BEYOND THE BOX SCORE By Bill Arnold/@sfgwire

VIVE LA DIFFERENCE

It’s still early but run differentials through the first month of the 2019 season reveal some strengths and weaknesses for the 30 major-league clubs. The Tampa Bay Rays, who have come out of the gate with a high-scoring offense and strong pitching, lead the majors with 52 more runs scored than allowed; while the Baltimore Orioles have the largest negative gap at 64 more runs allowed than scored. The two World Series teams from last season have gone in opposite directions through the end of April. The Los Angeles Dodgers led the National League by having scored 37 more runs than they have allowed; while the Boston Red Sox have the second lowest run differential in the American League by having allowed 27 more runs than they have scored. The Sox also had the largest swing in run differential from April 2018 to this April – scoring 90 fewer runs. The Pirates had the largest swing in in the N.L. by scoring 39 fewer runs. The Minnesota Twins and the Cincinnati Reds each posted the majors largest positive swings from last April to this April with a gain of 53 runs.

The run differentials for each big-league team through the end of April were:

American League

                      2019    2018   2018-2019
Team          RS-RA Diff. Diff. Diff.
Rays           135-88   +47      -5    +52
Astros        143-105  +38     +67    -29
Yankees       156-121  +35     +46    -11
Twins         141-124  +17     -36    +53
Mariners      189-176  +13      -2    +15
Blue Jays     120-110  +10     +29    -19
Rangers       166-157   +9     -41    +50
Indians       109-105   +4      -1     +5
Angels        140-145   -5      +4     -9
A’s           145-157  -12      +3    -15
White Sox     131-144  -13     -42    +29
Tigers         94-115  -21      -4    -17
Royals        132-156  -24     -65    +41
Red Sox       134-161  -27     +63    -90
Orioles       125-189  -64     -54    -10

National League

                         2019    2018   2018-2019
Team RS-RA    Diff.   Diff.  Diff.
Dodgers       174-137  +37      +9    +28
Cardinals     158-126  +32     +25     +7
Cubs          149-122  +27     +36     -9
Dbacks  158-136  +22     +42    -20
Phillies      146-134  +12     +13     -1
Reds          109-99   +10     -43    +53
Braves        148-144   +4     +38    -34
Brewers       152-154   -2      +6    -8
Nationals     143-145   -2      +4    -6
Padres        107-116   -9     -36    +27
Rockies       125-138  -13     -25    +12
Mets          149-168  -19     +14    -33
Pirates        90-109  -19     +20    -39
Giants         96-122  -26     -18     -8
Marlins        82-143  -61     -47    -14

WHIFFENPOOFS

Tuesday’s pitching matchup between the CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees and Zack Greinke of the Arizona Diamondbacks featured the most combined strikeouts between two starting pitchers since Jaime Moyer (Philadelphia Phillies) faced off against Greg Maddux (San Diego Padres) on August 15, 2008. The Moyer-Maddux match began with a total of 5,567 punch outs. Going into the matchup, Sabathia (2,997 Ks) and Greinke (2,474) combined for a total of 5,471 whiffs. By the end of Yankee-Diamondback game, which the D’backs won, 3-1, Sabathia had become the 17th pitcher to reach 3,000 career strikeouts. He finished the game with 3,002 and Greinke, who earned the win, upped his career strikeout total to 2,481. This wasn’t the first time a D’back pitcher had been involved in a high-stakes K-game. Back in 2007, D’backs’ Hall-of-Famer Randy Johnson, then with 4,591 Ks, battled the Phillies’ Moyer with 2,030 Ks to total a combined 6,621 Ks.

AROUND THE HORN

… For only the 11th time in his career Justin Verlander threw 10 or more pitches to a batter in the first inning; the Twins’ Max Kepler drew the 10-pitch walk against the Astros’ ace on Monday night; Verlander has thrown 76 10-pitch (or greater) at bats to the 11,497 batters he’s faced during his career in 2,803 innings pitched.

