The first full day of baseball for the 2012 was dominated by starting pitching, with zeroes dotting the scoreboard until mid-afternoon on Thursday. The pitching was so good that some bloggers had trouble figuring out which performances to include on a list of the five best.
But some teams had to score eventually to win a ballgame. After the New York Mets' David Wright put a positive number on the scoreboard with a RBI single against the Atlanta Braves, other batters began to come through with some key, run-scoring hits.
Not many batters shined on Thursday, which makes these five stand out even more.
J.P. Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays
OK, maybe we shouldn't pat Arencibia on the back too much, since he batted 1-for-7. (Teammate Jose Bautista went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two walks.) But he did hit the most significant home run of the day.
Arencibia's three-run shot in the 16th inning off Jairo Asencio broke a 4-4 tie, pushing the Blue Jays to a hard-fought win in their season opener.
Coming through with a big hit was probably even more impressive, considering Arencibia squatted for all 16 innings of the ballgame.
Jack Hannahan, Cleveland Indians
Arencibia wasn't the only batter in the Indians-Blue Jays marathon to hit a big home run. The Tribe went on top first, with Hannahan smacking a surprising three-run shot in the second inning off Ricky Romero.
The home run was especially notable because no one else was scoring any runs throughout baseball at the time. But Hannahan is also hardly known as a slugger, going deep just eight times last season.
Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers
The Tigers are expected to score a bunch of runs this season with one of the most fearsome lineups in the majors. That put some pressure on Jackson, who posted an OPS of .690 last season while also striking out 181 times. Yet Jim Leyland still insists on batting Jackson at the top of Detroit's lineup.
It's only one game, of course, but Jackson looked like someone ready to contribute his fair share to the offense. Not only did he go 3-for-5 at the plate, but he gave the Tigers a walkoff win over the Boston Red Sox with an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.
Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
I outraged many Bleacher Report readers and commenters by neglecting to include Kemp on my list of five National League MVP candidates. How could I forget last year's runner-up?
Kemp reminded me of that oversight, picking up right where he left off last season with a 2-for-5, three-RBI performance against the San Diego Padres. His two-run homer in the eighth inning off Brad Brach was the difference in the Dodgers' season-opening 5-3 victory.
Cameron Maybin, San Diego Padres
Maybin's homer wasn't a deciding blow, as Kemp's was. What it lacked it game-determining significance, however, it made up for with eye-popping distance.
The Padres center fielder absolutely crushed a cut fastball from Kenley Jansen high up into the Western Metal Supply Co. warehouse behind Petco Park's left-field fence. (You can see video of the homer here.)
Like Jackson in Detroit, Maybin is probably miscast as a leadoff hitter in San Diego. But if he can show some of the power that compelled the Tigers to make him their first-round pick in 2005, and both the Marlins and Padres to trade for him, he'll get plenty of at-bats in which to show his skills this season.
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