Blue Jays defeat Rangers 10-8: The Jays are the consensus favorite in the American League — 29 of ESPN’s 38 voters picked them to win the tough AL East and 16 of 38 to go to the World Series. The belief: The rotation is potentially really good and the bullpen hopefully good enough. But, the main reason so many are on the Toronto bandwagon: the lineup. Lefty Gomez once said of Jimmie Foxx, “His muscles have muscles.” Well, the Blue Jays have muscles on top of muscles. They rallied from a 7-0 deficit before more than 45,000 fans at Rogers Centre. Teoscar Hernandez led the way with a big three-run home run, a nice running catch in right field and a key run scored, sliding under the tag at home plate. He’s overlooked on a team with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and George Springer, but has slugged .538 over the past two seasons. He’s the cleanup hitter, and as often as those three will get on base in front of him, Hernandez is a good bet to lead the AL in RBIs. And the Jays are a good bet to up double digits once a week or so (they did it 23 times last season). — David Schoenfield
Dodgers defeat Rockies 5-3: The much-hyped Los Angeles Dodgers lineup — largely by us, admittedly— was eerily quiet in Coors Field early in its season opener, managing one hit and striking out six times through the first three innings. The top of the fourth, however, was emblematic of this offense’s perpetual danger, its ability to strike at a moment’s notice. A one-out Will Smith single was followed by a Chris Taylor double, then four consecutive batters reached with two outs. Gavin Lux singled. Mookie Betts doubled. Freddie Freeman walked. Trea Turner singled it. By the end of the half-inning, the Dodgers had plated five runs, which was all the output they would need. Four of their starters reached base multiple times in the game This was a sluggish showing offensively. And yet it was more than enough. — Alden Gonzalez
Giants defeat Marlins 6-5:One of the questions surrounding the San Francisco Giants coming off an improbable 107-win season centered on whether Logan Webb was ready to assume a role as the ace of this pitching staff. Opening Day at Oracle Park — which began with Brandon Belt on a boat — offered validation. Webb used his devastating changeup-slider-sinker combination to shut the Miami Marlins out through the first six innings, allowing only a handful of singles and coming out for the seventh despite a shortened spring training. Camilo Doval, a revelation out of the bullpen in last year’s second half, gave up three ninth-inning runs before heroics from Thairo Estrada and Austin Slater triggered an extra-inning walk-off victory. But Webb looked very much like an ace — a potential boon for the Giants’ hopes of repeating as division champions. — Alden Gonzalez
Mariners defeat Twins 2-1: MINNEAPOLIS — On a day of debuts at Target Field, for one day at least, the Mariners got their money’s worth from Robbie Ray, both in terms of quality and quantity.
Ray went seven innings, throwing 96 pitches, and held the Twins to a lone run — a solo homer from Gio Urshela, another of Friday’s debuts.
Other debuts didn’t go as well. After Carlos Correa signed perhaps the offseason’s most surprising free-agent contract by landing in the Twin Cities, all eyes were on him as he was introduced to his new home crowd. Correa started off with a first-inning single off Ray, but he rolled into a key double play later in the game and finished 1-for-4.
Nevertheless, Correa was upbeat after the game.
“I love this ballpark,” Correa said. “The atmosphere was great. It was a great game overall. Close game, pitching did a great job. Defense was solid. Hitting today was tough, facing Robbie. He had some good stuff.”
And then there was the heartbreaker: In his first game for the Twins, Gary Sanchez went 0-for-4 and flew out to the wall off Drew Steckenrider to end the game, falling a couple of feet short of a game-winning, two-run homer in front of his new fans. Sanchez was so sure it was going out that he flipped his bat, though, on a bat-flip scale of 1 to 10, that flip was probably a 3.
“I was able to hit it up,” Sanchez said, via Twins interpreter Elvis Martinez. “I thought it was high enough and that it was gone. But today wasn’t the day.”
In the end, the Mariners survived the matchup of the two new-look teams on a cold, clear day in Minnesota.
