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MLB Opening Day 2022: 6 biggest winners and losers

Andrew Buller-Russ

After one of the strangest offseasons ever, MLB Opening Day 2022 has finally arrived. Sure, temperatures were a bit chilly, but it’s safe to say everyone was happy to see some baseball again. Not all 30 MLB teams played on the first day of the regular season, but of the 14 who did, there was plenty to love to go along with a few duds. Here are the six biggest winners and losers of Major League Baseball’s regular-season opener.

Winner: St. Louis Cardinals fans

What a way to begin the year. Not only did Cardinals fans get to witness the return of Albert Pujols after spending 10 seasons in the American League with the Los Angeles Angels, they got to see their team put on a show. Facing off against their fellow NL Central foes, the Cards toppled the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-0, scoring the most runs of all teams participating on Opening Day.

Adam Wainwright took the ball for the Cards, spinning six innings of scoreless ball, allowing six hits while striking out six batters. The bullpen only allowed one more hit across three innings. Offensively, Tyler O’Neill had a career day at the plate, driving in five RBI. It was a great start to the year.

Related: MLB power rankings: Outlook for all 30 teams on Opening Day

Loser: MLB fans for rain delays, postponements

Two games were postponed altogether, with the highly anticipated annual matchups between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox delayed until Friday. The other postponement happened in Minnesota with the Twins waiting another day to debut their new-look lineup with Carlos Correa injected into the batting order against the Seattle Mariners with defending Cy Young winner Robbie Ray on the mound.

Not only were there fanbases who had to wait an extra day, some cities had to wait a few extra hours before the first pitch could be thrown, making fans squirm in their seats.

In Washington, the Nationals had to be pushed back from 4:05 PM ET to 7:05 before getting rain delayed to an 8:22 first pitch time against the New York Mets and their strong, yet injury-riddled pitching staff. Not exactly ideal to begin what can be a long season with 162 games on the schedule.

Related: MLB games today: MLB Opening Day 2022

Winner: Bobby Witt Jr. hits game-winning double in rookie debut

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Kansas City Royals
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes Opening Day is all about the debut. That was no different this year. Kansas City Royals infielder Bobby Witt Jr., the top prospect on MLB’s top 100 list, made his professional big-league debut, starting at third base. He also lined up in the two-hole, which ended up being the perfect placement.

Although he smoked a ball that came off the bat at 110 MPH, Witt only had one hit in his first MLB game, but it ended up being a big one.

Late in the game during the 8th inning, Witt came to the plate with a runner on second with the game tied at one run a piece. The No. 1 rated prospect ended up hitting a double to drive home the go-ahead runner to take the lead, which ended up being the deciding run. Witt Jr. has hundreds more big days on the diamond ahead of him, but this was a fun start.

Related: MLB predictions 2022: Projecting MLB standings, regular season awards

Loser: Atlanta Braves fall to Cincinnati Reds

This is not how Opening Day was supposed to be for the Atlanta Braves, not with the Cincinnati Reds as the first matchup on the schedule. At $175 million, the Braves have the ninth-highest payroll in baseball, compared to the Reds, who shed a ton of payroll, ranking 21st in the MLB at $113 million in 2022, it should have been an easy win, but that’s not how the story was written.

On the night the Braves lifted their World Series banner, their first since 1995, they couldn’t get anything going against Reds’ starting pitcher Tyler Mahle. Austin Riley’s two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning made the score look a lot closer than the game was for much of the night. Either way, the Braves are 0-1 to start the year in which they’re defending their trophy.

Related: MLB rotation rankings: Best starting rotations in 2022

Winner: Seiya Suzuki reaches base three times in MLB debut with Chicago Cubs

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

After starring in the NPB baseball leagues, the Chicago Cubs signed Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki to a five-year contract worth $85 million this offseason. Today, Suzuki got a chance to make his MLB debut at the age of 27. Suzuki batted sixth in the lineup today, but if his patient eye is a sign of things to come, he won’t hit that low for long.

While Suzuki didn’t blow anyone’s socks off, he did reach base in three of his five plate appearances, drawing a walk twice and hitting a single off Corbin Burnes. Suzuki has true NL Rookie of the Year potential in what should be a fun season for fans at Wrigley Field.

Related: Best MLB lineups in 2022: Ranking the 10 best lineups

Bonus winner: Arizona Diamondbacks, Seth Beer

MLB: San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Are you kidding me? Baseball saved the best for last. Even though it may have happened at 1 AM ET, meaning it was likely mostly only seen on the west coast, the Arizona Diamondbacks found a way to rally in the bottom of the ninth inning to topple the San Diego Padres.

Two walks, a wild pitch, and a beaned batter put first baseman Seth Beer in place to maybe drive in the game-tying run with two runners on base, but instead he had bigger plans. Beer cracked a home run just over the right field fence to send all the Diamondback fans still in attendance home happy on Opening Day.

It was the perfect finish to ring in a new baseball season. One down, 161 more to go.