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Kyles 1, Brewers 0: Cubs snap Crew's streak

Special to MLB.com

CHICAGO -- On a night dominated by starting pitching, Kyle Schwarber put his power on display once again.

Schwarber snapped a scoreless tie in the sixth inning with his seventh home run of the season and provided just enough offense for Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks in a 1-0 victory that snapped the Brewers' eight-game winning streak Thursday night.

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CHICAGO -- On a night dominated by starting pitching, Kyle Schwarber put his power on display once again.

Schwarber snapped a scoreless tie in the sixth inning with his seventh home run of the season and provided just enough offense for Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks in a 1-0 victory that snapped the Brewers' eight-game winning streak Thursday night.

View Full Game Coverage

Schwarber, who homered twice Tuesday night in the Cubs' 10-3 win over the Indians, lined a solo shot into the right-field bleachers off Brewers starter Chase Anderson.

One run was all Hendricks and the Cubs defense -- which got sparkling plays from Albert Almora Jr. in center and Javier Baez at second base -- needed.

Video: MIL@CHC: Baez climbs the ladder to snag Braun's liner

"It was just a really tightly, well-played baseball game," manager Joe Maddon said.

Hendricks was brilliant over seven innings during which he allowed four hits and struck out five. Hendricks retired at least the first two hitters in each of his seven shutout innings, which kept his rhythm intact throughout the outing.

Video: MIL@CHC: Hendricks tosses seven scoreless vs. Brewers

"That's a product of when my focus was, just make a good pitch," Hendricks said. "Every pitch, just on to the next pitch. I was just in a really good mindset today -- one pitch at a time."

Relievers Carl Edwards Jr. and Brandon Morrow preserved the win, pitching the eighth and ninth innings. Morrow earned his fifth save with a scoreless ninth.

Video: MIL@CHC: Morrow earns a save as Cubs pick up 1-0 win

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
In a scoreless game in the sixth inning, Almora chased down a Lorenzo Cain fly ball to center field that appeared to be extra bases. Instead, Almora took a perfect route and made a leaping catch that kept the leadoff hitter from reaching with the heart of the Brewers lineup coming up.

"I see the ball hit and I'm just hoping to keep it to a double at that point," Hendricks said. "Then when he reaches his glove up and catches it up, it's an instant reaction. You're not expecting that at all."

Video: MIL@CHC: Almora Jr. leaps for a catch on the track

SOUND SMART
According to Statcast™, prior to this week, Schwarber had never hit a home run with a launch angle below 22 degrees. His solo shot Thursday night came in at 19 degrees and one of his two home runs Tuesday against the Indians was at 18 degrees.

"[I'm] just trying to find the barrel more often," Schwarber said. "If I find the barrel, good things are going to happen. ... I'm just up there trying to find barrel every time."

Video: MIL@CHC: Schwarber on his game-deciding home run

HE SAID IT
"That was much more normal, I guess you could say. Mechanically at least ... it felt much more natural today and I wasn't forcing anything." -- Hendricks, on his seven scoreless innings

UP NEXT
Right-hander Yu Darvish remains in search of his first win since signing a $126 million contract in the offseason. Darvish (0-2, 6.86 ERA) has allowed at least four earned runs and hasn't gotten out of the fifth inning in three of his four starts. He will face Brent Suter (1-2, 5.68) in Friday's matinee, which begins at 1:20 CT.

Jeff Arnold is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago Cubs, Kyle Hendricks, Kyle Schwarber

J.D.'s big swing, catch carry Red Sox over Jays

AL East leaders notch MLB-best 19th win, go 6-3 on road trip
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

TORONTO -- When the Red Sox needed a big swing on Thursday night at Rogers Centre, J.D. Martinez provided it. And earlier in the game, when they needed a big catch on a fly ball to deep right, Martinez also came through.

The slugger's three-run shot to right-center with two outs in the fifth and running grab in front of the wall in the first helped lift the Red Sox to 5-4 victory over the Blue Jays in the finale of a nine-game road trip.

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TORONTO -- When the Red Sox needed a big swing on Thursday night at Rogers Centre, J.D. Martinez provided it. And earlier in the game, when they needed a big catch on a fly ball to deep right, Martinez also came through.

The slugger's three-run shot to right-center with two outs in the fifth and running grab in front of the wall in the first helped lift the Red Sox to 5-4 victory over the Blue Jays in the finale of a nine-game road trip.

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"You know, even when he's struggling, you think he's one adjustment away to do damage," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "He works so hard at it, he comes back and he goes to the tee and he goes to the cage and he watches video and he's always one adjustment away to change the game."

The Red Sox took six out of nine on the journey to Anaheim, Oakland and Toronto and head back to Boston with a 19-5 record -- the best in the Majors.

Video: BOS@TOR: Martinez covers ground for a run-saving grab

Martinez's catch on a drive by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. prevented one and possibly two runs from scoring.

"I was playing in, trying to protect against a little bleeder," Martinez said. "And he put some good wood and I turned around and ran just as fast as I could pretty much and caught up to it."

The homer couldn't have come at a better time, as it swung the score from a 3-2 deficit to a 5-3 lead for Boston.

"Big, obviously, it put us ahead," Martinez said. "So, huge. Seems like lately we've kind of been scuffling a little bit at the plate, trying to put up runs, so to get it done was huge." 

Video: BOS@TOR: Sale tosses six strong frames to get the win

 Martinez smacked a first-pitch, 88.9-mph fastball from Jays right-hander Marco Estrada to give ace Chris Sale his first lead of the night.

"That's the kind of guy he is," Sale said. "He does some pretty incredible things with that bat, and I'm appreciative of it tonight."

It was Martinez's fifth homer of the season, and the type of big hit the Red Sox envisioned when they signed him to a five-year, $110 million contract during Spring Training.

"That's why we signed him," Cora said. "He's making a difference and I think he's going to be better throughout the year."

Video: BOS@TOR: Smoak muscles a solo home run to left field

As for Sale, he wasn't at his best, but he did enough to get the win. The lefty (2-1, 2.31 ERA) allowed four hits and three runs, including solo shots by Devon Travis and Justin Smoak. He walked two and struck out four.

"A dogfight from the get-go," Sale said. "Giving up a run in the first three innings is tough, but I got some stuff from A.C. and [pitching coach] Dana [LeVangie] came and sat down, and we kind of mixed some things up. The lineup today showed up. They carried us through that. But through and through, it was a grind."

The bullpen took it home. Matt Barnes worked out of jams in the seventh and eighth, and Craig Kimbrel pitched for the third straight day and got the save, his seventh.

Video: BOS@TOR: Kimbrel earns the save as Red Sox win, 5-4

"Give credit to the guys," Cora said. "They grinded it out. That was a tough one and to finish this road trip the way we did, it's outstanding."

All three games vs. Toronto were decided by one run.

"They've been really close," Estrada said. "We're just as good as any team, I believe. Every single one of these games, the two toughest teams in the division, we're right there with them. A lot of these games could have gone the other way and it's a good sign for us."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Barnes wiggles out of jams: With the Red Sox clinging to a one-run lead in the seventh, Cora brought on Barnes with the potential tying run on second and the dangerous Smoak at the plate. Barnes came up with the strikeout on a 2-2 curveball. In the eighth, he got himself into a jam with a couple of walks but worked his way out of it, striking out Luke Maile to end the inning and get the ball to Kimbrel with the lead. It was an important performance for Barnes, who will be counted on more until Joe Kelly returns from his six-game suspension on Wednesday.

