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Acuna set for debut, batting sixth vs. Reds

MLB.com @basebollie

The highly anticipated Major League debut of MLB Pipeline's No. 2 overall prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. is here.

Acuna is in the Braves' lineup Wednesday versus the Reds and left-hander Brandon Finnegan. He is batting sixth, playing left field and wearing No. 13.

The highly anticipated Major League debut of MLB Pipeline's No. 2 overall prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. is here.

Acuna is in the Braves' lineup Wednesday versus the Reds and left-hander Brandon Finnegan. He is batting sixth, playing left field and wearing No. 13.

Tweet from @Braves: It���s happening! #ChopOn pic.twitter.com/wK9JQIqJNl

The 20-year-old phenom tore up Major League Spring Training, batting .432/.519/.727 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 16 games with Atlanta.

Widely regarded as the top hitting prospect in the game, Acuna has struggled out of the gate in the Minors in 2018. He is batting .232/.321/.304 with one home run and two RBIs in 17 games for Triple-A Gwinnett. However, he has 11 hits -- including a double and homer -- over his last 33 at-bats.

He is a career .305/.374/.475 hitter with 30 homers and 121 RBIs in 253 games at the Minor League level and was named MLB Pipeline's Hitter of the Year in 2017 after batting .325 with 21 homers and 44 stolen bases as he worked his way up the organizational ranks last season.

Acuna will be the youngest player to appear in a big league game in 2018 when he takes the field, surpassing teammate Ozzie Albies.

With a record of 12-10, the Braves are just 3 1/2 games out of first place upon Acuna's arrival. Atlanta has scored a National League-best 122 runs and should only get a boost from its top prospect.

Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @basebollie.

Atlanta Braves

Seven April callups who made a big impact

Harper, Bryant, Trout among top recent early promotions
MLB.com @williamfleitch

As you might have heard simply by sticking your head out the window and hearing the wail of the wind, the Braves have called up MLB Pipeline's No. 2 prospect Ronald Acuna to make his Major League debut against the Reds on Wednesday night.

Acuna is considered one of the top hitting prospects of the past several years, and he instantly becomes one of the must-watch players in baseball. He's also another example of a relatively recent phenomenon: The April superstar callup.

As you might have heard simply by sticking your head out the window and hearing the wail of the wind, the Braves have called up MLB Pipeline's No. 2 prospect Ronald Acuna to make his Major League debut against the Reds on Wednesday night.

Acuna is considered one of the top hitting prospects of the past several years, and he instantly becomes one of the must-watch players in baseball. He's also another example of a relatively recent phenomenon: The April superstar callup.

Either because of changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement or because teams want players to have an extra bit of seasoning in the Minor Leagues (or both), MLB teams only started bringing up their best players a couple of weeks into the season this decade. Obviously, teams call up players from Triple-A all the time; there were nearly a dozen Tuesday. But these top prospect callups have become commonplace.

Albert Pujols made his MLB debut on April 2, 2001 (Opening Day); Acuna is showing up with the season a month old, and his Braves already 22 games in. But Atlanta is only 3 1/2 games out of first place in the National League East and a game out of the second NL Wild Card spot; all told, not a bad place to be when you're adding the top hitting prospect in the game.

Let's take a look at past April callups this decade to see how they did when they were promoted to the Majors, and what happened soon thereafter. You'll note they span back to one particular superstar.

Cody Bellinger, Dodgers
Callup date: April 25, 2017

Video: LAD@SF: Bellinger beats throw for his first hit

Bellinger was MLB Pipeline's No. 10 prospect when the Dodgers called him up after multiple injuries to their outfielders, even though he'd primarily played first base in the Minors. He batted eighth and played left field against the Giants' Ty Blach.

Bellinger popped out in his first at-bat, then in the seventh inning, he was awarded an honor that's rather rare for a player making his MLB debut: An intentional walk. His first Major League hit came in the ninth off Neil Ramirez. The lefty then went 0-for-his-next-7 before going nuts -- he hit two homers against the Phillies and never really stopped, bashing 39 long balls en route to running away with the NL Rookie of the Year Award.

Kris Bryant, Cubs
Callup date: April 17, 2015

Video: SD@CHC: Bryant ties the game with first MLB hit

Bryant's start to the season in Triple-A was well documented and hotly debated, though ultimately it was, of all things, an injury to Mike Olt (now playing for Boston's Triple-A affiliate, Pawtucket) that got him the call. Instantly put in the cleanup spot, Bryant went 0-for-4 in his first game, but he had two hits in his next.

It took a while for the power hitter to get going, though; Bryant didn't hit his first home run until May 9, his 21st big league game. He then hit homers in two of his next three contests and finished with 26 for the year, helping lead the Cubs to their first postseason series victory in 12 seasons. It would get even better the year after that, as he won the NL Most Valuable Player Award.

George Springer, Astros
Callup date: April 16, 2014

Video: KC@HOU: Springer records his first Major League hit

Springer wasn't quite as highly regarded as some of the other prospects on this list; he was ranked No. 20 in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline. Houston called him up because it wasn't getting much offense, but it took him a while to provide help; it would take Springer a month to get his average above the Mendoza Line and even longer than that for his first homer.

Springer figured it out, though, and has been a lineup mainstay ever since. He also ended up winning the 2017 World Series MVP, so he's got that going for him. Carlos Correa wouldn't be called up until June 8, 2015, not that it stopped him from winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award anyway.

Anthony Rendon, Nationals
Callup date: April 21, 2013

Video: STL@WSH: Rendon's first MLB hit good for RBI double

It's funny to think that all people could talk about when Rendon was called up was "he's stuck behind Ryan Zimmerman." Rendon ended up being sent back down to Triple-A Syracuse after just eight games, but he was called back up because Danny Espinosa was struggling at second base. Rendon hadn't played second base regularly since Little League, but he was installed there somewhat out of desperation. Because he's Rendon, he started hitting; and once Zimmerman's throwing issues necessitated his move to first, Rendon took over the job for good. He's since finished in the top six in the NL MVP Award voting on two occasions (2014, '17).

Nolan Arenado, Rockies
Callup date: April 28, 2013

Video: COL@LAD: Arenado singles for first Major League hit

(It's amazing how many of these first hits are of the infield variety, isn't it?)

Arenado is a star now, but when he made his MLB debut, he was somewhat of a fallen phenom: After spending time in the MLB Pipeline Top 20 years before, he had in fact been left off some Top 100 lists entirely.

