It only took him 717 games, but Brandon Belt finally notched the first grand slam home run of his major league career in Friday's loss to the Padres.
His sixth-inning blast off of Luis Perdomo briefly gave the Giants a one-run lead, but once again it was an advantage that their bullpen was unable to protect. Belt also left the yard in his next at-bat, notching the fourth multi-homer game of his career.
Mashing the baseball on the road is nothing new to Belt, as the 28-year-old slugged 11 of his 17 home runs away from the spacious confines of AT&T Park in 2016. For his career, only 26 of his 83 total long balls have come at home. It would be fun to see what he could do with a full season in another hitting environment, but the Giants have him locked up through the 2021 season, so barring a trade he'll remain in San Francisco.
He has now slugged three homers (plus a double and a triple) and plated seven runs in his first five games in 2017. Unfortunately for him, and his fantasy owners alike, he'll spend next week back in San Francisco where his power evaporates.
It's hard to say that a player who posted an OPS of .868 is poised for a breakout, but provided he can avoid the disabled list, Belt could take another leap forward in 2017. Fantasy owners have to be thrilled with the early returns.
Editor’s Note: Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball: Get in the game and create or join a league today.
A pair of rookie hurlers made their respective Major League debuts on Friday in dazzling fashion.
Kyle Freeland, a life-long Rockies' fan and the eighth overall selection from the 2014 draft, found himself on the hill for his club's home opener on Friday and matched up against the vaunted lineup of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He showed a few jitters in the early-going, issuing a pair of walks to load the bases in the first inning, but settled in beautifully afterwards. The only damage against him came in the fourth inning where Scott Van Slyke doubled, was bunted over to third and scampered home on a ground ball.
The young southpaw racked up six strikeouts on the afternoon while allowing just four hits and the aforementioned first-inning walks. He threw 95 pitches over his six innings of work, 55 of them for strikes.
It's difficult to envision him becoming an every week starter in mixed leagues, especially with half of his games coming at Coors Field, but he should definitely be on the radar as a streaming option on the road.
Amir Garrett unexpectedly won a spot in the Reds' Opening Day rotation after Anthony DeSclafani succumbed to injury during the preseason. The 24-year-old southpaw and former college basketball player got his chance on the world's biggest stage on Friday and didn't disappoint.
The left-hander allowed just two hits over six innings of shutout baseball, walking two and striking out four in the process. For a guy who had only made 11 career starts above Double-A, he certainly looked like he belonged on a big league mound on Friday.
Garrett needed just 78 pitches (50 strikes) to get through his six innings. He dealt with command issues throughout his minor league career, which could lead to inconsistencies in his rookie campaign, but there is immense potential here.
Like Freeland, he's probably best utilized as a streaming option in plus matchups, but could be an every week starter in NL-only formats.
Editor’s Note: Get our MLB Draft Guide + Season Pass ($39.99 value) for FREE with your first deposit on FanDuel! Click here to claim now.
Buxton's struggles continue
The early-season struggles of Byron Buxton continued on Friday. The 23-year-old picked up a golden sombrero, striking out in all four of his at-bats against the White Sox.
In his nightmarish first week, Buxton is now 1-for-18 (.056) with 11 strikeouts and one walk. Prior to Friday's contest, Twins' manager Paul Molitor indicated that he wasn't planning to move the budding star from the third slot in the lineup, but perhaps he should reconsider. Dropping him down to alleviate some of the pressure seems like a no-brainer at this point.
Fantasy owners who bought into his strong September finish from 2016 have to be concerned with the early results. It's difficult to have any sort of success without being able to make any sort of consistent contact.
Despite Buxton's struggles, the Twins have now won each of their first four games and sit atop the American League standings.
American League Quick Hits: Nomar Mazara had a monstrous day at the plate with a grand slam and six RBI as the Rangers clobbered the Athletics... Matt Joyce crushed a three-run homer in a losing effort against the Rangers... Phil Hughes fired six innings of one-run ball in his return from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome... Jason Vargas struck out six over six innings of one-run ball in a victory over the Astros... Francisco Liriano turned in the shortest start of his major league career, giving up five runs in only 1/3 of an inning... Seth Smith blasted a go-ahead two-run homer to beat the Yankees... Gary Sanchez clubbed his first homer of the year in a losing effort... Jesse Chavez won his Angels' debut, allowing one run over 5 2/3 innings against the Mariners... Yankees' pitching prospect James Kaprielian underwent an MRI on his pitching elbow and is scheduled for a meeting with Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday in Los Angeles... Steve Cishek (hip) faced live hitters in extended spring training and could soon be cleared for a rehab assignment... Jason Kipnis (shoulder) will begin a minor league rehab assignment with Double-A Akron on Sunday... Garrett Richards was placed on the 10-day disabled list with his biceps strain... Michael Fulmer fired six scoreless innings but wound up with a no-decision after a blown save by Francisco Rodriguez... Chris Tillman (shoulder) is slated to make a start in extended spring training on Thursday...Adrian Beltre (calf) is scheduled to take batting practice on Saturday and could be cleared to return when he's first eligible on Sunday... Collin McHugh was forced to leave his minor league rehab start due to tightness in his pitching elbow and triceps... Orioles acquired Miguel Castro from the Rockies for a player to be named later or cash considerations... David Price (elbow) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Monday.
National League Quick Hits: Manuel Margot put on a show for the home crowd in the Padres' home opener on Friday, belting a pair of solo homers... After starting the season 0-for-14, Kris Bryant finally collected a hit on Friday... Mike Leake allowed just one run over eight innings in a tough luck loss to the Reds... Raisel Iglesias recorded the final six outs against the Cardinals to notch his second save... Javier Baez was diagnosed with a left eye contusion after colliding with teammate Jason Heyward... Zack Wheeler was touched up for five runs over four innings in his season debut... Christian Yelich clubbed his first home run of the season in a win over the Mets... Yangervis Solarte had three hits and plated four runs in a win over the Giants... Dustin Garneau belted a solo homer to beat the Dodgers... Jake McGee struck out the side to earn his first save... Bryce Harper launched his second homer in a victory over the Phillies... Blake Treinen gave up a pair of runs but managed to escape with his second save of the season... Max Scherzer won his first start of 2017, striking out seven over 6 2/3 innings... Vincent Velasquez struck out 10, but lasted just four innings and gave up a pair of homers against the Nationals... Keon Broxton (nose) didn't start but returned to action after taking a pitch to the face on Thursday... Ivan Nova allowed just one unearned over six innings in a victory over the Braves... Matt Garza (groin) came through a simulated game without issue... An MRI on the left elbow of Christian Friedrich came back negative... Rich Hill was placed on the 10-day disabled list due to a new blister on his left middle finger... According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Mets have looked at free agent right-hander Doug Fister... Trevor Rosenthal (shoulder) could return to the Cardinals bullpen without needing a rehab assignment.