Mets, Astros, A-Rod highlight first month
From the Amazin' Mets to A-Rod smacking homers, it's been a wacky first month in the majors.
A former MVP already has been traded. Star pitchers got hurt at the plate. And, those pesky pace-of-play rules really did cut down average time of games.
Here's a look at some of the most interesting things around baseball in April:
SIMPLY AMAZIN': The Mets tied a franchise record with 11 straight wins and equaled the best start (13-3) in club history by the 1986 team, which won the World Series. Matt Harvey (4-0) is back to All-Star form after Tommy John surgery and 41-year-old Bartolo Colon goes for 5-0 Wednesday night in Miami. New York has done most of its winning with David Wright on the disabled list and Daniel Murphy struggling at the plate.
A-ROD'S REVENGE: Alex Rodriguez certainly didn't lose his swing during his year in exile. Rodriguez hit his way up in New York's batting order from seventh to the three-hole and is on pace for 35 homers and 100 RBIs. He's one homer away from tying Willie May for fourth on the all-time list with 660. But will the Yankees celebrate the milestone and pay him a $6 million bonus for doing it?
HOUSTON, WE HAVE A WINNER: The Astros finally broke a streak of three straight 100-loss seasons by going 70-92 last year. Now, they're off to a 13-7 start that has most observers shaking their heads in wonder.
''If people are surprised that's great, but that is now how we think in the clubhouse,'' Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. ''I try to get the guys to not think about any of that stuff. We're playing good baseball and we haven't played our best yet. That's the thing I love: we are winning without playing our best. We have good camaraderie, a good culture on our team. We play hard and compete.''
BREW CREW BLUES: Milwaukee is off to a 4-17 start, the worst by an NL team since the Cubs did the same in 1997. The Brewers have lost each of their seven series and haven't won consecutive games yet. They're tied for the second-worst batting average and have the fourth-worst ERA.
JOSH'S JOURNEY: After a self-reported relapse for cocaine and alcohol use, Josh Hamilton was dumped by the Los Angeles Angels. The 2010 AL MVP returns to the Texas Rangers where he resurrected his career the first time around and became a perennial All-Star who earned a $125 million deal from the Angels.
''It's been tough the past 11 weeks or so, not knowing what's going to happen, where I was going to be, and everything that was transpiring was tough,'' Hamilton said.
DH TO THE RESCUE: Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright tore his left Achilles while batting and will miss the rest of the season. Nationals ace Max Scherzer will miss at least one start after injuring his thumb while batting. Both injuries fueled the long-time debate over bringing the designated hitter to the NL.
''I wish both leagues would convert to National League baseball,'' Wainwright said. ''You can't point to another instance that the pitcher has hurt an Achilles (batting). The game in the National League is just a better game.''
Scherzer joked that fans don't pay to see pitchers hit, said he enjoys batting and hopes both leagues have the same rules.
BRYANT ARRIVES: Cubs prized prospect Kris Bryant was called up one day after the club ensured he can't be eligible for free agency until 2021. Bryant hit nine homers in spring training but was sent to the minors for the first two weeks. He jumped into the cleanup spot in his debut and should be there for quite a while.
WATCH THE CLOCK: The incorporation of pace-of-play rules cut NL games by 10 minutes and AL games are down eight minutes. Players who don't adhere to the new rules can be fined starting May 1. Perhaps the threat will trim game times even a couple more minutes.
AP Sports Writers Bernie Wilson, John Marshall, Steven Wine and Howie Rumberg contributed to this report.