Opening Day 2019: New, fun, random things in store this season

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Opening Day is Thursday, so today we’re previewing. In addition to the stuff, like this, we’ll be posting this morning, be sure to join us for a 2019 season preview on the MyTeams App at 2PM Eastern Time.

We’ve posted our National League Preview and American League Preview. And, though they’ll almost certainly be wrong, here are our predictions for 2019. Now let’s look at some of the new, random and fun things in store for the 2019 season.

The New Faces

If you only follow your team closely and if your team is returning Casey O’RetiredCatcher as manager for the 19th straight season, you may not be aware of the new faces in dugouts across the league. There are six new skippers in the bigs this year: David Bell with the Reds, Chris Woodward with the Rangers, Charlie Montoyo with the Blue Jays, Brad Ausmus with the Angels, Rocco Baldelli with the Twins and Brandon Hyde with the Orioles.

There are also several new general managers/president of baseball operations guys, though you’ve had a better chance to get to know them during the hot stove season:Brodie Van Wagenen with the Mets, Farhan Zaidi with the Giants, and Mike Elias with the Orioles.


The New Looks

Only two teams have made wholesale changes to their standard uniform. The Indians, you know well by now, have removed Chief Wahoo from their caps and sleeves, with a Block-C appearing on all caps now. Otherwise they look more or less the same. The Marlins have undergone a complete renovation:

(Getty Images)

There will, obviously, be a lot of random alternates and things. And the Reds will be doing throwbacks all season long. Some of them are pretty wild.


The Stadiums

This will be the Texas Rangers’ final season at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Next year they will be moving to Globe Life Field, just next door. The “old” park opened way, way, way back in 1994, so I hope its decrepit and crumbling walls and antiquated electrical and plumbing systems don’t injure someone before the season is out.

Two parks are getting new names: the stadium of the Seattle Mariners — formerly Safeco Field — is now T-Mobile Park. The home field of the San Francisco Giants will get its fourth name since opening in 2000: Oracle Park.


The Schedule

Given that we — and Major League Baseball for that matter — tend to see the early regular season games which occur in Japan or Australia or other international locations as special cases, Thursday is truly Opening Day. Let the record reflect that March 28 is the earliest Opening Day in Major League Baseball history. It beats last year’s previous record by one day.

Those two games between the A’s and Mariners last week are not the only international games this year. There will be two series in Mexico: the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds will play in Monterrey, Mexico on April 13 and 14. The Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Angels will play in Monterrey on May 4 and 5. There will also be the first ever regular season games played in the United Kingdom, with the Boston Red Sox “hosting” the New York Yankees at London Stadium on June 29 and 30.

There will likewise be a couple of domestic games played in non-traditional settings: the Kansas City Royals will face the Detroit Tigers at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska on June 13, two days before the College World Series. On August 18 the MLB Little League Classic will be held at at BB&T Ballpark in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, coinciding with the Little League World Series. The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs will meet in this, the third installment of the Classic.


The Milestones

No monumentally historic career records or milestones seem to be within striking distance for anyone in 2019, but here are some round and/or divisible-by-five numbers that will get a shoutout when they happen:

  • Robinson Cano is 30 hits away from 2500, With 44 hits Cano will move into the Top 100 all-time;
  • Ian Kinsler is 57 hits away from 2000;
  • Albert Pujols could really move up on the all-time hits list. He’s currently at 24th all-time, and will pass people in front of him with his 8th, 29th, 34th, 60th, 61st, 71st, 73rd, 85th, and 103rd hits of the season, moving him all the way up to 15th place.
  • Miguel Cabrera is 35 homers away from 500;
  • Edwin Encarnacion is 20 dingers away from 400. Nelson Cruz is 40 away.
  • Mark Reynolds (6), Jay Bruce (14), Justin Upton (14), Chris Davis (17), Matt Kemp (20), Evan Longoria (23) and Joey Votto (31) could all get to 300 homers;
  • Albert Pujols can pass Willie Mays for 5th on the all-time on the home run list if he hits 28.
  • Edwin Encarnacion, Ryan Braun, Justin Upton and Joey Votto are almost all assured of getting to 1,000 career runs scored this year. Matt Kemp needs 72 to get there. It’s unclear if he’ll play enough to do so;
  • Pujols is 18 RBI away from 2000 in his career. When he gets there he’ll move into 5th all-time;
  • Ryan Zimmerman (12), Jose Bautista (25), Brian McCann (27), Nick Markakis (31), and Evan Longoria (54) could all reach 1000 career RBI in 2019;
  • CC Sabathia is four wins away from 250 career wins;
  • Bartolo Colon is three wins away from 250 career wins, but he’s unemployed and it’s not clear if anyone will give him a chance to pitch again;
  • Zack Greinke is 13 wins away from 200;
  • CC Sabathia is 14 Ks away from 3,000 career strikeouts;
  • Justin Verlander is 294 away from 3,000. A longshot — last year was his career high with 290 — but he’ll get close;
  • Ervin Santana (79), David Price (147), and Chris Sale (211) are within reach of 2000 career strikeouts;
  • Kenley Jansen is 32 saves away from 300; and
  • Craig Kimbrel, currently 14th — can move into 8th all-time on the career saves list, passing people when if/when he gets to 9, 15, 26, 35, 36, and 45 saves this season. Of course he’ll need a job to do that and he’s currently unemployed.

