The Red Sox became the seventh team in 100 years to receive a pair of two-homer games on Opening Day in beating the Phillies on Monday.
Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez pulled off the feat, with Ramirez hitting a grand slam in the ninth to punctuate the 8-0 victory. Clay Buchholz pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits, in his new role as Boston’s nominal ace.
The Red Sox also got a homer from Mookie Betts. Cole Hamels gave up four of the five bombs, with Hanley’s slam coming off Jake Diekman.
The 2009 Diamondbacks were the last two to have two players homer on Opening Day, with Felipe Lopez and Tony Clark going deep against the Rockies. In 2000, two teams did it: the Rangers with Gabe Kapler and Ivan Rodriguez and the Blue Jays with Shannon Stewart and Tony Batista.
Pedroia now has four Opening Day homers, tied for the most of any active player. Others with four include David Ortiz and Albert Pujols. Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Robinson have the most ever Opening Day homers with eight.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan report that the Diamondbacks are one of several teams that have used labs other than the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah to process COVID-19 testing. MLB has encountered delays with its testing, despite promising 24-hour turnaround time, so teams have tried other avenues — with the league’s endorsement — in order to get faster results.
The SMRTL had processed performance-enhancing drug screenings for MLB. The league converted it to process COVID-19 tests amid concerns that having a season and all of the testing that would be required throughout would take away testing resources from the general public. That some teams are utilizing labs other than the SMRTL suggests the league, indeed, is usurping those resources.
In prospect Seth Beer’s case, he tested positive for COVID-19. He needed to test negative twice consecutively to be cleared to return to play. Beer went to a third-party site in the Phoenix area. He received his second negative test and was cleared to return on July 9.
The Diamondbacks said that the labs they have used have assured them that they are not taking away tests from the public. That seems like a claim MLB and the D-Backs should demonstrably prove. Per Rosenthal and Buchahan, the D-Backs have gone to an outside lab about 20 times, which accounts for less than one percent of COVID-19 tests taken by players and staff. Still, those are 20 tests that could have been used by the general public. And if the D-Backs and a handful of other teams already are using outside labs, then the rest of the league likely already is or soon will be doing the same. In the end, there will be a lot more than 20 tests taken at outside labs by MLB players and staff. Considering that “Tier 1” players will be tested every other day throughout the season, the total of third-party tests taken — if things continue the way they are now — could easily reach into the thousands by the end of October.
We all want baseball back, but the players, coaches, and all other staff are no more important than cashiers, teachers, and delivery drivers, so they shouldn’t have more access to COVID-19 testing simply by virtue of being associated with Major League Baseball and all of its influence and financial muscle. It would be unethical for MLB to be cutting in line ahead of other people who need testing just as much as if not more than the players.