… The Royals just missed out tying the major league record for the most triples by the end of April when they finished with 15; the 1915 Cubs and 1917 Reds share the record for most triples by the end of April with 17.

J.T. Realmuto saw the most pitches by any batter this season when he faced 16 pitches in the first inning from Marlins’ starter Caleb Smith, who finally earned the strikeout on April 25; the Phillies catcher, who finished 0 for 4 with three KOs, became the 25th batter since 1996, when pitches began being officially tracked, to see at least 33 pitches in four or more at bats in a single game.

… The Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Class-A Midwest League are calling a flour-tortilla filled with pulled pork, Mac and cheese, crispy onion rings and bacon – then deep fried and topped with a chili-queso sauce calling it “The South of the Porker.”

… Baseball fines levied on players, coaches and managers by Major League Baseball are payable by the player, coach or manager to either one of the two non-profit charities run by MLB; which means that the fines are tax deductible as contributions or donations to a charitable organization.

Felix Hernandez of the Mariners became the sixth-youngest pitcher at 33 years and 22 days of age to reach 2,500 strikeouts when he struck out eight Cubs’ batters on Tuesday night; the four pitchers younger than “The King” to reach 2,500 strikeouts were Nolan Ryan (31 years and 101 days), Walter Johnson (31.197), Pedro Martinez (32.221), Tom Seaver (32.287) and Bert Blyleven (33.000).

… The Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt, a career .324 (318-for-981) hitter against left-handed pitchers before this season, has gone (2-for-17) against southpaws this year.

… The Lake Erie Crushers are going to honor retired outfielder Coco Crisp with his own bobblehead on June 22, then in August Crisp will suit up and actually play a game for the independent Frontier League team; Crisp played 15 MLB seasons (2002-16) with the Indians, Red Sox, Royals and A’s.

… Through Thursday, the Red Sox were 135-71 at home against the teams from the Pacific Time Zone, while going 99-125 when they play in that time zone since 2003.

… If any of the Ranger home games, against the Blue Jays this weekend, are rained out (with bad weather in the forecast), then it would mark the first time since 2009 that Texas will have multiple rainouts in a season; the Rangers suffered their first rainout of the season against the A’s on April 13.

… Through Thursday’s games Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers leads the majors in the following categories: batting average (.425), on-base percentage (.500), slugging percentage (.867), OPS (1.367), runs scored (32), hits (48), total bases (98), runs batted in (38), runs created (50), extra base hits (21), times on base (68) and shares the lead in home runs (14) with the Brewers’ Christian Yelich.

… Former Red Sox manager Butch Hobson (1992-94) and Chris Bando (Sal’s younger brother) are among the managers of teams in the independent American Association; Hobson skippers the Chicago Dogs while Bando generals the Texas Airhogs.

Cole Hamels became the fifth active pitcher to amass 400 career starts, when he made a start against the Mariners on Tuesday night; the Cub joins CC Sabathia (542 starts), Justin Verlander (426), Zack Greinke (421) and Felix Herandez (409).

… Astro starter Gerrit Cole, with his start against the Twins on Tuesday, needs to only appear as a pitcher against his old team, the Pirates, to have pitched against all 30 teams in the bigs.

… For the fifth time Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman earned a save while facing just one-batter on April 28; Fernando Rodney of the A’s leads all relievers with 12 one-batter saves over the same 10-season stretch (2010-19).

Joe Maddon needed only 674 games to earn his 400th win as the Cubs’ manager; only Frank Chance (594 games) and Cap Anson (606) needed fewer games to reach 400 wins while helming the Cubbies.

… Everybody should tip their caps to celebrate Willie Mays‘ 88th birthday this coming Monday, May 6; during his 22-season career, the “Say Hey Kid” was a 24-time All-Star, won 12 Gold Gloves, batted .302, scored 2,062 runs, hit 660 home runs, drove in 1,903 runs and still holds major league records for hitting 22 extra-inning home runs and recording 7,093 putouts as an outfielder.

Other writers and sources contribute to Beyond the Box Score

Edited by Rick Wacha

Copyright 2019, Sports Features Group