MLB Opening Day scores, highlights, live updates, news: What you need to know about baseball season opener

Opening Day has finally arrived. It has been 148 days since the Astros defeated the Dodgers in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series to clinch the first championship in franchise history. The 2018 regular season is now underway. We’ll keep you updated on all the day’s Opening Day action right here, so make sure you check back often.

Thursday’s MLB scores

Happ starts the season with a homer

The first pitch of the new season is supposed to be a fastball down the middle for a called strike, right? That’s the way every team opens the season. It’s practically a tradition. Gentlemen’s agreement.

Well, on Thursday, Ian Happ decided he wasn’t going to start the new season by taking a fastball down the middle. He instead ambushed Jose Urena’s first pitch — the first official pitch of the 2018 season — for a solo home run. Check it out:

First homer of the season came on the first pitch of the season. How about that? Happ socked five leadoff homers during spring training, you know. seems to me the Cubbies have found their new leadoff hitter.

Oh, and by the way, Cubs reporter Michael Cerami made good on his bet to jump into Lake Michigan if Happ hit a leadoff homer on Opening Day. A bet’s a bet.

Marlins, Cubs honor Stoneman Douglas victims

Thanks to their 12:30pm ET start time, the Marlins and Cubs played the first game of the 2018 regular season Thursday afternoon. The two teams plan to honor victims of the shooting at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, throughout their four-game series.

The Marlins will wear a special Stoneman Douglas patch on their jerseys.

The Cubs wore Stoneman Douglas shirts during batting practice Thursday. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo graduated from Stoneman Douglas and returned to Parkland a few weeks ago to deliver a speech at the vigil.

Blue Jays retire Halladay’s number

Former Cy Young award winner Roy Halladay was killed in November when a plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. Prior to Thursday’s season opener, the Blue Jays retired Halladay’s No. 32 and added him to the Level of Excellence at Rogers Centre.

No. 32 joins No. 12 (Roberto Alomar) and No. 42 (Jackie Robinson) as the only retired numbers in Blue Jays’ history.

Giancarlo goes deep in first at-bat as a Yankee

Welcome to the Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton. He swatted a two-run home run in his very first at-bat as a Yankee on Thursday.

With a 117.3 mph exit velocity, that home run is the hardest hit homer Statcast has recorded at Rogers Centre since the system debuted in 2015. It’s also the hardest hit opposite field home run Statcast has recorded at any ballpark.

Here, for the baseball enthusiast, is radio broadcaster John Sterling’s home run call for Stanton. Needs work, I think.

Davis hits leadoff for first time

Orioles manager Buck Showalter is not opposed to batting a slugger leadoff. Both Manny Machado and Adam Jones have hit leadoff at times the last few years, and on Opening Day 2018, first baseman Chris Davis got the call at leadoff.

It was, not surprisingly, the first career start at leadoff for Davis. He’d previous batted in every other lineup position in his career. Davis is certainly an unconventional leadoff hitter, but he’ll take a walk and he of course has power. Absent a more traditional leadoff, why not give Davis a whirl? (He led the game off with a fly out, by the way.)

Syndergaard fans 10 in uneven start

Bit of a weird outing for Noah Syndergaard against the Cardinals on Thursday. He struck out 10 in six innings and his stuff looked absolutely filthy …

… but he also allowed two home runs (Yadier Molina, Jose Martinez) and four runs on six hits overall. Syndergaard’s fastball averaged 97.6 mph and topped out at 99.1 mph, so the velocity was there. Just seemed like whenever he made a mistake and caught too much of the plate, the Cardinals put a real good swing on it.

Despite that, the 10 strikeouts are the second most on Opening Day in franchise history.

Syndergaard missed most of last season with a torn lat. The Opening Day results were okay at best, but his stuff looked good, and that’s the most important thing coming back from injury. As long as stays healthy and holds that stuff all season, I reckon Thursday’s outing will be one of the worst of his season. Syndergaard is that good.

Gentry makes 2018’s first home run robbery

The first outfielder to rob a home run this season? That would be O’s right fielder Craig Gentry. He took a solo shot away from Eddie Rosario of the Twins in the first inning Thursday afternoon. To the action footage:

Well done, Gentry. Always nice to get that first home run (robbery) out of the way on Opening Day.

Springer starts Opening Day with a leadoff homer (again)

Ian Happ was not the only player to begin his team’s season with a leadoff home run Thursday. George Springer did it for the defending World Series champions as well.

Fun fact: That is career home run No. 100 for Springer.

Another fun fact: Springer led off last season with a home run as well. Leadoff homers on back-to-back Opening Days is pretty darn cool. Springer is the first player in history to do it.

The 2018 season started the same way as the 2017 season for the Astros and Springer. Will it end the same way? They sure hope so.

Nunez hits inside-the-park homer

Ian Happ hit the first homer of the new season and Craig Gentry robbed the first homer of the new season. Eduardo Nunez? He hit the first inside-the-park homer of 2018. He can thank Denard Span and Kevin Kiermaier for some, uh, communication issues.

It’s been 50 years — 50 years! — since a Red Sox player hit an inside-the-park home run on Opening Day.

The last two home runs the Red Sox have hit are inside-the-parkers. Rafael Devers hit an inside-the-park shot in Game 4 of the ALDS last year.   

Dodgers hope to extend Opening Day winning streak

The Dodgers have won their last seven Opening Days, the longest active Opening Day winning streak in baseball. Not coincidentally, the great Clayton Kershaw has started all seven of those games. His stats in seven career Opening Day starts are just silly:

  • 5-0 record
  • 45 2/3 innings
  • 0.99 ERA
  • 0.66 WHIP
  • 52/6 K/BB

The Dodgers have outscored their opponents 49-11 during their seven-game Opening Day winning streak. They’ll look to keep that streak alive against Ty Blach and the rival Giants on Thursday.

Kershaw, by the way, will set a new franchise record with his eighth consecutive Opening Day start this year, breaking a tie with Don Sutton.

Yankees trying to snap Opening Day losing streak

On the other side of the count, the longest active Opening Day losing streak belongs to the Yankees. They’ve dropped their last six Opening Days, and eight of their last nine Opening Days. New York’s last Opening Day win came against the Tigers in 2011. Joba Chamberlain got the win, Mariano Rivera got the save, and Brandon Inge had a double. Yeah, it’s been a while.

The Yankees are looking to snap that Opening Day losing streak Thursday afternoon in Toronto. They haven’t won a season opener on the road since 2006 — 2006! — when they blew the A’s out 15-2 at what was then called the McAfee Coliseum. The Yankees, led by Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, and looking to get back into the win column on Opening Day this year.

Harper looking to extend Opening Day homer streak

Only one player, Nationals wunderkind Bryce Harper, has hit a home run each of the last three Opening Days. He took Bartolo Colon deep on Opening Day 2015, Julio Teheran deep on Opening Day 2016, and David Phelps deep on Opening Day 2017. He also hit two homers on Opening Day 2013. Harper is 7 for 18 (.389) with five home runs, four walks, and four strikeouts in five career Opening Days.

Alas, Harper will have to wait until Friday to try to extend his Opening Day home run streak. The Nationals and Reds were rained out in Cincinnati on Thursday.

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