There's an old adage around baseball that you never know what you might see when you come to the ballpark. And just when you think you've seen everything, the game will find a way to surprise you.
Phillies star Bryce Harper got hit in the face with a 97 mph fastball in Philadelphia's 5-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals and had to leave the game, but the slugger posted a video on his Instagram account later in the evening to assure fans "everything feels good."
With a full slate of games on Wednesday, let's see what else stood out.
We have a humorous moment late in a game that was decided far earlier. We have the continuation of a frustrating trend for the undisputed best pitcher in the game right now. And we have an obscure rule resulting in a controversial play that has to be seen to be believed.
No longer an oddity
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo topped out at 74 mph during his 2/3 of an inning on the mound in Wednesday's blowout loss to the Braves. (Photo: Dale Zanine, USA TODAY Sports)
Something you rarely saw even a decade ago has now become commonplace in today's game. In a lopsided contest, managers have decided it's better to use a position player to finish the game than bring in an actual relief pitcher for mop-up duty.
Most of the time, it ends up being just harmless fun. Like this exchange when Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo took the mound against fellow All-Star Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves.
Freeman was 4-for-4 when he stepped in to face Rizzo in the bottom of the seventh. But he walked away as Rizzo's first career strikeout victim.
Take a seat, [email protected]/ArqdIRVuM3
Earlier in the day, infielder Alex Blandino of the Cincinnati Reds came in to get the final out in an 8-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
A quick run through Baseball-Reference.com, shows the addition of Rizzo, two other Cubs teammates and Blandino makes 17 different position players who have pitched so far this season. (The Nationals' Hernan Perez has done it twice!) And it's still April.
At what point though, do these hijinks become less of a novelty and more of an aberration? We've already seen a trend toward more pitchers than hitters on MLB rosters. Why do the hitters have to pitch, too?
If it weren't for bad luck …
Now here's a trend New York Mets fans are definitely tired of seeing.
Ace Jacob deGrom pitches great, but gets no run support in a low-scoring loss. It happened again, this time against the Boston Red Sox.
The two-time NL Cy Young award winner allowed just three hits and one run over six innings, but his teammates failed to score in a 1-0 loss. DeGrom, now 2-2 with a 0.51 ERA, also struck out nine batters along the way, bringing his season total to 59.
That ties him with Nolan Ryan for the most strikeouts over a pitcher's first five appearances in any season.
Jacob deGrom ties Nolan Ryan (1978) with 59 Ks through his first 5 appearances.
An @MLB record since at least 1893. pic.twitter.com/hY352QSo0j
According to ESPN Stats & Information, it also marked the 33rd time in his career that deGrom has pitched at least six innings, allowed no more than one run and failed to get a win.
Imagine how much better his 72-53 overall record might be if his teammates could get some timely hits.
Here's an opportunity to play armchair umpire. What's your call here?
E1 🚨 🚨 🚨
Most bizarre “error” of the year pic.twitter.com/oFB81HNMkl
On this play, first base umpire Marty Foster called the Marlins' Isan Diaz safe due to obstruction by Brewers pitcher Zack Godley.
Foster defended his call after viewing a replay, telling a pool reporter after the game he was "100% sure" Diaz was impeded on his way to first.
"(Diaz) actually makes a jog to the right to get out of his way, to get out of Godley’s way," Foster said. "That’s clear-cut obstruction. It doesn’t have to be contact. It just has to be hinder or obstruct, and that’s what happened."
Obviously, that explanation didn't satisfy Brewers manager Craig Counsell, especially when Diaz came around to score in a game Milwaukee eventually lost 6-2.
"Well, it was a terrible call," Counsell said. "I have no idea what Marty was trying to make up there… what he saw. It's even worse, looking at the replay, than I thought he might have seen. Bad call."
Follow Gardner on Twitter @SteveAGardner
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