Thus, Arenado was more a desperation callup for the Rockies, hoping to catch fire from a guy who happened to be hot at Triple-A Colorado Springs at the time. He was wobbly his first season -- he actually had an OPS-plus under 100 in 133 games his rookie year, a below-average hitter -- but ended up figuring it out.

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
(Second) Callup date: April 28, 2012

Video: SEA@LAA: Angels score on Trout's first career hit

All right, all right, so this one is cheating a little bit. After all, Trout famously made his MLB debut in 2011, when he hit .220 in 40 games and made everyone wonder whether he was all he was cracked up to be. He actually spent the first 20 games of '12 with Triple-A Salt Lake, where he hit .403 and looked like he could eat the whole league alive in two huge bites. So the Angels called him back up, the same day as Bryce Harper as it turned out, and he immediately became the best player in baseball, a designation he still holds today. He has still yet to win a postseason game, however.

Bryce Harper, Nationals
Callup date: April 28, 2012

Video: WSH@LAD: Harper doubles for his first MLB hit

Harper was famously only 19 when the Nationals brought him up from Triple-A, where he was hitting only .243 with one homer in 21 games for Syracuse. His first hit was classic Harper: A drive over the center fielder's head, a dead sprint toward second base, even knocking his helmet off along the way.

It would be a couple of weeks until Harper hit his first homer, but he held onto his spot in the lineup all season, and really ever since. Perhaps most tellingly: Before Harper arrived, the Nationals/Expos had made the postseason just once in their 43-year history. The franchise has reached the playoffs four times since -- even if it still hasn't won a series.

The Braves own the sixth-longest postseason drought in the Major Leagues; They dream of Ronald Acuna being their Bryce Harper, in more ways than one.

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Nolan Arenado, Cody Bellinger, Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper, Ronald Acuna Jr., George Springer

These 9 quotes would make Yogi proud

Baseball players and managers have a knack for winding up in some pretty unusual circumstances, both on and off the field. And sometimes, those circumstances cause them to say some very, very weird things. Which brings us here today. 

We've taken nine extremely strange (and extremely specific) quotes from baseball history, taken them out of context and asked you to see if you can remember who said them. Good luck:

Believe the hype: Why Acuna is No. 2 prospect

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

It was always a matter of when, not if, when it came to Ronald Acuna Jr.'s Major League debut. The answer to when came on Tuesday night, as it was reported the five-tool outfielder, No. 2 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, would join the Braves in Cincinnati for Wednesday's game.

Sure, the argument could easily be made that Acuna should have been on Atlanta's Opening Day roster, and the complaints about keeping him down to prevent his service-time clock from starting have been noted and filed away. Now the fun can begin in watching the 20-year-old do his thing at the big league level and trying to set a fair level of expectations out of the gate.

It was always a matter of when, not if, when it came to Ronald Acuna Jr.'s Major League debut. The answer to when came on Tuesday night, as it was reported the five-tool outfielder, No. 2 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, would join the Braves in Cincinnati for Wednesday's game.

Sure, the argument could easily be made that Acuna should have been on Atlanta's Opening Day roster, and the complaints about keeping him down to prevent his service-time clock from starting have been noted and filed away. Now the fun can begin in watching the 20-year-old do his thing at the big league level and trying to set a fair level of expectations out of the gate.

• Braves' Top 30 Prospects list | Braves prospects stats

Of course, Acuna has done his best to make any attempts to limit projections of what he can do seem like a waste of time. After ripping through three levels of the Minors in 2017 and finishing with a 20-40 season and a .325 average, after clearly being the best prospect in the Arizona Fall League and earning Most Valuable Player Award honors upon finishing with a 1.053 OPS and topping the fall circuit in home runs, all before he turned 20, after being the best player in the Grapefruit League this spring, hitting .432 and slugging .727, it seems less than prudent to forecast anything but superstardom.

Video: PHI@ATL: Acuna hits first HR of season at Triple-A

But let's not engrave Acuna's plaque in Cooperstown just yet, OK? There is no doubt that he is ready to showcase all of his tools at the highest level. He is one of just three overall 70s (on the 20-to-80 scouting scale) on the Top 100, matched only by Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, who gets a 70 as a pitcher, and Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. And Acuna is the only hitter with grades of 60 or higher across all five tools (hit, power, run, arm, field). His hands are as fast as any hitter's, with plus-plus bat speed that allows him to make hard contact to all fields on a ridiculously consistent basis.

The power that showed up last year is for real, and many think Acuna has only started scratching the surface with the 21 homers he hit during the 2017 regular season. (If you add in his AFL at-bats, he hit 28 in 640 at-bats -- as a teenager.) He's only going to be able to tap into it more as he continues to refine his approach.

Acuna has close to top-of-the-scale speed, and the 44 steals he had in 2017 seems about right as a regular projection. That speed allows him to cover a ton of ground in the outfield. With Acuna in left field, the Braves will have two plus defensive center fielders in him and Ender Inciarte, something that will make Atlanta's pitching staff happy, no doubt.

Video: ATL@HOU: Acuna collects three singles vs. Astros

While it might not seem like it, Acuna has struggled at times, often at the start of a season or new level. In 2017, he hit just .231 over his first 15 games in the Florida State League before things started to click. He raked right when he got to Double-A, but he took a minute to adjust to Triple-A, hitting .225 over his first 11 games there.

Acuna's slow start this year has been well-documented. He went 0-for-11 over his first three games and was hitting just .139 through nine games. Acuna then proceeded to hit in eight of his next nine games to raise his average nearly 100 points, giving the Braves confidence that he had his feet under him and was ready for this highly anticipated callup.

The only other remotely negative thing on Acuna's Minor League resume has been his strikeout rate. Including his 27.4-percent K rate this season, Acuna has struck out in 21.3 percent of his plate appearances in his career. He lowered that rate each time he moved up a level in 2017, and he has shown some willingness to draw walks.

These "weaknesses" are only brought up to temper what's sure to be wild expectations. Acuna's K rate has hardly kept him from hitting and being productive, and there's reason to believe his approach will continue to improve as he matures. He's quickly gotten past slow starts, so even if he doesn't set the world on fire starting on Wednesday -- and he might -- he'll figure it out sooner rather than later.