For one day at least, the Mariners can believe this: The Robbie Ray they signed looked very much like the Robbie Ray who won the AL Cy Young last season for Toronto. That much at least has to be exciting for a team trying to snap a 21-year playoff drought. —Bradford Doolittle
Rays defeat Orioles 2-1: What, you expected something other than Rays baseball on Opening Day? They used six relievers and three pinch hitters, with new reliever Brooks Raley getting the save by striking out Cedric Mullins with a runner on base to preserve the victory. Raley had just three career saves — and his two last season with the Astros came in a 9-1 game and an extra-inning game. But this is a club that had a record 14 different pitchers record a save in 2021. Kevin Cash will deploy any reliever at any time, and he has the depth to do it. The other story of the game: Wander Franco went 3-for-4 and, yes, he is a contender to win the batting title at age 21. His first hit was an infield single, his second a semi-soft line drive to left, but then in his two final at-bats, he lined out to first on a 109.1 mph laser and singled to right on a 109.7 mph line drive. We’re going to see a lot of three-hit games next to his name in the box scores. — David Schoenfield
Phillies defeat A’s 9-5: I have a feeling I’ll be watching a lot of Phillies games this season. Not only does the NL East project as a three-team fight between the Braves, Mets and Phillies, but the Phillies are going to be one of the more entertaining teams to watch for a variety of reasons.
The top five in the lineup are as good as anybody’s and perhaps better than everybody: Kyle Schwarber, J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos and Rhys Hoskins. A lot of power, a lot of walks and a nice lefty-righty mix. Schwarber led off his Phillies career with a 426-foot home run, and those five combined to go 7-for-19 with four walks, seven runs and six RBIs. The bottom of the order, including rookie Bryson Stott, who beat out Alec Bohm for the nod at third base, will determine if this will be a great lineup. Given the concerns about the defense and bullpen, it might have to be. — David Schoenfield
Yankees defeat Red Sox 6-5 in 11 innings: On a day when the Bronx Bombers struggled to score many runs without the long ball, Josh Donaldson made a strong first impression on Yankees fans with a 2-for-6 performance from the leadoff spot and a walk-off single in the 11th inning that knocked home Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who started the extra inning as the runner on second base.
While Gerrit Cole struggled in the first inning, allowing a two-run homer to Rafael Devers and three runs total, the Yankees ace eventually settled down, going four innings while striking out three batters, allowing one walk and four hits.
And on a day where Aaron Judge’s contract negotiations proved to be the biggest news, the Yankees right fielder put together a strong performance, collecting two hits — including a double — and a run scored. It was a definite statement about his importance and value for the New York offense.
It took all of one game for the Red Sox and Yankees to remind fans that regardless of the occasion, they’ll always find a way to make games as long as possible, as the season opener clocked in at 3 hours, 56 minutes. — Joon Lee
Tigers defeat White Sox 5-4: Different uniform, same El Mago. Javy Baez walked it off for the Tigers with a single off the wall in the bottom of the ninth inning, plating Austin Meadows with the winning run. Baez did what Baez always does: entertain. He struck out in his first two at-bats but made an incredible in-the-hole defensive play between those plate appearances. Later, he contributed to an eighth-inning rally before winning it in the ninth. On Day 2 of the season, baseball had its first game ending on a review when umpires determined the ball hit the wall as right fielder AJ Pollock bobbled it. — Jesse Rogers
Once-in-a-lifetime at bat
Jeremy Peña‘s first career home run came at the perfect time.
His parents were being interviewed live as Peña hit a dinger in the top of the seventh.
The Astros made making plays at the plate and in the outfield. Jose Altuve hit a lead-off home run to get the game started, then Alex Bregman showed off the glove work with an athletic play in the bottom of the second.
Quarterback Russell Wilson hasn’t taken a snap for the Denver Broncos, but he has stepped on the mound at Coors Field. Wilson, who was drafted by the Rockies in 2010, threw out the first pitch on Friday. His catcher was another fresh face in Colorado — outfielder Kris Bryant.
A bit of a different pregame ceremony in the Bronx today, as the Yankees invited a member of a Ukrainian children’s choir to sing her country’s national anthem.
Ahead of today’s game, we welcomed Yulia Holiyat, member of the Ukrainian Children’s Choir “Moloda Dumka,” to perform the Ukrainian National Anthem in honor of her friends, family, and country 💙💛 pic.twitter.com/QsqK4hIyJ4
As you might have guessed, the San Francisco Giants have had a really hard time replacing Barry Bonds.
