Giancarlo Stanton went from one homer in April to MLB’s best hitter in May

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Giancarlo Stanton homered 56 times in his first 250 career games, but when he began this season by going homerless in his first 19 games there were plenty of questions about what was wrong with the 22-year-old Marlins slugger.

It turns out, the answer was … nothing.

Stanton snapped his homerless streak on April 29 and in 31 games since then he’s hit .336 with 13 homers, 10 doubles, and a .759 slugging percentage. That includes .343 with 12 homers in 29 games this month, which is good for a 1.201 OPS that leads all MLB hitters for May.

For his young career Stanton has now 69 homers in 300 games, which is tied with Albert Pujols for the 11th-most in baseball history through 300 games. Here’s the leaderboard:

Ryan Howard         91
Bob Horner          84
Chuck Klein         81
Ryan Braun          79
Joe DiMaggio        79
Mark McGwire        77
Rudy York           77
Ralph Kiner         75
Eddie Mathews       72
Reggie Jackson      71
GIANCARLO STANTON   69
Albert Pujols       69

Incredible company, to say the least. And it’s also worth noting that Stanton’s first 300 games have come at a much younger age than many players on that list. For instance, Ryan Howard holds the all-time record with 91 homers through 300 games, but he debuted at age 24 and played his 300th game at age 27. Stanton will be 27 in … 2017. By then he might have 300 homers.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.