The last time Atlanta was so excited about a young outfield phenom coming up, Andruw Jones joined the club as a teenager in 1996 and ended up playing in the World Series, then finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year Award voting in '97. It should be noted that from '96-97, Jones hit just .228 over 505 at-bats, albeit with 23 homers and 23 steals. Seeing Acuna surpass that benchmark doesn't seem unreasonable.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Atlanta Braves

5 batting stances you can't help but imitate

As baseball fans born in the mid-90's, we were lucky enough to grow up in the golden age of weird and notable batting stances. From Jeff Bagwell to Craig Counsell to Gary Sheffield to Tony Batista, the 2000's featured a remarkably deep collection of players with unique stances.

That being said, there's still a pretty awesome crop of weird and unique stances in the game today. Here are the five best batting stances in baseball right now:

Cespedes launches awe-inspiring 463-foot HR

Three-run homer marks longest by Mets player tracked by Statcast
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

ST. LOUIS -- Yoenis Cespedes sauntered a step or two toward first base, bat in hand, eyes transfixed on his handiwork. Upward the ball went on a sharp arc to left field, crashing down about a third of the way up Busch Stadium's second deck.

As Cespedes rounded the bases, chain jangling against his chest, he did not yet know that he had hit the longest, hardest home run of his Mets career, contributing half of the club's offense in Tuesday's 6-5 win over the Cardinals. But he did realize this could be the spark he needs to emerge from a season-long slump.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. LOUIS -- Yoenis Cespedes sauntered a step or two toward first base, bat in hand, eyes transfixed on his handiwork. Upward the ball went on a sharp arc to left field, crashing down about a third of the way up Busch Stadium's second deck.

As Cespedes rounded the bases, chain jangling against his chest, he did not yet know that he had hit the longest, hardest home run of his Mets career, contributing half of the club's offense in Tuesday's 6-5 win over the Cardinals. But he did realize this could be the spark he needs to emerge from a season-long slump.

View Full Game Coverage

Cespedes crushed his 115.1-mph, 463-foot homer off Luke Weaver in the fifth inning for the hardest and longest home run any Mets player has hit since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015. The game-tying three-run shot was the third longest by a visiting player in Busch history, according to Cardinals records, and the second longest hit in St. Louis over the past four seasons.

Cespedes' previous long was a 457-foot homer in San Francisco in 2016. The Mets' previous longest homer tracked by Statcast™ was Justin Ruggiano's 461-foot shot in 2016, also at Busch Stadium. Although Cespedes' Tuesday blast was projected just two feet longer, its combination of speed, distance and trajectory had several teammates in the Mets' dugout mouthing, "Wow."

"I thought it maybe was going to clear the left-field fence, just barely," manager Mickey Callaway said, laughing.

Longest home runs for every MLB team

For Cespedes, the Statcast™ accolades were a bonus. The home run's importance in a game the Mets won was paramount.

Perhaps even more critical was what it could mean for Cespedes' future.

Entering the night in a 10-for-61 (.164) slump with 28 strikeouts, Cespedes lined into a double play and struck out in his first two at-bats against Weaver. Despite contributing game-winning RBIs on three separate occasions in April, Cespedes also rose to the top of the Major League strikeout leaderboard, bemoaning often that he couldn't find his timing at the plate.

Things grew grim enough that Cespedes, an avid golfer who gave up the game in an attempt to keep his legs healthy during the season, said last weekend that he is considering playing again as a way to streamline his swing mechanics. The only reason he didn't do so on Monday's off-day, Cespedes indicated, was because all eight sets of clubs that he owns are at his home in Florida.

No matter. Working ahead in the count, 3-1, against Weaver, Cespedes dropped his bat head to meet a changeup that broke in toward him, low in the zone. Five-and-a-half seconds later, the ball landed, perhaps carrying a bit of Cespedes' slump with it.

"In that at-bat, he was losing the strike zone with the fastball, so I was hoping to catch a changeup," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "Then, I caught it. And I hit it."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Yoenis Cespedes

Shohei Ohtani hit 101 mph on Tuesday night, the fastest by a starting pitcher this season

Cain homers in KC return; Crew's streak at 7

Special to MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- Travis Shaw staggered the Royals early and Lorenzo Cain finished them off late as the sizzling Brewers used the long ball for a 5-2 victory on Tuesday night that extended their winning streak to seven games.

On the night of Cain's return to Kauffman Stadium, where he played a major role in helping the Royals win two pennants and a World Series title in 2015, the winning script was all that Cain could have wanted.

View Full Game Coverage

KANSAS CITY -- Travis Shaw staggered the Royals early and Lorenzo Cain finished them off late as the sizzling Brewers used the long ball for a 5-2 victory on Tuesday night that extended their winning streak to seven games.

On the night of Cain's return to Kauffman Stadium, where he played a major role in helping the Royals win two pennants and a World Series title in 2015, the winning script was all that Cain could have wanted.

View Full Game Coverage

The Brewers, who have their longest streak since winning eight in a row from June 28-July 5 in 2015, opened a nine-game road trip with a loud bang. An RBI single by Ryan Braun in the third came on a liner that took a wicked carom off Royals starter Ian Kennedy's right foot. After a few practice tosses, Kennedy stayed in and Shaw promptly made him pay with a three-run homer that traveled a projected 437 feet, according to Statcast™.

Video: MIL@KC: Shaw mashes a three-run homer in the 3rd

"This is a tough place to score," Shaw said. "When you can get up early, it's huge."

The Royals cut their deficit to 4-2 and seemed to have some momentum when Cain stepped in against rookie Burch Smith leading off the seventh. Cain showed his flair for the dramatic moments later when he launched a solo homer to right-center. He was serenaded with cheers from Royals fans as he circled the bases.

Video: MIL@KC: Cain on his homer, reception in Kansas City

"Nice to hit a homer against my former team," Cain said. "There's no better feeling than when people are cheering for you like that."

Brewers manager Craig Counsell was happy to see the homecoming story play out well for Cain on a night when his club kept up its winning ways.

Video: MIL@KC: Cain receives standing ovation in Kansas City

"He should get treatment like that," Counsell said of the cheers for Cain. "He had a great game today. If they want to love on him, we'll try to do it again [Wednesday]."

Brewers starter Zach Davies got away with some hard-hit outs, but he navigated through six innings having allowed only two runs.

Video: MIL@KC: Davies strikes out Gordon to end the 2nd

"I couldn't locate much after the second or third inning," Davies said. "It was a grind day."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Trailing, 4-2, the Royals put their leadoff man on in the sixth. Then, Salvador Perez, who had homered earlier, sent a scorcher to third that Shaw handled with quick reflexes. Shaw started an around-the-horn double play and that was enough to get Davies through six. If the ball gets by Shaw, who knows?

