- Senior writer ESPN Magazine/ESPN.com
- Analyst/reporter ESPN television
- Has covered baseball since 1981
The Quirkjians are of my own making, an obsession for nearly 60 years. I’ve always loved arcane stats, odd connections of arbitrary names and numbers, amazing coincidences that baseball, more than any other sport, always provides. Every night that you go to a major league game, or watch one on TV, you might see something you’ve never seen before. Some Quirkjians are pointless. There will be no apologies for that here. Baseball can be pointless some days, and some days it’s another marvelous feature of a beautiful game. So, with some stat confirmations from the Elias Sports Bureau, here are The Quirkjians for April.
The White Sox’s Yermin Mercedes went 5-for-5 and teammate Yoan Moncada went 0-for-5 with five strikeouts. The only other time since 1900 that teammates had done that was June 4, 2009, when Toronto’s Adam Lind went 5-for-5 and Alex Rios went 0-for-5 with five strikeouts. Moncada missed by one game of joining ex-White Sox catcher Ron Karkovice as the only players to go 0-for-5 with five K’s on Opening Day.
The Dodgers’ Zach McKinstry hit his first career home run, and it was an inside-the-park homer. In 1992, the first career homer by Butch Henry, a pitcher, was an inside-the-park homer for the Astros. It was the only home run of his career. McKinstry hit his second career homer on April 11. It went over the fence.
Marlins reliever Zach Pop made his major league debut, pitching a scoreless sixth inning. His second baseman in that game was Jazz Chisholm, marking the first time that Jazz and Pop have appeared in the same game in major league history.
The White Sox’s batting order included three straight hitters with first names beginning with Y: Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Yermin Mercedes. That was a first by any team since 1900.
A’s rookie outfielder Ka’ai Tom pitched in his team’s fourth game of the year. Tom pitched a scoreless inning against the Astros, but he gave up a hit, meaning a position player gave up a hit before he got a hit in his major league career. Tom was 0-for-5 career at the time that he pitched. The only position player we could find after 1950 that did that was Red Sox catcher Dusty Brown, who in 2009 was 0-for-1 in his career when he pitched an inning on Oct. 3.
Music and baseball connected in Philadelphia. The Braves started Ian Anderson, who has the same name as the lead singer of the band Jethro Tull. They also used reliever Chris Martin, who is the lead singer of Coldplay.
The Tigers’ Robbie Grossman became the first player since 1900 to draw eight walks and have no hits in the first four games of the season. Over the past 50 years, the only player to get more than eight walks before getting his first hit of the season was the Orioles’ DJ Stewart, who had nine in 2020.
Phillies reliever Vince Velasquez walked four, struck out four, gave up four earned runs and didn’t allow a hit in 1⅓ innings against the Mets. That pitching line had never been accomplished by any pitcher since 1900: 1⅓-0-4-4-4-4.
Angels shortstop Jose Iglesias made three errors (only the second time in his career that he made multiple errors in a game), struck out twice and grounded into a double play against the Blue Jays. Since GIDPs became official in both leagues in 1940, he became the seventh player to do that, and second (joining Seattle’s Dylan Moore) in the past 16 years.
Ten days into the season, an individual player had struck out four times in a game 16 times. In every season in the modern era (1900-on) prior to 1957, there were fewer than 17 individual four-strikeout games in the entire season, including 12 in 1955.
Royals reliever Carlos Hernandez faced three hitters, walked them all, but threw only 11 pitches. That’s because his first walk was intentional, so it didn’t add to his pitch count.
The umpiring crew in Baltimore was Ryan Blakney, Ryan Additon, Brian O’Nora and Ryan Wills. Ryan, Ryan, Ryan and Brian.
By one batter, we missed Seattle’s Ty France facing the Orioles’ Paul Fry, depriving us of the first France-Fry at-bat in major league history.
The Mets became the first team ever to start a pitcher (Marcus Stroman) wearing uniform No. 0 in the first game of a doubleheader and start a pitcher (Taijuan Walker) wearing No. 99 in the second game of a doubleheader.
The White Sox’s Carlos Rodon became the third pitcher to lose a perfect game in the ninth inning or later on a hit batter but still end up with a no-hitter. Max Scherzer did it in 2015 for the Nationals, and in 1908, the Giants’ Hooks Wiltse (he had a brother named Snake) lost his perfect game in the 10th inning when he hit the opposing pitcher, George McQuillan.
In the 12th inning against the Padres, Dodgers pitcher David Price hit a sacrifice fly, the second RBI of his career (50 at-bats). The ball was caught by pitcher Joe Musgrove, who had thrown a no-hitter seven days earlier. Musgrove had to play left field when second baseman Jake Cronenworth was brought in to pitch. It marked the first time that a pitcher hit a ball to a position-playing pitcher since Sept. 30, 1984, when Shane Rawley flied out to left fielder Don Robinson in the third inning. It was the last game of the season, and Robinson, a good-hitting pitcher, started in left field.
Albert Pujols, one of the greatest hitters of all time, grounded into a double play for the 400th time. Second on the all-time list is Cal Ripken with 350.
White Sox DH Yermin Mercedes pitched against the Red Sox. It was the first time he had ever played a defensive position in his brief major league career (then 15 games). He became the first position player to make his debut in the field as a pitcher since Kerby Farrell of the 1943 Braves.
The Red Sox became the first team ever to win nine in a row following an 0-3 start. Then the A’s topped that by becoming the first team ever to win 10 games in a row (they won 13 straight) at any point in a season in which it started out 0-6.
Royals pitcher Mike Minor is always good for a Quirkjian. His latest, on this day, might not have been on the level of his pitching matchups — Minor-Leake, Minor-Sale, Minor-Fiers and Cole-Minor. But Minor faced the Tigers’ Zack Short, the first Minor-Short at-bat in history.
It took until this day before the Marlins made an error on the left side of the infield. At that time, the Padres had 13 errors from their left side.
Astros pitcher Kent Emanuel pitched 8⅔ innings in relief in his major league debut. That was the longest relief outing in a pitcher’s debut since John Montefusco went nine innings in 1974. And the pitcher Emanuel replaced in the game, Jake Odorizzi, has 62 career victories and has made 195 major league starts, and the longest start of his career was eight innings.
Reds pitcher Jose Castillo gave up three runs in the first inning, making it 14 runs (11 earned) that he has allowed in the first inning. To that point, 23 teams hadn’t scored that many runs in the first inning all season, including the Yankees, who had scored one run in the first inning. The Twins had allowed only two runs in the first inning but were 7-13 for the season.
Twins rookie outfielder Alex Kirilloff had played in the postseason last year before he made his regular-season debut this season. And he got a hit. But it wasn’t technically his first major league hit because it didn’t come in a regular-season game. So he was still looking for his first official major league hit. He got off to an 0-for-15 start but finally got a hit on this day.
The Mets’ Jacob deGrom, the pitcher who gets no run support, lost to the Red Sox, 1-0. It was deGrom’s second loss in a 1-0 game in his career. Walter Johnson holds the record for 1-0 losses. He was the losing pitcher in 26 1-0 games (and the winning pitcher in 38 1-0 games). In that Mets-Red Sox game, there were six hits and 30 strikeouts. In major league history, there have only been four games in which there six or fewer hits and 30 or more strikeout. One was April 3 between the Twins and Brewers. The others were in 2018 and 2015.
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