Opening Day Game Notes

After an opening act in Japan, the 119th season of the modern era is now fully underway. Here are some game notes from today’s action.

Mets 2, Nationals 0. Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer dueled, and Robinson Cano homered in his first NL AB. Both starters reached double-digit K’s, just the second such opening day game (this and other references to opening day games are since 1908), and the first since Dave McNally and Sudden Sam McDowell in 1970.

Yankees 7, Orioles 2. New York cruised with 2-3-4 hitters Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Luke Voit reaching base in 12 of 15 PAs. Voit delivered the key blow with a first inning 3-run shot in his lone AB to join Danny Tartabull in 1994 as the only Yankees to play a complete opening day game and homer in just one AB.

Brewers 5, Cardinals 4. Christian Yelich‘s 3-run blast erased an early Redbird lead, and the Brewers held on (barely) for the win, preserved with an over-the-fence catch by Lorenzo Cain to end the game. Jhoulys Chacin carded the win, aiding his cause with a 5th inning solo shot, the 21st time a starting pitcher has homered on opening day, and first by a Milwaukee starter since Warren Spahn in 1960.

Phillies 10, Braves 4. Rhys Hoskins‘ 7th inning grannie sealed the deal for Philly as Aaron Nola held the Nats to two hits over six innings. It was the third opening day grand slam for the Phillies in the past 10 years, after having none previously.

Tigers 2, Blue Jays 0. Christin Stewart‘s 2-run shot in the 10th provided the margin of victory in a game played in a tidy 2 hours 25 minutes, the fastest extra-inning opening day game since the Giants topped the Padres by the same score in 1975. Starters Jordan Zimmerman and Marcus Stroman both took no-hitters into the 6th inning, with Zimmerman retiring the first 20 Blue Jays before Teoscar Hernandez beat out an infield single. It was the first opening day game with both starters going 7+ scoreless and allowing two hits or less.

Dodgers 12, D-Backs 5. Dodger bats exploded for a record 8 opening day homers, including a pair for both Joc Pederson and Kike Hernandez, the first time two Dodgers have carded multi-home run games on opening day.

Astros 5, Rays 1. George Springer‘s 427 foot 3-run blast was the big blow as all of the game’s runs scored via the long ball. Justin Verlander went 7 strong innings to improve his opening day record to 4-1 in eleven starts, including wins in each of the past three seasons.

Cubs 12, Rangers 5. Javier Baez paced the Cub attack with a pair of long balls as Jon Lester evened his opening day record at 2-2 in eight starts. Baez becomes just the 5th shortstop to homer twice on opening day, but the third in the past four seasons.

Athletics 4, Angels 0. Oakland got its first win after dropping a pair in Tokyo, as Mike Fiers held the Halos to one hit over six innings.

Padres 2, Giants 0.  Wil Myers provided all the offense with a two run blast, and the San Diego bullpen held the G-men to a single hit over four innings in support of starter Eric Lauer as the Padres logged just their third opening day team shutout.

Twins 2, Indians 0. Jose Berrios outdueled Corey Kluber with Marwin Gonzalez‘s 7th inning two-run double providing the margin of victory. It was the Twins’ first opening day team shutout since Jim Perry blanked the White Sox in 1970.

Rockies 6, Marlins 3. Colorado’s 4-run fourth inning, aided by three Marlin errors, supported Kyle Freeland‘s 7 innings of two-hit ball. The Marlins added a pair of pinch-home runs late, the first team to do so on opening day.

Reds 5, Pirates 3. A pair of 7th inning homers powered the Reds to a come-from-behind win. Cincinnati used 7 pitchers, the most ever by the Reds in winning a 9-inning opening day game.

Royals 5, White Sox 3. Adalberto Mondesi paced the Kansas City attack with a pair of triples, the 9th player to do so on opening day, and just the third since 1951.

Mariners 12, Red Sox 4. Seattle improved to 3-0 for just the fourth time in franchise history, ambushing Chris Sale with a 7 run attack over the first 3 innings. Boston becomes the first defending World Series champion to give up 12 or more runs in an opening day loss. Quiz: which four defending league champions have done the same?

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16 Comments on "Opening Day Game Notes"

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mosc
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Better pitching on opening day than the past few years. Several starters were on point. Chris Sale got shelled but there were also sneaky good starts by Tanaka and several others.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Spring is here — Game Notes tells me so! Thanks, Doug, for reviving, at least for today, this HHS tradition.

Doug
Guest

In his Blue Jay debut, Matt Shoemaker went 7 scoreless innings, allowing 2 hits. Toronto becomes the first team to get that same line from their starter in each of the first two games of the season.

Doug
Guest

Toronto’s consecutive scoreless streak for their starters extends to 19 innings. They’re the sixth team (third since 2016) with no runs against their starters in each of the first three games of the season. Only the 1976 Brewers did it for the first four games.

