Opening Day Highlights Part 1

The newest contributor to Bush League Ramble, Charlie Baldwin brings you the opening day highlights of the 2018 MLB season.

Cubs 8 -4 Marlins (W: Cishek 1-0, (0.00 ERA), L: Urena 0-1 (11.25 ERA)
Ian Happ was in no mood to wait around. He deposited the first pitch of the brand new MLB season over the rightfield wall at Marlins Park to put the Cubs into a 1-0 lead. By the end of the first inning, the lead had been extended to 3-0 courtesy of a bases-loaded walk by Jason Heyward.  With the bases still full of Cubs, Javier Baez was then hit by a pitch to drive in a further run.

Brian Anderson responded with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the first before Anthony Rizzo hit a home run at the top of the second to make the score 4-1. The Marlins did fight back to tie the game at 4-4 in the third inning, thanks to a groundout RBI by Justin Bour in addition to singles by Anderson, Garrett Cooper and a fielding error by Kyle Schwarber. The Cubs had too much in the tank for the fish, prevailing 8-4, with the key hit being a Tommy La Stella two-run double in the seventh that scored Jason Heyward and Addison Russell.

Key Performers
Cubs: In his pre-season preview of the Cubs David Wyatt highlighted Ian Happ as one to watch.  Despite only going 1-5 for the day, his home run set the tone for the Cubs and gave them a key early advantage.

Marlins:  Brian Anderson, the Marlins third pick of the 2014 draft has been filling in for the injured Martin Prado at third base.  He had two key scoring hits and a walk.

Mets 9-4 Cardinals (W: Syndergaard 1-0 6.00 ERA, L: Martinez 0-1 8.31 ERA)
In what was billed as potentially one of the best pitching matchups of the day, turned into an offensive outbreak for the Mets. Cardinals fans were hoping for an ace type performance from Carlos Martinez. Instead, he flattered to deceive by way of five strikeouts in only four and a third innings while also walking six. Noah Syndergaard wasn’t quite at his best but he did make it to six innings whilst giving up four earned runs.

Brandon Nimmo opened the scoring in the top of the first inning after a throwing error by Redbirds first baseman Jose Martinez. Cardinals Catcher Yadier Molina replied with a two-run home run in the top of the second inning. Yoennis Cespedes then restored the Mets advantage with a two-run single in the bottom of the second inning to make the score 3-2 to New York. Jose Martinez then made amends for his previous error with a run-scoring single to bring the game even at 3-3.

With the exception of a Martinez home run in the sixth inning, the Mets then ran riot, killing the game off by batting around in the fifth inning, adding five runs on to their ledger. The most damaging hit of the inning, came from Amed Rosario who drove in Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Plawecki with a two-run single. A run-scoring single by Kevin Plawecki in the eighth inning tallied the final run for the Mets.

Key Performers
Mets – Kevin Plawecki paced the Mets here going 2 for 3 with 2 runs scored, 2 walks and an RBI. He is expected to be in a platoon with Travis D’Arnaud this year.

Cardinals: Jose Martinez had 3 of the Cardinals 6 hits including a home run more, than making up for his error in the first inning. Cardinals fans will be hoping he can continue from where he left off last season.

Orioles 3 -2 Twins (W: Bleier 1-0 L: Rodney 0-1 13.50 ERA)
It was the late-late show in Minnesota.  Dylan Bundy of the Orioles went seven strong innings, giving up five hits, striking out seven with only one walk whilst allowing zero runs.  New Twins ace Jake Odorizzi was not to be outdone, twirling six innings of shutout ball, with only two hits and two walks on his ledger, evened out with seven strikeouts.

The scoring opened in the seventh inning, with a Caleb Joseph triple scoring Trey Mancini and Danny Valencia off  Twins reliever Zach Duke, to put the Orioles up 2-0. 
In dramatic fashion, the Twins tied the game in the top of the ninth, with Robbie Grossman tallying a two run-scoring single against the usually reliable Brad Brach to tie the game at 2-2.

The game would then be decided with long-term Baltimore franchise star, Adam Jones, clobbering a game-deciding home run in the top of the 11th inning to send the Orioles to a thrilling 3-2 victory.

