Thursday brought us an eight-game slate of MLB action and it was pretty action-packed, so let’s jump right in … 

Thursday’s scores

All good news for Angels

The Los Angeles Angels won on Thursday, and saying they won so far his year has been a common refrain. This victory ran their record to 11-3 on the season, meaning they lead the majors in wins (the best record belongs to the Mets at 10-1). 

In Thursday’s win, all kinds of things were encouraging for the Halos. First off, Ian Kinsler led off the game in his first game off the disabled list. He hit a home run. 

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

Some fine leadoff company there for Kinsler. This also marked the first game together for the new Angels double-play combo with Kinsler joining holdover shortstop Andrelton Simmons. It didn’t take long, as they’d team up for a smooth double play to end the first. 

That one run was actually the only run on the board for a while, as the Angels offense waited to get going. 

Meantime, starting pitcher Nick Tropeano — coming off Tommy John surgery — was making his first big-league start since July 18, 2016. He was outstanding given the circumstances, working 6 2/3 scoreless innings. He gave up six hits and two walks while striking out six. He was pretty efficient as well, nearly getting through seven innings on 88 pitches. 

The Angels broke the game wide open in the seventh. They’d get a two-RBI single from Kole Calhoun and then — who else? — Shohei Ohtani would clear the bases with a three-RBI triple. 

Ohtani is now hitting .346/.414/.769 with three homers and 11 RBI in 29 plate appearances. He’s also 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 13 innings on the mound. 

Mike Trout is starting to heat up, as he went 3 for 4 with a home run. Albert Pujols picked up a pair of hits, including a double. Andrelton Simmons is hitting .356 with a .397 OBP after a two-hit game. 

It’s just all Angels right now. 

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. 

Oh, and speaking of Polanco, is he finally having his breakout season?

The Yanks and Sox meet again; Porcello takes over

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 … 

Hanley Ramirez was then 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. 

From there, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello took over. Even through a 40-plus minute rain delay, he had a no-hitter through six innings. He’d cough it up to Aaron Judge to lead off the inning, but got through seven scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and a hit batsman. He struck out six against no walks, so he’s got a 1.83 ERA and 0.76 WHIP this season through three starts. It’s a very encouraging sign for the Red Sox given that the 2016 Cy Young winner was pretty bad last season. 

The Yankees made a late gasp, but the Red Sox prevailed. They sit atop the AL East at 10-2 while the Yankees fall to 6-7. 

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. 

Mauer reaches milestone

Twins first baseman Joe Mauer has probably become underappreciated the last several years. OK, not probably. He definitely is. Thursday, he collected his 2,000th career hit as part of a night where he went 2 for 3 with three RBI in a 4-0 Twins win. He’s off to a huge start this season, hitting .412/.545/.529 with six RBI, helping lead the Twins to a 7-4 record. 

Mauer became the 288th player in MLB history to reach 2,000 hits and only the third player to accomplish the feat while with the Twins (Rod Carew, Paul Molitor). 

After being one of the best catchers in the majors for a while, Mauer had to move to first base due to concussion issues and had down offensive years in 2014-16. Last year, though, he hit .305 with a .384 OBP and 36 doubles as part of a wild-card team and is off to a hot start. He’s still a career .309/.392/.444 (127 OPS+) hitter, too. Let’s try to appreciate him a little more. 

Cardinals explode in Windy Cincy

The wind was screaming out in Great American Ball Park Thursday and one team took advantage. The home Reds got four runs, but didn’t hit a home run. The Cardinals pounded four home runs among their 12 hits. 

Also, Jose Martinez was a wrecking crew all by himself, going 4 for 5 with a home run and six RBI. 

The Cardinals get within a game of .500 at 6-7 while the Reds look pretty hapless in falling to a hapless 2-10 here in the early going. 

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