Video: MIL@KC: Brewers go around the horn for double play

"That double play was huge," Davies said.

SOUND SMART
The Brewers snapped an eight-game losing streak against the Royals dating to their previous win on June 23, 2007.

HE SAID IT
"We're getting contributions from a lot of guys. The home run ball and the [offensive] pressure have picked up." -- Counsell, on the Brewers' win streak

UP NEXT
Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (1-1, 4.18 ERA) will look to build on his impressive outing on Friday when he starts the series finale against the Royals on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. CT. Chacin worked six scoreless innings against the Marlins, allowing four hits while striking out five and walking three. Chacin will face a stout mound opponent in Kansas City right-hander Jason Hammel, who is winless despite a 3.20 ERA.

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Kansas City.

Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain, Zach Davies, Travis Shaw

Simmons homers twice as Halos outslug Astros

MLB.com @alysonfooter

HOUSTON -- One day after sitting out to rest a sore forearm, shortstop Andrelton Simmons bounced back in dramatic fashion, homering twice and recording five RBIs in the Angels' 8-7 comeback win over the Astros on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

The Angels, who survived an uneven outing from two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, have won the first two contests of the three-game series with the Astros and moved a half-game ahead of them into first place in the American League West standings. It also marked the Angels' 11th straight road victory.

View Full Game Coverage

HOUSTON -- One day after sitting out to rest a sore forearm, shortstop Andrelton Simmons bounced back in dramatic fashion, homering twice and recording five RBIs in the Angels' 8-7 comeback win over the Astros on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

The Angels, who survived an uneven outing from two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, have won the first two contests of the three-game series with the Astros and moved a half-game ahead of them into first place in the American League West standings. It also marked the Angels' 11th straight road victory.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's big, man, big," Simmons said. "The Astros are a good team, no denying it. You go head to head and you put up some runs and they come back. They take the lead, you show some resilience and put up some more runs and the pitchers end up keeping the lead for you and you win the game. It's big."

Video: LAA@HOU: Trout, Simmons, Pujols power Angels to win

Ohtani yielded four runs and five walks over 5 1/3 innings, throwing a season-high 98 pitches.

Video: LAA@HOU: Ohtani lights up the radar gun, fans seven

Simmons, playing for the first time since a hit by pitch knocked him out in the fourth inning of Sunday's game against the Giants, recorded three hits. None was bigger than his go-ahead three-run homer off Houston reliever Joe Smith in the seventh inning to give the Angels an 8-5 lead.

"I knew off the bat it had distance," Simmons said. "I just wasn't sure if it was going to hook foul and ruin my night. I stayed through, so that was good."

The home run occurred just after Albert Pujols logged his 2,993rd career hit -- an RBI single that tied the game at 5.

Video: LAA@HOU: Pujols earns hit 2,993 on game-tying single

Simmons' leadoff shot in the second gave the Angels a 2-0 advantage. He also singled in the third. Mike Trout knocked his Major League-leading 10th homer in the first.

Video: LAA@HOU: Trout slugs his 10th homer of the season

The Angels had lost five of six games entering this series and needed to clean up several areas, both offensively and pitching-wise. Given the strength of the Astros, they knew they were in for a tall task. The significance of winning the first two games of this series was not lost on the players.

"They won the World Series last year," Simmons said. "We beat them two times in a row, and it's just a confidence boost for us. It shows us we're capable of beating them."

Video: LAA@HOU: Simmons on his two-homer game, Angels' win

Added Angels manager Mike Scioscia: "We did a lot of things in these two games that we needed to do. First game -- two-zip -- we pitched really well, held leads, played good defense, got a couple key hits. Tonight, we just pounded the ball and got enough runs to hold a lead.

"It was good to see some of the things come together. It's a long year, and we just need to do some of the things we did these two nights on a consistent basis."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
In an 8-7 ballgame, third baseman Zack Cozart made a nice stop on a hard-hit ball by George Springer with the bases loaded in the seventh, getting the forceout at second base and ending one of the Astros' biggest threats of the game. Angels relievers held the Astros scoreless the final two innings to seal the win.

Video: LAA@HOU: Cozart makes sliding stop to deny a run

SOUND SMART
According to STATS, Ohtani is the fifth player in MLB history to strike out the reigning MVP Award winner (Jose Altuve) and homer off the reigning Cy Young Award winner (Corey Kluber) in the same season. The others are Clay Carroll (1969), Mel Stottlemyre ('70), Livan Hernandez ('99) and Madison Bumgarner (2015).

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Ohtani hit triple figures on the radar gun six times, including 101 mph twice, to hint that he's getting stronger with each outing of the 2018 season. He also reached 100.7 mph during Josh Reddick's at-bat in the fifth. More >

Video: LAA@HOU: Statcast™ tracks Ohtani's 101mph pitch

HE SAID IT
"It's huge for us. The last couple of years, we struggled against those guys, especially in this ballpark. You're facing some of the best pitchers in the game, and they have pretty good guys over there. To be able to come here and take two, it's always great." -- Pujols

UP NEXT
The Angels wrap up their series in Houston at 11:10 a.m. PT on Wednesday at Minute Maid Park. Pujols will continue his quest for 3,000 hits but will have to do so against Houston right-hander Justin Verlander (3-0), who has one of the lowest ERAs in the American League. The Angels will send right-hander Nick Tropeano (1-1, 3.75), a former Astros Draft pick, to the mound for the series finale.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Los Angeles Angels, Andrelton Simmons

Longest home runs for every MLB team

Statcast measures farthest blast since 2015 for all 30 clubs
MLB.com

Ever since Babe Ruth launched Major League Baseball into the live-ball era with his awe-inspiring home runs, wowed fans have been asking: "How far did that ball go?"

Teams had their own methods for estimating home run distance for nearly a century. But now, the launch of Statcast™ has given us a whole new tool to answer the question, thanks to the tracking technology at every MLB ballpark.

Ever since Babe Ruth launched Major League Baseball into the live-ball era with his awe-inspiring home runs, wowed fans have been asking: "How far did that ball go?"

Teams had their own methods for estimating home run distance for nearly a century. But now, the launch of Statcast™ has given us a whole new tool to answer the question, thanks to the tracking technology at every MLB ballpark.

Here is a look at the longest homers hit by each of the 30 MLB clubs since Statcast™ began tracking home run distances at the start of the 2015 season.