Video: BOS@TOR: Barnes strikes out Maile, strands a pair

"Barnes has thrown the ball well," said Cora. "That fastball up like he did with Smoak and then the breaking ball, he's able to expand and the zone. [Barnes] and Christian [Vazquez], they did an outstanding job navigating through that [eighth] inning."

SOUND SMART
The 19-5 start by the Red Sox is the best by any team in MLB since the 2003 Yankees opened with a 20-4 mark.

HE SAID IT
"I was in between there, honestly. I know the pitch count was getting up. He's our ace. I tried to start the conversation and he stopped me right there. He was honest. He's like, 'I've got this guy, don't worry about it. I've got it.' He's not going to change my mind a lot of times, but usually when I don't want the guy to change my mind, I'll go right to the umpire before I get to the line.

"[On] that one, he's still Chris Sale. Even when he's not at his best, he's better than a lot of guys. With all due respect to our guys in the bullpen. He made a pitch. He stayed under 105, which was the goal. He gave us a chance to win." -- Cora, on his mound visit with Sale with two outs in the sixth and Randal Grichuk at the plate

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
When Grichuk tapped a soft grounder to short with a Toronto rally in progress in the eighth, Tzu-Wei Lin, who had come on as a replacement for the ailing Brock Holt (left hamstring), had to make a do-or-die play. Lin fired across the diamond and first baseman Mitch Moreland went into his best stretch to corral the throw and stay on the bag. Grichuk was called out, but the Jays challenged. Fortunately for the Red Sox, there wasn't enough evidence to overturn it and the call stood.

Video: BOS@TOR: Grichuk ruled out as call stands in 8th

UP NEXT
The Red Sox get a key lineup piece back for Friday night's opener of the homestand against the Rays, as shortstop Xander Bogaerts returns from the disabled list. Lefty Drew Pomeranz makes his second start, and first this season at Fenway. Blake Snell goes for Tampa Bay, with first pitch set for 7:10 p.m. ET.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Matt Barnes, Craig Kimbrel, J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale

Who's No. 1? The Top 100 Draft prospects are in

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

On June 4, 12 months of scouting, home visits, meetings and planning will all come to fruition as all 30 teams build for the future via the Draft.

Scouting staffs are still criss-crossing the country, gathering as much information as possible to line up their Draft boards. MLB Pipeline's new Top 100 Draft Prospects list reflects the latest opinions of the scouting industry. It's based on talent and perceived ceiling, not where players are expected to be selected (that will come with several mock drafts in the coming weeks).

On June 4, 12 months of scouting, home visits, meetings and planning will all come to fruition as all 30 teams build for the future via the Draft.

Scouting staffs are still criss-crossing the country, gathering as much information as possible to line up their Draft boards. MLB Pipeline's new Top 100 Draft Prospects list reflects the latest opinions of the scouting industry. It's based on talent and perceived ceiling, not where players are expected to be selected (that will come with several mock drafts in the coming weeks).

2018 Draft order | 2018 Draft: June 4-6 | All-time Draft picks

Coming into the spring, scouts were enthusiastically optimistic about the talent in this year's class. That's still the case, though it's a scout's job to be critical, and every spring scout will poke holes in any class. This year's crop appears to have more depth than elite talent at the top, with the prep set -- particularly pitching -- leading the way.

"It's a high school dominant Draft," one National League scouting director said. "There are some good college players at the top of the Draft, though maybe not the star potential of some of the Drafts of the past."

MLB Pipeline's Top 10 Draft prospects
1. Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn
2. Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie HS (Melbourne, Fla.)
3. Nick Madrigal, 2B/SS, Oregon State
4. Matt Liberatore, LHP, Mountain Ridge HS (Riverdale, Ariz.)
5. Brady Singer, RHP, Florida
6. Shane McClanahan, LHP, South Florida
7. Travis Swaggerty, OF, South Alabama
8. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha (Wisc.) West HS
9. Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech
10. Jonathan India, 3B, Florida
Complete Top 100 list »

Even if the sentiment is that high schoolers lead the way this year, the split in the Top 100 is almost right down the middle, with 50 high schoolers, 49 college players and one from the junior college ranks. And that top 10 is decidedly college-heavy, with seven of the 10.

"There's one top-end talent and some depth in the next couple of rounds," an American League scouting director said.

That one top-end talent is Mize, an Auburn right-hander who is a slam dunk choice to lead the Top 100. He has been the best performer in the country and has been the lone player to truly separate himself from the pack, though it remains to be seen if the Tigers use the No. 1 pick in this year's Draft to take him.

"Mize has been top of the class," the NL scouting director said. "The big thing has been his ability to take the ball every Friday and compete like he deserves to be there."

While he hasn't quite run away and hid as much as Mize has, Florida high school right-hander Stewart has emerged as the best high school arm in the country, thanks largely to perhaps the best breaking ball in the entire class. At No. 3 is Madrigal, the top college bat in the country despite having missed a chunk of Oregon State's season with a broken wrist. Kelenic, from the Wisconsin high school ranks, is the top high school bat in the class, coming in at No. 8.

There's talent to be found in each of those four categories: college arms and bats, high school pitching and hitters.

College arms

Including Mize, there are three college pitchers in the top 10 and five in the top 20. While none have been as consistently dominant as the Auburn ace has been, there will be some good choices for teams picking near the top of the Draft.

Heading into the spring, Singer, Florida's Friday night starter, topped most lists. He began the year a little slowly, with his stuff not quite as sharp, which caused him to slide in some evaluations. But with Singer's stuff starting to bounce back of late and as good a resume as any in this class, it's hard to imagine teams waiting too long to get him off the board.

Video: Mayo on top college pitchers in 2018 MLB Draft

"He's good, he's big, strong and he's been durable," a scouting director said. "He's been the unwavering top performer in the SEC. We pick him apart, but there's a comfort level in knowing what you're getting whenever you take him."

McClanahan, from the University of South Florida, is the top college lefty in the class. He's drawn some loose comparisons to Chris Sale as a southpaw with arm strength and slightly unorthodox mechanics. He maintains a fastball that touches 97 mph and backs it up with a potentially plus changeup. Some see a potential reliever because of the arm action, but that's happened countless times with college arms from Sale to a guy like Max Scherzer.

"He's a college lefty with plus stuff, you just don't see that guy slide very far," the scouting director said. "The stuff is too good to be a bullpen guy. You know you're getting a big league pitcher you feel you can get there pretty quickly."

College bats

Every year, college hitters rise up the Draft board. Often seen as the safest bet among amateur prospects, players who produce start to float up. This year has certainly followed that script, and while this crop, led by Madrigal, is not seen as elite-level talent, there are five in the top 11.

"Those are the college bats that will fly off the board quickly," the NL scouting director said. "You look at past Drafts and hitters went high …These guys aren't in the class off Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Braun, but they've gone out and performed. That's why they're going where they're going."