The latest to attempt to do so — at least in part — is Joc Pederson, who has played for a World Series champion each of the past two years and joined the Giants on a one-year, $6 million contract in March. Pederson became the team’s 16th different Opening Day left fielder in a stretch of 16 seasons.
Yeah, that’s right.
The full list, from 2007 to 2022: Bonds, Dave Roberts, Fred Lewis, Mark DeRosa, Pat Burrell, Aubrey Huff, Andres Torres, Mike Morse, Nori Aoki, Angel Pagan, Jarrett Parker, Hunter Pence, Connor Joe, Alex Dickerson, Austin Slater and Pederson.
Of course, Pederson won’t be their only left fielder this season. The current Giants famously alter their lineup to maximize platoon advantages. But it’s a remarkable development nonetheless. In case you’re wondering: Since Bonds’ final season, Giants left fielders have had a collective OPS of .723, fifth lowest in the majors. — Alden Gonzalez
Jack White rocks it out
This is awesome: The Tigers brought in Detroit-born Jack White — who just released an album called “Fear of the Dawn” — to perform a raw, bluesy national anthem on slide guitar.
Wrigley Field is beautiful in the rain, but unfortunately it’s not super conducive to baseball, so Friday’s Brewers-Cubs matchup has been postponed.
Today’s #Cubs-Brewers game at Wrigley Field has been postponed due to inclement weather.
The makeup game is scheduled for Monday, May 30, at 6:40 p.m. CDT, as the second game of a split doubleheader. The originally scheduled game that day has been shifted to start at 12:05 p.m. pic.twitter.com/MnEssS2IGg
Nico Hoerner belts a two-run home run to give the Cubs a lead over the Brewers.
Diamondbacks defeat Padres 4-2: Game of the day? Easily. Heck, put this down for game of the year: Seth Beer hit a walk-off home run on national beer day. Good luck topping that, Shohei Ohtani or Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Freddie Freeman or some of you hotshot rookies. Until there is a day named after you, you will not top what Beer did in giving the Diamondbacks a 4-2 win over the Padres with a dramatic three-run blast to right field in the bottom of the ninth.
Beer said when he woke up his fiancée told him it was National Beer Day. “I told her, ‘It better be a good day then,'” he said. It was just the second career home run for the rookie designated hitter, who went 4-for-9 in a major league cameo in 2021. He gave the Diamondbacks a victory in which Yu Darvish had pitched six no-hit innings for the Padres. And get this: He’s the first rookie to hit a walk-off home run on Opening Day in a game his team was trailing. Cheers. — David Schoenfield
Astros defeat Angels 3-1: Shohei Ohtani performed well, but the rest of his Angels teammates didn’t do enough. Sound familiar? It turns out the 2022 season has begun similarly to the way the 2021 season unfolded for the Angels, who couldn’t get anything going against Framber Valdez on Opening Day. But there’s a clear bright side — and that, of course, is Ohtani himself, who displayed impressive fastball command, threw a crisp slider and generally looked really good in his debut. Ohtani recorded 14 outs, allowed only one run and struck out nine batters before exiting with 80 pitches (Angels manager Joe Maddon wants to keep his starters around that number early on to make up for the shortened spring training). The 2021 season represented Ohtani’s first full season as a pitcher in five years. As it progressed, his location and command noticeably improved. And that has clearly carried over into 2022. It’s why some have dared to suggest he could be even better in 2022. — Alden Gonzalez
Mets defeat Nationals 5-1: Tylor Megill drew the Opening Day start for the Mets after Jacob deGrom hurt his shoulder and Max Scherzer tweaked his hamstring, pushing his first start back to Friday. Megill is a 6-foot-7 right-hander, listed at 230 pounds, although as Mets announcer Ron Darling said, “He hasn’t been 230 since high school.” So he’s a big dude and as you might expect, he throws some big cheese with an upper 90s fastball. He’s not expected to be the Mets’ ace or anything close to it, but the second-year right-hander has some serious breakout potential.
