A rundown of the odd, offbeat and unexpected occurrences of the 2019 season
Since the 2020 MLB season will be here soon, it seems like the ideal time to look back at last season and remember all the amazing, bizarre and unexpected things that happened. And yes, a lot of crazy "stuff" went down in 2019.
Here's a look at the highlights:
March 24: Pitcher Cole Hamels sinks his first hole-in-one on the links.
March 25: Hamels homers in a spring training game off former AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello.
March 28: The eventual 96-win Rays’ Opening Day lineup includes only one player (Kevin Kiermaier) who started the lidlifter in their 90-win 2018.
March 28: The first four and the seventh hitters in the Mets’ Opening Day batting order have names that end in “o.”
March 30: Russell Martin is the first position player since at least 1925 to pitch a 1-2-3 ninth inning in a team win.
March 30: Yu “Pace of Play” Darvish throws 57 pitches (six walks) before there is fair contact.
April 1: Twenty-two innings into their season, Cincinnati garners its first hit by an outfielder.
April 2: Zack Greinke is the first pitcher to strike out 10 batters and hit two home runs in a game since 2017, when Madison Bumgarner hit the first of his pair off Greinke.
April 2: The Phillies end their 103-year streak — the longest in any of the four major pro sports — of not winning at least their first four games of a season.
April 3: With hits in his first three at-bats, Willians Astudillo (.390) overtakes Ty Cobb (.366) as the all-time batting average leader among players with at least 100 ABs.
April 3: The Blue Jays dip to 1-for-56 (a healthy .018 clip) in the first three innings of games.
April 5: Tim Beckham is the second Mariner of the young season (with Dylan Moore, who did it on consecutive balls in play) to have a three-error inning.
April 10: Bookended by two singles, the Mets get seven consecutive batters aboard via either walk or hit-by-pitch to score six times against the Twins.
April 13: Tampa Bay’s franchise-record streaks of holding a lead for 45 innings (best in the AL since 1983) and stealing 14 bases without being caught end on the same day.
April 13: On the day Chris Davis snaps his record 0-for-54 streak, the new “leader” — an 0-for-31 Mikie Mahtook — is sent to the minors.
April 16: Kevin Kiermaier is officially caught stealing twice in the same inning — initially when he was safe because of a dropped throw at second base and then conventionally attempting to swipe third.
April 17: Joey Votto pops out to first base for the first time in his 6,829-plate-appearance career. (Ian Kinsler did that 193 times since Votto debuted.)
April 23: The Mets are the initial team of the live-ball era to have three different pitchers touch ’em all in the first 25 games of a season.
April 23: The two non-pitchers with the longest active homerless streaks (Eric Sogard, 311 ABs) and Joe Panik, 240) both hit one.
April 24: Rhys Hoskins lollygags a home run trot at 34.23 seconds (“bettering” his previous low by 10.41) to mock Mets pitcher Jacob Rhame, who had thrown two pitches over his head the previous night.
April 25: The day ends with Zack Greinke as the MLB OPS leader at 1.731 among players with 15 or more PAs.
April 26: Corey Kluber, who had never issued a bases-loaded walk in the previous 1,300 innings-plus of his career, doles out his fourth in his last 27.2 frames.
April 27: Brett Anderson is the first pitcher to face both Vladimir Guerreros.
May 1: Terrance Gore is nabbed on the bases in a third straight appearance as a pinch-runner.
May 4: Kevin Pillar, whose diving catch robbed Nick Senzel of his initial hit in the bigs the day before, robs the Reds prospect of his first home run.
May 4: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s first career RBI plates Justin Smoak, whose first career RBI had scored Guerrero Sr. in 2010.
May 5: Seven pitches into his start, Jeff Samardzija is tagged for a single and three home runs — but then allows only one knock over the next five shutout innings to beat the Reds.
May 6: Pablo Sandoval hits a three-run homer, steals a base and pitches a 1-2-3 inning in a game with a bee delay.
May 10: With their regular catchers on the IL, the Rays head into a series with their two active backstops “boasting” a .151 AVG in the minors this year.
May 14: The long strikeout-less streaks of Andrelton Simmons (61 PAs) and Willians Astudillo (44) end in the same game.
May 14: The independent Cleburne Railroaders release both 54-year-old Rafael Palmeiro and his 29-year-old son Patrick.
May 24: Keon Broxton, whom the Mets jettisoned to make room for Aaron Altherr, homers in his first at-bat for Baltimore. Meanwhile, Altherr is the third player of the season to homer in his first at-bat as a Met.
