One cool fact from each Opening Day game

July 25th, 2020

It didn’t take long for baseball fans to see something both spectacular and historic Thursday night. 

In the top of the first inning of the very first game of the 2020 regular season, Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton got all of a Max Scherzer fastball and crushed it 459 feet to left-center field at Nationals Park.

Not only was it an impressive blast, but Stanton also became the first designated hitter to homer at a National League ballpark in a game played between an American League team and an NL team.

The first full slate of the year had its share of amazing moments as well. Here are the coolest facts, figures and feats from Friday’s 14 games.

Mets 1, Braves 0

Yoenis Céspedes is now the trivia answer to "Who hit the first home run as a designated hitter in a National League game?" -- and was it memorable, indeed. Céspedes’ first homer since July 20, 2018, broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the seventh inning, and it was his first dinger at Citi Field since May 1 of that year against … Mike Soroka, the man who pitched the first six scoreless innings for the Braves on Friday.

Céspedes has now technically homered in each of the last three games in which he’s appeared: Friday, and then dating back to May 13 and July 20, 2018.

Reds 7, Tigers 1

Is the slugging Joey Votto of old back for 2020? The six-time All-Star and former NL MVP crushed a solo homer off Tigers starter Matt Boyd in the fifth inning, matching his homer total against southpaws over the entire '19 season. Votto slugged only .309 against lefties last year, and combined for 27 homers over the last two seasons after knocking 36 in ‘17.

Blue Jays 6, Rays 4

Toronto’s Opening Day lineup joined some very exclusive company, as the quartet of shortstop Bo Bichette (son of three-time All-Star outfielder Dante), second baseman Cavan Biggio (son of Hall of Famer Craig), first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Sr.) and third baseman Travis Shaw (son of 12-year Major League pitcher Jeff) made the Blue Jays just the second team in history to trot out an entire starting infield composed of sons of former Major League players, per the Elias Sports Bureau. That infield can hit, too -- all four Blue Jays sluggers recorded at least one base hit Friday, and Biggio’s three-run homer in the fifth gave Toronto a commanding 6-1 lead over the Rays.

Marlins 5, Phillies 2

Coming off a strong rookie season in which he made the NL All-Star team, Miami right-hander Sandy Alcantara helped his club snap a five-game Opening Day losing streak. Alcantara struck out seven and held the Phillies to one earned run over 6 2/3 innings, becoming the first Marlins Opening Day starter to win since José Fernández in 2014.

Indians 2, Royals 0

Shane Bieber picked up where he left off in his breakout 2019 campaign, shutting out the Royals over six innings while piling up 14 strikeouts. That tied Randy Johnson (1993, ‘96) and Don Drysdale (1960) for the second-highest total by any pitcher on Opening Day in Major League history. Only Camilo Pascual of the 1960 Washington Senators has surpassed that, having struck out 15 Red Sox in 1960. 

Overall, Indians pitchers struck out 18 Royals hitters, the highest team total in a nine-inning Opening Day game since at least 1901.

Cubs 3, Brewers 0

Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks pitched at the optimal efficiency we’ve come to expect from the crafty right-hander over the years, tossing a three-hit shutout against the rival Brewers on just 103 pitches. No. 9 hitter Orlando Arcia (.633 OPS last year) collected all three hits for Milwaukee.

Hendricks is the first pitcher to throw a shutout on Opening Day since Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers back in 2013. Kershaw homered against Los Angeles’ rival in that game, too, something Hendricks was unable to match with the introduction of the DH in the NL. Hendricks is the first Cubs pitcher to notch an Opening Day shutout since Bill Bonham (against the Phillies) on April 9, 1974.

Red Sox, 13, Orioles 2

No Mookie Betts? No problem for the Red Sox, at least in game No. 1. Boston belted out eight doubles in its Opening Day rout of the Orioles, including two apiece for Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez and José Peraza. That tied for the second-most doubles recorded by any team in its season opener since at least 1901, and was the highest Opening Day total since the Pirates knocked eight two-baggers to open the '36 campaign.