Video: Mayo on the top college bats in 2018 MLB Draft

Madrigal's the best pure hitter in the class. Travis Swaggerty is toolsy with a chance to play center at the next level. Joey Bart is a rare commodity: a college catcher who will stick behind the plate. Alec Bohm, at No. 11, is a potential power corner infield bat. But no one has improved his stock more than Florida infielder Jonathan India. India wasn't even on MLB Pipeline's Top 50 last fall, but is now at No. 10 because of how well he's performed for the Gators.

"If you had told me we'd be talking about Jonathan India where we're talking about him now, I wouldn't have believed it," a scouting director said. "Kudos to him, he's gone out and done it. He's matured. He's not swinging at pitches he can't hit, and he's not missing the ones he can."

High school arms

There was no doubt heading into the spring that this was the strength of the class, especially near the top. And it's still the case, with high school pitching taking up seven of the top 20 spots. Right behind Stewart is lefty Matt Liberatore, who has advanced pitchability and opened some eyes by touching 96-97 mph in a couple of early starts. Kumar Rocker, at No. 14, has held steady with his premium velocity. Ryan Weathers, David's son, gives teams another prep lefty to continue in the top 20 (No. 16). Cole Winn (No. 15) helped Orange Lutheran win the National High School invitational in March and has continued to pitch well all spring.

"All of those arms have secondary stuff to back it up, not just velocity," the NL scouting director said. "They have secondary pitches that are Major League out pitches, that's why we're talking about them at this level and not later in the Draft."

Video: Jonathan Mayo on top high school pitchers

There would be even more if it hadn't been for the injury bug. A trio of prep right-handers -- Ethan Hankins, Mason Denaburg and Mike Vasil -- are still ranked No. 19-21, but all have had some kind of health-related concerns. Hankins is back pitching, but had what was termed a minor shoulder problem that shut him down for a spell, and he has been a bit up-and-down as he's gotten stretched back out. Denaburg hasn't thrown in a while because of biceps tendinitis and Vasil walked off the mound holding his elbow in his last outing. All three could have been firmly in top 10 pick conversations if it weren't for the injury worry.

"A lot of them have been dropping like flies," a scouting director said. "Everyone wants them to be healthy and not pitch until they are, but as time goes by, more question marks arise as they come back if they're not competing as expected. So they're rated as question marks by us."

High school bats

This is the lightest group in this year's class, with only one top 10 hitter in Kelenic and three in the top 20. Arizona area third baseman Nolan Gorman had a huge summer to jump way up lists, but he hasn't been able to dominate as consistently this spring and getting pitched around regularly hasn't helped. Connor Scott from Florida is the other top 20 player, and while he's an outfielder with plus speed, he's missed time with a hamstring issue.

Video: Mayo on best high school bats heading into Draft

Teams at the top of the Draft usually look for that All-Star caliber talent from the high school hitter set. Think about guys like Justin Upton or, most recently, Royce Lewis. That doesn't mean teams that are trying to decide between a prep hitter over a prep pitcher, considered the riskiest play in the Draft, won't go with the bat.

"They're not those elite, definitely-going-to-hit bats we've seen in the past, but they all have ability," the NL scouting director said, adding Triston Casas (No. 25) to his list of favorite high school hitters. "They're solid. The high school hitter is going to take precedence over the high school pitcher, by and large."

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

Here are this weekend's top 5 storylines

MLB.com @castrovince

It's the last weekend of the first month. Celebrate.

Soon, we'll be out of April. We'll separate ourselves from the ubiquitous phrase "small sample." We'll become less encumbered by a particularly meddlesome Mother Nature. We still won't know what to make of the standings, but, gosh darn it, we'll try to make something of them anyway.

It's the last weekend of the first month. Celebrate.

Soon, we'll be out of April. We'll separate ourselves from the ubiquitous phrase "small sample." We'll become less encumbered by a particularly meddlesome Mother Nature. We still won't know what to make of the standings, but, gosh darn it, we'll try to make something of them anyway.

Yes, soon we'll be free of all the things that make April such an odd and awkward month in the Majors. But not before we watch a full weekend slate chock full of fascination.

Here are five topics to track this weekend in MLB:

1. Seeing stars
The Yankees and the Angels are playing three games against each other this weekend at Angel Stadium. Any storylines here? Hmm, let's think ...

This is a weekend in which Mike Trout, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton will all be on the same field, so, you know, that's pretty sweet. But don't forget about Didi Gregorius, who is vying with Trout for the early Major League home run lead. And you know how we're always comparing Trout to Yankees legend Mickey Mantle? Well, for whatever reason, Trout really hits like Mantle against the Yanks -- a .325/.423/.627 slash line in 34 career games.

Video: SF@LAA: Ohtani singles to load the bases in the 6th

There's more. Shohei Ohtani, who chose a West Coast club over the Yankees in his move to the States, won't be making a start on the mound, but we're sure to see him at designated hitter for his first career appearance opposite the pinstripes. Oh, and Albert Pujols is now just six hits away from No. 3,000 -- a moment that could potentially come on the ESPN "Sunday Night Baseball" showdown between these two clubs.

Other than all that, not too much to get excited about here ...

2. Encore, encore
We mean no disrespect to the late Johnny Vander Meer when we point out that the two teams he famously no-hit in successive outings in 1938 -- the Boston Bees and the Brooklyn Dodgers -- finished 16th and 14th, respectively, in the then-16-team MLB in team batting average that season.

If A's left-hander Sean Manaea pulls off a Vander Meer here in this early stage of the 2018 season, it will be quite a different feat. When he threw his no-no against the Red Sox last Saturday, they were the leading the Majors in runs per game and pretty much every offensive category that matters. And at 8:10 p.m. ET Friday at Minute Maid Park, where Manaea will oppose fellow lefty Dallas Keuchel in the opener of a three-game set between two division foes, the A's hurler will be facing an Astros lineup that led the Majors in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging last season and is quite likely to finish at or near the top again in 2018.

Video: BOS@OAK: Manaea throws the first no-hitter of 2018

In other words, for Manaea to make history (again), he'll really have to earn it. But his 2.45 ERA in eight career starts against the Astros is at least an indicator of his comfort level against this formidable lineup.

3. Burgeoning East beasts
The Braves and the Phillies finished a combined 48 games under .500 last year. The last winning season for either club was posted by Atlanta in 2013. But suddenly this season -- and this weekend at Citizens Bank Park, specifically -- there's a lot of interest attached to these two clubs.

Maybe it's too soon to call them contenders, maybe not. Their young talent will ultimately tell that tale as 2018 evolves. In the early going, however, they've both inspired some reasons for optimism.

The Phillies survived a 1-4 start and much hand-wringing about Gabe Kapler's managerial maneuvers to win 13 of their next 16, with Aaron Nola (who starts opposite Julio Teheran in Friday's 7:05 p.m. ET series opener) continuing his ascension into ace-dom, and Nick Pivetta (who starts Saturday opposite Mike Foltynewicz at 6:05 p.m.) seemingly turning a corner in his development.

Video: ATL@CIN: Acuna belts 416-ft. longball for first homer

And you know where the big intrigue rests with the Braves right now. It's top prospect Ronald Acuna Jr., who made an instant impact in his first two games, including a homer and the game-winning hit in Thursday's 7-4 win over the Reds. Beyond Acuna's first look at a division rival, this could be the weekend the Braves call up another position player from Triple-A -- some kid by the name of Jose Bautista, who is definitely due for a fitness contest rematch with the Phillie Phanatic.

