Heyward, the year's most-hyped rookie position player, wasted little time making Braves fans glad that Atlanta kept him on the Opening Day roster when he hit a laser of a home run off Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano in his first at-bat of the year. Heyward went on to a productive season that could result in his winning Rookie of the Year award, but he was just one of several impact rookie position players in the NL this season, including Giants catcher Buster Posey and Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez.
2 of 20Tom Dahlin/SI
Target Field opens: April 12
Long a victim of baseball's salary inequities, the Twins took a step toward mid-market status the second their new home opened on April 12. Minnesota's payroll this season was higher than that of the big-market Dodgers, and the Twins signed reigning AL MVP Joe Mauer to a nine-figure contract before the season. After a sluggish first half, the Twins turned it on to clinch their sixth AL Central title in nine years, ensuring that Target Field would host a postseason in its first year in operation.
3 of 20Pouya Dianat/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images
Ubaldo Jimenez's no-hitter: April 17
The most remarkable part of Jimenez's no-hitter is that it might not have been his best performance of the early part of the season. He shut down the Braves despite allowing six walks. He went 15-1 in the first half, including 11-1 with an 0.93 ERA in his first 12 starts.
4 of 20Brad Mangin/MLB Photos/Getty Images
Dallas Braden's perfect game: May 9
Braden's claim to fame before his perfect game was a war of words with Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees over baseball's unwritten code earlier in the season. But he earned a more meaningful place in baseball lore when he blanked the Rays with just the 19th perfect game in major league history. Braden struggled the rest of the season, finishing with a record below .500.
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Roy Halladay's perfect game: May 29
Unlike Braden, Halladay was a well-known ace long before he ever threw his perfect game. But in a remarkable career that included a Cy Young award, Halladay had yet to throw a no-hitter, so he topped that by throwing the 20th perfect game ever on May 29. Halladay struck out 11 Florida Marlins in his perfecto, the highlight of what is likely to be his second Cy Young season. Not bad for his first year pitching in the National League.
6 of 20Darren Carrol/SI
Ken Griffey Jr. retires: June 3
Griffey batted .214 in 2009, but the Mariners brought their hometown hero back again in 2010. It proved to be a bad decision. Griffey hit.184 with zero home runs and made most of his headlines for reportedly falling asleep in the clubhouse during a game before announcing his retirement after 22 seasons.
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Armando Galarraga's near-perfect game: June 3
Galarraga came within one out of throwing baseball's third perfect game in less than a month, but was robbed of his place in history when first base umpire Jim Joyce mistakenly called the Indians' Jason Donald safe at first base for an infield single with two out in the ninth. Joyce admitted his mistake immediately after the game and apologized to Galarraga, who settled for a one-hit shutout and a uniquely memorable moment in the game's history.
8 of 20Chuck Solomon/SI
Stephen Strasburg's debut: June 7
Perhaps no pitcher had ever received the kind of hype that Strasburg did before he ever set foot on a big league mound. The No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, Strasburg electrified the baseball world by striking out 14 Pirates without giving up a walk in his debut. Strasburg continued to be baseball's biggest drawing card all summer before his season ended with a torn ligament that would require Tommy John surgery.
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Bryce Harper taken No. 1 in draft: June 8
One year after taking Strasburg first overall in the draft, the Nationals had the good fortune to hold the No. 1 pick with another consensus superstar-in-waiting available. This time it was slugging catcher Harper, and the Nats grabbed the 17-year-old switch-hitter.
10 of 20Winslow Townson/SI
Manny returns to Fenway: June 18
Almost two years after being traded to the Dodgers, Manny Ramirez finally returned to Fenway Park to face the Red Sox. Manny heard mostly boos while going 1-for-5 in his first game back, but he did homer the next day. It turned out to be the first of two returns to Fenway for Ramirez, who went back again in early September after being traded to the White Sox and helped his new club sweep his old one.
11 of 20Mike Carlson/Icon SMI
Edwin Jackson's no-hitter: June 25
Jackson had been traded away by the Rays after the 2008 season, but he got his revenge by throwing the year's fourth no-hitter, and second against Tampa Bay, against them in their own ballpark. It took Jackson 149 pitches and he had to endure eight walks, but he did not allow a hit. He made just five more starts for the Diamondbacks before being traded to the White Sox, the fourth time he had been dealt in four years.
