Earlier today, the Red Sox and Yankees played the very first regular season MLB game in the UK. Trying to spread a sport to another country that has been fully aware of its existence for 150 years is already a dubious endeavor. If the UK had any interest in baseball, you’d think they’d have picked it up by now. Americans have known about cricket for just as long, and if Jim Johnman himself rose from the grave to show kids how to slap wickets or whatever, you wouldn’t see kids bowling in the streets of New York.
Maybe bringing the game to them gives a second chance to make a first impression. First impressions are important, and how the first inning went might dictate how the sport is perceived. If the point of this series is to show our friends across the pond what the game is like, the first inning was an abject failure. But if the goal was to say, “Baseball is a lot like cricket in that it’s high scoring and it takes three days,” then it was a rousing success.
The game saw Rick Porcello and Masahiro Tanaka facing off against each other, two pitchers who are having perfectly fine seasons. This wasn’t a marquee matchup, but a pitcher’s duel wasn’t out of the question. If you’re trying to hook a new audience on a sport, a pitcher’s duel might not be the best way to sell it, but this is an audience that’s enamored of soccer and those games routinely end in nil-nil draws.
This was not a pitcher’s duel. It was about as far from a pitcher’s duel as a game could possibly be. Both Porcello and Tanaka failed to finish the first inning, the first time neither pitcher made it to the second for the first time in since 1989.
I believe, if I have Play Indexed correctly, that is the first time both starters have failed to complete the first inning since September 21st, 1989: https://t.co/jug5RX5P2V @batflips_nerds @mlblondonseries— Darius Austin (@DariusA64) June 29, 2019
Earlier in that same year, the Blue Jays and the Athletics played a game where neither pitcher made it through the first. The starter for the A’s that day? Why, that’d be Giants pitching coach Curt Young.
This is just the 4th game since at least 1908 in which both SP lasted less than one inning and allowed at least six runs.— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) June 29, 2019
Most recent was Blue Jays-A's on July 23, 1989. Frank Wills vs. Curt Young.https://t.co/bU7VBoG9IT
Porcello only recorded one out before giving up six runs. Porcello’s outing went like this:
· Fly out
· Home Run
The home run came from Aaron Hicks and that was the first major league homer hit in the United Kingdom.
First MLB home run in...— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 29, 2019
(starting with 1876)
United States: Ross Barnes 5/2/1876
Canada: Mack Jones 4/14/1969
Mexico: Steve Finley 8/16/1996
Japan: Shane Andrews 3/29/2000
Australia: Scott Van Slyke 3/22/2014
United Kingdom: Aaron Hicks 6/29/2019
Porcello gave up six runs and recorded one out. Unless he plays in a future London Series, he’ll forever have a 162.00 ERA in the UK.
Not to be outdone, Masahiro Tanaka likewise gave up six runs, but he at least recorded two outs before getting pulled. The final blow was a three-run homer from Michael Chavis that left the bat at 177 kph and traveled 130 meters.
This may not have been an accurate representation of baseball, but it at least provided some excitement for a crowd that isn’t going to think about baseball a week from now.