4. D-backs in the District
The D-backs have looked like a true Senior Circuit powerhouse in the early going -- the kind of powerhouse we, quite frankly, expect the Nationals to be. Entering their matchup in Washington this weekend, the D-backs are surprisingly in first in the National League West, with the Nats surprisingly in fourth in the NL East.

Arizona has begun the season with eight consecutive series wins. How rare is that? Well, it hasn't happened since the Mariners did it in 2001 -- the year they won 116 games. Seattle wound up winning nine straight series to start that season, and that's what the D-backs will try to do this weekend.

Maybe a 15-run outburst against the Giants on Wednesday will prove to be the breakthrough for a Nats lineup that's been besieged by injuries, but they'll have their work cut out for them Saturday, when they face one of the hottest pitchers in baseball. Patrick Corbin gets that 4:05 p.m. ET start at Nationals Park opposite Jeremy Hellickson after cementing his NL Player of the Week status with a one-hit shutout against the Giants. The development of a slow curve that only amplifies the impact of his fastball has helped Corbin rack up 46 strikeouts with a 0.66 WHIP.

Video: Patrick Corbin named NL Player of the week

5. That's Cuet0 with a zero
It's early in the season, but late enough that an ERA that starts with a zero is pretty darn impressive for a qualified starter. So it is with Johnny Cueto, who takes a 0.35 ERA into his Saturday start opposite Alex Wood (10:05 p.m. ET at AT&T Park) in the midst of the weekend rivalry set between the Giants and the Dodgers. Cueto was looking for a bounceback season after 2017's relative struggles (4.52 ERA, 94 ERA+). Well, the lowest ERA for a Giants pitcher through four starts since Ray Sadecki's 0.25 mark in 1968 (the "Year of the Pitcher") is a pretty nice bounce so far. Cueto is one of just seven Giants pitchers to hold opponents to a run or fewer in each of his first four starts in a season.

Video: SF@LAA: Cueto hurls six scoreless, lowers ERA to 0.35

With the Giants again struggling on the offensive end (3.22 runs per game), that's the kind of premier pitching they need to hang with the Dodgers and others in the NL West. Cueto is doing an awfully good job of absorbing the ace role with Madison Bumgarner still on the shelf.

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.

Cards storm back twice to best Mets in 13

MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- Dexter Fowler avoided the first water-cooler shower, juking his way through a mob of teammates giddy on the infield dirt. He could not avoid the second, the cold celebration that came minutes later, near his dugout.

"I thought I eluded them, but they got me!" Fowler said afterwards. "I'll be ready next time."

View Full Game Coverage

ST. LOUIS -- Dexter Fowler avoided the first water-cooler shower, juking his way through a mob of teammates giddy on the infield dirt. He could not avoid the second, the cold celebration that came minutes later, near his dugout.

"I thought I eluded them, but they got me!" Fowler said afterwards. "I'll be ready next time."

View Full Game Coverage

Video: NYM@STL: Fowler discusses walk-off hit, win in extras

Fowler's bath came as a reward for his 13th-inning single off Paul Sewald, which helped the Cardinals cap a long Thursday at Busch Stadium with a 4-3 walk-off win over the Mets. Fowler's hit made a winner of John Gant, who threw three scoreless innings of long relief in his season debut, and brought a climactic end to an afternoon in which Carlos Martinez and Noah Syndergaard dueled.

"It felt like a playoff atmosphere," Fowler said. "We could see them again in the playoffs."

Such long-distance forecasting is uncommon in the Cardinals' clubhouse, where focusing on the present qualifies as standard doctrine. But Fowler wasn't the only one alluding to the postseason Thursday, or speaking of the win in excitable terms. Jose Martinez called it the best victory of the season. Manager Mike Matheny called it "special."

Video: NYM@STL: Fowler, Martinez, Pham, Matheny on 4-3 win

"It was one of the best games I ever played," Martinez said. "We never gave up."

Flummoxed by Syndergaard for much of the day, the Cardinals fought back from two deficits. Fowler and Marcell Ozuna, two slumping but important regulars, drove in key runs. Gant, who woke up as a member of Triple-A Memphis and could end up back in the Minors soon, picked up a bullpen asked to record 21 outs. The victory sent the Cardinals to Pittsburgh winners of 10 of 12.

Video: NYM@STL: Ozuna bloops an RBI single to right field

"This was the most special game today for us," Matheny said. "It took a little bit of everything. It took the entire roster."

Gant wasn't even on the roster until a few hours prior to first pitch, swung up from Memphis as insurance to cover innings John Brebbia could not, after Brebbia's three-inning save Wednesday. Gant entered after Martinez tied the game with a two-out double in the 10th, then breezed through a full turn of the Mets' lineup unscathed.

"So much fun to be involved," Gant said. "To compete is what I feel like I'm here for, and it's an amazing feeling."

Video: NYM@STL: Gant strikes out Cabrera in the 12th inning

Martinez's two-out hit scored Tommy Pham and saved the Cardinals a half-inning after Luke Gregerson walked in the go-ahead run with the bases loaded. Pham started St. Louis' first rally with a double in the seventh, and finished with four hits, just one day after suffering a bizarre head injury in the batting cage. Two of those hits came off Syndergaard, who lined up with Carlos Martinez in a rematch of Opening Day starters.

Video: NYM@STL: Pham has four-hit, two-run game vs. Mets

There were 37,762 fans at Busch Stadium expecting to see a high-octane duel, and that's what they got, though both starters were long gone by the end. Syndergaard's defense spoiled what was a dominant start through six; he finished with two runs (one earned) allowed over 7 1/3 innings. Martinez scattered four hits and a run over six frames, routinely wiggling out of jams brought upon by three hit batsmen.

"That's unique, going into a rubber game against a good team with a good starter," Matheny said. "Great series."

Video: NYM@STL: Martinez gives up one run over six frames

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Down to their final out, Jose Martinez inside-outed a 96-mph Familia sinker off the wall in right-center field, just beyond the outstretched reach of Juan Lagares. Martinez clapped his hands at second base as Pham crossed the plate with the tying run.

Video: NYM@STL: Martinez hits game-tying RBI double in 10th

"We already had the confidence, but this game gave us the belief that we can actually stay in the game if we never give up," Martinez said. 

SOUND SMART
The one blemish in Carlos Martinez's six strong innings came in the first, when he hit leadoff man Brandon Nimmo, who then scored on a Yoenis Cespedes double. Martinez hit Nimmo again in the fifth, and Adrian Gonzalez as well. He became the first Cardinals starter to hit at least three batters in a game since Jake Westbrook in 2013. Martinez has now also hit at least one batter in seven straight games, tied for the fourth-longest streak in MLB history. 

HOLLAND IMPRESSES AGAIN
Matheny said he was "very comfortable" giving Greg Holland the ninth inning in a tie game, and even more so after Holland threw a spotless ninth frame. It was the righty's fourth consecutive scoreless appearance. He appears primed to regain closing opportunities in the near future, though Bud Norris also struck out two over a scoreless inning Thursday. Norris has five saves filling in for Holland.

Video: STL@NYM: Holland strikes out Nimmo in the 9th inning

"You're seeing the [bad] swings, and that was the indicator we were looking for," Matheny said of Holland. "What kind of at-bats are guys taking against him? Guys aren't seeing the spin, they aren't picking him up real well. That's what we're accustomed to seeing."

