After the Houston Astros dis–hey…stop laughing…it really happened–dismantled the Texas Rangers last night at Minute Maid Park, we had our first full day of baseball today.
Naturally, ESPN kicked it off with proof that they are extremely stubborn as a network, pitting C.C. Sabathia and the hobbled Yankees versus Jon Lester and the completely average Red Sox.
There were so many amazing moments in a long day of ball that it was hard to narrow down to just five. But here is our best shot at it. This is what we do at Three Up, Three Down. We write stuff on baseball-related activities for your enjoyment. So, enjoy!
5. Justin Jacks One
Welcome to Atlanta, where the playa’s play and Upton hits bombs like every day. No disrespect to Freddie Freeman, who also went mammo today, but this Justin Upton blast was put in orbit. And it’s not just a top moment because of the distance–the Braves outfield is the most freakish in baseball, and this is just the first sampling. The Braves faithful have been waiting for this moment since the original trade was made, and the little bro definitely didn’t disappoint.
4. Brewers Bailed Out
One of KP’s least favorite memories of the 2012 season was any blown save by John Axford and Co. If you see our tallest group member, give him a hug. Because Axford was at it again on Opening Day, giving up a no-doubter with two outs in the ninth to the Rockies’ Dexter Fowler, which tied the game. Fortunately for Milwaukee and the home fans, the Rockies pitching staff is deplorable and Jonathan Lucroy was able to score a walk-off sac fly and bail the bullpen out.
3. Bryce Decides Twice is Nice
If there was any debate that last year’s NL Rookie of the Year would suffer from a sophomore slump, he killed it quick. In his first two at-bats of the 2013 season, Bryce Harper absolutely crushed two Ricky Nolasco pitches and put them in the right field bleachers. I’m not buying that his second one has landed yet. In fact, it might currently be traveling over the Atlantic Ocean. Keep an eye out for it. The 20-year-old phenom is on pace for 324 jacks this year.
The late Cardinals legend and Hall of Famer Stan Musial is being honored by the team with a cool, classy patch (pictured to the right) on their left sleeves in 2013. But the Arizona Diamondbacks, who hosted the Cards on Opening Day, pulled off a fantastic move by paying homage with a video tribute to Musial between innings. Unfortunately, I don’t have video for you, but the gesture itself was a true act of sportsmanship and remembrance of one of the greatest hitters and humans the world has ever seen.
1. Kershaw Goes Krazy
Let me set the stage: The defending champions travel to their heated rival’s new stadium and face their fancy new team in a battle between two of the best pitchers in the league. A pitcher’s duel turns into a one-man show as Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw not only throws a complete game, four-hit shutout, but hits a go-ahead home run that breaks a scoreless tie in the eighth inning. Unbelievable. And in a game that began with a well-choreographed first pitch skit from Dodgers heroes Sandy Koufax and Orel Hershiser. I have to take a second to brag, as humbly as possible. I tweeted THIS about five minutes before magic occurred. Of course it was a coincidence but it makes me believe in fairy tale endings, and reinforces our love of this magical sport.
Buckle up, baseball fans. This was just day one. Only 161 more regular season games to go! Vote below on which one of these moments should have been in the top five, or comment about any moments we missed!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Opening Day Thursday is almost in the books. I sit here watching the Dodgers and Padres with the masterful Vin Scully calling the game taking in all that we already saw. Great pitching matchups in the afternoon games, a walk-off win for the Detroit Tigers after Jose Valverde blew the save after not messing up a chance in all of 2011, and the longest game in Opening Day history with the Blue Jays and Indians going SIXTEEN innings after Chris Perez coughed up a three-run lead for Cleveland in the top of the 9th. It’s gonna be hard for Friday’s matchups to top all of that. Let’s see what we have on tap.
White Sox at Rangers 2:05 ET
The Rangers begin their march for a 3rd straight AL pennant, something that hasn’t been done since the 1998-2001 New York Yankees. Important for John Danks to get through the 1st inning unscathed as the Rangers top 4 hitters in the lineup all hit .350 or better off of Danks in their career.
Twins at Orioles 3:05 ET
Possibly the worst opening day pitching matchup between Carl Pavano and Jake Arietta. Twins fans will just be excited to have their M&M boys (Mauer and Morneau) back in the lineup together after they missed a combined 173 games for Minnesota in 2011.
