The baseball season is long. And we’re here to help: MLB Overnight covers the interesting night-in, night-out goings-on of The Show.
The foul lines have been drawn, the stands are full, the first 40 seconds of “Paradise City” is playing on a loop, and Opening Day is in the books. It’s still a little chilly in some places, but welcome back baseball. You’re right on time.
Opening Day Oddities
One of the best things about Opening Day is that it’s a microcosm of baseball’s affinity for quirky qualified stats. Opening Day has its own records, streaks, and absurd forecasts that are notable because of the day’s place on the baseball calendar. A few events of note from yesterday’s action:
- Matt Davidson of the White Sox became only the fourth player in MLB history with three home runs on Opening Day. He’s the first to do it since Dmitri Young in 2005. Chicago also tied the record for most team home runs on Opening Day (6) in their win over the Royals.
- The Orioles became the first team in MLB history to win three straight Opening Day games via walk-off according to Elias Sports Bureau, this time off an Adam Jones rocket.
- The Cubs’ Ian Happ homered on the first pitch in all of baseball, the first time that’s happened since 1986.
- In the same game, the Marlins’ Jose Urena became the first Opening Day starter to hit three batters.
- MLB twitter and others pointed out that Yadier Molina started his 14th straight game at catcher, setting a Cardinals’ franchise record for consecutive Opening Day starts at the same position. Yadi, who hit a home run off the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard, also tied St. Louis’s career Opening Day home runs mark (4, Albert Pujols).
- @SoxNotes on twitter and others noted Eduardo Nunez hit the first Opening Day inside-the-park home run for the Red Sox since Carl Yastrzemski.
- Felix Hernandez became just the seventh starter all-time to start 10 or more straight Opening Day games with the same team. The rest of the list, compiled by ESPN Stats & Info and Elias Sports Bureau, is worth a look.
That list is a nice mix of great performances in specific scenarios, longevity, timing, and history. Mostly, it’s a list of fun, something Opening Day is always setting records for.
I think Giancarlo Stanton’s debut was just as likely as it was unlikely. The reigning NL MVP, batting third in the DH role for his new team, the Yankees, opened up his Bronx career with a sizzling 3-5, two home run, four RBI strength show. 860 feet of distance through the Rogers Centre air sounds about right for Stanton, who hit behind 2017 AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge and drove him in once.
Houston’s Gallo Shift
In the first inning of the Rangers’ loss to the Astros, Texas’s Joey Gallo flew out to Houston’s third basemen Alex Bregman. Who was playing down the line in left field.
Houston pulled out the four-man outfield against Gallo—he of the 54.2% flyball rate last season—because the Astros study their percentages. Jose Altuve was also in shallow-right, so if you want to get technical about fielder placements, Gallo hit against a five-man outfield to start the season. Gallo played the part his numbers write for him: He flew out three times and struck out once (he had a 36.8% strikeout rate last season).
Ohtani Watch: Episode One
Shohei Ohtani comes to the MLB with immense hype. His two-way potential, wrapped in the mystery of a legend concealed by the distance of an ocean, is a deservedly compelling story. Ohtani makes his pitching debut this weekend, but he made his MLB debut as the DH for the Angels on Opening Day. He went 1-5, slapping a single in his first at-bat.
Walk-offs and Extras
The Braves opened their season with a five-run rally from the sixth inning on against the Phillies, capped by Nick Markakis’s walk-off three-run home run off Philadelphia closer Hector Neris:
It was Markakis’s first career walk-off, and the first Opening Day walk-off home run for the Atlanta version of the Braves.
Meanwhile, Adam Jones smoked a game-winner for the Orioles in extras against the Twins:
Marcus Semien won it for the A’s in extras against the Angels on a walk-off single, while Orlando Arcia got the Brewers started with a win via a 12th inning RBI single in San Diego against the Padres.
Rusty Staub 1944-2018
Khurram Kalim is a senior writer for Bronx to Bushville.