HE SAID IT
"I might have to give some credit to my therapeutic do-rag." -- Pham

UP NEXT
The Cardinals hit the road for their first of 19 games against the Pirates when they open a three-game set at PNC Park on Friday. Miles Mikolas (3-0, 3.46 ERA) looks to win for the third time in a row when he opposes lefty Steven Brault (2-1, 4.44 ERA) at 6:05 p.m. CT. St. Louis went 11-8 against Pittsburgh last season.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals

6 reasons to believe in Braves after strong start

Atlanta staying competitive in National League East in first month
MLB.com @RichardJustice

This success has happened so quickly for the Braves, it's reasonable to ask: Is it real? Or maybe this is a better way to put it: Can it be sustained? To Braves fans, here's some advice: Don't sweat it.

You suddenly have a team that is both competitive and wildly entertaining. In 20-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., you have a potential superstar. On Thursday, in his second Major League game, he had a single, double and home run in a 7-4 victory over the Reds.

This success has happened so quickly for the Braves, it's reasonable to ask: Is it real? Or maybe this is a better way to put it: Can it be sustained? To Braves fans, here's some advice: Don't sweat it.

You suddenly have a team that is both competitive and wildly entertaining. In 20-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., you have a potential superstar. On Thursday, in his second Major League game, he had a single, double and home run in a 7-4 victory over the Reds.

Acuna's home run was one of those jaw-dropping moonshots, which Statcast™ clocked at 105.8 mph off the bat with an estimated distance of 416 feet. One more time: He's 20 years old.

Braves fans have been buzzing about Acuna's arrival for more than a year, and sometimes, a kid shows up who is every bit as good as advertised.

Video: ATL@CIN: Acuna belts 416-ft. longball for first homer

Oh, and the Braves also have the second youngest player in the Majors in 21-year-old second baseman Ozzie Albies. He arrived with some hype, too, and, like Acuna, he's off to a blazing start: eight home runs and 19 extra-base hits in his first full season.

In the long history of the Atlanta Braves, no player has had that many extra-base hits before the end of April.

Video: ATL@CIN: Albies skies a two-run home to right field

It's one thing to be good, and at 14-10, the Braves, after averaging 93 losses over the last three seasons, are in a good place. It's another thing -- and also critical -- to be entertaining to watch, and the Braves are must-watch television at the moment.

Raise your hand if you thought the Braves-Phillies series beginning Friday at Citizens Bank Park would feature two of the best, and most fascinating, teams in the early part of the season.

At this point, there's reason to think that these two teams -- along with the Nationals and Mets -- are capable of making the National League East the most competitive division race in the Majors.

Here are six reasons for Braves fans to believe in their team:

1. Ronald Acuna Jr.
His teammates will feed off his enthusiasm and positive energy. They know that his speed and power can ignite rallies, fuel comebacks and stop losing streaks. Players like this don't come along very often.

Video: ATL@CIN: Acuna discusses first homer, big day at dish

2. Lineup depth
The Braves were leading the NL in runs before Acuna made his debut Wednesday night. Along with Albies, shortstop Dansby Swanson, the No. 1 pick of the 2014 Draft, appears to have turned a corner. Preston Tucker and Ryan Flaherty have been nice surprises.

3. Freddie Freeman
He remains the face of the franchise and the rock in the middle of the lineup. If he stays healthy, he's good for 40 doubles and 30 home runs, and he will make the kids around him even better.

Video: ATL@CIN: Freeman tallies three doubles against Reds

4. Starting pitching
If you want to doubt the Braves, this is where you start. If Julio Teheran and Brandon McCarthy stay healthy, they're a solid one-two punch at the front of the rotation. After that, it's up to the kids: Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb and Matt Wisler have been good enough. Veteran Anibal Sanchez was excellent before going on the disabled list. Here's the good news: The Minor League system is stacked with quality arms, and they're likely to be needed.

5. Bullpen
So far, there have been too many walks and too much uncertainty, but there's also potential, both in the pitchers on the roster and even more in the youngsters in the Minors. Rookie left-hander A.J. Minter and veteran righty Arodys Vizcaino could share closing duties, and manager Brian Snitker is still sorting out how to line up guys in front of them.

6. Alex Anthopoulos
His hiring as general manager last year was one of the smartest moves any team made. He understands that roster building is as much an art as a science. His under-the-radar acquistions of Flaherty and Tucker have already paid dividends. His signing of veteran Jose Bautista to play third base is a no-risk addition that could be a significant boost. He also has a deep farm system that allows him the flexibility to replenish the big league talent, or to make a midseason trade.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Atlanta Braves

Former MiLB pitcher starts new path in NFL

For years, Hayden Hurst's right arm was special. Growing up in Jacksonville, Fla., he once threw to first base so hard during a T-ball game that the league bumped him up a division out of concern for the safety of the other children. He was pitching for the varsity high school team by eighth grade, and he and his low-90s fastball led The Bolles School to two state titles.

The summer before his senior year, Hurst pitched at Wrigley Field in the Under Armour High School All-American game. Florida State came calling with a scholarship offer soon after, which he happily accepted ... until the Pirates selected him in the 17th round of the 2012 Draft, offering a $400,000 signing bonus that convinced the 18-year-old to forgo college and report to Pittsburgh's Rookie League team. 

Hurst had made it -- he was an MLB Draft pick, the beginning of his seemingly inevitable journey to the Major Leagues. And then, all of a sudden, that magic right arm failed him.

Yanks sweep Twins with Sanchez's walk-off HR

Special to MLB.com

NEW YORK -- The Yankees always knew they had a chance. Get a couple guys on, get a pitch they could handle, and eight innings where the offense couldn't get going would be largely forgotten.

Just like that.

View Full Game Coverage

NEW YORK -- The Yankees always knew they had a chance. Get a couple guys on, get a pitch they could handle, and eight innings where the offense couldn't get going would be largely forgotten.

Just like that.

View Full Game Coverage

It didn't matter that the Yankees had no hits in the first five innings Thursday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, or that they still had just three hits entering the ninth. All that mattered was that Gary Sanchez came to the plate against Twins closer Fernando Rodney and rocketed a three-run walk-off home run into the left-field seats, giving the Yanks a 4-3 win and extending a six-game winning streak.

"If we can get traffic on the bases, we're always one swing away from our guys," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

Video: MIN@NYY: Boone on Sanchez's walk-off, late offense

The Yankees got that traffic when Didi Gregorius reached on an error to begin the ninth and Giancarlo Stanton followed with an infield hit. That brought up Sanchez, who was hitting .193 this season but already had five home runs.

"He had a real confident look up there," Boone said.

Sanchez was hitless on the day, but he had learned something from his first three plate appearances.

"I noticed through the game they were pitching me inside," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "I know Fernando Rodney is a good pitcher and he throws hard, but I was looking for a pitch I could hit."

Video: MIN@NYY: Montgomery K's LaMarre to strand two runners

Rodney indeed throws hard, and he tried to pitch Sanchez inside. The 96.5-mph fastball was the fastest pitch any Yankee has hit for a home run this season, according to Statcast™. It was the second time in his career Sanchez has homered on a pitch at least that fast, the other being a 99-mph Joe Kelly fastball last August.

