Sports are filled with over-the-top cliches and metaphors, but there is truly something beautiful about the ones that apply on MLB’s Opening Day.
It really is the unofficial start of the spring and summer seasons, as the dreary, cold winter nights transform into the sun-soaked afternoons at ballparks across the country. Shoveled driveways and salted roads fade away, and in their place come freshly cut green grass and seven-dollar hot dogs that taste like the first day of summer freedom after a long school year.
Hope springs anew with every 0-0 record, and even long-suffering Chicago Cubs fans see their team with the same record as everyone else.
Of course, the Cubs being the Cubs, they started the year off with a Sunday night loss to the St. Louis Cardinals the day before the rest of the league started the 2015 season.
Here is a look at all of Monday’s scores as well as some reaction from the turning points of another Opening Day in baseball.
|2015 Opening Day Scores|
|Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees||6-1, Blue Jays|
|Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers||4-0, Tigers|
|Colorado Rockies at Milwaukee Brewers||10-0, Rockies|
|Boston Red Sox at Philadelphia Phillies||8-0, Red Sox|
|Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays||6-2, Orioles|
|New York Mets at Washington Nationals||3-1, Mets|
|Atlanta Braves at Miami Marlins||2-1, Braves|
|Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals||10-1, Royals|
|Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners||4-1, Mariners|
|Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds||5-2, Reds|
|San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers||6-3, Dodgers|
|Cleveland Indians at Houston Astros||2-0, Astros|
|Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics||8-0, Athletics|
|San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks||5-4, Giants|
The New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays kicked off the action Monday in the Bronx, and things did not go according to plan for those in pinstripes.
The Blue Jays won 6-1 behind a home run from Edwin Encarnacion and timely pitching. Toronto chased New York starter Masahiro Tanaka after only four innings, which prompted this response from Yankees coach Joe Girardi, per Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News:
The other big story from this game was the return of Alex Rodriguez from his 2014 suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. Rodriguez won't receive much of a warm welcome from opposing crowds this year, but Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com noted that the New York faithful showed their appreciation:
Elsewhere in the American League, the Detroit Tigers knocked off their division rival Minnesota Twins 4-0. David Price pitched a gem and didn't allow a run in 8.2 innings of work, and J.D. Martinez drilled a crucial home run.
ESPN Stats & Info noted that this wasn't the first time a Detroit ace made headlines with an excellent performance on Opening Day:
In the National League, the Colorado Rockies looked dominant against the Milwaukee Brewers and won 10-0. Milwaukee pitcher Kyle Lohse was rocked for eight earned runs in 3.1 innings, but Andrew Gruman of Fox Sports Wisconsin noted that the fans had more important things on their minds:
The Twins and Brewers weren't the only teams blanked Monday, as the Boston Red Sox shut out the Philadelphia Phillies to the tune of 8-0. Clay Buchholz pitched seven innings of brilliant baseball, while new Red Sox Hanley Ramirez drilled two home runs, including a ninth-inning grand slam.
MLB provided a highlight of Ramirez's game-breaker, while John Tomase of WEEI.com passed along a quote from pitcher Justin Masterson regarding the preseason concern that Boston didn't have an ace in the rotation:
Boston wasn't the only American League East team to impress Monday, as the Baltimore Orioles handled the Tampa Bay Rays, 6-2. Alejandro De Aza spearheaded the offensive attack with a two-run homer in the fifth inning.
Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com noted that De Aza was doing his job as a leadoff hitter throughout the game:
In the National League East, the New York Mets outlasted the Washington Nationals 3-1 behind six innings of one-run baseball from pitcher Bartolo Colon. Chuck Garfien of Comcast Sportsnet Chicago commented on Colon's performance:
Elsewhere in the division, the Atlanta Braves knocked off the Miami Marlins 2-1. New closer Jason Grilli picked up the save a day after superstar Craig Kimbrel was traded to the San Diego Padres. Jayson Stark of ESPN provided a ray of hope for Atlanta fans:
The defending American League champion Kansas City Royals kicked off their 2015 campaign in style with a 10-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox. Alex Rios drilled a three-run homer during the course of a five-run seventh inning and broke the game open.
Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com noted that Chicago fans were probably familiar with that, while Blair Kerkhoff of The Kansas City Star pointed out that Rios' bat will be a major boost in the Kansas City lineup in 2015 compared to last year's outfield:
It was a pitcher's duel out west, as the Seattle Mariners handled the Los Angeles Angels to the tune of 4-1. Felix Hernandez was his typical brilliant self with seven innings of one-run and two-hit baseball from the mound. ESPN Stats & Info pointed out that Hernandez is among some impressive company when it comes to Opening Day performances:
The Mariners and Angels game wasn't the only one that was dominated by pitchers.
Defending American League Cy Young Award winner, Corey Kluber, only allowed three hits in 7.1 innings for the Cleveland Indians, but he was only the second-best pitcher on the field in his team's 2-0 loss to the Houston Astros. Dallas Keuchel turned in a gem with seven shutout innings and inspired some confidence from Matthew Pouliot of RotoWorld.com:
In the National League Central, the Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 in a thrilling back-and-forth contest. The Reds held a 2-0 lead after Johnny Cueto turned in seven shutout innings, but Andrew McCutchen tied the game in the top of the eighth with a two-run homer off of Kevin Gregg.
Todd Frazier then virtually won it for the Reds with a three-run homer of his own in the bottom of the eighth.
Jon Tayler of Sports Illustrated commented on the McCutchen moment, while Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pointed out that Frazier was excellent all over the field:
Perhaps the most thrilling game of the day was the Los Angeles Dodgers' 6-3 win over the San Diego Padres. Jimmy Rollins hit the decisive three-run homer for the Dodgers in the eighth, and ESPN Stats & Info noted that Rollins is historically excellent on Opening Day:
As for the Padres, Derek Togerson of NBC 7 in San Diego offered some encouragement for San Diego fans after the disheartening loss:
Baseball is a 162-game season, and the result from just one game is nowhere near as important as it is in fellow sports like football, even if it feels that way on Opening Day.
Still, the victory for the Dodgers was notable because the National League West figures to be one of the tightest races in the entire league. The defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants are back to defend their crown, the Dodgers have a litany of superstars with their high payroll, and the Padres made a number of impressive moves this offseason to bolster their chances.
Even one head-to-head victory for the Dodgers against the Padres will help set the tempo in the division. San Diego has plenty of talent, but it hasn't challenged for the playoffs since a solid 2010 campaign. A slow start could be problematic for the team's confidence.
Meanwhile, the Giants got their title defense off to a strong start. They beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4, largely on the strength of a four-run fifth inning. Angel Pagan and Buster Posey both picked up RBIs, and Brandon Crawford delivered a two-run double to put an exclamation point on the scoring.
Arizona made it interesting in the bottom of the eighth. With the bases loaded, Jake Lamb hit a three-run double to put the Diamondbacks within a run. Tuffy Gosewisch and David Peralta struck out to end the inning and remove the threat for San Francisco.
Santiago Casilla shut the door in the ninth inning.
Staying on the West Coast, Sonny Gray was almost quite literally unhittable against the Texas Rangers Monday night. Gray held the Texas without a hit through the first seven innings, with Ryan Rua starting off the eighth with a single, breaking up the no-no.
Gray pitched eight innings in the Oakland Athletics' 8-0, with Rua's hit the lone blemish on his night. According to MLB.com's Andrew Simon, nobody has throwing eight or more innings of one-hit ball since 1953:
Ben Zobrist certainly had a strong A's debut. In his first at-bat of the game, he hit a two-run home run in the first inning to put Oakland ahead 2-0. Stephen Vogt was also big in the win, with his three-run homer in the seventh inning really putting the game out of reach for Texas.
Sporting News' Jesse Spector felt sorry for Rangers fans, who barely had time to get comfy for Opening Day before Zobrist's blast set in motion a series of unfortunate events for Texas:
The Rangers don't project to be as bad this year as they were in 2014, in part because they shouldn't be hammered by injuries. However, they don't look to have the pieces necessary to compete for an AL West crown.
Meanwhile, the A's will be one of the more interesting teams to watch in the division. Oakland shocked quite a few fans when it dealt Jeff Samardzija and Josh Donaldson, but Billy Beane has a well-earned reputation for turning nothing into something.
The A's might not be World Series contenders in 2015, but they might provide a few surprises.