This past weekend, all 30 MLB teams took the field in the states of Arizona and Florida. For some, it was about new or lesser known names looking to make first impressions in new uniforms. For others, it was about repeating the success of the previous season. Both Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues showcased the first of things yet to come.
For the fans, it was a sight for sore eyes, seeing their favorite teams hit the diamond. America’s pastime is almost in full swing. But for the franchises, careful analysis must take the lead in order to maintain success. Which players are hungrier for a starting spot? Is the team chemistry where it needs to be? How much attention does each position still need?
More questions will need answering in the future for each team. For now, let’s take a look back at the first few days of exhibition.
Spring Games: GrapeFruit League
This past Friday, the rebuilding Miami Marlins squared off against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Florida. For now Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna, it would be the first of many games against his former team. At first, the Cardinals assumed control of the game, and it would appear that they’d remain with it.
But then, along came a Marlin named Scott Van Slyke. Previously, Van Slyke spent his entire tenure in the big leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In his Marlins debut, the 31-year-old outfielder sought to strike big. In the bottom of the sixth inning, he put the Marlins on the board with a solo home run. In the bottom of the seventh, he smashed a grand slam giving the Marlins a 6-4 lead.
Miami ended up winning the game 6-4, though much work still lies ahead. The Marlins received their first defeat of the exhibition games on Sunday, courtesy of the New York Mets.
Meanwhile, the Houston Astros are hitting the ground running with a repeat World Series in mind. Houston snagged wins against the Nationals, Braves and Cardinals for a 3-0 start.
Both Houston and Miami squared off in Jupiter, Florida on Monday. There, the Marlins routed the Astros 11-0. Seven of those runs came in the sixth inning, therefore delivering Houston its first loss.
Spring Games: Cactus League
Over in the Grand Canyon State, the Oakland Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers started their spring seasons strongly.
Oakland looked to remain undefeated against the Kansas City Royals, but the game ended in a 4-4 tie, without any team able to break the tie in the 10th inning.
Coming against the Chicago White Sox on Monday, the A’s couldn’t quite keep the streak going. Although they narrowed the margin in the ninth inning, they couldn’t force a bottom of the ninth. They received their lost by a score of 7-6.
On the other hand, Milwaukee was near inches away from Wild Card contention in 2017.
In these 2018 sessions, the Brewers went 2-1 in their first three games before facing the Arizona Diamondbacks. Utility player, Hernán Pérez, put the Brewers ahead by driving in three runs, two in the second inning and one in the sixth. Milwaukee improved their record to 3-1 following their 5-1 victory.
While facing the Cleveland Indians on Monday, the Brewers were eyeing their fourth victory of the spring games. The two teams traded leads throughout the game. In the end, the Brewers got that fourth win by a score of 7-6. Milwaukee will host the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, while Oakland will hit the road to take on the Cleveland Indians.
The rest of Spring
Although the spring games do not affect a team’s regular season record, their progression from now can set the tone for April. Will adjustments be made to improve production? Sure. How should the batting order look to gain the most runs? Which pitchers will find themselves in the starting rotation?
More of these questions are sure to pop up. Taking matters one game at a time will be the best approach in answering them. Of course, when the regular season starts, it will become a much different ball game (no pun intended). With it comes a bigger question: Who responds the best under pressure?
With a new season on the horizon and the Spring exhibitions in full swing, answers will soon arrive.
Featured image from MLB.com
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