The home run off Kelly tied a game the Yankees would go on to lose. This one finished off a four-game Yankees sweep of the Twins and earned Sanchez the Gatorade shower that goes to the game's star.

"I knew something was coming," Sanchez said of the shower. "I can just tell you it was cold."

Video: Extended Cut of Gary Sanchez's walkoff homer

The Yankees are hot, even if it didn't look that way in the early innings on Thursday. They were stifled by Twins starter Kyle Gibson, who allowed just one hit and struck out a career-high 10 in six innings. The Yankees didn't score until the seventh, when Stanton doubled off reliever Addison Reed and scored on Aaron Hicks' sacrifice fly.

Video: MIN@NYY: Hicks plates Stanton on a sacrifice fly

New York didn't score again until Sanchez's home run on the final swing of the day.

It was the 59th career home run for the 25-year-old Sanchez, but it was his first walk-off.

"This definitely is up there, definitely a very exciting moment," Sanchez said. "The other special moment was when we made it to the playoffs, but this is up there."

It was an exciting ending, but a familiar result for a Twins-Yankees series in the Bronx. The Yanks have swept three of their past four home series against the Twins, whom they also defeated at home in last season's American League Wild Card Game.

Video: MIN@NYY: German ends relief outing on a high note

The victim this time was Rodney, a 16-year veteran who is in his first season with the Twins.

"I was trying to get a ground-ball double play," Rodney said. "Threw the pitch a little bit high in the strike zone, that's why he could use his hands. He's got quick hands."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Betances fans the side: Looking at the big picture, the Yankees had to be happy with how Dellin Betances looked in striking out the side in the ninth inning. Betances needed only 13 pitches to cut through the top third of the Twins' lineup, and 11 of his 13 pitches were strikes. It was the first time since April 5 that Betances had struck out the side.

Video: MIN@NYY: Betances K's Sano to strike out the side

"That was ho-hum Dellin at his best there," Boone said.

SOUND SMART
Bert Blyleven had three 10-strikeout games against the Yankees, the last one coming in 1987. Only two Twins pitchers since then have fanned 10 Yanks in a game: Eric Milton in 2000 and Gibson on Thursday.

HE SAID IT
"Our approach doesn't change whether they're in first place or last. Our approach is to win series." -- Sanchez, on the Yankees, whose next three opponents (Angels, Astros and Red Sox) entered play Thursday with a combined 51-23 record

Video: Sanchez, Stanton, Boone, Montgomery on Yankees' win

UP NEXT
Boone is a Southern California guy, and he spent most of the 1980s at Anaheim Stadium when his father Bob was playing for the Angels. Now he returns as the Yankees' skipper for a series that could captivate Japan if Shohei Ohtani bats against Masahiro Tanaka Saturday night. First, New York sends ace right-hander Luis Severino (4-1, 2.32 ERA) to the mound for Friday's 10:07 p.m. ET series opener, against left-hander Andrew Heaney (0-1, 9.64 ERA).

Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.

New York Yankees, Dellin Betances, Aaron Hicks, Gary Sanchez

Dad 'stunned' to see son throwing with a Pirate

Ryan Payzant was in the middle of a conversation with a fellow baseball dad when he was told his son was "playing catch with a Pirate." He glanced over to see his 8-year-old, Colin, tossing the ball with Chad Kuhl.

Homers lift D-backs to 8th straight series win

Dyson, Ahmed, Peralta all went deep to back Koch's six-inning start
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHILADELPHIA -- Before departing Citizens Bank Park late Wednesday night following a loss to the Phillies, D-backs left fielder David Peralta had a message for a reporter asking about how his team would respond the next day.

"We'll be ready," he said.

View Full Game Coverage

PHILADELPHIA -- Before departing Citizens Bank Park late Wednesday night following a loss to the Phillies, D-backs left fielder David Peralta had a message for a reporter asking about how his team would respond the next day.

"We'll be ready," he said.

View Full Game Coverage

The D-backs were in fact ready from the get-go Thursday afternoon as they rode a three-run first inning and a strong pitching performance from Matt Koch to an 8-2 win over the Phillies.

Video: ARI@PHI: Koch tosses six innings of two-run ball

With the win, the D-backs still have not lost consecutive games this year and they captured their eighth series to open the season. That is the most series wins to open a season by a National League team since the 1977 Dodgers won eight. The all-time NL record is held by the 1907 Cubs, who won their first 11 series, and the Mariners opened the 2001 season with nine.

"It's really fun to go into a town or be at home and win that first game and show up the second day with a chance to win the series," reliever Archie Bradley said. "We understand what it takes. We understand the situations. There's a moment in every game where we just understand getting to second or stealing that bag or whatever it is, that's kind of the moment that lets us take over the game."

The series wins have helped the D-backs get off to the best start in the NL at 17-7. Impressive, sure, but even more so when you consider that they are missing key pieces.

Outfielder Steven Souza Jr. has missed the whole year due to a right pectoral strain, third baseman Jake Lamb has played in just four games after spraining his left AC joint and Taijuan Walker has been lost for the season to Tommy John surgery.

Video: ARI@PHI: Peralta clubs a two-run shot to left field

"I was talking to Lamb last night through text messages and I was like, 'Dude, I just keep picturing a full lineup,'" Bradley said. "Nothing against the guys who are starting and playing now, but I think that's what everyone keeps saying. You look at the way we're winning, our starters, our bullpen, our defense.

"And, yeah, collectively we may not be hitting as a whole but we're hitting when we need to. With the way we've thrown the ball and the way we've played defense, it's exciting. If we're doing this with the guys now and we're missing two power hitters, what is the rest of the season going to play out to be?"

Video: ARI@PHI: Koch singles up the middle for first MLB hit

Jarrod Dyson and Chris Owings have filled in for Souza in right while Deven Marrero and Daniel Descalso have taken over for Lamb at third.

Koch has pitched in place of Walker twice and has a 1.93 ERA.

"We're missing Souza and Lamb, and those guys both hit 30 bombs [last year], so that's 60 bombs sitting on the DL right now," Dyson said. "Guys are just stepping up. You've got Deven stepping up, you've got Descalso stepping up, I've got to step up, C.O. doing his job. And that's all you can ask for."

Video: ARI@PHI: Statcast™ measures Dyson's four-star catch

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Early blow: The D-backs struck first and they struck hard. After Peralta led off the game with a single off Ben Lively, Dyson smacked a homer over the wall in right, his second of the series, as the D-backs grabbed a quick 2-0 lead. It became 3-0 later in the frame and provided Koch with some early breathing room.

"We got off the mat from a tough loss last night," manager Torey Lovullo said. "We were prepared. We scored three runs. You jump ahead of a team like the Phillies and don't really let them catch their breath, and I thought we did a good job of that with Lively. I thought that was the difference in the game today."

Video: ARI@PHI: Ahmed belts a three-run homer to left field

SOUND SMART
Four runs seems to be the magic total for the D-backs these days. They are 15-1 dating back to Sept. 26, 2017, when they score four or more runs in a game.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Koch flashed some leather in the first inning when he snagged Odubel Herrera's smash up the middle. Koch reached behind his back with his glove and the ball found its way in there, and he was able to easily throw out Herrera at first.

