Opening Day is here, and today's slate of games is jam-packed with big names and fascinating story lines, as 26 teams are set to take the field.
The schedule originally called for all 30 clubs to play their openers today, which would have made this the first time that everyone began a season on the same day since 1968, when there were only 20 teams. However, the Pirates-Tigers matchup in Detroit (now Friday at 1:10 p.m. ET) and the Nationals-Reds game in Cincinnati (Friday at 4:10 p.m.) were postponed due to inclement weather.
All that means is there will now be two afternoon games today, while the day's action will still feature the likes of Trout, Kershaw, Altuve, Bryant, Thor, Lindor, Arenado and a host of other stars. Here is a look at everything you need to know to get ready for a jam-packed first day.
HOW TO WATCH
While every game is available live on MLB.TV (local and national blackout restrictions apply), here is a breakdown of the ones that will be broadcast nationally, each on ESPN (all times ET):
Astros at Rangers, 3:35 p.m.
It's an intrastate American League West battle, as the defending World Series champions begin their title defense on the road. Fresh off his sensational postseason run, Justin Verlander will make his 10th career Opening Day start, but first in an Astros uniform. Reigning AL MVP Award winner Jose Altuve leads Houston's power-packed lineup against lefty Cole Hamels, while Verlander will try to keep Texas first baseman Joey Gallo (41 homers in 2017) in the ballpark. And of course, keep your eye on the Rangers' always-entertaining Adrian Beltre, who enters the season 38 homers shy of 500, and three shy of Dave Winfield for 34th on the all-time list.
Giants at Dodgers, 7:08 p.m.
It doesn't get much better than a Dodgers-Giants rivalry throwdown on Opening Day at Chavez Ravine, so be sure to give your undivided attention to the only game in the 7 p.m. ET window. Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw is set for his club-record eighth consecutive Game 1 start, and Los Angeles has won each of the previous seven, including over San Francisco in 2011 and '13. Backed up by the past two National League Rookie of the Year Award winners (Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger), Kershaw will battle a Giants lineup that now features some highly recognizable new faces, following offseason trades for Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. Unfortunately for San Francisco, Madison Bumgarner won't be toeing the rubber against Kershaw after sustaining a fractured left hand in his final Cactus League outing. Ty Blach gets the call instead. (This game is exclusively on ESPN in the United States, but available on MLB.TV to international subscribers.)
Today's Giants-Dodgers game will mark the 28th Opening Day meeting between the two clubs. That will tie the Cubs and Reds for the second-most Opening Day showdowns between a pair of teams in that span, topped only by the 29 games between the Red Sox and Yankees. True to form, the Giants hold the slimmest of leads (14-13) in those previous 27 tilts.
Indians at Mariners, 10:10 p.m.
This one features a pitching matchup between two AL Cy Young Award winners, in Seattle's Felix Hernandez (2010) and Cleveland's Corey Kluber ('14, '17). Hernandez, the active leader among pitchers in consecutive Opening Day starts, will become just the seventh in history to make 10 in a row. Kluber, who posted a 1.62 ERA over his final 23 starts last year, even garnered some AL MVP Award votes, though not as many as electrifying teammates Jose Ramirez (third place) or Francisco Lindor (fifth). Meanwhile, the Mariners' lineup features some familiar faces (Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager), a new one at a new position (Dee Gordon, in center field) and possibly one that is both very old and new. That would be the 44-year-old Ichiro Suzuki, who will don a Seattle uniform for the first time since July 22, 2012.
FUN FACTS FOR THE REST OF TODAY'S SLATE
Twins at Orioles, 3:05 p.m.
You might not know it, but Baltimore is on a roll -- at least when it comes to Opening Day. The Orioles have claimed their past seven consecutive season openers, tying the Dodgers for the longest current streak in the Majors. The Twins snapped an eight-season losing streak on Opening Day last season, and they'll in all likelihood feature Joe Mauer making his 14th Opening Day start to pass Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew for the most in the franchise's history in Minnesota (dating back to 1961).
Yankees at Blue Jays, 3:37 p.m.
New York and Toronto have shared a division since the Blue Jays entered the AL in 1977, but this is just the second time the Yankees will begin their season north of the border. The Yanks beat the Jays, 8-4, when Roger Clemens outdueled the late Roy Halladay on March 31, 2003, at Rogers Centre. Oh, and there's also the small fact that Giancarlo Stanton will be making his Yankees debut, batting third in first-year manager Aaron Boone's lineup.
Red Sox at Rays, 4 p.m.