12 of 20Jeff Zelevansky/Icon SMI
George Steinbrenner dies: July 13
The legendary and bombastic Yankees owner had been in declining health for years, but when he passed away on July 13 it still took the baseball world by surprise. Steinbrenner was 80, and news of his passing became an even bigger story than that day's All-Star Game. Later that season, the Yankees dedicated a giant plaque in Monument Park to the Boss, who owned the team for 37 years and presided over seven World Series winners.
13 of 20John W. McDonough/SI
NL wins All-Star Game: July 13
The National League had not won an All-Star Game since 1996, and for much of this year's Midsummer Classic it appeared that streak would continue. But Atlanta's Brian McCann hit a three-run double in the seventh inning and the NL's pitchers shut down the American League bats in a 3-1 victory that clinched home-field advantage in the World Series for the senior circuit.
14 of 20Skip Milos/Tampa Bay Rays via Getty Images
Matt Garza's no-hitter: July 26
After being held hitless three times in little over a year, the Rays finally experienced being on the other end of a no-hitter when Matt Garza blanked the Tigers in late July. Detroit's Max Scherzer lost his no-hit bid in the sixth inning, but Garza finished the deal, allowing only a second-inning walk and facing the minimum 27 batters in his gem. It was part of another banner year for Garza and the Rays, who clinched their second postseason appearance in three seasons.
15 of 20Ed Wolfstein/Icon SMI
Roy Oswalt traded: July 29
On the morning of July 29, Roy Oswalt was 6-12 with a 3.48 ERA for the woebegone Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies were just 55-46, stuck in second place behind the Braves. But after landing Oswalt in a trade with Houston, the fortunes turned for both pitcher and team. Oswalt went. 7-1 with a 1.65 ERA down the stretch and the Phillies won 39 of their next 56 games to clinch the NL East title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
16 of 20Michael Heiman/Getty Images
A-Rod hits 600th HR: Aug. 4
Just as he did when he was chasing his 500th home run in 2007, Alex Rodriguez took his time hitting his milestone homer. He went 12 games and 50 plate appearances between 599 and 600 before finally becoming the seventh player with 600 career home runs against the Blue Jays in Yankee Stadium. Rodriguez's home run pace picked up after that, and he finished with his 13th consecutive season of 30 HRs and 100 RBIs, a major league record, as the Yankees clinched yet another postseason berth.
17 of 20John W. McDonough/SI
Aroldis Chapman's debut: Aug. 31
The Reds were the surprise winners of the race to sign Chapman, a hard-throwing Cuban defector, in the offseason. After keeping him in the minors for most of the year, he was promoted to the majors at the end of August and immediately lit up radar guns, topping out as high as 103 mph. Chapman's domination down the stretch (16 K's in 11 1/3 IP) helped the Reds clinch their first postseason berth in 15 years.
18 of 20Adam Davis/Icon SMI
Joe Torre retires: Sept. 17
For the first time since 1995, baseball held a postseason that did not involve Joe Torre. The frustration of a difficult year on and off the field in Los Angeles, his turning 70 during the season and the expiration of his contract all led Torre to announce his retirement as Dodgers' manager. Torre, who led the Yankees to four World Series titles and the Dodgers to consecutive NL West crowns in 2008 and 2009, indicated that he was unlikely to manage again, but would not close the door completely on another opportunity.
19 of 20Brad White/Getty Images
Jose Bautista's 50th HR: Sept. 23
In 2009 Jose Bautista hit 13 home runs, an unremarkable total, but 10 of them came in September. That set the stage for his unforeseen eruption in 2010, when he became the first major leaguer in three years to reach 50. His milestone blast came off one of the game's best pitchers, Seattle's Felix Hernandez, and was the only run of the game.
20 of 20Derrick Tuskan/Icon SMI
The American League playoff field was set long before the Twins, Rangers, Yankees and Rays officially clinched berths in September and the Reds and Phillies cruised to spots in the NL field. But the NL West and NL wild card went down to the final weekend, with the Giants, Padres and Braves battling for two spots.
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