three games. In his other 11 at-bats, he struck out five times, grounded out four times, hit an infield single and flied out. Time to learn about strike-zone discipline, and about hitting the ball in the air. Launch angle, as they say these days. If Tebow can make his offensive game into home runs, walks and strikeouts — the so-called “three true outcomes” — there might be an upside of, say, Jack Cust. Not bad, but still not likely.

THREE DOWN

1. Seattle Mariners: The Dodgers might not have made the World Series since 1988, but they have made the playoffs four years running. The Mariners have not made the playoffs since 2001, baseball’s longest postseason drought, and general manager Jerry Dipoto set out to rectify that last winter, making 15 trades that involved 43 players. First the Mariners lost pitcher Drew Smyly to injury before he could start a game for Seattle, then they coughed up a six-run lead to the Angels in the ninth inning Sunday. They’re 1-6, not the optimal way to fire up the fans for Monday’s home opener.

2. San Francisco Giants: The standard practice for general managers is to observe their team for a month or two, then make changes and additions as necessary. General manager Bobby Evans opted against pursuing a veteran left fielder last winter, and the team opened with a platoon of Jarrett Parker and Chris Marrero, two 28-year-olds, neither of whom has played a full season in the majors. By the end of the first week, the Giants had lost a series to the San Diego Padres, Giants left fielders were batting .037 with a .106 OPS, and Evans had agreed to minor league deals with veterans Drew Stubbs and Melvin Upton Jr.

3. Jeremy Guthrie: On his 38th birthday, Guthrie made his first major league appearance in two years. The Washington Nationals gave him a spot start; he did not last even one inning. He faced 12 batters and got two outs. The other 10 men scored, leaving Guthrie with a 135.00 ERA. The Nationals cut him the next day. He’ll be fine; his Twitter profile features a picture from his Stanford graduation last year.

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin

Comments are closed.