On an Opening Day of ovations and expectation, one of packed ballparks and optimism in virtually every nook and cranny of every yard, we were left with a handful of moments that might just linger in our hearts and minds awhile:
1. You go to the park on Opening Day because you might see a team hit eight home runs.
In this case, it was the Dodgers hitting the most home runs any team has ever hit in a season opener. As for the franchise's single-game record, eight home runs ties that. Let’s count ‘em. Joc Pederson hit the first of eight Dodger long balls in the second inning. Enrique Hernandez, Austin Barnes and Corey Seager all went deep in the fourth. Pederson hit another one in the sixth, and there were three more in the seventh, including Hernandez’s second, which was the eighth of the day in a 12-5 victory against the D-backs. More >
2. You say Lo, we say Cain!
Brewers pitcher Brent Suter almost wore that chant out last season. At times, it amused Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain. At others, he seemed to wonder what the heck was going on. Like a lot of people, Suter is amazed by Cain, who routinely does things that take your breath away. Cain was back at it Thursday, leaping over the wall and bringing a potential game-tying Jose Martinez home run back into the park with two outs in the ninth to seal a 5-4 victory over the Cardinals. As good as Cain’s catch was, his celebration -- bouncing off the wall, screaming, throwing the baseball into the stands -- was also one of the highlights of Opening Day. More >
3. Welcome to Philadelphia, Bryce Harper.
He trotted out to right field, took a deep bow toward the fans and thrust a celebratory fist in the air. When he came to bat in the bottom of the first inning, the cheering began the moment he stepped toward home plate in his green cleats that paid tribute to the Phillie Fanatic. Harper went hitless in his first game for his new team, but he symbolized this new era of Phillies baseball. Oh, and the Phillies beat the Braves, 10-4. More >
4. New Mets deliver
The Mets acquired Robinson Cano to do exactly this: deliver in important moments and change games. In short, to do what he he has done for most of his 14 seasons. That’s how he started this new chapter of his career with the Mets, with a home run off Nationals ace Max Scherzer in the top of the first inning. Speaking of good days, few folks had a better one than new Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. Cano and closer Edwin Diaz were his two most important acquisitions in an offseason reshaping of the Mets. About three hours after Cano’s homer, Diaz retired the Nationals in order in the ninth to finish a 2-0 victory.
5. No break-in period for Justin Verlander
Go slow? No thanks. Verlander got his 205th career victory by going seven innings and throwing 102 pitches in beating 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell and the Rays. Michael Brantley homered in his first game for the Astros, and George Springer and Jose Altuve also went deep in a 5-1 decision.
6. Giancarlo Stanton is 120.6 mph good.
His first-inning single to right field had an exit velocity of -- wait for it -- 120.6 mph, the fifth-hardest-hit base hit since Statcast was introduced in 2015. He’s no stranger to that leaderboard, owning seven of the eight hits clocked at 120 mph or greater.
7. Luke Voit!
He might have been the most under-the-radar 2018 Trade Deadline acquisition. In fact, not everyone understood what the Yankees were thinking when they acquired the first baseman from the Cardinals. That was before he hit 14 home runs and had a 1.095 OPS in 39 games. His three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning on Opening Day got the Yankees out of the gate fast and on their way to a 7-2 victory over the Orioles.
8. The NL MVP begins another campaign.
Brewers right fielder Christian Yelich was baseball’s best player down the stretch last season with 18 home runs and a 1.324 OPS in his last 39 games as Milwaukee wrested the NL Central championship from the Cubs. Yelich was rewarded for his efforts by being named the NL MVP and was right back at it Thursday by hitting a three-run home run in the third inning as the Brewers rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Cardinals, 5-4. More >
9. Fernando Tatis Jr.’s quick milestone.
The 20-year-old Padres shortstop made his first Opening Day a memorable one by getting a hit in his first Major League at-bat, a second-inning single off Madison Bumgarner, in a 2-0 San Diego victory. Manny Machado made his Padres debut, too, going hitless in three at-bats. More >
10. These are the kids the Tigers are building around.
Christin Stewart is just 25 years old, a 2015 first-round Draft pick and one of the faces of the Detroit rebuild. His two-run home run in the top of the 10th inning broke up a scoreless game and gave Tigers fans a glimpse of an exciting future in a 2-0 victory in Toronto. This game started with veteran right-hander Jordan Zimmermann retiring 20 straight Blue Jays.
11. Tim Beckham’s two homers off Chris Sale and what it might mean
Beckham's career has not been a straight line to stardom. That isn’t how a lot of people thought it would go after the Rays made him the No. 1 pick of the 2008 Draft. He’s a reminder that young players don’t come with guarantees or timelines. Beckham is 29 years old and getting a chance to play regularly for the Mariners. So his two home runs off Red Sox ace Sale in a 12-4 Seattle victory might just be a preview of a cool new chapter of his career.