MLB Season Opens and…They ALL Came Out to Play!


MLB Season Opens and…They ALL Came Out to Play!

by Amy Lignor

The words were uttered on Thursday: “Play Ball!” For 2018, they were uttered everywhere. Beginning on a truly historic note, this season featured the first full-slate of Opening Day games in half-a-century. In 1968, all twenty teams started, and in 2018, all 30 followed suit. Not only that, but with the opening day of March 29th, this season also claims the earliest beginning date at any traditional Major League ballpark.



Opening Day actually showed many firsts this time around, while also featuring eight divisional matchups, an Interleague contest between the host Tigers and the Pirates, and early rivalry match-ups: Giants at Dodgers and Astros at Rangers. To offer up a summary for those fans out there who had to do the whole “work” or “school” thing and may have missed all the action they wished to see, here is a look at the other landmarks of Opening Day.


The first pitch sailed from the grip of Marlins’ pitcher, Jose Urena. A thrilling throw to Ian Happ of the Cubs turned into a thrilling hit, when Happ sent it soaring to deep right field and scored the first home run of the season. Talk about an incredible and memorable way for the season to begin. Both Happ and Urena hit the history books, however, when Urena came back to claim the first strikeout of the season, causing Cubs’ catcher, Contreras, to strike three on a slider.


The first 10-strikeout game goes to Syndergaard Thor of the Mets who can boast his 10th strikeout coming by only the fifth inning. He joins a variety of pitchers to collect double-digit strikeouts on Opening Day, but the only other Mets pitcher to ever accomplish this feat in a season opener was Pedro Martinez back in 2005.


The Mets can also herald another one of their players, Jay Bruce, for being the first to steal a base this season. Bruce was not exactly the player fans would have chosen for this to happen to, seeing as that he accomplished only one steal throughout all of last season, but perhaps this is the year a new, improved Jay comes to play.


And the first player to be hit by a pitch was Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs. Being the third batter in front of Urena, he took the fastball to his front shoulder and headed to first base. He may have been rolling his eyes, seeing as that he was hit 24 times in 2017, and led the MLB with 30 hits in 2015. We shall have to see if the rest of the pitchers out there also use him for a punching bag this season.


Looking ahead, the final day of the 2018 regular season (scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 30th) will feature 12 divisional games, with the most talked about already being Yankees at Red Sox. Another “highlight” of the season, however, will come in the form of a single-day game to be played on Thursday, July 19th, when the Cardinals and Cubs renew their rivalry at Wrigley Field. Chances are this will be such a historic game to see that “work” and “school” will be set aside in the city of Chicago by a great many residents.


When it comes to more special dates, mark April 17th and 18th on your calendar. This two-game series between the Twins and Indians will be played at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. These games will be considered home contests for the Twins and will mark the first regular-season action the island has seen since the Mets and Marlins held a three-game series there back in 2010. Returning to their homeland for these games will be Francisco Lindor (Indians) and Eddie Rosario (Twins), which is sure to pack the stadium.


If the Opening Day games and firsts were this exciting, it already looks to be an explosive and interesting season to come. Has there been a first prediction in regards to who will win it all? Oddly enough, there have been more than a few. (Nationals over the Astros being a repeated one.) As we all know, things can change in an instant when it comes to the sports world, but “Play Ball!” were great words to hear once again.

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