Baseball season arrived before April’s spring showers, and actually before April itself. And those April showers that often delay games of America’s pastime were more likely snow showers in 2018.
Nevertheless, baseball was played, albeit amidst frigid weather and snow postponements. Twenty four games in all were postponed due to inclement weather, the most ever for one month in the history of America’s pastime.
Weather, however, was not the only crazy aspect of the first month of the 2018 season, which featured some rather odd occurrences over its first five weeks. As a clear indication of a trend that has been building for the past few years, a total of 6392 strikeouts and 6003 hits marked the first time in history that there have been more whiffs than base hits in a month.
Also for the first time in history, a hitter saw more than twenty pitches in an at bat. San Francisco first baseman fouled off pitch after pitch from Houston right hander Lance McCullers, resulting in a plate appearance that featured 21 deliveries and lasted over fifteen minutes.
A manager got fired before the end of the opening month for the first time in sixteen years, as Cincinnati canned Bryan Price after the Reds won only three of their first twenty games. No manager had been fired that fast since 2002, when Detroit gave the pink slip to Phil Garner after the Tigers got off to a zero and six start.
Baseball did experience some good oddities in that early span as well, including an impressive performance by a rookie. Shoehei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels became the first player in Big League history to win two games and hit four home runs in one month.
Fans in the Bay Area just north of where Ohtani now calls home also experienced some good news on April 17, a Tuesday night game against the Chicago White Sox. The Oakland Athletics hosted the contest at the Coliseum that could be attended free of charge, a promotion to celebrate the club’s fiftieth birthday.
The final crazy detail could be filed under both the good news and bad. Minnesota went more than two weeks without playing a game at its home ball park, challenging the Twins with the longest such streak ever for the opening month of the season. Inclement weather, combined with a series in Puerto Rico against the Cleveland Indians, kept them away from Target Field.
Manager Paul Molitor and his players should feel encouraged, however, when he considers that just last September another club had to spend an even longer spell away from home. After Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the Houston area, the Astros spent much of September playing elsewhere. Just over a month later, the team was celebrating its first World Series Championship in its fifty five year history.