Thursday brings us an eight-game slate of MLB action, so let’s jump right in … 

Thursday’s scores

Indians offense busts loose

Heading into Thursday, the Indians — as a team! — were hitting .170/.262/.290, good for a 55 OPS+. They were dead last in the AL in average, OBP, slugging, hits and doubles. They were 14th of 15 in the AL in runs, triples and total bases. They had scored two runs or less six times in 12 games. That they were 7-5 was a minor miracle, even with their stellar pitching. 

In going through and seeing some of the ugly lines from good players, everyone who follows baseball knew it was only a matter of time before the proverbial tide started to turn. Enter Thursday’s game against the Tigers. 

The Indians would score nine runs on 15 hits. They got home runs from Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor and doubles from Jason KipnisMichael Brantley and Lindor. Lindor went 2 for 4 with three runs and three RBI. Kipnis was 3 for 4 with a run and two RBI. Brantley was 2 for 4 with an RBI. Bradley Zimmer went 3 for 4 with a run scored. 

Not everyone broke out, as Edwin Encarnacion was 0 for 3 and saw his average fall to .136. 

Still, the Indians offense is starting to get itself righted and the Tribe sits 8-5. Plenty of reason for optimism here. 

Pirates still rolling, take series from Cubs

One of the big pleasant surprises of the early-going in Major League Baseball this season is the Pittsburgh Pirates. It would have been reasonable to question how their early schedule played out after they swept the Tigers in three games, split with the Twins (the Twins are good, but a split isn’t a huge victory) and took three of four from the Reds. 

Now, however, it’s fair to say this is a legitimately great start. The Pirates just went into Wrigley Field and took two of three. Though they were pounded on Wednesday night, they took the Cubs’ home opener on Tuesday and knocked the Cubs around Thursday. Gregory Polanco homered twice

The big blow came via Francisco Cervelli in the seventh with a three-run shot to run the lead to 6-1, the eventual final score. Cervelli had a monster series, going 6 for 12 with a triple, two home runs and seven RBI in the three-game series. 

Now, it’s only been 12 games of 162 (7.4 percent of the season), but a 9-3 start gives them a 2 1/2-game lead over the Brewers and three over the Cubs. That’s a decent cushion so early in the season. 

The Yanks and Sox meet again

As you’re no doubt aware, the Yankees prevailed over the Red Sox in Fenway on Wednesday night, but not before mass hostilities took hold … 

As you see above, things started when Tyler Austin slid spikes-high into Brock Holt. Joe Kelly then retaliated by drilling Austin (after missing him the first time). Thereupon, hands were thrown. So to get you up to speed … 

Against that tantalizing backdrop, the Yankees and Sox will get together for their rubber match on Thursday night back at Fenway. Sonny Gray opposes Rick Porcello. While Yanks manager Aaron Boone says he thinks the drama from Wednesday night is over and done with, that situation certainly bears monitoring. As do, of course, the AL East implications that will be a subplot anytime these two teams get together in 2018. Here’s how to watch Thursday night’s game between New York and Boston

UPDATE: Hanley Ramirez was hit by a pitch in the first inning. It didn’t appear to be intentional and the Red Sox seemed to agree, because the benches didn’t clear. 

Kinsler goes deep immediately

Angels second baseman Ian Kinsler started the season on the disabled list. He returned to the lineup with a bang on Thursday in Kansas City, homering in his first at-bat of the 2018 season. 

The shot was actually the 47th leadoff blast of Kinsler’s career, which pushes him above Jimmy Rollins for fourth on the all-time list. 

  1. Rickey Henderson, 81
  2. Alfonso Soriano, 54
  3. Craig Biggio, 53
  4. Kinsler, 47

LeMahieu loves leading off

Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu has been forced into the leadoff spot due to the injury to Charlie Blackmon and he took full advantage on Thursday. He wasted no time either, hitting a home run to lead off the game. Before it was all said and done, LeMahieu would go 4 for 5 with two home runs, two doubles, two runs scored and four RBI, accounting for all but one Rockies run. 

The game marked the 10th four-hit game of LeMahieu’s career and tied his career high. This was only the second time he hit two home runs in a game. The four RBI were a career high as were the 12 total bases. 

Given all that, including how he drove in four runs with the Rockies winning 5-1, it’s fair to say this was DJ LeMahieu’s career game. 

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