May 24: As the Orioles’ relief ERA swells to 6.17 on a walk-off homer, manager Brandon Hyde calls it “a little bit of a rough patch for our bullpen.”
May 26-27: For the first time in history, there is a five-strikeout batter (Trevor Story, then Javier Baez) on back-to-back days.
May 27: Yolmer Sanchez begins his at-bat hitting left-handed, waits out a rain delay, then returns to poke a single hitting righty.
May 28: Cody Bellinger cranks his 20th homer in his 190th at-bat two years after hitting his 20th bomb in his 189th at-bat.
May 30: Colorado gets a fourth walk-off victory in its last six home games, all courtesy of a different hitter.
June 4: The Marlins — the majors’ lowest-scoring team — are the first club since the 1952 Dodgers to glean an RBI from all nine spots of the order in the same inning.
June 7: Rookie Zach Plesac, whose first loss was to the White Sox, beats the Yankees for his initial win — the identical introductory combo his uncle Dan had as a rookie in 1986.
June 10: Beginning with those hit by the first three batters of the game, the Diamondbacks and Phillies combine for a record 13 home runs.
June 10: Jerad Eickhoff is the eighth pitcher to allow five hits in a game, all of which are home runs.
June 12: On the 12th anniversary of his no-hitter against a Brewers team whose leadoff man was Craig Counsell, Justin Verlander fans a career-high 15 against a Brewers team managed by Counsell.
June 13: Wilson Ramos’ wife comes down through the stands to inform her husband in the on-deck circle: “We’re pregnant!”
June 14: In a bad night for relievers named Diaz, Edwin loses the continuation of a suspended game in which he’d blown a save the night before. Meanwhile, Miguel (Padres) and Jairo (Rockies) combine to allow 10 runs in 1.2 innings.
June 14: There are cycles on back-to-back days (Shohei Ohtani, Jake Bauers) for the first time in 107 years.
June 23: Khris Davis, who batted exactly .247 in each of the four previous seasons, concludes the action for a third consecutive day batting .247 for 2019.
June 24: For the second straight night, a female fan escapes the stands to charge Dodgers right fielder Cody Bellinger.
June 27: In a first since 1901, five players go 0-for-7 or worse in Tampa Bay’s 18-inning takedown of Minnesota.
June 29: Freddie Mercury wins the mascot race during to the first game in Europe, defeating Winston Churchill, King Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster.
June 29: 330 starts into his career, Clayton Kershaw allows his first home run on a curveball to a left-handed batter (Charlie Blackmon).
June 30: In a video tribute to the deceased members of the 1969 Miracle Mets, living septuagenarians Jim Gosger and Jesse Hudson are surprised to be included. The team then misspells the latter’s name in a subsequent apology.
July 1: The Mets cut a $1.19 million check to Bobby Bonilla. Only 16 more of those to go before they’re all done.
July 4: The A’s extend their Independence Day win streak to eight wins in a row.
July 7: Cody Decker produces an authentic “walk-off home run” — retiring from baseball after his 204th minor league bomb (most among active players) gives Reno (the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate) a 10–9 victory.
July 12: Neither Sonny nor Jon Gray gets a decision in the first matchup of starting pitchers with the same colorful last name since Lloyd vs. Jumbo Brown met in 1933.
July 12: With every Angel wearing No. 45 to honor the late Tyler Skaggs, who died on July 1, the team throws the first combined no-hitter in the state of California since July 13, 1991 — the day Skaggs was born.
July 13: Shin-Soo Choo (following Jeff Mathis and Nomar Mazara) is the third Ranger of the year to homer on his birthday.
July 13: For a second straight day, two teams score seven runs in the first inning.
July 19: For just the second time in a regular-season game since 1900 (per the Elias Sports Bureau), batterymates — 30-year-old Patrick Corbin and 32-year-old Yan Gomes — start on their birthdays.
July 20: The Nationals play a 27th consecutive contest without a defeat of their starting pitcher, tying the live ball-era record.
July 22: Tyler Saladino, whose season previously consisted of five singles in 49 at-bats, hits a grand slam for the second straight day.
July 23: Winning pitcher Jason Vargas’ fastest offering is clocked at 84.6 mph, while loser Chris Paddack’s slowest comes in at 84.7.
July 24: Reynaldo Lopez records his third strikeout of the game before throwing his third ball.
July 27: Emilio Pagan coughs up his fifth longball of the month in 10 innings — each relinquishing a lead or tie and/or in extra innings.
July 31: Zack Greinke concludes the month of July having never thrown a pitch on a 3–0 count, and only eight on 2–0, to the 123 batters he faced during the month.