May the odds be ever in your favor, fellas.


The Farewell Tours

We already bid Ichiro Suzuki adieu following his two-game appearance in the Japan Series last week. We already know that this year will be the final season for two other greats as well: Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia announced last November that he will retire at the end of the season. In February Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced he will retire at the end of the season as well.


The Retirement Parties

Two numbers will be retired this season. On June 8, Adrian Beltre will have his #29 retired by the Texas Rangers. On June 15 Joe Mauer will have his #7 retired by the Minnesota Twins.

And, of course, a whole lotta stuff we can in no way predict will happen will, in fact, happen in 2019. That much you can bet on.

Padres clinch NL wild-card spot during 2-1 loss to White Sox

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres are going back to the playoffs for the first time in a full season since 2006, a spot that they clinched during the seventh inning of a 2-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.

The Padres were batting when the Miami Marlins beat the Milwaukee Brewers in 12 innings. The sellout crowd of 41,407 at Petco Park stood and cheered the sealed wild-card spot.

The Padres trailed 2-0 at the time but Kim Ha-seong homered a few minutes later.

The Padres had a chance to win in the ninth when they put two runners on with two outs against Liam Hendriks but pinch-hitter Jorge Alfaro, who has five walk-off plate appearances this year, grounded out.

Fireworks went off and the Padres players were given hats and shirts, but there was no wild on-field celebration. Manager Bob Melvin was drenched with a cooler of water and the players gathered near the mound for photos. They were cheered by what was left of the crowd as they headed to the clubhouse.

San Diego is one game ahead of Philadelphia for the second of three NL wild cards.

The Padres won a wild-card series against St. Louis after the pandemic-shortened 2020 season before being swept in the division series by the eventual World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Before that, they hadn’t been to the playoffs since winning the NL West in 2005 and 2006.

It’s the seventh playoff berth in franchise history and the fourth since Petco Park opened in 2004. The Padres haven’t been to the World Series since 1998, when they were swept by the New York Yankees.

The Padres reached the playoffs this year without electrifying shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who was on the cusp of returning from a broken left wrist when he was suspended for 80 games by MLB on Aug. 12 for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

Slugger Manny Machado has carried the Padres most of the season offensively and they added Juan Soto from Washington in a blockbuster deal on Aug. 2.

The Padres hired the veteran Melvin after last year’s brutal September collapse cost Jayce Tingler his job.

Lance Lynn (8-7) and Blake Snell 8-10) were locked in a scoreless duel Sunday when Elvis Andrus homered off the San Diego lefty with one out in the sixth, his 16th. His shot reached the top balcony of the brick warehouse in the left field corner at Petco Park.

The White Sox went ahead 2-0 on Adam Engel‘s two-out single in the seventh that brought in Andrew Vaughn, who had drawn a leadoff walk.

San Diego got on the scoreboard when Kim homered to left off Lynn with two outs in the seventh, his 11th.

Lynn allowed one run and five hits in seven innings, struck out five and walked one.

Snell allowed one run and three hits in six innings, struck out six and walked one.

UP NEXT

White Sox: RHP Bailey Ober (2-3, 3.18 ERA) is scheduled to start Monday at home against the Minnesota Twins, who will counter with Johnny Cueto (7-10, 3.39).

Padres: RHP Joe Musgrove (10-7, 3.03) gets the start Monday night at home against the San Francisco Giants, who will go with Carlos Rodon (14-8, 2.88).