Sunday was the long-awaited beginning, the three-game appetizer that provided a good taste of the 2016 season in Major League Baseball. But don't think for a second you won't find room for today's Opening Day feast.The Pirates got off to a winning start at home, taking advantage of starter Francisco
Sunday was the long-awaited beginning, the three-game appetizer that provided a good taste of the 2016 season in Major League Baseball. But don't think for a second you won't find room for today's Opening Day feast.
The Pirates got off to a winning start at home, taking advantage of starter Francisco Liriano's Opening Day club-record-tying 10 strikeouts as Pittsburgh beat National League Central rival St. Louis, 4-1.
The next game saw another team mark for Opening Day punchouts, with Tampa Bay's Chris Archerfanning 12 Blue Jays in five innings and still getting outdueled by Marcus Stroman and touched up by the first home run of the season by Troy Tulowitzki as defending American League East champion Toronto won, 5-3, on the road.
The nightcap was a rematch of the 2015 World Series, and it ended with a similar result. Kansas City, playing in front of an electric crowd at Kauffman Stadium, hung its championship banner and then hung a 4-3 loss on Matt Harvey and the Mets, making do with their typically opportunistic offense and holding on for a nail-biter of a win, with Wade Davis working his way out of a jam of his own creation for the save.
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Today, it's #CapsOn all over the baseball world as fans don their best headwear to honor their teams. Then, many more ballpark gates will open and the rest of the glorious 162-game grind begins. The boys of summer are back, and 11 games -- which feature 20 teams beginning their seasons -- will have us glued to the beauty and pageantry of our game, with the volume once again turned all the way up. And you can watch all of the action on MLB.TV.
The Astros-Yankees opener, originally slated to start today's festivities, was called early due to rain. Instead, they'll start their seasons on Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET.
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Here's a rundown of today's 11 contests:
It's an even year: SF@MIL, 2:10 p.m. ET
The Giants won the World Series in 2010, '12 and '14. It's 2016, so a trend has been firmly dug into the AT&T Park batter's box. This Giants' opener will be played on the road against a young Brewers team, and San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner will be the headliner. The still-young veteran lefty is a perennial NL Cy Young Award contender and the ace his team follows to set the tone for each season.
"You always open against a great pitcher," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "You do. There are no soft spots in a Major League schedule. ... There's a good pitcher pitching every night."
Climbing the ladder: MIN@BAL, 3:05 p.m. ET
The Twins and Orioles hung around the pennant race for much of 2015, and they could do the same this time around. Minnesota, with exciting youngsters Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Korean slugger Byung Ho Park, visits Baltimore and the potent O's batting order loaded with Manny Machado, Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez.
Wild West showdown: SEA@TEX, 4:05 p.m. ET, ESPN
The first nationally televised game of the day will bring us to Arlington, where everything's big, including expectations for the defending AL West-champion Rangers. Cole Hamels gets his first Opening Day start for Texas against Felix Hernandez and the Mariners. Seattle will try to tie the Boston Beaneaters as the only teams in Major League history to win 10 consecutive season-opening games.
"The atmosphere is always crazy, especially when you open at home," Hamels said. "The Texas Rangers' fans are outstanding, so it's going to be sort of that playoff experience. Hopefully, we can continue that for 81 games at home."
Major League ace-off: BOS@CLE, 4:10 p.m. ET
David Price has an AL Cy Young Award under his belt and now pitches for the Red Sox. Corey Kluber won his AL Cy Young Award in 2014 and takes the hill for the Indians in the opener at Progressive Field. Both teams have their sights set on contending in their respective divisions, after offseason roster renovations that have their fan bases very optimistic heading into '16.
Catch the rising stars: PHI@CIN, 4:10 p.m. ET
The records weren't where they wanted them last year, but the Phillies and Reds still have young and talented players all over the diamond, which could mean surprising turnarounds in the new season. One to watch is slugging Philadelphia third baseman Maikel Franco, entering his first full big league season. Another is flame-throwing Cincinnati starter Raisel Iglesias.
Max-imum velocity: WAS@ATL, 4:10 p.m. ET
He finished off last season with a 17-strikeout no-hitter, his second no-no of 2015. So the baseball-obsessed world will be watching when the Nationals' No. 1 starter Max Scherzer toes the slab for his new manager, Dusty Baker, as Washington visits division-rival Atlanta to begin what it hopes will be a return to the postseason.
The golden (arm) state: LAD@SD, 7:05 p.m. ET, ESPN
Clayton Kershaw has won the NL Cy Young Award in three of his past five seasons and is generally regarded as the best pitcher on Earth, which makes this nationally televised tilt a must-see event to begin with. Factor in Padres starter Tyson Ross, whose peripheral stats make him one of the NL's emerging talents, and you've got the recipe for Opening Day NL West intrigue.
Contrast of styles: TOR@TB, 7:10 p.m. ET
This won't be the opener for the Jays and Rays, but it'll still be fascinating, as it always is when you pit a 41-year-old knuckleballer (Toronto righty R.A. Dickey) against a young lefty (Drew Smyly of Tampa Bay), who can be overpowering when healthy.
Zack attack: COL@ARI, 9:40 p.m. ET
Right-hander Zack Greinke signed with the D-backs to shake up the NL West, and he gets the ball at home for his Arizona debut. That will take care of plenty of the drama on the home side. Over in the other dugout, this opener will mark the Major League debut of Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, who earned the gig with a sizzling spring.
"I can't wait until Monday," Arizona outfielder David Peralta said. "The good thing is, we've played well this spring. So that's helped give us some confidence to start the regular season. I think it's going to be a great year for us."
More than Jake: CHC@LAA, 10:05 p.m. ET, ESPN2
The nationally televised finale of #CapsOn Opening Day gives us two more bona fide No. 1 starters. Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta gets the headlines coming off his astonishing 2015 NL Cy Young Award-winning season, but Angels righty Garrett Richards has some of the best pure stuff in the game and can pitch with anybody if he's commanding his offerings. It's another of today's marvelous matchups.
Smoke from both sides: CHW@OAK, 10:05 p.m. ET
The nightcap does not disappoint. Not one bit. On one side of the ball, you have left-hander Chris Sale of the White Sox, who is aiming for a Cy Young Award after leading the AL in strikeouts in 2015. On the other side is right-hander Sonny Gray, who has become the unquestioned ace and leader of Oakland's staff after a meteoric rise to the Majors.
In other words, game on. And season on.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.