With all due apologies to Australians and the Dodgers-Padres game on Sunday night, we finally saw baseball's real opening day. It was Monday, when 26 of the 30 MLB teams were in action.
We saw walk-offs, meltdowns, blown leads, challenges (successful and otherwise), exciting new players making an impact, dependable veteran players doing what they do and even a ridiculous attempt at defense.
There were also immediate winners and losers of the 2014 season. Now, baseball is a loooooong season and tomorrow's a new day, so redemption or regression could be waiting. But for Day 1 of this season, these were the winners and losers.
MIAMI MARLINS: Oh, you thought they'd be in the "losers" category. Nope. In fact, the Marlins had a very good opening day. Jose Fernandez was downright filthy (nine strikeouts in six innings) and five Marlins had two hits or more, including Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, as the fish thumped the Colorado Rockies by the score of 10-1.
ALEX GONZALEZ: The Detroit Tigers acquired Gonzalez, a 37-year-old veteran, to help with their shortstop woes. He paid dividends for his new team immediately, hitting a game-tying triple in the seventh inning, then a walk-off single in the ninth to clinch a 4-3 win over the Kansas City Royals.
SEATTLE MARINERS: Not many pundits are considering the Seattle Mariners a playoff team even though they went out and grabbed big-fish free agent Robinson Cano and paid him $240 million. For one day, though, it all came together nicely. Cano had two of the Mariners' 11 hits and Felix Hernandez had 11 strikeouts in six innings to push the M's to a 10-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
— MLB Play Index (@BRefPlayIndex) April 1, 2014
CARDINALS VETERANS: The St. Louis Cardinals pulled off a tidy 1-0 victory against the Cincinnati Reds. For all that we hear about the Cards and their young talent, this one had everything to do with the team's two veteran leaders. Yadier Molina hit a solo homer, and Adam Wainwright struck out nine and allowed only three hits in seven innings.
FANS WHO BELIEVE IN GIANTS MAGIC: The San Francisco Giants have established a reputation within their fan base for pulling off magical wins during their two recent World Series runs. Giants fans got a taste of the magic Monday as the team climbed back from a 6-2 deficit against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Giants scored four in the seventh to tie the game at seven, then Buster Posey hit a two-run go-ahead homer in the ninth to clinch the Giants eventual 9-8 win.
THE NEW REPLAY SYSTEM: MLB debuted its video replay system (with manager challenges!) and the world didn't end. In fact, the new system overturned a couple of wrong calls and upheld a couple of others. It wasn't as fast as it could have been, but we saw an example of video replay the way it should be done.
GRADY SIZEMORE: Grady is back, for one game at least. Sizemore, the starting center fielder for the Boston Red Sox, played his first game since 2011 and hit a solo homer and a single. Even if you don't root for the Red Sox, it's hard to not root for Sizemore and his comeback.
NEIL WALKER: He's not the Pittsburgh Pirates' go-to hero, but he did the job just fine Monday, hitting a walk-off homer in the 10th inning of the Pirates' 1-0 win against the Chicago Cubs.
TAMPA BAY RAYS: The team that some are picking to represent the American League in the World Series had everything going right Monday in a 9-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. David Price pitched a solid 7 1/3 innings, while Wil Myers had three hits and two RBIs.
BILLY HAMILTON: The Cincinnati Reds speedster, promoted to starting center fielder and leadoff man this season, was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. The good ol' golden sombrero. The Reds lost 1-0.
METS BULLPEN: Things were looking good for the New York Mets, as Andrew Brown and Juan Lagares homered and the team was up 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth. But then the Washington Nationals tied the game in the ninth and scored four runs in the 10th. Three Mets relievers gave up five hits and five runs in two innings. Sigh.
OAKLAND A'S: The A's lost their 10th consecutive opening day game, a record for Day 1 futility. The Indians were on the other side of Monday's game, scoring a 2-0 win after a ninth-inning rally broke a 0-0 tie.
JIM JOHNSON: The new A's closer, brought over in a trade with the Orioles, was roughed up in the loss. Johnson came in with the game knotted at zero in the ninth. He gave up two hits and hit a batter on his way to giving up two runs. Not the way to introduce himself to Oaktown.
Johnson: "I would've booed me too. I sucked. ... Next time they'll be cheering."
— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) April 1, 2014
JOSE REYES: Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Reyes is headed back to the disabled list to nurse his hurting hamstring. He lasted one at-bat Monday. He was hurt early in 2013 too, and missed significant time in his first season in Toronto.
THIS BLUE JAYS ATTEMPT AT DEFENSE: One word: Oof. As you can see, little went right for the Blue Jays on Monday.
TANNER SCHEPPERS: The Texas Rangers called on Scheppers to make his first MLB start on opening day after an injury to ace Yu Darvish. It didn't go so well. Scheppers was clocked for eight hits and seven runs in four innings by the Philadelphia Phillies, who won a 14-10 slugfest.
CHICAGO CUBS HITTERS NOT NAMED EMILIO BONIFACIO: In the Cubs' 1-0 loss to the Pirates, Bonaficio had himself a nice day, going 4-for-5. The rest of the Cubs lineup? 2-for-27.
ADDISON REED: See Johnson, Jim. The Arizona Diamondbacks traded for Reed this offseason and named him the team's closer. Game 1 saw him give up a go-ahead homer to Buster Posey as the D-backs fell to the Giants.
YANKEES FANS: No New York Yankees game on opening day? That doesn't seem right. The Yanks will open their season Tuesday against the Houston Astros, the last two MLB teams to play a game.
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