With this outing, Chris Archer will tie James Shields' record of four Opening Day starts for the Rays and become the first Tampa Bay pitcher to do the honors in four consecutive seasons. Archer has faced a different AL East foe each time, having lost to the Orioles in 2015 and the Blue Jays in '16, but he defeated the Yankees last year. The Red Sox will trot out their own ace in lefty Chris Sale, whose career 13.5 strikeout-per-nine innings ratio against the Rays is the highest of any pitcher against a single opponent since 1920 (minimum 75 innings pitched).
Angels at A's, 4:05 p.m.
Michael Trout has homered on three of his past four Opening Days, including last year at Oakland, off the same pitcher (Kendall Graveman) who will take the ball for the A's today. Washington's Bryce Harper is the only other player to go deep in three of the past four season openers.
Meanwhile, today's game will mark just the second time in the past 41 years in which the A's will host a day game for their home opener -- and the first time since 1994.
Brewers at Padres, 4:10 p.m.
Something has to give for these teams, which both have lost three consecutive openers. Not only that, but both teams have been outscored by a combined 64-14 in those six games. Of the six season openers since 2015 decided by a margin of at least nine runs, Milwaukee and San Diego have been on the wrong side of four of them. The Padres' 15-0 loss to the Dodgers in '16 was the most lopsided Opening Day shutout in MLB history.
Phillies at Braves, 4:10 p.m.
This will be Atlanta's first Opening Day at SunTrust Park, after the Braves began 2017 on an eight-game road trip before breaking in their new ballpark. The club went 5-4 on Opening Day at its previous home, Turner Field, including 2-1 against the Phillies. Gabe Kapler will be the first Phillies skipper to debut as a big league manager on Opening Day since Terry Francona in 1997.
White Sox at Royals, 4:15 p.m.
James Shields will make his eighth career Opening Day start, fittingly against the Royals -- a club he started two openers for, in 2013 and '14. The White Sox will be the fourth team for which Shields has started on Opening Day, putting him in a club with 11 other pitchers who have started a season opener while wearing at least four caps since 1908. Hall of Famers Bert Blyleven and Gaylord Perry hold the record, having started Opening Day for five franchises in that span (Livan Hernandez also started for five teams, including both the Expos and Nationals).
Mike Moustakas will start his seventh straight opener for the Royals at third base, after re-signing with the club over the offseason. He now has the longest active Opening Day start streak with the same club at that position, while Alcides Escobar (making his eighth consecutive start) ranks second among shortstops. Alex Gordon, who had made seven straight starts in left field for Kansas City, moves over to center this year.
Rockies at D-backs, 10:10 p.m.
Colorado's history has been marked by a constant search for pitching. Jon Gray gets the call on Opening Day this year, joining Ubaldo Jimenez (2010-11) as the only Rockies hurlers since Mike Hampton ('01-02) to start consecutive openers. Going back to Colorado's debut as a franchise in 1993, its 18 Opening Day starters used is tied for third in MLB, and it's the only club not to have a single starter take the mound more than twice in that span.
Keep an eye toward the bullpen door at Chase Field: The D-backs are set to become the first team to feature a bullpen cart to transport relievers since the Brewers used a motorcycle with a sidecar in 1995.
OPENING DAY RECORDS TO KNOW
All records go back to 1908, unless otherwise noted.
Most Opening Day home runs: George Bell, Tuffy Rhodes and Dmitri Young (tie), 3
Bell was the first player to homer three times in an Opening Day game, doing so for the Blue Jays against the Royals on April 4, 1988. Six years later, Rhodes hit three homers in the Cubs' '94 season opener against the Mets. And Da Meat Hook had three for the Tigers 11 years after that, on Opening Day 2005 against the Royals.
Most Opening Day RBIs: Corey Patterson and Brant Alyea, 7
Alyea set the record in 1970, batting in the Twins lineup behind Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmon Killebrew, and eight-time All-Star Tony Oliva. He went 4-for-4 against the White Sox in a 12-0 win, socking a pair of three-run homers. Patterson, the No. 3 overall pick in the '98 Draft by the Cubs, matched him in 2003 for Chicago at Shea Stadium. His day also included four hits and two big flies in a 15-2 Cubs romp.
