Another week of baseball is in the books and we are starting to see some separation between the teams that are going to be competitors throughout the year and the flat out losers of the major leagues. This week was all about the debut. One of the best prospects in all of baseball, Ronald Acuna Jr, was called up earlier this week and it is safe to say that he lived up to the hype. We also had a pitcher in Pittsburgh who made history during his major league debut and delivered a performance that will be talked about for years to come. We will start however in the nation’s capital, where the hottest team in baseball continues to roll and is making history in the process.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have accomplished a feat that has not been done since 1907. They have started the season winning their first 9 series’ and are mowing teams down like it is is nobody’s business. Coming into the weekend many said that their series streak would end at 8 as the D-Backs were going on the road to play a Washington Nationals team that was just beginning to get their feet beneath them. On Friday, thanks to a huge offensive performance from Diamondback CF AJ Pollock, the D-Backs defeated Stephen Strasburg and won game one of the series by a score of 5-4. The following day, the D-Backs turned to flashy outfielder, David Peralta. When Peralta’s name was called he did not disappoint. He hit two huge homers on the day and made some big contributions on defense to help the Diamondbacks make history. They had won the game 4-3 in extra innings, won the series and became the first team to win their first 9 series since the 1907 Chicago Cubs. The D-Backs dropped the series finale on Sunday, but it is clear this team will be a serious threat come October. They have the pitching, they have the offense, and they have the swagger to do big things this season and there is no telling just how far these boys from the desert can go.
When it was announced on Wednesday that the Braves’ top prospect Ronald Acuna was being called up and would be in the starting line up against the Reds, the major league community took notice. Many think that Acuna has potential to be the next star in this league and his first week up in the majors is making those people look like geniuses. It was clear the second that this kid stepped on a major league diamond that he had more god given talent then anybody on the field. He was fast in the outfield and covered ground like we have never seen before. His speed on the base paths is almost mesmerizing and he is a walking example of a 5 tool player. After hitting his first home run on Thursday, Acuna went on to have a tremendous weekend in Philadelphia, and looked like he had been playing this game at the highest level for 10 plus years. He would turn routine singles into doubles, he would rack up RBIs in bunches and has quickly become must see TV. Acuna is currently hitting for a .421 average, has 4 RBIs, a HR and a stolen bag to go with it. Acuna is the future of Major League Baseball and will be one of the faces of the league in the very near future.
The most compelling story of the weekend and perhaps the most compelling story of the early season, came on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh where a pitcher who was not supposed to even be called up made the most of his opportunity and then some. Due to a double header that the Pirates played on Wednesday, Clint Hurdle was forced to call up a starter from the minors to get a spot start on Sunday afternoon against the Cardinals. The skipper decided to bring up Nick Kingham, a 26 year old from Houston, Texas who had never pitched in a major league game before. The team expected Kingham to give them a few solid innings and then hand it over to their bullpen, giving them the win. It is safe to say the Kingham exceeded those expectations. The righty was feeling it early and showed no signs of having the classic “MLB debut jitters.” Before you could blink, Kingham had cruised through 5 perfect innings and the national media started to tune in. 15 up, 15 down. Then 18 up, 18 down. This was actually happening. Coming into the 7th inning with a perfect game on the line, the Pittsburgh crowd rose to it’s feet and they were going to remain standing for the remainder of the game. After retiring the first 20 batters he had faced, Kingham lost the perfect game bid after giving up a single to Cardinal shortstop Paul DeJong. Kingham finished the 7th inning and finished the day with 7.0 IP while allowing just 1 hit and striking out 9 batters. This performance will never be forgotten. Kingham made history by taking a perfect game in his major league debut farther then anyone has in the history of baseball. A afternoon in Pittsburgh that started out average, ended memorable and will be a day that the Pirates and all of baseball will cherish forever.