The 2018 regular season is finally here. This year's campaign opened on an exciting note Thursday afternoon, when Cubs outfielder Ian Happ launched the season's first pitch into the right-field seats at Marlins Park. The power display didn't end there, however: a player homered three times on Opening Day for
The 2018 regular season is finally here. This year's campaign opened on an exciting note Thursday afternoon, when Cubs outfielder Ian Happ launched the season's first pitch into the right-field seats at Marlins Park. The power display didn't end there, however: a player homered three times on Opening Day for just the fourth time ever, and Giancarlo Stanton got his Yankees career off to a hot start in Toronto.
Below is a look at some of the most interesting facts and figures from Opening Day (with updates throughout the day's 13 contests):
• There were an all-time record 6,105 home runs hit during the 2017 season, and '18 didn't waste any time following suit, as Happ homered on the first pitch from the Marlins' Jose Urena.
It was the first time that a player homered on the first pitch his team saw in a season since 2004, when Kazuo Matsui did it for the Mets against the Braves' Russ Ortiz. Meanwhile, the last batter to lead off the season with a homer was the Cardinals' Ray Lankford in 1994, although he didn't do it on the first pitch.
• All the 'firsts' of the 2018 season
Happ's feat also brought to mind Boston's Dwight Evans, who began the 1986 season by clubbing a first-pitch homer off Detroit's Jack Morris at Tiger Stadium.
• Prior to Thursday's White Sox opener against the Royals, only three players had ever homered three times on Opening Day. Chicago's Matt Davidson became the fourth, belting solo shots in the fourth and fifth innings at Kauffman Stadium, and then a three-run blast in the eighth. Davidson became the first player to hit a trio of homers on Opening Day since Dmitri Young accomplished the feat -- also against the Royals -- back on April 4, 2005. Davidson's first homer on Thursday was hit 115.1 mph, the second one was hit 114.0 mph and the third one had an exit velocity of 113.9 mph. That made Davidson the first player since the introduction of Statcast™ to hit multiple home runs of 114-plus mph in the same game.
Chicago's six homers overall tied the 1988 Mets for the most hit by a club in its season opener, per the Elias Sports Bureau.
• Stanton's Yankees career started with a bang. That is, it started with a monster home run in his first at-bat for New York. Stanton crushed a home run to right field with an exit velocity of 117.3 mph, according to Statcast™ -- making it the hardest opposite-field homer since the tracking technology was introduced. The last player to homer in his first Yankees at-bat? That, of course, would be Aaron Judge. Judge homered in his first career plate appearance on Aug. 13, 2016. But Stanton wasn't done. He belted another homer in the ninth, a solo shot to center field that traveled 434 feet.
• Stanton wasn't the only Yankee to have a strong Opening Day. Starting pitcher Luis Severino was excellent over 5 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing only a single hit and recording seven strikeouts. Severino is the first Yankees Opening Day starter on record to allow just one hit.
• The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry could be as exciting as ever this season, and although they didn't play each other on Opening Day, the way their respective aces pitched should get fans excited for when they do eventually meet. While Severino was shutting down the Blue Jays, Chris Sale was dominating the Rays -- he threw six innings of shutout one-hit ball with nine strikeouts. Severino and Sale joined Clayton Kershaw in 2016 as the only Opening Day starters in the last two decades to strike out at least seven batters and allow no more than one hit, as noted by River Ave. Blues' Katie Sharp.
• The first Red Sox home run of the season was an unorthodox one, as Eduardo Nunez's second-inning fly ball to left-center field got between two Rays outfielders, allowing Nunez to race all the way around the bases. Nunez made it from home to home in 15.87 seconds, a record for the Red Sox since Statcast™ debuted in 2015.
This was only the fourth Opening Day inside-the-park homer in the past 50 years. Before Stephen Drew hit one for the D-backs in 2010 and Emilio Bonifacio for the Marlins in '09, it hadn't been done since Boston's own Carl Yastrzemski in 1968.
• Adam Jones' 11th-inning solo shot off the Twins' Fernando Rodney gave the Orioles an Opening Day walk-off win for the third straight season. Baltimore beat Toronto on a Mark Trumbo walk-off homer to open last year and on a Matt Wieters walk-off single in the 2016 opener. That makes Baltimore the first team to have Opening Day walk-offs in three consecutive seasons, according to Elias.
That gave the Orioles eight straight Opening Day victories. With the Dodgers' 1-0 loss to the Giants, Baltimore has the longest active streak in the Majors.
• Urena hit three Cubs batters in the first inning. To put that in context, there were just seven pitcher outings in all of 2017 with at least three hit-by-pitches. One was by Urena, on June 18 against the Braves.
Urena became the first starting pitcher since at least 1908 to hit three batters on Opening Day. The only other pitcher to do it was the Cubs' Jeff Fassero, in relief, against the Reds in 2002. The three hit batters also tied an MLB record for any inning.
• In the top of the second inning at Citi Field, the Cardinals' Yadier Molina stepped to the plate for his first at-bat, in his 14th consecutive Opening Day start as St. Louis' catcher. That's the longest active streak by any player at any position for a single team.
The 35-year-old, eight-time All-Star wasn't deterred by a 97.7-mph heater from the Mets' Noah Syndergaard and pulled a two-run shot off the left-field foul pole. It was Molina's fourth career homer on Opening Day, passing Hall of Famer Stan Musial and tying former teammate Jose Pujols' franchise record.
Going back to the start of pitch tracking in 2008, Molina had gone deep off a faster pitch only once. That came last year, when he turned around a 98.2-mph fastball off Baltimore's Miguel Castro.
• Although he allowed four runs, including a pair of homers, Syndergaard struck out 10 over six innings. That made him only the second pitcher in Mets history to reach double digits on Opening Day, following Pedro Martinez, who racked up 12 K's against the Reds in 2005.
• Happ wasn't the only player to get his team off to a fast start. In Arlington, Astros right fielder George Springer homered in his club's first at-bat against Rangers starter Cole Hamels in the top of the first. Springer also homered in the Astros' first at-bat against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez on Opening Day 2017, making him the first player in history to lead off back-to-back seasons with a homer for his club. Another Astros outfielder, Terry Puhl, was the only previous player to lead off two seasons with a dinger, doing so in 1978 and '80.
• The Braves erased a 5-0 deficit against the Phillies and walked off to an 8-5 victory when Nick Markakis belted a three-run homer in the ninth. The five-run Opening Day deficit was the largest overcome in franchise history.
• Albert Pujols hit the 615th home run of his career for the Angels in their season opener in Oakland. That moved him to within 15 home runs of Ken Griffey Jr. (630) for sixth place on Major League Baseball's all-time home run list. It was Pujols' fifth career Opening Day home run, tying him with Bryce Harper and now-teammate Ian Kinsler for most among active players.
• Clayton Kershaw suffered a tough-luck 1-0 loss to the rival Giants, dropping him to 5-1 in eight Opening Day starts. The one earned run Kershaw allowed over six innings actually raised his career Opening Day ERA from 0.99 to 1.05. Still, that is the second-lowest ERA of any pitcher who has made at least five season-opening starts since 1920, ranking behind the 0.92 ERA set by Rick Mahler.
• Michael Trout endured a very uncharacteristic performance on Opening Day in Oakland, going 0-for-6 with a strikeout. It was the first 0-for-6 of Trout's career, out of 18 previous games in which he logged at least six at-bats -- and he had multiple hits in 16 of those.
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.