Most Opening Day hits: Aaron Miles (2005), Craig Biggio ('01), Jeff Kent (1998), Nellie Fox ('59), Dale Mitchell ('50), Harlond Clift ('37), Billy Herman ('36), Ty Tyson ('27), Babe Ruth ('21), Larry Doyle ('15), Eddie Collins ('13), Bobby Byrne ('11), 5
There have been 12 players with five hits on Opening Day, but none since Rockies second baseman Aaron Miles did it 13 years ago in a Coors Field classic, when Colorado rallied for four runs off of Trevor Hoffman in the ninth for a 12-10 win. That capped off a seven year run that saw three players get five hits in openers, but prior to Jeff Kent pulling off the feat in 1998, it hadn't happened in 39 years (Nellie Fox).
Most Opening Day strikeouts: Camilo Pascual, 15 (April 18, 1960)
On Opening Day 1960, the Washington Senators right-hander fired a 15-strikeout complete game to beat the Red Sox and set the mark for most K's in a season opener. The only run he allowed? A homer to Ted Williams.
Most runs scored on Opening Day: Indians, 21 (April 14, 1925)
The Indians set the Opening Day runs record in a wild 21-14 win over the Browns. Down 13-9 in the eighth inning, Cleveland scored 12 runs in the frame, with Hall of Famer Tris Speaker hitting the go-ahead homer. The Browns made 10 errors in the game, tied for the most ever.
Opening Day cycles: Gee Walker, 1937
Walker is the only player to hit for the cycle on Opening Day, doing so for the Tigers on April 20, 1937, against the Indians. Walker completed the cycle in reverse order -- he homered in the second inning, tripled in the fourth, doubled in the fifth and singled in the seventh.
Opening Day no-hitters: Bob Feller, 1940
Feller's brilliance on April 16, 1940, produced the only no-hitter on Opening Day in MLB history. Feller was just 21 years old when he shut down the White Sox on an appropriately blustery day in the Windy City. It was the first of three no-hitters the Hall of Famer would throw in his career.
Most Opening Day starts: Tom Seaver, 16
Seaver had two nicknames -- The Franchise and Tom Terrific -- and his Opening Day record speaks to both. Seaver's 16 Opening Day starts are the most of any pitcher, and 11 were for the Mets franchise that he defined for so long. He was, of course, terrific in those openers -- Seaver went 7-2 with a 3.13 ERA and 81 strikeouts, second most all-time.
Most consecutive Opening Day starts: Jack Morris, 14 (1980-93)
Morris' Hall of Fame legacy is that of being an indomitable workhorse, and his record 14 consecutive Opening Day starts -- for three teams -- is representative of that. Morris had a career ERA of 3.39 in openers, and he's one of only two pitchers since 1980, along with Rick Mahler, with at least three complete-game victories on Opening Day.
Most Opening Day wins: Walter Johnson, nine
The Big Train was a beast on Opening Day. Johnson went 9-5 with a 1.31 ERA in his 14 career Opening Day starts. Twelve of those starts were complete games, and seven of them were shutouts. Both of those are Opening Day records.
Most Opening Day saves:Francisco Rodriguez and Rollie Fingers (tie), six
Fingers and K-Rod are two of the most successful closers to ever play the game, and they're tied for most Opening Day saves. Rodriguez saved season openers for four teams (the Angels, Mets, Brewers and Tigers) and Fingers for three (the A's, Padres and Brewers).
Most Opening Day strikeouts: Randy Johnson, 107
It's entirely unsurprising that one of the most fearsome strikeout artists of all time would top the list of Opening Day strikeouts. The Big Unit had four double-digit strikeout performances in season openers, including two monster 14-K starts for the Mariners in 1993 and '96.
Most Opening Day home runs: Frank Robinson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn (tie), 8
Robinson spread his homers out across four teams, homering in season openers for the Reds, Orioles, Angels and Indians. All of The Kid's Opening Day homers came for the Mariners, including two on Opening Day 1997 against the Yankees. Dunn's eight included two multihomer Opening Days, in 2005 and '07 for the Reds.
Most Opening Day hits: Pete Rose, 31
Major League Baseball's hit king is also its Opening Day hit king. Charlie Hustle notched 31 base knocks in season openers, including three-hit games in 1974, '76 and '81, as well as eight other multihit games.
Most team wins: Cubs, 76
Since the Major Leagues began as we know them with the founding of the National League in 1876, the Cubs have more wins on Opening Day than any other franchise, with 76. (Their overall record is 76-64-2.) Their curse-breaking World Series run in 2016 started with an Opening Day win -- and so did their championship run 108 years earlier in 1908.
Best winning percentage: Mets, .643
As noted earlier, the Mets are 36-20 on Opening Day and have won 36 of their past 48, including a 6-0 win against Atlanta last year.