Doug
Guest

Toronto has now joined those ’76 Brewers with no runs against their starters in first four games of the season, with 5 innings today from Trent Thornton in his major league debut.

Josh Davis
Guest

Curious as to how those other teams fared the rest of the season. While it is an impressive feat, at this point I’m giving at least as much credit to the ineptitude of the Tigers’ bats as the the skill of the Blue Jay pitchers. In other words, I don’t think this portends an unexpected playoff run from Toronto.

Doug
Guest

I don’t think so, either, Josh. The other teams were:
– 1963 Cards, finished 2nd in NL 93-69
– 1976 Brewers, finished 6th (last) in AL East 66-95
– 1994 Braves, finished 2nd in NL East 67-47
– 2016 Dodgers, finished 1st in NL West 91-71
– 2018 Twins, finished 2nd in AL Central 78-84

Josh Davis
Guest

Thanks, Doug. That list covers a whole spectrum from 1st to worst. And the 2018 Twins, while finishing second place, are perhaps a little overrated as they finished 2nd in one of the worst divisions in recent memory.

Jeff B
Guest

The Mets opening day win improved their record in opening day games to a league best 38-20, but most incredibly, they won a World Series, before winning their 1st opening day game. They are now 38-12 in their last 50 opening day games. Truly Amazin’.

Doug
Guest

Here are the opening game records for all clubs over the past 50 years.

Mets............38-12...0.760
Orioles.........35-15...0.700
Mariners........26-17...0.605
White Sox.......29-21...0.580
Giants..........29-21...0.580
Tigers..........28-22...0.560
Reds............28-22...0.560
Rockies.........15-12...0.556
D-Backs.........12-10...0.545
Dodgers.........27-23...0.540
Angels..........26-24...0.520
Astros..........26-24...0.520
Brewers.........26-24...0.520
Cardinals.......26-24...0.520
Rays............11-11...0.500
Red Sox.........25-25...0.500
Blue Jays.......21-22...0.488
Nats............24-26...0.480
Pirates.........24-26...0.480
Rangers.........23-27...0.460
Yankees.........23-27...0.460
Braves..........23-27...0.460
A's.............22-28...0.440
Cubs............22-28...0.440
Twins...........21-29...0.420
Padres..........21-29...0.420
Marlins.........11-16...0.407
Indians.........19-31...0.380
Phillies........18-32...0.360
Royals..........17-33...0.340

no statistician but
Guest

By my count—ocular alert: old eyes, no recount—starting in 1970 the Yankees have had losing seasons 5 times, the Red Sox 6, the Dodgers 9. Winning the opener? Nice for the fans, maybe.

Doug
Guest

Christian Yelich has some interesting company among those to homer in their team’s first four games of the season.

Player........Year..Games..PA...AB...R...H...2B...3B...HR...RBI...BB...SO....BA....OBP....SLG.....OPS....Tm
Trevor Story..2016...4.....19...19...6...7....0....0....6...11....0....4....368....368...1.316...1.684...COL
Mark McGwire..1998...4.....21...16...5...7....1....0....4...12....5....7....438....571...1.250...1.821...STL
Willie Mays...1971...4.....20...18...5...7....1....0....4....9....2....4....389....450...1.111...1.561...SFG
Chris Davis...2013...4.....18...15...5...9....3....0....4...16....1....1....600....611...1.600...2.211...BAL
Nelson Cruz...2011...4.....16...14...5...6....0....0....4....4....2....3....429....500...1.286...1.786...TEX

Mays’s start in 1971 was a month shy of his 40th birthday. Notice the difference in RBI between Davis and Cruz.

And, Yelich’s stats.
GP...AB...R...H...2B...3B...HR...RBI...BB...SO...AVG...OBP...SLG...OPS
.4...12...6...6....1....0...4.....8.....6....1...500...667..1.583..2.250

Paul E
Guest

Yelich after the All Star Break last year:
7/20/18 to 10/1/18 294 256 58 94 18 5 25 67 35 1 52 3 0 0 2 7 10 2 .367/.449/.770/1.219
I guess he’s picking up where he left off….

Doug
Guest

Matt Shoemaker today (Wednesday) joined the immortal Jesus Sanchez as the only pitchers to start a season with back-to-back scoreless 7+ IP starts allowing two hits or less. Unlike Shoemaker with two starts in the first week of the season, Sanchez’s starts were in June and July 2001, sandwiching two relief appearances.

Paul E
Guest

Bob Feller followed up his 4/16/1940, 1-0 opening day no-hitter versus the White Sox with this 3-inning gem:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE194004210.shtml

Maybe Matt is on his way to consistent greatness

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