The Red Sox’s 13 runs are also the second-most the franchise has tallied in a season opener, trailing only the 15 they put up against the Yankees in a 15-5 win in 1973.

Rangers 1, Rockies 0

It was a night of firsts in Arlington, and not just the first game of the 2020 season for the Rangers and Rockies -- it was the first regular-season game to be played at the new Globe Life Park. The first hit in the ballpark’s history came courtesy of Rockies center fielder David Dahl, who blooped a single to left field in the third inning. Dahl had the only three hits of the game for Colorado, adding a fifth-inning double and an eighth-inning single.

The first run scored at Globe Life Field was also the only run of the game, and it was Danny Santana scoring on a double from Rougned Odor, who picked up the venue’s first RBI. The first win went to Lance Lynn, who struck out nine over six innings, and the first save went to José Leclerc, who worked around some control issues to close the game out in the ninth.

Twins 10, White Sox 5

The ball was flying early in Chicago, as Minnesota’s “Bomba Squad” wasted no time restarting the party in 2020. The Twins jumped out to an early lead behind Max Kepler, who became the first player since the Angels’ Ted Kluszewski in 1961 to homer in both of the first two innings of an Opening Day game. 

On the bright side for the White Sox, rookie center fielder Luis Robert (MLB’s No. 3 prospect) recorded his first base hit on a 115.8 mph shot into left field, the highest exit velocity on a player’s first career knock since Statcast began tracking in 2015. He later added an opposite-field double at 103.5 mph.

Cardinals 5, Pirates 4

There was a familiar sight in St. Louis on Friday night, as Yadier Molina crouched behind the plate for the 16th straight Opening Day, setting a new record for a catcher with a single team. Molina was there to guide Jack Flaherty, who carried over the success he found in posting one of the best second halves in MLB history last season (0.91 ERA in 15 starts). Flaherty came within one out of completing his seven innings in scoreless fashion but still has allowed a total of just 13 earned runs over his past 17 regular-season outings going back to last July 7.

Padres 7, D-backs 2

Eric Hosmer had himself a huge night at Petco Park, becoming the first player in MLB history to knock not one, but two bases-clearing doubles on Opening Day, racking up six runs batted in. That set a Padres franchise record for RBIs on Opening Day, and Hosmer is the first hitter to drive in at least six runs in a season opener since Placido Polanco (six) did so for the Phillies in 2010. It marked only the 16th time a player has driven six or more runs in game No. 1 of the season.

Astros 8, Mariners 2

Houston just kept on rolling against the Mariners, routing Seattle to claim its eighth straight Opening Day victory -- the longest active streak in the Majors. The Astros went a staggering 18-1 against the Mariners last year to post one of the most dominant seasons against a single opponent. Michael Brantley knocked a three-run homer, marking the 26th straight game that the Astros have belted at least one homer dating back to last season. That’s the third-longest team homer streak in MLB history, and just one behind the 2002 Rangers for second place. The Yankees set the record last year by homering in 31 straight contests.

Dodgers 9, Giants 1

The only matchup featuring teams playing their second game of the season Friday, the Dodgers improved to 2-0 behind the pitching of Ross Stripling and the bat of Max Muncy, who continues to rake. Muncy’s two home runs in this one gave him 78 since making his team debut on April 17, 2018 (including the postseason). The only players with more total homers in that time are Christian Yelich (81), Eugenio Suárez (81) and J.D. Martinez (79).

Athletics 7, Angels 3 (10)

In a game that featured the first use of the automatic runner at second base in extra innings, the slugging A’s wound up using the opposite of small-ball to get the job done. A’s first baseman Matt Olson won it with a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 10th against Angels lefty Hoby Milner, recording the first walk-off grand slam on Opening Day since Mariners third baseman Jim Presley walked off the Halos with a 10th-inning slam in Seattle’s first game of 1986. Olson’s blast marked the fifth extra-inning, walk-off grand slam in A’s history, and the first since Mark Ellis on June 8, 2008, against … you guessed it, the Angels.