Video: ARI@PHI: Koch reaches behind his back for nifty stop

HE SAID IT
"The guys come every day prepared, ready to win. So if you beat us, you beat us prepared. That's how we come in every day, and I love it so far because anybody can hurt you on any given day, and that's the fun part of this team." -- Dyson

Video: ARI@PHI: Dyson on recent power and the D-backs' win

UP NEXT
The D-backs open a three-game series with the Nationals on Friday at 4:05 p.m. MT at Nationals Park. Zack Godley will get the start for the D-backs opposite righty Stephen Strasburg. Godley won his last start against the Padres when he allowed a pair of runs in 5 1/3 innings. He has pitched well at Nationals Park, going 2-0 and not allowing a run in three games (one start) over 10 1/3 innings.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Vlad 'so glad': HOF visit leaves Guerrero in awe

Special to MLB.com

In the midst of a hectic day in Cooperstown, Vladimir Guerrero stood in the world-famous Plaque Gallery, surrounded by more than 300 bronze images of his fellow Hall of Famers, and pondered his good fortune.

"Growing up in my town of Don Gregorio in the Dominican Republic, all I wanted to do was sign a professional baseball contract. Fortunately, and thanks to God, over 16 years I did enough to make it here," Guerrero said through an interpreter. "To see so many plaques makes me so happy. I never thought I would be in the Hall of Fame, but now that I'm here, I'm so glad it has happened."

In the midst of a hectic day in Cooperstown, Vladimir Guerrero stood in the world-famous Plaque Gallery, surrounded by more than 300 bronze images of his fellow Hall of Famers, and pondered his good fortune.

"Growing up in my town of Don Gregorio in the Dominican Republic, all I wanted to do was sign a professional baseball contract. Fortunately, and thanks to God, over 16 years I did enough to make it here," Guerrero said through an interpreter. "To see so many plaques makes me so happy. I never thought I would be in the Hall of Fame, but now that I'm here, I'm so glad it has happened."

Guerrero, the sixth and final member of the Class of 2018 to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum since election results were announced, was in Cooperstown along with his girlfriend, Roxannie Rodriguez, and brother, Julio (an outfielder in the Red Sox Minor League system from 1998-2001), for his orientation visit on Thursday in advance of his induction ceremony. His only prior trip to Cooperstown came in '15, the year fellow countryman Pedro Martínez was inducted.

Hall of Fame coverage

During an interview held in the Plaque Gallery, only minutes after continuing a recent tradition of autographing the spot where his own bronze plaque will reside come July, Guerrero, who turned 43 in February, was asked how his life has changed since the Jan. 24 phone call that informed him of his election.

"There were actually two calls -- one call to say to expect a call and then 40 seconds later I got the call," said Guerrero, wearing blue jeans and a gray sweater. "When I got it, I felt very good. I was calm expecting the call, and everybody else was nervous with anticipation.

"I'm the same. I'm still helping my folks back home. I feel happy and my people feel happy. I'm the first one from my town, obviously, but I'm also the first Dominican hitter in the Hall of Fame."

Video: Watch Vladimir Guerrero get the Hall of Fame call

Of the 323 members of the Hall of Fame, only three were born in the Dominican Republic.

"There's a lot of Dominican players, and I feel happy to be the first Dominican hitter," Guerrero said, "especially with Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez both being pitchers.

"I got home early to the Dominican [the Sunday after being elected], but I did not get to my town until 9:30 at night. The whole town was out there waiting to congratulate me and to have a party."

Video: Vlad the first Dominican-born hitter to get to HOF

The Hall of Fame Class of 2018 will also include fellow Baseball Writers' Association of America electees Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome, as well as Modern Baseball Era Committee electees Jack Morris and Alan Trammell. The six will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 29, at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown.

"No, not much anticipation. Just waiting to see what happens in July when I enter the Hall of Fame," Guerrero said, when asked about the upcoming induction ceremony. "Pedro Martinez called me, Juan Marichal talked to me. And then among the American players, Andre Dawson called me, Tim Raines left me a message. Those are the guys that played with me in Montreal."

As for his induction speech, Guerrero said he hasn't written it yet.

"I've thought about it, I started it, but I'm not sure yet what I want to say in the speech," Guerrero said.

Video: Guerrero on representing Latin America in the HOF

Guerrero, a supremely talented right fielder, left in his wake a 16-season legacy of power and production. Vlad the Impaler, who spent the first half of his career excelling with the Expos before moving on to the Angels, Rangers and Orioles, earned nine All-Star Game selections, eight Silver Slugger Awards and the 2004 American League MVP Award.

In a career that ended in 2011 with a .318 batting average, 2,590 hits, 1,496 RBIs and 449 home runs, the notorious bad-ball-hitting Vladdy topped .300-or-better 13 times, knocked in at least 100 runs 10 times and swatted more than 30 homers eight times. The owner of two 30-homer/30-steal seasons, his 31-game hitting streak in 1999 remains tied for 25th on the all-time list.

Guerrero was elected in his second year on the BBWAA ballot, having received votes on 92.9 percent of the ballots cast, with 75 percent needed. Soon after his election was made public, it was announced that he would be sporting an Angels cap on his plaque, the first player to represent that franchise in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Video: Guerrero will be inducted into HOF as an Angel

Guerrero began Thursday morning with a two-hour tour of the Hall from Erik Strohl, the museum's vice president of exhibitions and collections. A trek through three floors of baseball history, Guerrero was introduced to the sport's long past and some more recent history.

"When I came in 2015, I couldn't come in," Guerrero said, when asked about the tour. "I liked the tour because I saw many things that I'd never seen or heard about before."

Coming across a George Wright trophy bat from 1867, Guerrero joked it reminded him of a guava tree branch. Upon seeing a Ted Williams exhibit, he remarked he too liked fastballs high and outside, adding they "never pitched him down the middle."

Hearing that Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda was a batboy on his father's baseball team, Guerrero said, "A lot of batboys have been signed in the Dominican."

Video: MLB Tonight: Vlad reflects on hitting bounced pitches

Asked about his youth, Guerrero told of how he used the core of a baseball and wrapped it in socks to keep playing with it. And along the way, he was able to see in the museum's Viva Baseball exhibit the bat he used for his aforementioned 31-game hitting streak in 1999.

In the collections storage area in the museum basement, Guerrero, wearing white cotton gloves, was allowed to swing a number of bats, including lumber belonging to Tony Gwynn, Pedro Guerrero, Willie Mays, Williams and Babe Ruth, consistently holding them against an outstretched arm to sense their length and weight.

"It's been a while since I've held a bat in my hands," a still fit Guerrero said with a wide smile.

The storage area also held a special Guerrero Expos jersey from 2000 in which Montreal Canadiens hockey player Maurice "Rocket" Richard was honored.

And with Mother's Day only a few weeks away, Guerrero was asked about the role his mother played in his life.

"My mom is everything," Guerrero said. "When I was 5, she went to Venezuela to work to help support us. And when I got to the big leagues, she stayed with me every year, helped cook. So it was nice to have your mother with you in the big leagues. And she's still in the States -- she's now with my son in Double-A.

"When we got the call [about the election], she was there with me, and she's happy. We're just waiting for July."

Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Here's one good thing for all 30 teams so far

MLB.com @JPosnanski

Most teams are about 25 or so games into the season, and there are already some clear winners and losers out there. Especially losers.

Before we get to the good news -- and this column is all about good news -- let's talk about teams that have lost 100 games in a season. That is the epicenter of baseball awfulness, the 100-loss team. Very few baseball teams actually lose 100 games in a season, fewer than you would probably expect.