American League East

Blue Jays: Josh Donaldson, April 23, 2015, vs. BAL; Sept. 17, 2017, at MIN

Distance: 481 feet (Watch them: HR No. 1; HR No. 2)
Both of these big flies were demolished. The first, with a 112.5-mph exit velocity, Donaldson launched into the second deck at the Rogers Centre. He hit the second even harder, at 113.5 mph, reaching the upper tank at Minnesota's Target Field.

Full Blue Jays leaderboard

Orioles: Jonathan Schoop, Aug. 26, 2015, at KC
Distance: 484 feet (Watch it)
The Orioles have had their share of big sluggers in recent years, but it's Schoop who holds this title. One of baseball's best sluggers at second base, he jumped on this Johnny Cueto pitch that tailed in off the inside corner and kept it just fair down the left-field line at Kauffman Stadium.

Full Orioles leaderboard

Rays: J.P. Arencibia, Sept. 7, 2015, at DET
Distance: 464 feet (Watch it)
Arencibia played only 24 games for Tampa Bay -- all in 2015, his final MLB season -- but he had no shortage of power. The opposing pitcher, Randy Wolf, was also in his final season, when he pitched in just eight games for the Tigers. Nonetheless, they combined here for an entry in the Rays' Statcast™ record book.

Full Rays leaderboard

Red Sox: Hanley Ramirez, April 29, 2017, vs. CHC
Distance: 469 feet (Watch it)
Before this, Ramirez was tied with Red Sox legend David Ortiz for the club's longest homer, at 468 feet. But here, facing former Boston hurler John Lackey at Fenway Park, he took that honor all for himself. Ramirez drilled a center-cut two-seamer way over the Green Monster for a monstrous solo shot.

Full Red Sox leaderboard

Yankees: Aaron Judge, June 11, 2017, vs. BAL
Distance: 495 feet (Watch it)
Judge became a sensation in 2017 because of feats like this one. The AL Rookie of the Year Award winner destroyed a hanging slider at 118.6 mph, clearing the left-field bleachers at Yankee Stadium. It was the longest homer of 2017 and pulled Judge into a tie for the second-longest big fly in Statcast™ history.

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AL Central

Indians: Mike Napoli, Sept. 9, 2016 vs. MIN
Distance: 463 feet (Watch it)
The Party at Napoli's reached the highest deck at Target Field on this September night, as this blast helped the first baseman reach a career-high 93 RBIs on the season. Napoli had also hit a 464-foot ball in foul territory the night before at Progressive Field.

"That's good for bragging rights," Napoli's teammate, Rajai Davis, told MLB.com. "That's an awesome, great feeling. I don't think I've ever hit the ball that far in batting practice. He's doing it in games. That's awesome. We can all admire that."

Full Indians leaderboard

Royals: Brandon Moss, July 1, 2017, vs. MIN
Distance: 471 feet (Watch it)
Moss left his mark during his lone season in Kansas City, golfing this pitch to help spur a four-run comeback for the home side against the rival Twins. Moss would retire the following spring, but his power clearly remained in his bat until the end.

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Tigers: J.D. Martinez, July 21, 2015, vs. SEA
Distance: 467 feet (Watch it)
Not to be outdone by Nelson Cruz's 455-foot shot in the top half of the third inning, Martinez one-upped Seattle's slugger in the bottom half with this impressive blast to straightaway center at cavernous Comerica Park. The dinger impressed just about everyone in the ballpark, except perhaps the slugger who hit it.

"It all means the same to me," Martinez told MLB.com about his big fly. "I don't care. People get caught up on [distance]. To me, I really pay no mind. I just hit it, and I just hope it gets out."

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Twins: Kennys Vargas, June 20, 2017, vs. CWS
Distance: 483 feet (Watch it)
There really wasn't any doubt about this homer as soon as Vargas' bat met this pitch from White Sox starter Derek Holland with a scorching 114.1-mph exit velocity. Vargas' shot climbed high above the bullpen in left-center at Target Field for one of four 450-plus foot homers the first baseman hit in less than 800 at-bats in a Twins uniform.

Full Twins leaderboard

Video: CWS@MIN: Vargas crushes a 483-foot home run

White Sox: Avisail Garcia, April 3, 2018, vs. TOR
Distance: 481 feet (Watch it)
Garcia was coming off a terrific 2017 campaign in which he finished second in the AL batting race with a .330 average, but he showed he could be much more than a slap hitter with this prodigious blast at Rogers Centre. Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ's slider caught too much of the plate, and Garcia punished it with a blistering 116.7-mph exit velocity.

"It was a pretty impressive blast, just from standing in the dugout and watching it," White Sox manager Rick Renteria told MLB.com. "Anybody who is a fan of baseball must have been impressed by that shot."

Full White Sox leaderboard

AL West

Angels: Mike Trout, July 8, 2015, vs. COL
Distance: 477 feet (Watch it)
Trout's second homer of the night travelled deep to straightaway center field, landing halfway up the bleachers at Coors Field. Better yet, Trout's solo blast tied the ballgame and led to an eventual 3-2 win for the Angels.

Full Angels leaderboard

Astros: George Springer, May 31, 2017, vs. MIN
Distance: 473 feet (Watch it)
Springer's blast, like Trout's, also capped a two-homer day against the Twins, coming as part of a massive series for the eventual World Series-champion Astros in which they set a franchise record for most runs scored in a three-game series. Springer himself finished the day 4-for-4 with four runs scored and two walks.

"That's all I've got," Springer said of the homer. "That's about all I can hit it."

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Athletics: Matt Olson, Sept. 15, 2017, vs. PHI
Distance: 483 feet (Watch it)
Olson's sky-high blast at Citizens Bank Park came at the peak of an incredibly powerful rookie season in which he crushed 24 homers in just 189 at-bats for Oakland. Phillies starter Mark Leiter Jr. knew he was in trouble as soon as Olson connected; all there was left to do was wait and see where the slugger's blast would eventually land.

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Mariners: Nelson Cruz, Sept. 24, 2016, vs. MIN
Distance: 493 feet (Watch it)
Few players in the game can put their weight behind a baseball like Cruz, and Seattle's Boomstick found the third deck at Target Field with this neck-craning blast. Cruz's shot remains among the longest hit outside of the thin air at Denver's Coors Field, and it came one night after he had launched a separate 454-foot homer for the Mariners. When Cruz gets hot at the plate, opposing pitchers feel it.