The biggest pitch of his night came in the third inning when the score was still 0-0 and the Nationals had runners at the corners with one out and the dangerous Juan Soto at the plate. Megill got ahead 1-2, Soto took a 98 mph fastball a hair or two off the plate, and then Megill blew a 97 mph heater past Soto. He got Nelson Cruz to ground out and then breezed through two more innings, finishing with five scoreless innings, six K’s and no walks. If you play fantasy baseball, pick this guy up. — David Schoenfield
Reds defeat Braves 6-3: The Reds might not have opened the season in their usual way — at home, after a citywide party and parade through downtown Cincinnati — but that didn’t matter. A major reason for their success spoiling the Braves’ banner-unveiling party at Truist Park was the work of starter Tyler Mahle. The right-hander struck out seven and gave up a lone unearned run in a rather strong 84-pitch, five-inning outing. For the start of April, it was certainly a commendable performance — and one the Reds hope he can build upon.
Mahle also had the most impressive moment of the night. He ended the third inning by somehow snagging a comeback liner that left Marcell Ozuna‘s bat with a 104.5 mph exit velocity. As for the most impressive audio moment of the night? Hands down that belonged to Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who was miked up throughout the game for ESPN and had his share of fun interactions. — Coley Harvey
Cardinals defeat Pirates 9-0: It was turn back the clock day at Busch Stadium: Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright were all in the starting lineup for the Cardinals for the first time since Sept. 9, 2010. While the Cardinals cruised to a 9-0 victory behind Wainwright’s six scoreless innings and Tyler O’Neill’s five RBIs, it wasn’t quite the storybook return to St. Louis for Pujols that everyone desired.
“He’s back,” intoned the Cardinals’ PA announcer during pregame introductions and Cardinals fans gave Pujols a standing ovation as he hugged former Cardinals greats such as Mark McGwire and Jim Edmonds. In his first at-bat, Pujols wiped away some tears as the fans chanted “Al-bert! Al-bert!” — echoing the joyful chorus heard so many times during his initial 11 seasons with the Cardinals. He flew out to left field and would finish 0-for-5, twice reaching on errors.
Can he help the Cardinals? That’s the risk in bringing back an aging all-time great. If he struggles, it puts rookie manager Oli Marmol in a tough spot. Pujols started this game against a right-hander — Marmol wasn’t about to sit him on Opening Day — but Pujols will primarily serve as the DH against left-handers. Let’s hope there’s enough juice left in the bat to help in that small role. — David Schoenfield
Joey Votto discusses his social media presence, desire to get a gold tooth and chats with Ozzie Albies while mic’d up with the ESPN booth.
Royals defeat Guardians 3-1: Before the Opening Day start, the last time Zack Greinke pitched for the Kansas City Royals was 12 years and more than 2,000 innings ago. As many things as age changes, it cannot rob Greinke of what has always been his greatest asset, even better than his fastball or slider or changeup: his mind. Greinke’s approach to pitching, combined with the stuff of his youth, made him elite and will forge his path toward the Hall of Fame.
To see him Thursday afternoon, carving up a Cleveland Guardians lineup in a 3-1 victory highlighted by top prospect (No. 2 on Kiley McDaniel’s top 100 list) Bobby Witt Jr.‘s go-ahead RBI double in the eighth inning, was to see a master craftsman making art in real time.
The radar gun doesn’t light up as it once did, and the batters don’t swing and miss as they used to, but Greinke, through location, sequencing and other tricks of the trade, still understands how to get outs. Some lineup will prove more difficult to traverse than others. One strikeout in 5⅔ innings is not a long-term recipe for success, even with Kansas City’s phenomenal defense. And yet Greinke, now 38, left to a huge ovation in his return. On the day the future of the franchise debuted, the prodigal son returned, different than before, same as ever. — Jeff Passan
Albert Pujols gets a standing ovation in first at-bat back as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Cubs defeat Brewers 5-4: The first game of the 2022 MLB season provided a reminder that you never know what you are going to see when you go to the ballpark. Cubs shortstop Nico Hoerner hit the first home run of the 2022 season off of reigning NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes. Yes, you read that right. Hoerner, who hadn’t hit a long ball in two seasons, became the first player to follow up a homerless year with a dinger on Opening Day since Emilio Bonifacio in 2009. Burnes, on the other hand, walked the first batter he faced in 2022, after the Brewers ace set a major league record by striking out 58 before issuing his first base on balls a season ago. Yeah, you can’t predict baseball.