Most teams are about 25 or so games into the season, and there are already some clear winners and losers out there. Especially losers.

Before we get to the good news -- and this column is all about good news -- let's talk about teams that have lost 100 games in a season. That is the epicenter of baseball awfulness, the 100-loss team. Very few baseball teams actually lose 100 games in a season, fewer than you would probably expect.

Just one team -- the 2016 Minnesota Twins -- has lost 100 games since 2013. Only five teams in the 1990s lost 100 games (though this was in part because of the labor strife in the middle of the decade).

The record for most 100-loss teams in a single season is four -- that happened in 2002, when the Rays, Royals, Tigers and Brewers all did it. The Royals had 99 losses going into the final day, and they sent out a Spring Training lineup with Kit Pellow hitting cleanup because, as they said afterward, "What's the difference between losing 99 and 100 games?"

There's a difference.

But this is the point -- four is the record. At this moment, seven teams have a winning percentage well below .389, which is what you need to not lose 100 games. The Orioles, White Sox, Royals, Rangers, Marlins, Reds and Padres are all playing incomprehensibly bad baseball, and with the possible exception of the Rangers, all of them are viable 100-loss candidates. The Rays are slightly above the 100-loss pace at the moment, but if one or two more things go wrong, the Rays are 100-loss contenders, too.

When you have this many teams playing poorly, that naturally suggests that many teams are playing well, too -- and yes, seven teams are on a 100-win pace, too, and those don't even include preseason favorites like the Yankees, Nationals, Dodgers, Cubs and Indians.

So yes, teams have already been sorted.

But every team -- even the Reds -- has had something good happen in the early part of 2018. Really, it's true. Just look:

American League East

Red Sox: Everything is good in Boston right now. The best news? You could choose Mookie Betts' return to Most Valuable Player Award form. But let's pick the resurgence of Rick Porcello. He won the AL Cy Young Award just two years ago, but he gave up so many hard-hit balls in 2017 -- he allowed 52 barrels, the most in the Majors -- that many assumed the Cy Young year was a fluke. This year, he has only given up three barrels in five starts, his strikeout-to-walk ratio is a sensational 8.0 and he has not yet allowed a home run.

Video: BOS@TOR: Porcello K's nine over seven solid frames

Yankees: The thrilling early success of the kids -- Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, in particular -- no doubt has Yankees fans dreaming of a dynasty. But the best news is Didi Gregorius, obviously. He was supposed to be a defense-first shortstop; nobody knew if he would hit at all. Now, he's raking. You expect him to come down to earth a little bit, but even if he does, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez will have likely geared up. The Yankees are averaging six runs per game. They might average 10 for the rest of the season.

Blue Jays: There's a lot going right in Toronto in the first month, but the way this team is scoring runs early on has everybody stunned. Josh Donaldson has barely played, Troy Tulowitzki hasn't played at all, Randal Grichuk is hitting .079, Justin Smoak has struggled and this team still averages 5.3 runs per game, third in the AL. How? Well, let's point to 37-year-old Curtis Granderson, who is hitting .321/.433/.571. Granderson is one of the most popular players in baseball; his comeback is one of the early season's feel-good stories.

Video: Must C Clutch: Grandy nabs Nunez, belts walk-off HR

Rays: The emergence of super-utility player Daniel Robertson has been a reason that the rails have not come off in Tampa Bay. He was a big prospect several years ago, but in a 75-game trial last year, he didn't hit at all (.206/.308/.326). It has been a different story this year; he's hitting .346 with extra-base power. But the real value of Robertson is his almost freakish versatility. He has played every infield position, except catcher. He has even pitched a clean inning.

Orioles: No, there isn't much good news in Baltimore … but at least there's Richard Bleier. What a story. He is a 31-year-old lefty who generally does not break 90 mph. In an era of strikeouts, he hardly ever strikes out anybody. And yet -- armed with a sinker and impeccable control -- he has been fantastic. In 15 2/3 innings, he has earned the win in two of the Orioles' six victories, and he has an 0.57 ERA. Bleier is a throwback to the time of closer Dan Quisenberry, who pitched to contact, made hitters beat the ball into the ground and used to say, "natural grass is a wonderful thing for little bugs and sinkerball pitchers."

AL Central

Indians: The simple fact that Cleveland leads the division with a winning record, despite being last or almost last in just about every offensive category, is probably the best news. There is no way that the offense will continue to be this hit-unlucky. But that's bad news masked as good news, so instead, let's go with the emergence of Mike Clevinger as a dominant starter. He's a four-pitch right-hander who mixes in a fastball, slider, cutter and changeup. That changeup in particular has been devastating -- he's allowed one hit on it all season -- and if he can settle in as a force in the fourth-starter spot, there will be World Series dreams all season in Cleveland.

Video: CLE@BAL: Clevinger dominates O's with two-hit shutout

Tigers: Detroit has been playing better than expected -- manager Ron Gardenhire's teams do play hard -- and 24-year-old third baseman Jeimer Candelario has been a big reason. The Tigers picked him up at the non-waiver Trade Deadline from the Cubs in 2017, and he impressed everyone by hitting .330 and showing superb plate discipline in a 27-game trial. This year, he's been sensational, hitting .290/.359/.548 with 13 extra-base hits, including an AL-leading three triples.

Here's just a fun oddity: Candelario has not yet stolen a base in the Majors. If you go back to 2014, he has played in 584 games including the Minors and the Arizona Fall League. He has stolen one base over that time -- last year for Triple-A Toledo. He has hit 20 triples over that same stretch.

Twins: The early success of Jose Berrios has not only been the best news in Minnesota for now, it is the best news the Twins could have gotten. Berrios mixes his mid-90s fastball with a breathtaking curveball, and when he is right, he is all but unhittable, as he was on Opening Day (and two other starts when he did not allow a run). When he's not right, he gets battered around, like he did against the Yankees in his last start. So far, he has been right more often than not. If he can reduce the bad starts so that he only has two or three a year, he will be a Cy Young candidate.

Video: CLE@MIN: Berrios hurls seven scoreless in Puerto Rico

White Sox: Not much good is happening on the South Side, but 24-year-old Reynaldo Lopez has pitched well. This has not been easy to see, because he has gotten absolutely no run support -- the White Sox have scored four runs over his four starts. But he has allowed two runs or fewer each time out, and he has proved to be hard to hit. Lopez has pure power, with a high-90s fastball and 93-mph slider, and as the White Sox look to move from rebuilding to contending in the next few years, he's a key player.

Royals: It's grim in Kansas City. The Royals are last in the Majors in runs scored and next-to-last in ERA, and there is nobody out there who is younger than 25. This is the hard aftermath of a World Series championship run. But we are on a mission to find good news, so there are two bits here.

1. Mike Moustakas, who came back on a one-year deal, is crushing the ball, which might make him valuable to a contender in a trade.

2. Jakob Junis is 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA through four starts; the Royals hope he can be part of the answer as they claw their way back.

AL West

Astros: It's all pretty rosy in Houston, good news in every direction. But it's fair to say that even the Astros did not expect the rotation to be this good. Nobody could have expected them (or anybody else) to be this good. The Astros' starters have made 26 starts, and 19 of them were quality starts. In total, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton and