7 incredible facts, figures from a wild Opening Day

March 31st, 2023

This year’s Opening Day was historic, as all 30 teams took the field for the first time since 1968. With everyone in action to begin 2023, there were plenty of memorable highlights that reverberated throughout the baseball world.

Here are some of our favorite facts, figures and storylines from this year’s stacked Opening Day lineup.

Aces open in midseason form
Yankees 5, Giants 0

One year after hitting 62 homers to break Roger Maris’ single-season AL record, new Yankees captain Aaron Judge crushed MLB’s first home run of 2023 in his first at-bat against the Giants. Maris also homered on Opening Day the year after his record-breaking 61-homer season in 1961, as did Mark McGwire after hitting 70 homers in 1998 and Barry Bonds after hitting 73 in 2001.

Judge’s blast fueled a 5-0 Yankees win in a game that saw history made on the mound. Prior to 2023, only two pairs of opposing starting pitchers had ever recorded at least 10 strikeouts each in an Opening Day Game: Dave McNally (13 K’s for the Orioles) and Sam McDowell (11 K’s for Cleveland) in 1970, and Jacob deGrom (10 K’s for the Mets) and Max Scherzer (12 K’s for the Nationals) in 2019. The Yankees’ Gerrit Cole and the Giants’ Logan Webb became the third pairing to accomplish the shared feat on Thursday. Cole (11 K’s) and Webb (12 K’s) both established new team records for strikeouts on Opening Day.

Rutschman rakes
Orioles 10, Red Sox 9

The man who set the tone for the Orioles' resurgent 2022 campaign was right back at it on Opening Day. In powering the offense for the afternoon, Adley Rutschman reached base six times, blasting a first-inning home run and driving in four of Baltimore's 10 runs at Fenway Park. In the end, the Orioles were no doubt thankful for his outburst, as a late rally from the Red Sox made their first win of the season a tight 10-9 contest.

Rutschman's big day made him the 13th player (and first catcher) since 1901 to collect five hits on Opening Day (the Blue Jays' George Springer went 5-for-6 against the Cardinals later in the day.) Rutschman is also just the eighth player to reach base six times on Opening Day and the first since Hideki Matsui in 2006.

Bochy ball
Rangers 11, Phillies 7

In a marquee Opening Day pitching matchup between two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom and Aaron Nola, who finished fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting last year, the last thing you might expect would be a slugfest. But that’s exactly what transpired at Globe Life Field on Thursday, when the Rangers scored nine runs in the fourth inning en route to an 11-7 victory over the Phillies.

The nine-run fourth marked the first time a team had scored nine or more runs in a single inning on Opening Day since April 1, 1997, when the Padres scored 11 times in the sixth inning of a 12-5 win over the Mets. Coincidentally, the manager for the winning team in both cases was Bruce Bochy, who managed the Padres from 1995-2006, and made his Rangers managerial debut in Thursday’s victory.

Springer excels in slugfest
Blue Jays 10, Cardinals 9

Toronto’s Opening Day matchup against St. Louis had a little bit of everything. Established stars showing up, top prospects making their Major League debut and -- most importantly -- some drama. Neither starting pitcher brought their best for Opening Day, as the score was knotted at 5 after four innings thanks to a bevy of hits from both teams. The Blue Jays got their runs across the plate on RBI hits from Alejandro Kirk, Daulton Varsho and Bo Bichette, while the Cardinals got an RBI double from Nolan Arenado and two-run home runs from Tyler O’Neill and Brendan Donovan. O’Neill has now hit a home run in four straight Opening Days.

After the teams exchanged runs through the middle innings, Arenado gave the Cardinals the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning on a two-RBI double that had Busch Stadium rocking. The Blue Jays shut those cheers down a half inning later, however, as George Springer tied the game with an RBI single before Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gave Toronto the lead with a sacrifice fly. Springer recorded five hits, which tied the record for most hits on Opening Day, while the Blue Jays had 19 hits as a team -- the most by any MLB team on Opening Day since the 2005 Cubs.

South Siders end Astros’ streak
White Sox 3, Astros 2

The reigning World Series champions had a chance to open the 2023 season with a record-breaker. From 2013 to ‘22, the Astros never took an Opening Day loss, tying a very old Major League record set by the Boston Beaneaters from 1887-96. Houston’s run had carried on through several eras of Astros baseball, beginning with a 2013 team that ultimately lost 111 games. Things, clearly, have changed a lot since then, and the club’s recent success made the streak seem almost untouchable.

Enter the White Sox, who, led by Dylan Cease, matched zeroes with the Astros through six innings, and after surrendering the go-ahead run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh, answered with three runs of their own on a solo homer from Yasmani Grandal in the eighth and a two-run double by Andrew Vaughn in the ninth. Things got tense in the bottom of the ninth, as Reynaldo López, brought on to face the heart of Houston’s lineup, surrendered a 442-foot monster shot to Yordan Alvarez, but that was all the Astros would get, putting an end to their historic run of dominance over Opening Day.

Sho me some runs
A's 2, Angels 1

Shohei Ohtani was electric on the mound for the Angels to open the 2023 regular season, fresh off his MVP performance in the World Baseball Classic. The two-way superstar struck out 10 over six scoreless innings against the A’s at the Oakland Coliseum on Thursday night, yielding just two hits and walking three on 93 pitches.

But it went for naught, as the Angels’ lineup could muster only one run over the first five innings against Oakland’s rookie starter Kyle Muller before being blanked for the final four frames by the A's bullpen. With the 2-1 Angels loss, Ohtani became the first pitcher in AL/NL history (since 1901) to give up no runs while striking out 10 or more batters on Opening Day in a game his team lost.

One of the Angels’ five hits in the game, a single in the fourth inning, came off Ohtani’s bat at 111.6 mph. While he ripped the ball at the plate, he also unleashed a fastball that topped out at 100.7 mph from the mound. Nevertheless, Ohtani walked away with a no-decision and the Angels began the new season 0-1.

17-for-17 ... or something like that
Rockies 7, Padres 2

The Rockies enjoyed a 7-2 Opening Day victory in San Diego, but there was much more to this game than the score would indicate. Colorado committed three defensive errors, including two instances of catcher’s interference by Elias Díaz, and slugging first baseman C.J. Cron tied a franchise record with two home runs and five RBIs on Opening Day (also Vinny Castilla in 1998). But those aren’t the most astounding factoids from this contest -- by recording 17 hits and striking out 17 times at the plate, Colorado became the first team in the Modern Era (since 1900) to have 17 or more hits while also striking out 17 or more times in a nine-inning game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.