On Thursday, Major League Baseball presented “Opening Day at Home” -- a full slate of 30 games broadcast nationally across various platforms including networks, digital streaming and social media, creating a full-day event on what would have been Opening Day. The experience is intended to invite fans to feel a sense of community and unity on a day many were looking forward to while underscoring the importance of staying home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Using the hashtag #OpeningDayAtHome, fans can connect with each other while watching their team’s selected game at a set time. The Brewers joined the festivities with Game 1 of the 2018 National League Division Series, a thrilling 10th-inning walk-off victory over the Rockies.
“Opening Day at Home” also will be an opportunity for MLB to raise awareness for several worthy charities that are helping provide relief to the most vulnerable communities impacted by the pandemic. Last week, MLB and the MLBPA made a $1 million joint donation to Feeding America and Meals on Wheels, in addition to a $30 million commitment made by MLB clubs to emergency relief for ballpark employees. If so willing and able, fans can contribute toward these charities, MLB official charity Boys & Girls Clubs of America and additional causes at MLB.com/give.
The Brewers’ showcase game is a thriller.
"It doesn't get any better than that," center fielder Lorenzo Cain said that day -- Oct. 4, 2018. "With the environment here, with being able to win it, that's one you feel good about."
The Brewers had been playing games just like it for weeks, with manager Craig Counsell cobbling together 27 outs with a series of short starts and a lot of heavy lifting from a bullpen anchored by a trio that came to be known as “The Electric Dudes” -- Corey Knebel, Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress. Three days earlier, the Brewers had held off the Cubs at Wrigley Field in a Game 163 that decided the NL Central and gave Milwaukee home-field advantage in the NLDS and the NL Championship Series.
The Rockies were just as tested, having lost to the Dodgers in an NL West tiebreaker game on Oct. 1 before beating the Cubs in the NL Wild Card Game the next night to advance up the road to Milwaukee for the first postseason series of the Counsell-David Stearns era. And who did the Brewers send to the mound for their first postseason game in seven years? A reliever, 25-year-old Brandon Woodruff.
"Game 1, you feel like you should have your No. 1 starter to go out there," Woodruff said with a smile. "But this is the way we've been winning games."
Without rehashing too many of the details so fans can relive them again on Thursday, it was as if the Brewers crammed all of the storylines from their season into one game. Christian Yelich hit an early two-run homer, still riding the incredible second-half surge that made him the 2018 NL Most Valuable Player Award winner. Young right-handers Woodruff and Corbin Burnes were stout in the biggest game of their lives, up to that point. Knebel and Hader continued to get the job done, although Jeffress did not, showing the first signs of wear from the heavy workload he carried that year.
"An unbelievable moment," Moustakas said. "It was an awesome atmosphere in there, so adrenaline was running high.”
Counsell said it reminded him of Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS, when Nyjer Morgan’s base hit sent the Brewers past the D-backs. So it was fitting that Morgan happened to be on hand again, having thrown out the ceremonial first pitch.
"A game like that is no good for the heart, no good for the blood pressure," Ryan Braun said. "The way the game went for the first eight innings, we had to win that game. We could not lose that game at home."
This week, MLB unlocked its expansive vault and is offering fans special access to the most unforgettable moments. MLB has made the entire 2018 and '19 game archives free to all fans through MLB.TV. Fans can also access more than 200 full classic MLB games on YouTube, including timeless World Series games, memorable postseason matchups, no-hitters and perfect games.