All in all, Burnes walked three batters in five innings Thursday — including issuing a free pass to Japanese rookie Seiya Suzuki, who walked twice, had a single and scored a run in his MLB debut. — Jesse Rogers
The best of Thursday’s action
Walk-off for Arizona!
Yu Darvish pitched a gem and the Diamondbacks were nearly no-hit … but then Seth Beer stepped up to the plate and changed the narrative.
Trout is ready to stay healthy, win in the playoffs
It has been six years since Mike Trout played a full, traditional season without missing stretches of time because of injury.
He has noticed.
“It’s my main goal,” Trout, speaking ahead of Opening Day on Thursday, said when asked about the importance of playing a full season. The Los Angeles Angels’ star center fielder, who spent the last four-plus months of the 2021 regular season sidelined by a calf injury that became far more serious than expected, has a new program with the team’s new training staff that emphasizes flexibility and mobility in his lower body. Trout hopes it will make all the difference.
“In the past, I would wake up sore a little bit and just have to grind through it,” he said. “Now I gotta really harp on taking care of my lower body.”
The Angels lost 85 games last year even though Shohei Ohtani put together a historic season as a two-way player. The biggest reason (aside from their usual lack of pitching depth): Ohtani, Trout and Anthony Rendon played in the same lineup for only 17 of their 162 games. Their health, plus the addition of Noah Syndergaard and a deeper bullpen, has Trout believing he might finally win his first playoff game this year.
Yes, you might have heard that Trout, the greatest player of his generation, has yet to win a single postseason game.
He is 30 years old now.
This is his 12th season.
“I’m tired of hearing it,” Trout said. “I talked to the guys in there; we’re all tired of hearing it. We’re eager to go.”— Alden Gonzalez
Soto clocks one
People keep comparing Juan Soto to some of the greatest hitters of all time … and dingers like this are the reason why.
After three innings, the first run of the season is on the board. Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain hit a groundout to first, but Andrew McCutchen was able to make it home to give visiting Milwaukee a 1-0 lead over the Cubs in the top of the fourth.
Getting called up to the majors is a big moment for any baseball player. Leading up to Opening Day on Thursday, players were notified that they made their teams’ rosters, which produced some touching moments for the teams and players.
During the Chicago Cubs‘ spring training game against the Chicago White Sox on Monday, pitcher Ethan Roberts was notified by manager David Ross that he made the Opening Day roster. Roberts, who was drafted by the Cubs in 2018, was visibly emotional after receiving the news. The Cubs’ first game of the season is against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday.
.@Cubs pitcher Ethan Roberts was told he made the big league club.
Julio Rodriguez, the No. 3 prospect as ranked by ESPN, got the nod for the Seattle Mariners‘ Opening Day roster. He signed with the team as an international free agent in 2017. Rodriguez is slated to start in center field and will make his debut on Friday against the Minnesota Twins.
Rodriguez was full of excitement when manager Scott Servais broke the news. Things got even better for the 21-year-old when he was informed that his parents will be in attendance for his first MLB game.
There’s no better feeling than when you work your whole life for something and you see it unfolding right before your eyes.🙏🏽💙 I’m just grateful for the opportunity and I will make the best of it.🤞🏽 https://t.co/YqTeMS4j02
The Kanas City Royals drafted Bobby Witt Jr. second overall in the 2019 MLB draft. Roughly three years later, he will make his big league debut, starting at third base for the team against the Cleveland Guardians. The 21-year-old was all smiles after hearing he made the Royals’ Opening Day roster … and later recorded his first hit.
Seiya Suzuki made his MLB debut against the Brewers on Thursday. In March, he signed a five-year deal with the Cubs. Before joining Chicago, he played in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league, in which he was a four-time All-Star and three-time Golden Glove winner. In the bottom of the fifth, Suzuki hit a ball into left field for the first hit of his MLB career.
The Atlanta Braves begin their quest to defend their World Series title against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday. The Georgia Bulldogs, who won the College Football Playoff National Championship in January, wished the team good luck on their upcoming season.
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