The 20 best Opening Weekend moments (so far)

April 10th, 2022

You wait all winter for baseball, and then you have to wait an extra week because of the lockout. But then the season arrived, and the games counted, and what we all got was maybe the best first week you could ever have -- a week that’s not even over yet.

Here is just some of what we did get once we got baseball back, no particular order:

1. Giancarlo Stanton let everybody know he pretty much wants to play the Red Sox every day, forever. A home run on Opening Day. Another home run on Saturday. Going back to last season, it meant Stanton has now homered in six straight games against the Sox. You know the last guy to do anything like that? That Mantle guy. But his streak against the Sox only lasted five games.

2. Jeremy Peña of the Astros, another talented kid in Houston, hit his first career home run in Anaheim against the Angels, while his parents -- father Geronimo played in the big leagues for seven years -- were being interviewed on television.

3. Bobby Witt Jr. got a big go-ahead double on Opening Day for the Royals. That was just the opening act for the kid. On Saturday, in the 10th, he pulled off a game-saving defensive gem by making a diving stop at third and somehow throwing out Owen Miller at the plate from his knees. Then, the Royals won again.

4. On Friday night, Francisco Lindor became the fourth Met hit by a Nationals pitcher in two games. Buck Showalter finally had enough, and led the charge out of the Mets dugout. Both benches cleared. Order was restored. But in that moment Showalter let everybody know that there really is a new sheriff in town for the Mets.

5. Justin Verlander came back to baseball on Saturday. This happened after his old friend from Detroit, Max Scherzer, struck out six in six innings and got his first victory as a Met on Friday. Five innings for Verlander against the Angels, seven strikeouts, one run. Six innings, six strikeouts for Mad Max.

6. Julio Rodríguez, the 21-year old kid center fielder for the Mariners, started a game-winning rally for his team against the Twins on Saturday after striking out four times.

7. The Braves got their World Series rings in Atlanta, which meant that their baseball lifer of a manager, Brian Snitker, officially had some jewelry to go with a title for which he had only waited 45 years.

8. The Blue Jays came from being down, 7-0, against the Rangers on Friday night to finally win the game, 10-8. There are a lot of teams in baseball that can mash. Not like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Jays can mash.

9. Rafael Devers’ first hit and first homer of the season for the Red Sox was an upper-deck shot off Gerrit Cole in the top of the first at Yankee Stadium on Friday.

10. Another 21-year old (is there no end to them?), Wander Franco, came out of the blocks with a 3-for-4 day. You know who isn't going anywhere? Tampa Bay isn't, even as loaded as the American League East looks. Franco is about to become a huge star.

11. Nolan Arenado (remember him?) got four hits for the Cardinals on Saturday against the Pirates, three of them doubles. Arenado is still a great player. The Cardinals are still really, really good.

12. José Iglesias of the Rockies got his first hit of the season, in the first game since his father had passed away. When he was overcome with emotion at first base and began to cry, Freddie Freeman, the Dodgers first baseman, was the one to comfort him, in a wonderfully human moment. A lot of sights opening week. Not one finer than that one.

13. Carlos Rodón, new guy in the Giants rotation, struck out 12 batters in his debut for his new team.

In five innings.

14. The Mets Opening Day starter, as you probably expected he would, struck out six guys and gave up just three hits in five shutout innings.

Except it wasn’t Jacob deGrom.

Wasn’t Mad Max.

It was Tylor Megill, who finished his great day by retiring the last eight Nationals he faced.

15. Josh Donaldson -- new Yankee third baseman, first game as a Yankee at Yankee Stadium -- knocked in the winning run in his team’s extra-inning opener against the Red Sox.

16. And do you know who Verlander’s mound opponent was in Anaheim? Thor himself, Noah Syndergaard, also returning from Tommy John surgery, a long way from Citi Field. It was his first “real” start since the 2019 season. He pitched into the sixth, no runs allowed, two hits.

17. Yu Darvish pitched six hitless innings for the Padres on Thursday. The next night, Sean Manaea pitched seven. After a shortened Spring Training, manager Bob Melvin pulled them both. But still.

18. How did Pete Alonso, the Polar Bear, come back from being one of the Mets hit by the Nationals? By hitting the first grand slam of his career on Saturday, is how.

“Grannies are sick,” he said afterward.

19. And how does Javier Báez introduce himself to Tigers’ fans at Comerica Park? By knocking in the winning run on Friday with a walk-off hit off the right-field wall.

20. Mr. Mike Trout (who can forget him?) essentially ended three days and nights of edge-of-your-seat baseball by hitting his first home run late Saturday night.

There is your fast Top 20. And guess what? It’s the short list. Now, the Reds’ hot kid, Hunter Greene, goes up against the world champs in Atlanta. Stay tuned.