The 2019 season has now begun for every team in the league. For some, MLB Opening Day went swimmingly. For others, not so much.
Things were generally great for the New York Mets. A big offseason acquisition made a real splash in his first at-bat. That was all the support that the NL’s best pitcher from 2018 needed.
Things didn’t go quite as well for the AL’s best pitcher in 2018. The Chicago Cubs’ offense looked like the one we saw in 2016. And what was arguably the best game from MLB Opening Day ended on a highlight-reel catch.
These were the winners and losers from MLB Opening Day.
Winner: Robinson Cano starts Mets career on right foot
More than anything else, Opening Day represents an opportunity to start fresh. Nobody needed that more than Cano. And in his first at-bat with the New York Mets, Cano took full advantage of his new opportunity, taking Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer deep (watch here). Thanks to a brilliant effort from Jacob deGrom (more on that later), Cano’s homer was all that the Mets needed in a 2-0 win.
Loser: Zack Greinke gets shelled by old team
The Los Angeles Dodgers hit an Opening Day record eight home runs against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Half of those came against Greinke, the former Dodger. Arizona’s ace lasted only 3.2 innings, surrendering seven runs on seven hits and two walks to his old team. And as the four homers tell us, these were not cheap runs. Los Angeles hit Greinke hard. The only good news to come from this kind of start is that it will not be hard for Greinke to improve in his next outing.
Winner: Lorenzo Cain saves Opening Day thriller
At the plate, Cain went 1-for-4 and scored on a home run from Christian Yelich (watch here). But where he really thrived was in the field. With two outs in the ninth, St. Louis Cardinals pinch hitter Jose Martinez hit what appeared to be a game-tying home run. But Cain tracked the ball down, went up, and brought the ball back (watch here). The theft of the home run saved what was a thrilling Opening Day win for the Milwaukee Brewers over their division rivals.
Loser: Giants come up woefully short in support of Madison Bumgarner
Bumgarner allowed only two runs on five hits with a walk and nine strikeouts against the San Diego Padres. Unfortunately for Bumgarner, the San Francisco Giants’ offense was inept in supporting him. With all due respect to Eric Lauer, he’s not exactly a Cy Young contender. But you wouldn’t know it looking at this game. San Francisco got only five hits (one from Bumgarner) and didn’t come terribly close to scoring a run. On a day where hitters generally thrived, the Giants were abysmal in a 2-0 loss.
Winner: Cubs’ stars shine in blowout win
The big bats of the Chicago Cubs excelled against the Texas Rangers. Javier Baez was 2-for-5 with two homers. Kris Bryant was 1-for-4 with a walk and a homer. Anthony Rizzo drew three walks and went 1-for-2 with an RBI. But it wasn’t just the middle of the order. Other than Willson Contreras, every Chicago starter got at least one hit. Contreras had to “settle” for two walks and a run scored. This looked nothing like the team that struggled to put runs on the board so often at the end of the 2018 season.
Loser: Andrew Cashner gets rocked early in the Bronx
The Baltimore Orioles picked up right where they left off in 2018, losing 7-2 to the New York Yankees. Cashner’s start could hardly have gone any worse. In the first inning, Luke Voit followed singles from Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton with a three-run homer. For all intents and purposes, the game was over then. But given the quality of the opposition, we can forgive that. It’s harder to overlook four walks in only four innings. We understand that Baltimore is rebuilding and that Cashner isn’t a classic ace. But an Opening Day starter needs to be better.
Winner: Jose Berrios masterful against Indians
The Minnesota Twins scored only two runs against the Cleveland Indians on Thursday. But thanks to Jose Berrios, that was all they needed. Berrios was masterful over 7.2 shutout innings. He allowed only two hits and walk with 10 strikeouts. The 2018 season was a nice breakout campaign for Berrios. If Opening Day is a sign of things to come, 2019 will be truly special.
Loser: Blake Snell’s Cy Young defense gets off to rocky start
The Tampa Bay Rays staked the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner to an early lead against Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros, but it didn’t last long. Snell surrendered a three-run homer in the third to George Springer, a solo shot to Michael Brantley in the fourth, and another solo homer to Jose Altuve in the fifth. Snell was the first of what will be many pitchers to struggle against the mighty Astros in 2019. Even still, this outing was far from what Snell envisioned.
Winner: Phillies break out the bats in blowout win
Overshadowing Bryce Harper’s debut with the Philadelphia Phillies was going to be hard. But as his teammates showed against the Atlanta Braves, it wasn’t impossible. While Harper was held hitless, his teammates crushed Atlanta pitching. Andrew McCutchen, Maikel Franco, and Rhys Hoskins each homered (Hoskins’ homer was a grand slam) in a 10-4 win. And that begs the question. If Philadelphia can do that on a quiet day from Harper, what will happen when he starts connecting?
Loser: Chris Sale shelled in Seattle
Sale’s Opening Day outing against the Seattle Mariners did not last long. The Boston Red Sox ace went only three innings, but allowed seven runs on six hits and two walks in only three innings. And the contact was loud. Tim Beckham took Sale deep twice, Edwin Encarnacion had a home run of his own, Mallex Smith smoked a triple, while Domingo Santana added a double. The very beginning of Sale’s Opening Day outing went well. If only it could have stopped there.
Winner: Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer put on pitching classic
The matchup between the men who have combined to win the last three NL Cy Young Awards had potential to be special heading into Opening Day. It was. deGrom went six shutout innings, allowed five hits, walked only one, and struck out 10. Scherzer was the hard luck loser, allowing two runs on two hits with three walks and 12 strikeouts. It was only the second time in MLB history that opposing pitchers each struck out 10 or more in an Opening Day game. This one lived up to the hype.