Aug. 5: Miami’s Robert Dugger is the first starter to serve up a home run with his initial major league pitch since Jason Dickson in 1996 — to Marlins CEO Derek Jeter.
Aug. 7: The White Sox leave Detroit having put at least one runner on base in all 36 innings of the four-game series. The Sox won three of the four games.
Aug. 7: Twice in the first four innings, Billy Hamilton is called out at first base only to have both overturned by replay.
Aug. 10: For the first time, a pair of rookies — Yordan Alvarez and Aristides Aquino (both of whom wear No. 44) — hit three home runs on the same day.
Aug. 14: Yasiel Puig is sworn in as a U.S. citizen on a day he’s serving a three-game suspension for fighting.
Aug. 16: Mike Yastrzemski is the third Rookie of the Week with a three-jack game, joining Yordan Alvarez and Aristides Aquino.
Aug. 20: For the second consecutive night in Minnesota, a game is delayed when a squirrel goes scampering across the field.
Aug. 20: At least one player fashions a multi-homer game for a record 37th straight day.
Aug. 20: The Astros, who are an unprecedented -600 favorite ($100 to win $16.67) over the Tigers in some betting lines, lose, 2–1.
Aug. 23: Hyun-Jin Ryu allows three homers and seven earned runs in his 12th start of the season at Dodger Stadium — the identical totals he gave up in his first 11 there.
Aug. 31: On what would have been Frank Robinson’s 84th birthday, Juan Soto is the youngest player to hit his 30th home run of a season before the end of August since Robby himself in 1956.
Sept. 2: The Dodgers and Rockies each crack 11 extra-base hits in a game that features 11 home runs and 11 doubles.
Sept. 4: Jorge Soler becomes the first Royal in team’s 51-year history ever to hit 40 home runs in a season — a sum reached 237 times by other players in the Royals’ first half-century.
Sept. 5: Houston is the first team in 102 years to win a game of 13 or more innings in which its starting pitcher did not retire a batter.
Sept. 9: The career record of Bruce Bochy, who began managing in 1995 and retired at the end of 2019, stands at 1,995–2,019.
Sept. 10: After winning their two previous games 21–1 and 15–0, the Astros lose, 21–7.
Sept. 12: Daniel Palka singles to snap his season-opening “slump” at 1-for-56 — the worst of the live-ball era.
Sept. 12: St. Louis’ leadoff batter in each of the first four innings leaves the yard.
Sept. 14: Zack Greinke makes his fifth start against the Royals in the nine years since he pitched for them — all at Kauffman Stadium and all for different teams.
Sept. 14: Mike Fiers starts a game with half a beard, gets hit hard, is removed with arm soreness and then immediately shaves off the other half.
Sept. 18: Albert Pujols’ career batting average drops to .29999 — the first time it’s been below .300 since the 14th at-bat of his career 18 years earlier.
Sept. 18: For just the third time since 1979, an AL player unloads a grand slam on the road with his team losing by three runs with two outs in the ninth inning — all of them Blue Jays (Dave Winfield, Justin Smoak and now Randal Grichuk).
Sept. 22: The Cardinals doom the Cubs to being the first NL team ever to be swept in a four-game series at home, all by one run.
Sept. 22: After entering the game having hit each of his 45 home runs against a different pitcher, Cody Bellinger takes Jake McGee yard for a second time.
Sept. 26: Rangers first baseman Ronald Guzman intentionally drops a foul pop-up with one out in the ninth inning to give Mike Minor another chance at his 200th strikeout. On the next pitch, Minor gets a called strike three on a pitch appearing to be a ball.
Sept. 29: One year after leading the NL in wins for a third-place Cardinals team, Miles Mikolas leads the NL in losses for a first-place squad.
Sept. 29: Jose Abreu finishes the season having topped the AL in both productive (43) and unproductive (95) outs.
Oct. 2: Oakland ends its season with two hits in its last 47 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Oct. 9: Clayton Kershaw, who has never allowed home runs on back-to-back pitches in any of the 34,378 pitches of his regular-season career, does so for the second time in a playoff game.
Oct. 23: In Game 2 of the World Series, after Astros manager A.J. Hinch orders his first intentional walk of the season; the next three Nationals batters produce five runs.
Sources for some of this material: Elias Sports Bureau, Stats LLC, ESPN Stats & Info, The Athletic
— Compiled by Bruce Herman for Athlon's 2020 MLB Preview. At 224 pages, it's the largest on the newsstand and the most complete preview available today. Click here to get your copy.