Opening Day is the greatest day of the year.
Looking at the holidays that are celebrated, MLB Opening Day is like a lot of them rolled up into one.
It’s like Christmas as you can get presents with foul balls and new team gear. It’s like the 4th of July as there are fireworks, figuratively and literally, with the home runs that are launched and the show in the sky to celebrate. It’s like Thanksgiving as friends and family reunite at the ball park in their favorite seating sections. It’s like New Years as it is the start of a brand new season where anything is possible.
Why Opening Day is not yet a national holiday, I have no clue.
A quick look over how opening day went reveals a lot.
The Astros have been predicted to lose over 100 games this year. Yet, they opened the season against cross state rival Texas and won 8-2. It was also the Astros American League debut after 50 seasons in the National League. With the win, the Astros started the day in sole possession of first place.
The future of the Nationals dominated. Bryce Harper hit two solo home runs, becoming the youngest player in MLB history to hit two on opening day as the Nats beat Miami 2-0. Stephen Strasburg struck out three and threw seven shutout innings before Rafael Soriano picked up his first save as the Washington’s closer.
The city of Chicago won both its games.
The Cubs opened on the road and despite a stellar pitching performance from the Pirates’ A.J. Burnett that included 10 strikeouts, the Cubs won 3-1.
The White Sox opened at home and beat Kansas City 1-0. Despite the Royals excellent spring training record, the Royals newest ace, James Shields, was unable to get the opening day win. A solo home run by White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers in the fifth inning was all the offense Chicago needed.
Rockies’ shortstop Troy Tulowitzki returned from a season of injuries a year ago and promptly showed why he is still the premier offensive shortstop in the baseball with a monster home run in the third inning. But, the home run came in a loss as the Rockies fell 5-4 to Milwaukee in the season’s first extra inning game.
The New York Mets showed they have offense with a rout over San Diego. Colin Cowgil, whom the Mets acquired in the offseason, hit the season’s first grand slam in the 7th inning for New York.
The Yankees, whom you either love or hate, lost 8-2 to the Red Sox, another team you either love or hate. But, having the Yankees lose is still better of two evils as Jon Lester outdueled C.C. Sabathia. Of course, former Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis went 1-for-4 with the Yankees only extra base hit (a double).
Page 2 of 2 - With all the money the Dodgers have spent on their offense, it was their future $200 million pitcher that hit the team’s first home run of the season. In doing so, Clayton Kershaw became the first pitcher to hit an opening day homer since 1988 when Joe Magrane and the first Dodger to turn the trick since Don Drysdale in 1965. Going even further back, Kershaw became the first starting pitcher to hit an opening day home run while hurling a complete game shutout since Bob Lemon in 1953.
Speaking of Los Angeles, LA’s other team, the Angels, became the first team to open the season with an interleague game when the halos traveled to Cincinnati to play the Reds. And just like the other team the Angels share a name with, the team’s first home run did NOT come from any of the big name players.
Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols were both 0-for-4. Hamilton collected a pair of walks while Pujols’ walk came in the 11th inning. Following Pujols’ walk, he was pinch run for in a move that did not result in the pinch runner crossing the plate. Mike Trout was 1-for-6 with a single and Mark Trumbo was 1-for-5 with a single and a walk.
No, instead, the Angles’ offense came from light-hitting catcher Chris Iannetta. Iannetta homered in the third inning and then added a two-run single in the top of the 13th, driving in all three runs to lead the Angels to a 3-1 victory.
In the Phillies at Braves game, the second basemen provided some power. Chase Utley hit his 200th career home run for Philadelphia while Dan Uggla hit his 210th career home run for Atlanta. While the Braves won 7-5, Utley finished the night 3-for-5 and a double shy of hitting for the cycle.
The night closed with the Cardinals traveling to the desert with newly re-signed ace Adam Wainwright getting the start against the snakes while the A’s, the surprise of the AL West (to everyone outside of Oakland), opened with Seattle for the fourth consective year and the fifth time in seven years.
Oakland starter Brett Anderson made his first opening day start and became the first A’s pitcher to strikeout the side on opening day. But, it didn’t matter as the A’s tied a MLB record with New York Giants and the Atlanta Braves with their ninth consecutive opening day loss.
For the Cardinals, Wainwright gave up 11 hits and 4 runs. He lasted six innings and took the loss.