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Video: SEA@MIN: Cruz crushes 493-ft homer

Rangers: Nomar Mazara, May 25, 2016, vs. LAA
Distance: 491 feet (Watch it)
The rookie Mazara raised his profile substantially with this towering drive to the upper deck at Globe Life Park, turning on and punishing an offspeed pitch from Angels starter Hector Santiago.

"That was loud," said Rangers catcher Bobby Wilson of Mazara's dinger. "You need earplugs for that one."

Full Rangers leaderboard

National League East

Braves: Freddie Freeman, June 13, 2015, vs. NYM
Distance: 464 feet (Watch it)
Atlanta's most consistent slugger got a hold of this first-inning fastball from Mets ace Jacob deGrom, pulling it high and deep onto the right-center-field bridge at Citi Field.

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Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton, Aug. 6, 2016, vs. COL
Distance: 504 feet (Watch it)
This is it -- the longest home run since Statcast™ started tracking in 2015, and the only one projected at more than 500 feet. The 504-foot distance may have been aided by the thin air at Coors Field, but Stanton has shown plenty of times that he doesn't need any help to clear the fence.

Full Marlins leaderboard

Video: Must C Crushed: Stanton connects on 504-foot home run

Mets: Yoenis Cespedes, April 24, 2018 vs. STL
Distance: 463 feet (Watch it)
Cespedes was off to a tough start to the 2018 season, batting .195 with an MLB-most 37 strikeouts entering this Tuesday night matchup in St. Louis. But with a pair of runners on in the fifth, New York's big slugger proved his power was still very much intact. Cespedes tied up the Cardinals with this moonshot that landed next to the "Big Mac Land" seating section in left field, surpassing Justin Ruggiano's 461-foot homer from Aug. 23, 2016, which also came at Busch Stadium. 

Full Mets leaderboard

Nationals: Michael A. Taylor, Aug. 20, 2015, vs. COL
Distance: 493 feet (Watch it)
Rockies starter Yohan Flande was cruising against the Nationals until Taylor gave his club a humongous game-tying lift on this blast to left-center. Taylor's dinger may have received an assist from the friendly Coors Field environment, but his 110.1-mph exit velocity was no joke. Taylor's ideal 26-degree launch angle also helped this ball go a long way.

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Phillies: Maikel Franco, July 10, 2016, vs. COL
Distance: 471 feet (Watch it)
Rockies reliever Jason Motte attempted to go up and in on Franco with a fastball, but the Phillies third baseman was ready for the challenge. Franco turned quickly on the pitch, pulling it into the high altitude at Coors Field for a long line-drive homer.

Full Phillies leaderboard

NL Central

Brewers: Domingo Santana, July 26, 2017, vs. WSH
Distance: 476 feet (Watch it)
Nationals Park has housed plenty of its own sluggers, from Bryce Harper to Anthony Rendon to Ryan Zimmerman. But it was the visiting Santana who etched his name atop the ballpark's list of longest home runs on this summer evening. Santana turned on an inside fastball from Gio Gonzalez and crushed it over the visitors' bullpen, high into the left-field concourse.

Full Brewers leaderboard

Cardinals: Marcell Ozuna, April 3, 2018, vs. MIL
Distance: 479 feet (Watch it)
Ozuna's first Cardinals home run also established him atop his new team's home run distance leaderboard. Facing Brewers starter Chase Anderson, Ozuna connected with a 117.2-mph exit velocity and sent Anderson's offering deep to left-center -- also setting a new Statcast™ mark for the longest homer at Miller Park.

Full Cardinals leaderboard

Cubs: Kris Bryant, Sept. 6, 2015, vs. ARI
Distance: 495 feet (Watch it)
Wrigley Field can become a launching pad when the wind blows out toward the bleachers, but even as a rookie, Bryant proved he didn't need much help launching prolific blasts. This one bounced off the new scoreboard in left field -- fittingly right next to Bryant's own picture -- to further build Bryant's prestige with the North Siders.

Full Cubs leaderboard

Video: ARI@CHC: Statcast™ on Bryant's blast off scoreboard

Pirates: Pedro Alvarez, Oct. 4, 2015, vs. CIN
Distance: 479 feet (Watch it)
Pittsburgh's hulking slugger decided the right-field seats at PNC Park weren't enough on the final day of the 2015 regular season, instead clearing the bleachers completely and depositing this ball into the Allegheny River. Alvarez simply demolished the pitch, connecting with a 115.4-mph exit velocity and uppercutting with an ideal 29-degree launch angle.

Full Pirates leaderboard

Reds: Eugenio Suarez, June 2, 2016, vs. COL
Distance: 465 feet (Watch it)
Listed at just 5-foot-11 and 213 pounds, Suarez struck a blow for undersized infielders with this massive shot to left-center at Coors Field. This was actually Suarez's second homer of the game, capping an impressive evening for the third baseman.

Full Reds leaderboard

NL West

D-backs: Jake Lamb, April 29, 2017, vs. COL
Distance: 481 feet (Watch it)
In the days before the humidor, balls flew out of Chase Field. What's surprising about Lamb's blast isn't where it was hit, but the opposing pitcher he victimized. The Rockies' Tyler Anderson is a left-hander, and southpaws overall had been extremely effective against Lamb. But in this at-bat, the platoon disadvantage didn't bother Lamb at all.

Full D-backs leaderboard

Dodgers: Joc Pederson, June 2, 2015, at COL
Distance: 477 feet (Watch it)
Considering how often they play in Denver's thin air, it's no surprise that the Dodgers hit their longest homer at Coors Field. Pederson did the honors with a majestic blast way up into the center-field bleachers. It was part of a series in which Pederson walloped four home runs -- one in each game.

Full Dodgers leaderboard

Giants: Brandon Belt, May 22, 2015, at COL
Distance: 475 feet (Watch it)
Another NL West club, another entry from the friendly environment of Coors Field. Belt jumped on a hanging changeup and launched it far into the third deck in right field. This type of blast has been a rarity for the Giants, who hit the second-fewest homers of 420-plus feet (74) from 2015-17, ahead of only the Braves.

Full Giants leaderboard

Padres: Franchy Cordero, April 20, 2018 at ARI
Distance: 489 feet (Watch it)
Franchy absolutely crushed this one. The D-backs' Matt Koch grooved Cordero a fastball, and Cordero hammered it 116.3 mph all the way up the scoreboard in dead center at Chase Field, instantly establishing a new longest home run of the 2018 season and a Padres Statcast™ record. He obliterated the team's previous best of 465 feet, set by Melvin Upton Jr. Cordero's blast is also the longest hit at Chase Field since Statcast™'s introduction in 2015, and the 10th-longest hit by anyone in baseball since 2015.

Full Padres leaderboard

Rockies: Mark Reynolds, July 21, 2016, vs. ATL
Distance: 484 feet (Watch it)
Yes, the Rockies' longest home run came at home. Reynolds, the powerful veteran, got ahead in the count 2-0 against a rookie left-hander, Hunter Cervenka, who fired a fastball over the middle of the plate. Reynolds demolished it at 108.8 mph, sending a drive most of the way up the bleachers beyond the left-center-field wall.

Full Rockies leaderboard

Video: ATL@COL: Reynolds crushes a 484-foot HR to left fiel

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSimonMLB.

Cubs top Tribe in WS redux on Schwarber's HRs

MLB.com @castrovince

CLEVELAND -- Even if this hadn't been the building in which the Cubs enjoyed a champagne celebration 108 years in the making back in 2016, Progressive Field would rate as a pretty special place for Kyle Schwarber.

It's the ballpark where Schwarber notched his first big league hit and his first home run in 2015. It's the ballpark where he returned from a torn ACL to serve as the Cubs' dynamo DH in that fascinating '16 Fall Classic. And on Tuesday night, it was the ballpark where his two home runs keyed a dinger derby off Tribe starter Josh Tomlin in a 10-3 victory. As a steady rain fell on the Indians and Cubs, conjuring up memories of the last time they had met on this field, Schwarber, who came in swinging a hot bat, brought the thunder and lightning with his fifth and sixth homers of the young season.

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CLEVELAND -- Even if this hadn't been the building in which the Cubs enjoyed a champagne celebration 108 years in the making back in 2016, Progressive Field would rate as a pretty special place for Kyle Schwarber.

It's the ballpark where Schwarber notched his first big league hit and his first home run in 2015. It's the ballpark where he returned from a torn ACL to serve as the Cubs' dynamo DH in that fascinating '16 Fall Classic. And on Tuesday night, it was the ballpark where his two home runs keyed a dinger derby off Tribe starter Josh Tomlin in a 10-3 victory. As a steady rain fell on the Indians and Cubs, conjuring up memories of the last time they had met on this field, Schwarber, who came in swinging a hot bat, brought the thunder and lightning with his fifth and sixth homers of the young season.

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"He's from Ohio, right?" Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Schwarber. "Obviously, he sees the ball well here. The first time he showed up it was his premiere. That was all adrenaline. The World Series was adrenaline. And right now he's been swinging the bat well. So he shows up in Cleveland at the right times."

At 117.1 mph, Schwarber's solo shot on a 2-1 offering from Tomlin in the second inning had the fifth-highest exit velocity of any home run tracked by Statcast™ so far in 2018. In fact, Schwarber's blast into the right-field seats was the hardest hit of any kind by a Cubs player since Statcast™ began tracking in '15. He broke his own club record for hardest homer set with a 114.3-mph shot last Sept. 19.

Video: CHC@CLE: Schwarber ropes solo home run to right field

"I hit it right on a good spot on a changeup there," Schwarber said. "I was able to put a good swing on it."

Schwarber's second homer, leading off the fourth inning, was of the high, arching variety, but it was still a prodigious 407-foot poke that gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead.

Video: CHC@CLE: Schwarber launches second homer of the game

Backing a solid effort from Tyler Chatwood, who earned his first victory as a Cub, the North Siders had runs aplenty in this ballgame, with Willson Contreras and Ian Happ also going deep off Tomlin to knock him out before the end of the fourth. But it was Schwarber's success that stood out in this season in which his slimmed-down body and need for a bounceback bat have been such narrative focal points.

Video: CHC@CLE: Contreras cranks solo home run to left field

If you're scoring at home, Schwarber has made this place his home. He's played just seven career games at Progressive Field, counting the World Series, and he's gone 15-for-30 with three homers, a double, a triple and three walks in that small sample.

"I always thought this was a good park to hit in," Schwarber said. "I guess I just hit well here. I don't know."

Video: CHC@CLE: Happ hits opposite-field homer down the line

But the Middletown native doesn't need to return to his Buckeye roots to rip hits these days. Schwarber came into this two-game set with hits in 12 of his previous 29 at-bats, raising his season average from .172 to .293 in the process and inspiring hope that he can have the kind of offensive impact he provided in his rousing rookie year -- a year in which Progressive Field served as his personal launching pad.

Video: CHC@CLE: Schwarber on Cubs' lineup coming through

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The fifth inning has been quite a bugaboo for Cubs pitchers this season. The 11.84 fifth-inning ERA they took into Tuesday's tilt was by far the highest in the big leagues, and it's a big reason why Cubs starters have had so much trouble going deep into ballgames (they entered averaging just 5.12 innings per start).

So when Chatwood, staked to a 5-1 lead, surrendered a leadoff walk to Roberto Perez in the fifth inning (one of five walks allowed by Chatwood on this night), it looked like a sticky situation. But Chatwood got Bradley Zimmer and Rajai Davis to strike out in succession, then got Francisco Lindor to ground out to escape the inning unscathed. He would go on to face just one batter in the seventh (a Tyler Naquin single), but he became the first Cubs starter this season to pitch into the seventh.

"I don't feel like I was very sharp," Chatwood said. "Obviously, I need to clean up my walks still. But I was able to battle and keep us in the game. I guess you can't complain anytime you win a game."

Video: CHC@CLE: Chatwood fans Davis for his fifth strikeout

SOUND SMART
The Cubs' 48 runs in innings seven through nine this season are the most of any National League club.

HE SAID IT
"We're still in that mode of utilizing the whole field. I hope that doesn't end until 2019 Spring Training and we can work on it again, because this is the approach we're looking for." -- Maddon, on a Cubs lineup that has scored 19 runs over the past two games

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Davis didn't get to the Cubs this time. When the Indians' left fielder, who hit the game-tying homer in Game 7 in 2016, tried to score from second on a Jose Ramirez single to right field with two outs in the third, right fielder Jason Heyward made a great throw to Contreras, who applied the tag as Davis slid across the plate headfirst. The Indians challenged the call that Davis was out, but the call stood following a replay review.

