The 2021 Major League Baseball season is underway as Opening Day kicked off Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a full slate of goodness with the Orioles-Red Sox game being rained out and the primetime Mets-Nationals tilt getting canceled due to the COVID-19 issues among Washington players.
The latter issue left us without a game that started between 4:10 and 10:05 p.m. ET. Poor scheduling, right? Here’s a look at the day’s scores.
MLB Opening Day schedule, scores
(All times U.S./Eastern)
- FINAL/10: Toronto Blue Jays 3, New York Yankees 2 (box score)
- FINAL: Detroit Tigers 3, Cleveland 2 (box score)
- FINAL/10: Milwaukee Brewers 6, Minnesota Twins 5 (box score)
- Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox – POSTPONED (rain)
- FINAL: Pittsburgh Pirates 5, Chicago Cubs 3 (box score)
- FINAL/10: Philadelphia Phillies 3, Atlanta Braves 2 (box score)
- FINAL: San Diego Padres 8, Arizona Diamondbacks 7 (box score)
- FINAL: Kansas City Royals 14, Texas Rangers 10 (box score)
- FINAL: Colorado Rockies 8, Los Angeles Dodgers 5 (box score)
- FINAL: St. Louis Cardinals 11, Cincinnati Reds 6 (box score)
- FINAL: Tampa Bay Rays 1, Miami Marlins 0 (box score)
- New York Mets at Washington Nationals – POSTPONED (COVID-19)
- LIVE: Chicago White Sox at Los Angeles Angels (gametracker)
- LIVE: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics (gametracker)
- LIVE: San Francisco Giants at Seattle Mariners (gametracker)
The biggest takeaway of all is that this was just 1/162 of the season for the teams that did play. That is 0.62 percent. Don’t freak out and overreact! (At least not too much.) Let’s run down the day of baseball action that actually did happen.
Rough start and silver lining for reigning champs
This is a testament to how talented the Dodgers are. Clayton Kershaw didn’t have good stuff, they committed two errors, they threw three wild pitches, committed a baserunning gaffe that turned a two-run home run into an RBI single and an out, they went 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position and they left 14 men on base. And yet, they still had the tying run at the plate in the top of the ninth and could very well have won the game against the Rockies.
Credit the Rockies for the win, but beware to the rest of baseball because the Dodgers just played one of their worst-possible games and still had a good shot to win.
Bieber stars but doesn’t get support
2020 AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber joined elite company by striking out 12 batters, but he got no run support with the Tigers holding a 3-0 lead headed to the ninth. A two-run Roberto Perez shot made things interesting, but Tigers reliever (closer?) Gregory Soto induced Cesar Hernandez to pop out, with a runner on and Jose Ramirez standing on deck, to end the game.
D-Backs make history; Padres still win
The 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks are now the answer to a trivia question. They became the first team in baseball history with a four-homer inning. Still, the Padres wouldn’t be denied. They came from behind with a run in the sixth and then one in the seventh to take the lead for good and win, 8-7. They had 10 hits even though Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado combined to go 1-10. They won despite Yu Darvish giving up four runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Good signs for Jays
A trendy playoff pick, the Blue Jays went into the Bronx and beat the Yankees with Gerrit Cole on the hill. Teoscar Hernandez — a breakout offensive star in 2020 — went 3 for 4 with a home run and Vladimir Guerrero looked pretty damn good with a line drive single and two walks. The Jays didn’t have George Springer yet, either.
Hyun-Jin Ryu went 5 1/3 innings, allowing only two runs (both on a Gary Sanchez homer), but the real story on the pitching side was the Blue Jays’ bullpen going 4 2/3 scoreless innings while allowing just two hits.
The Yankees had a few late threats, but Aaron Judge twice struck out, leaving five men on, to end those rallies.
Brewers storm back
The Twins scored two runs in the top of the third inning and held the lead all the way until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Some sloppiness let the Brewers hang around, as a hit batter and throwing error put two runners on base before Christian Yelich singled home a run and then Travis Shaw came through with a game-tying, two-run double. The three-run ninth for the Brewers extended the game to extras and the Brewers would walk it off.
Hello Phillies bullpen?
The Phillies had one of the worst bullpens in recent memory last season. It was a disgrace to the league the kind of numbers they put up (7.06 ERA, 1.79 WHIP).
Thursday, the Phillies used four relievers — Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado, Hector Neris and Connor Brogdon — who allowed just one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings while striking out four. It’s not like they were facing a lineup full of pushovers, either, as this was the high-octane Braves’ offense.
The good outing from Aaron Nola and walk-off single from Jean Segura will be most of the highlights here, but don’t sleep on that good bullpen performance.
A Florida duel
The Rays and Marlins combined for just eight hits with an Austin Meadows solo homer being the only offense in Miami. Starters Tyler Glasnow (6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) and Sandy Alcantara (6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) were brilliant. Marlins first baseman Jesus Aguilar — who had two of their three hits in the game — gave the Rays a scare when he flew out to the warning track with what would’ve been a game-tying home run in a few parks, but the Marlins came away empty on Opening Day.
Cards offense unloads early; uh oh Eugenio
The Cardinals pounded out 11 runs on nine hits through just four innings in Cincinnati on Thursday. Sure, they only had one hit in five scoreless innings after that, but who cares? The 11 runs were more than enough to win. The new look Paul Goldschmidt-Nolan Arenado combo in the 2-3 spots combined to go 6 for 10 with four runs and two RBI. How about rookie Dylan Carlson clubbing a three-run homer in the first?
On the Reds’ end, I suppose there’s some silver lining to clawing out seven runs even after allowing six in the top of the first. Still, their possibly dubious decision to try All-Star third baseman Eugenio Suarez at shortstop resulted in two errors, including one that could have ended up costing them the game. In the first inning, with just one Cardinals run having scored to that point, Yadier Molina sent a routine grounder to short that could’ve been an inning-ending double play and Suarez booted it. Sure, it was in the hole, but Molina is one of the easiest in baseball to double up with his lack of speed.
Shaky start for Cubs
The Cubs are at a crossroads this season with several key players hitting free agency after. It’s possible they make one last playoff run with what’s left of their 2016 core or fall apart and sell in front of the trade deadline. Thursday was a brutal start. Kyle Hendricks only lasted three innings, issuing three walks for the first time since exactly two years ago while the offense only mustered two hits all game. Cubs pitchers issued 11 walks and this could’ve been way worse, but the Pirates left a ridiculous 15 men on base.
Royals’ new-look offense wouldn’t be denied in wild one
The Royals allowed five runs in the top of the first inning. It has to be pretty deflating to see one’s opponent score five runs before you even get to bat in the opener, right? No matter. The Royals matched that five-spot with five of their own in the bottom half. They would then trail 6-5 through two innings and 8-5 after the top of the third. But the Royals never stopped hitting. They scored multiple runs — the ol’ “crooked number” — in four different innings. Kyle Isbel, Michael Taylor and Whit Merrifield all had three hits. Taylor, Merrifield and Jorge Soler all homered. They were relentless with the bats basically from start to finish.
The 14 runs were a Royals record for opening day. It was the longest nine-inning game in Royals opening day history.
Oh, and get this (via Jeremy Frank on Twitter): This was the first Opening Day game ever in which neither starting pitcher got five outs (1 2/3 innings). Royals starter Brad Keller went 1 1/3 innings while Rangers starter Kyle Gibson left after 1/3 of an inning. He faced eight batters, allowing four hits and three walks while getting one out (a strikeout).
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