These were the 14 coolest moments from Opening Day of the 2017 MLB season
What is that strange feeling in the air? No, it's not the rising pollen count, it's excitement! Baseball is back, which means that joy has finally returned to our lives. On Sunday, Chris Archer began the season with the first pitch of the year, a 92 mph fastball to Brett Gardner.
Opening Night and Day were packed with games (you can catch all the action on MLB.TV all season long), and to make sure you didn't miss anything, we highlighted the coolest moments from the first two days of the season.
1. Bryce Harper hits his fifth Opening Day home run and Mike Trout hit his third
In the bottom of the sixth inning of the Nationals' 4-2 win over the Marlins, Bryce Harper pounced on a David Phelps fastball for a home run. It's Bryce's fifth Opening Day dinger … out of five career Opening Days. Not bad at all.
Meanwhile, hours later in Oakland, Mike Trout connected on a Kendall Graveman offering for his third career Opening Day dinger in the Angels' 4-2 loss, a two-run shot that cleared the wall in left field with an 113.4 mph exit velocity, per Statcast™:
2. The Rangers play in the AL West, but were host to Home Run Central
Rougned Odor quickly got into the act of making good on his new contract extension. Facing the Indians' Corey Kluber, Odor smashed a solo home run in the bottom of the second on the seventh pitch of the at-bat.
In the bottom of the third, he would do it again.
Of course, in between those two, Carlos Gomez made quite the bang as he blasted Kluber's offering 461 feet into the second deck for the longest HR of the season.
But there were more homers in the Rangers' eventual 8-5 win -- including a booming blast by the team's new slugger, Edwin Encarnacion:
Encarnacion's trusty parrot made its first appearance of the season as he rounded the bases, of course:
3. Jason Kipnis watched the Indians' win via the At Bat app -- at the NCAA national championship game
Cleveland's star second baseman is on the 10-day disabled list to start the season, so he wasn't with the club on Monday. Instead, Kipnis spent his 30th birthday in Arizona, taking in the NCAA title game eventually won by North Carolina -- while simultaneously watching the Indians' win on his mobile device, via the At Bat app:
A post shared by Jason Kipnis (@jasonkipnis22) on Apr 3, 2017 at 7:02pm PDT
4. The first grand slam of the year
Evan Longoria hit the first home run of the 2017 season, but the first grand slam belongs to Joc Pederson. Just like Longo's homer, Pederson's was a precision shot -- it traveled 359 feet and landed in the seats just inside the foul pole.
Pederson's blast was exemplary of the Dodgers' afternoon, as they beat the Padres, 14-3.
5. Byron Buxton made the first 5-star catch
Since Statcast™ unveiled the new catch probability system over the offseason, we've been waiting to see our first 5-star catch (meaning between a zero and 25 percent chance of making the play). Thanks to Byron Buxton's effort in the Twins' 7-1 win over the Royals, we don't have to wait any longer.
Buxton closed in the 36-foot gap on Alex Gordon's line drive in only 2.9 seconds, giving him the honor:
6. The O's used their full range of abilities
The Orioles persevered, 3-2, in 11 innings on Monday to defeat the Blue Jays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and the win was punctuated by two plays that are pretty exemplary of the Orioles as a team. First, witness this oh-wait-what-how-did-he-do-this effort from Manny Machado at third base:
A few minutes later, Mark Trumbo started his campaign right where he left off last season, launching the season's very first walk-off homer with this shot to left field:
7. Jose Bautista flashes the leather
Joey Bats is known for, well, his bat. But he'll come up with the glove when needed. With a runner on first and the score tied at 2 in the top of the ninth, Bautista made a diving catch on Joey Rickard's line drive into right field. If he missed it, it could've been the game. After making the scoop, he threw to first to double up Welington Castillo and force the game to extras.
8. Charlie Blackmon celebrates the warm weather
In the bottom of the sixth of Monday's 7-5 Rockies win over the Brewers, Kirk Nieuwenhuis smacked a ball into center. According to Statcast™, that ball lands for a hit 86 percent of the time. But not when Blackmon is in the mood for a snow cone … catch:
9. George Springer begins the Astros' season with a leadoff #SpringerDinger against Felix Hernandez
The Astros faced off against King Felix and the Mariners in their home opener Monday night looking to start the season off with a bang -- and they did just that, thanks to this effort from their high-energy outfielder George Springer:
Not to be outdone, Springer's teammate Carlos Correa also clubbed his own homer on the night, and his nearly left Minute Maid Park entirely:
Houston won the ballgame, 3-0, on the strength of those moonshots as well as seven shutout innings from ace Dallas Keuchel and two scoreless frames from Luke Gregerson and Ken Giles.
10. Jeremy Hellickson's triple
In 122 career plate appearances entering today, the Phillies starter had no triples. That all changed when the Reds' Scott Schebler tried to make a sliding play in Cincinnati's 4-3 loss to the Phillies:
Sure, home runs may be more impressive, but you can't deny that this is more fun.
11. Noah Syndergaard wasted no time in showing off his skills
Thor spent the offseason getting stronger to somehow throw even harder. He showed that off with the very first batter he faced in 2017. Against the Braves' Ender Inciarte, the Mets right-hander threw two 98 mph heaters. Once he had Inciarte's bat sped up, he finished him up with a diving slider at 92.3 mph. That's just unfair.
"Unfair" is a good word to describe Syndergaard's outing, as he and the Mets won the game, 6-0, in convincing fashion.
Not wanting to fall too far behind Bumgarner in the #PitchersWhoRake category, Syndergaard did his best, but came away with a measly single in the bottom of the fifth.
12. Jackie Bradley Jr. used his wheels in the triangle
When Francisco Cervelli blasted a liner to center field in the top of the fourth, many assumed that the ball was going to land for extra bases -- if not fly over the wall. But the man known as JBJ turned on the afterburners and raced down the ball. The Pirates' catcher could only smile at the loss of points on his slugging percentage.
It was also a 3-star catch as graded by Statcast™, meaning it's caught between 51-and-75 percent of the time. (Or, it's missed between 25-and-49 percent of the time.)
In the bottom of the fifth, Bradley hit a long fly to deep right. Though it didn't go out, he wound up with a triple.
Thanks to efforts like these, not to mention a big three-run homer from Andrew Benintendi, the Red Sox went on to win, 5-3. That can mean only one thing: Win, dance, repeat.
13. Carlos Martinez pays respects to Yordano Ventura and Oscar Taveras before Cardinals opener
The Cardinals turned to 25-year-old right-hander Carlos Martinez for their season opener against the Cubs at Busch Stadium on Sunday night, and he had quite a night. Before beginning the evening, Martinez took some time out to honor two of his fallen friends, the late Oscar Taveras and Yordano Ventura, who tragically passed away in January.
Martinez went 7 1/3 innings, striking out 10, allowing six hits and no runs. Seung Hwan Oh came in to close out the game and gave up the tying runs in the top of the ninth, but the Cardinals pulled out the victory, 4-3, thanks to Randal Grichuk's walk-off heroics:
14. Madison Bumgarner is tied for the National League lead in home runs
During Sunday's Giants-D-backs game, Bumgarner hit a home run before ever allowing a baserunner. Oh, and it was also knocked out at 112.5 mph. That's the hardest-hit home run by a pitcher in the Statcast™ era:
Even better, he did it again a few innings later with a 422-foot blast. Unfortunately, he didn't set a record this time. This was a measly 112.1 mph.
It was so good, we even got a wink out of the hurler:
But even though Bumgarner pitched seven innings and struck out 11, the D-backs still managed to rally in the ninth. They won 6-5, on the first walk-off of the year.