Major League Baseball’s true Opening Day is a holiday on the real sport’s fans schedule. Pardon to the American League’s newest team, the Houston Astros, who beat the Texas Rangers last night, but today was the day baseball fans have been waiting for since Buster Posey and the Giants ended summer last October. And boy, today did not disappoint. Please take a minute to read my thoughts on five of today’s coolest story-lines.
All props need to go to the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw, who today became the first pitcher to hit a home run (see video above) and throw a shutout on Opening Day since the Hall-of-Famer Bob Lemon did it for the 1953 Indians. Kershaw broke a scoreless tie with his first career Major League home run to lead off the Dodger’s half of the 8th inning, and that’s all the support he needed in his team’s 4-0 victory over the defending champion Giants. You rarely even see high school games where a pitcher single-handedly wills a team to victory with both his arm and his bat, so to see it happen in Dodger Stadium with new part-owner Magic Johnson in attendance is pretty spectacular.
Red Sox take down Yankees 8-2
Yes, there is bias to why this game makes my top five storylines of Opening Day 2013. But I’d imagine you would feel the same way if this was the first time that your team finished the day in first place since September 1, 2011 and the month that lasted about 13 that we can finally put to bed now. This game was also of note as it was the debut of new Red Sox left fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. who made an immediate impact by drawing a walk after falling behind in the count 0-2 in his first plate appearance and eventually scoring in a huge 4 running second inning for Boston. Bradley finished the game 0-2 with 3 walks, an RBI groundout, and the run scored, while also providing the energy as a spark for the team.
The 6’5” Samardzija will always be a Notre Dame football player to me. In reality he’s turning into a pretty darn good Major League Pitcher. Last season he went 9-13 with a 3.81 ERA for a terrible ballclub, and while expectations for the Cubs may not be that great at all, this tall, freakishly athletic righty will be one of the reasons they don’t lose 100 games again. This afternoon Samardzija pitched 8 strong innings, allowing just 2 hits and walking one batter while striking out 9 and his dominating performance led Chicago to a 3-1 win over Pittsburgh.
For good reason Bryce Harper is a name that everyone knows. Today he once again showed us why, and for that somebody owes Ricky Nolasco an apology. Harper took Ricky deep twice today, once in the first inning and again in the fourth, each for solo home runs. That was more than enough for Stephen Strasburg in his 2013 debut as the Nationals cruised to a 2-0 win over Miami at NationalsPark.
Major League Baseball’s 5 Millionth Appearance
The website http://www.baseball-reference.com/ pointed out a fun milestone that was reached today in the long history of baseball. According to their records the 5,000,000th appearance was made during today’s action. The Minnesota Twins Wilkin Ramirez entered today’s game against the Detroit Tigers as a pinch runner, and in the process became the five millionth person to enter an MLB game (at least according to this data). While the site admits the number is only accurate to the best of their ability, it is pretty crazy to think about exactly how many games have been played in professional baseball.