Key Performers
Orioles – Dylan Bundy. If the Orioles are to be successful they will need Bundy to consistently put together outings such as this one.

Twins – Jake Odorizzi. The Twins are most analysts’ favourites for the second wildcard. However, to potentially challenge Cleveland for the division and make it past the wildcard round of the playoffs they will need Odorizzi and co-ace Lance Lynn to post ace type numbers.

Jake Odorizzi
Jake Odorizzi – unlucky not to be on the winning side on opening day. Photo credit Keith Allison

Astros 4-1 Rangers (W: Verlander 1-0, 0.00ERA, L: Hamels 0-1,4.76 ERA)
History was made in the first inning, when George Springer became the first player to ever hit home runs on back to back opening days. The scoring for Houston would be completed by, a Jose Altuve sacrifice fly, a Jake Marisnick home run and a Carlos Correa double.  The Rangers would score a consolation on a wild pitch by Astros closer Ken Giles. Justin Verlander pitched a masterful six innings, giving up four hits and two walks against five strikeouts. It was not such a clean start for Rangers ace Cole Hamels who allowed all the Houston runs, over five and two-thirds innings as well as issuing four walks.

Key Performers
Astros – Justin Verlander, some questioned whether he could recreate his great form post-all star break, from a year ago. On the evidence of this start, thoughts about regression for JV may have been premature.

Rangers: Elvis Andrus – Joey Mellow in his pre-season preview of the Rangers,  referenced Andrus’ career year from last year. Rangers fans will be hoping he can kick on this year.  With two hits, a run scored and a walk, he was Texas’ star performer in this game.

Yankees 6 -1 Blue Jays (W: Severino 1-0, 0.00 ERA, L: Happ 0-1, 3.86 ERA)
It was the Giancarlo Stanton show in this game.  The reigning NL MVP had a monster debut bashing two home runs, as well as a double.  Stanton would ultimately be responsible for four of the six Yankees runs, with the other runs coming from a home run by Brett Gardner and a double by Gary Sanchez that also scored Stanton.

The Blue Jays home run came off a solo shot by Kevin Pillar against Dellin Betances. Luis Severino pitched five and two-thirds solid innings to earn the win. J..A. Happ took the loss for Toronto allowing three runs (two earned) in four and two-thirds innings.

Key Performers
Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton – A debut that may have even gone beyond the dreams and expectations of Yankees fanatics everywhere.

Blue Jays: Kevin Pillar – Widely known as one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, the Blue Jays will be hoping he can hit for power this year too.

Red Sox 4 – 6 Rays (W: Pruitt 1-0, 0.00ERA, L: C. Smith 27.00 ERA, SV: Colome (1)
Chris Sale has become one of the most dominant pitchers in the game today.  He pitched a strong six innings, with one hit, three walks and nine strikeouts. In contrast Tampa ace Chris Archer had a tough day allowing, four earned runs over six innings.

Boston got on the scoreboard in the second inning, on a Rafael Devers groundout followed by a two-run inside the park home run by Eduardo Nunez. Rafael Devers would add on with a run-scoring double in the seventh inning, to put the Red Sox into a 4-0 lead. However, the Rays are not a team that gives up, and their persistence paid off with a Red Sox bullpen implosion leading to six, runs for Tampa. The key hit was a Denard Span triple that gave the Rays a 5-4 lead. 

A Matt Duffy double, a bases-loaded walk by Brad Miller in addition to an Adeiny Hechavarria single also contributed to an unlikely come back. Joe Kelly (four runs allowed) and Carson Smith (two runs allowed) bore the brunt of the Rays resurgence.

Key Performers
Red Sox – Chris Sale, The Yankees and Red Sox are very even teams.  One can argue the Yankees have the advantage in offense and the bullpen, while the Red Sox have the stronger starting pitching rotation. For the Red Sox to repeat as division champions Chris Sale will have to continue his perennial Cy Young form.

Rays: – Denard Span – The Rays will probably be looking to try and unload Span and his hefty contract at some point this season. They will be hoping he can continue how he started, to attract potential trade partners.

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