Video: CHC@CLE: Heyward cuts down Davis with perfect throw

The Cubs also won a challenge in the second inning when Naquin was ruled safe after a Chatwood pickoff attempt. The call was overturned upon replay review for the third out of the inning.

Video: CHC@CLE: Chatwood nabs Naquin at first after review

UP NEXT
The Cubs wrap their brief return to Progressive Field with Wednesday's 6:10 p.m. CT game against the Indians. Jon Lester will return to the scene where he was last seen throwing three relief innings in an epic Game 7, opposing Trevor Bauer. The Cubs are hoping Kris Bryant, who was held out of the starting lineup Tuesday night after getting hit in the head by a pitch Sunday in Colorado, will be back at third base.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Chicago Cubs, Kyle Schwarber

Granderson launches walk-off homer vs. Kimbrel

MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' first series of the year against the Red Sox is going to be used as a measuring stick to see how they match up with arguably the top team in the American League East. Curtis Granderson and J.A. Happ made sure they passed the first test with flying colors.

Granderson threw out the potential go-ahead run in top of the ninth inning and then hit a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 10th as the Blue Jays overcame Roberto Osuna's first blown save of the year in a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox.

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TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' first series of the year against the Red Sox is going to be used as a measuring stick to see how they match up with arguably the top team in the American League East. Curtis Granderson and J.A. Happ made sure they passed the first test with flying colors.

Granderson threw out the potential go-ahead run in top of the ninth inning and then hit a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 10th as the Blue Jays overcame Roberto Osuna's first blown save of the year in a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox.

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Happ came away with a no-decision, but he played a big role in the win by limiting Boston's offense to one run over seven strong innings.

Video: BOS@TOR: Granderson gets doused twice after walk-off

"I'm trying to just do anything I can to help the team win and put ourselves in an opportunity to win," said Granderson, who has eight RBIs over his last five games. "Starting in right, starting in center, starting in left, trying to get on base, I'm just trying to do the little things, because this team has such a great ability to come up in big situations."

It was the fourth walk-off home run of Granderson's career, and it came on a 2-0 fastball from Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel. Toronto picked up its second walk-off victory of the year and improved to 2-0 in extra-innings games this season. Granderson went 3-for-5 with his third home run of the season.

Tuesday's game marked the first of 18 games between the two clubs. The Red Sox, along with the Yankees, have long been considered the favorites in the division, but the Blue Jays have been turning a few heads with their early season play. The victory in the series opener ensured that Toronto will finish March/April with at least a .500 record, something that hasn't happened since 2012.

Video: BOS@TOR: Gibbons on Happ's outing, win in extras

One win might not seem like much, but it's a symbolic victory for a Blue Jays team that entered this game having lost eight consecutive games to Boston at Rogers Centre. Last season, Toronto was outscored 107-75 by the Red Sox, and its -32 run differential vs. the Sox was the organization's lowest since posting a -51 against the Rays in 2012. Something has to change if the Blue Jays are going to be taken seriously in the division, and Tuesday was a good start.

Video: Must C Clutch: Granderson belts a walk-off home run

Happ never had multiple baserunners at any point during his fifth start of the year. He frequently used his four-seam fastball up in the zone to generate swings-and-misses from the Red Sox as he picked up double-digit strikeouts for the first time since Aug. 2, 2017, vs. the White Sox. The 35-year-old averaged 92.7 mph with the four seamer while mixing in his slider and curveball combo 20 times in his strongest outing of the year.

"We remember that they've played well here, so it's nice to set the tone and get that first one here," Happ said. "I think it's something that's going to be a battle all season long. I think these are two really good ballclubs and that we'll see a lot of games pretty tight like this one."

Video: BOS@TOR: Happ strikes out 10 over seven innings

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Can't close it out: Osuna got himself into all sorts of trouble in the top of the ninth inning. Hanley Ramirez and Rafael Devers singled to put runners on first and second with one out while Eduardo Nunez followed with an RBI single. Later in the frame, Boston loaded the bases as Brock Holt delivered the game-tying run with an RBI single to left field. It could have been a lot worse, but Granderson saved the day by throwing out Nunez at the plate on Holt's RBI single, which eventually forced extra innings. Osuna picked up his first blown save of the year in seven attempts and also surrendered his first earned runs of the season.

Video: BOS@TOR: Granderson makes a run-saving throw in 9th

"That's the way baseball is sometimes," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I think that was Osuna's and Kimbrel's first runs they've given up all year. That's why you call it the big leagues … The guys battled. That was a big game for us. If you don't win that one, it's a kick in the teeth."

The fortunate bounce: The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the bottom of the second when they had runners on the corners and Boston third baseman Devers was unable to field a grounder and make a throw home in time to get a sliding Steve Pearce. Later in the frame, Devers was put under the spotlight once again with a pair of runners on base. This time, Granderson hit a hard grounder that deflected off Devers' glove to allow two more runs to score.

Video: BOS@TOR: Granderson plates two with a single to left

SOUND SMART
Over the previous five years, Toronto had the worst March/April record in the Major Leagues, going 52-75 (.409). A year ago, the Blue Jays did not pick up their 14th victory until Game No. 35 on May 11. This season, they reached 14 wins in Game No. 24 on April 24.

HE SAID IT
"I think the city is hurting right now and we had some first responders here today. I hope they enjoyed the game, if they stayed until the end, which I think they did. I think it was a meaningful win for us on several levels." -- Happ, when asked about the importance of winning the series opener as he referenced Monday's tragic events in Toronto that saw multiple casualties following an attack involving a white van

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Blue Jays were in a perfect position add another insurance run when Teoscar Hernandez stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fifth. With a runner on second, Hernandez hit a sharp liner to right field that appeared destined for extra bases, but Mookie Betts had other ideas. According to Statcast™, Betts covered 53 feet in 3.5 seconds to make a four-star grab that came with a catch probability of 31 percent. Yangervis Solarte followed by lining out to second base and the Blue Jays came up empty in the fifth.

Video: BOS@TOR: Statcast™ measures Betts' four-star grab

UP NEXT
The Blue Jays will continue their three-game series against the Red Sox when Aaron Sanchez (1-2, 3.86 ERA) takes the mound on Wednesday night with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET. Sanchez has experienced a dip in velocity so far this season. In 2017, he averaged 95.0 mph on his two-seam fastball, but in a recent outing against the Yankees, that number dropped to 92.8. The velocity has not impacted his performance with three quality starts in four outings. Boston will counter with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (2-0, 3.45 ERA).

Gregor Chisholm has covered