Yankees at Rays 3:10 ET
New York and Tampa Bay start off the 2012 regular season the same way the 2011 one ended at Tropicana Field. If the drama for this game is anything like game #162, we’re in for a treat. My AL MVP prediction Robinson Cano hits .386 lifetime against James Shields and makes for a solid Beat the Streak pick on MLB.com
Cardinals at Brewers 4:10 ET
Ryan Braun doesn’t have to face the road crowd after a tumultuous offseason. The real story here though is Yovani Gallardo, who sports a 1-7 record with a 5.66 ERA in his career against rival St. Louis. A stat that will not make my co-host Kurt Peter very happy at all.
Rockies at Astros 7:05 ET
Jeremy Guthrie gets the Opening Day nod for Colorado after being traded for in the offseason. Guthrie was solid in spring training and is the Mapes Special for fantasy streaming pitcher of the day (owned in just 5% of Yahoo! leagues). Rules for the Mapes Special are they must be available in more than half of leagues, I’ll have another one coming up.
Giants at Diamondbacks 7:10 ET
Two Cy Young candidates on the hill in Tim Lincecum and Ian Kennedy, so expect a pitcher’s duel like we saw in many games Thursday. The big story though, is the return of catcher Buster Posey to the Giants lineup after a devastating ankle injury last season. If Posey is 100% he makes the Giants lineup average instead of subpar.
Dodgers at Padres 10:05 ET
The only two teams that play both Thursday and Friday. For those of you that get to listen to Vin Scully again, I’m deeply jealous. Cory Luebke and Chad Billingsley make for an interesting pitching matchup in Petco Park has both have had success against their opponent.
Royals at Angels 10:05 ET
Alright, I guess you should be watching Albert Pujols debut for the Halos. I’m not going to get cute on this one.
Mariners at Athletics 10:05 ET
Welcome back to America. Not a rematch that we saw in Japan as Brandon McCarthy will take on Jason Vargas instead of Felix Hernandez. Both McCarthy and Vargas were impressive in their 2012 debuts in Japan, with the Athletics ballpark coming into play Jason Vargas (7% owned) is the 2nd Mapes Special of the day!
Enjoy opening day #4!
Opening Night turned into the Kyle Lohse show as the Cardinals pitcher baffled the Marlins in the debut of their new stadium, even no-hitting them for the first 6 innings. The Cardinals won 4-1 to spoil the Marlins Park festivities. It’s on to Opening Day now for 13 more teams on Thursday. Here’s something to look for in each game.
Red Sox at Tigers 1:05 EST
The obvious is the debut of Prince Fielder. Even better though, is the best pitching matchup of the day between reigning AL MVP Justin Verlander and Jon Lester. Lester has struggled against Detroit in his career, so look for the Motor City to be in a jovial mood.
Braves at Mets 1:10 PM EST
The return of Johan Santana to the Mets rotation after missing all of the 2011 season. Santana pitches well against Atlanta carrying a 2.28 ERA in 12 career starts, despite a 3-6 record. What you won’t see or hear are the LARRRRRRRRRYYYYYYYY chants at Citi Field, as Chipper Jones will be on the DL to start the season for the Braves.
Phillies at Pirates 1:35 EST
The Battle of Pennsylvania kicks off the season. How will the Phillies lineup fare without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley? Erik Bedard takes the hill for the Pirates, which might cure some of the offensive problems.
Nationals at Cubs 2:20 EST
Stephen Strasburg settled down late in spring training and looks ready for his first Opening Day start. Ryan Dempster looks for redemption after a disastrous 2011 Opening Day start giving up 6 runs, but Dempster has a 9-1 career record against Washington.
Blue Jays at Indians 3:05 EST
Possibly the most underrated pitching matchup with Ricky Romero vs. Justin Masterson. However, all eyes will be on the Blue Jays budding superstar Brett Lawrie who comes in with a lot of hype after delivering in his 2011 Major League stint.
Marlins at Reds 4:10 EST
Despite the loss, the pressure is off the Marlins on the road. It’s all on the new 200+ million dollar man, Joey Votto, Cincinnati fans are excited for this season with great reason as they are among the favorites for the NL Central crown.
Dodgers at Padres 7:05 EST
The night cap of opening day Thursday (or late afternoon cap for fans of these teams) features NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. With the weak-hitting Padres lineup and Petco Park in effect, you’re on alert for the 1st Opening Day no-hitter since Bob Feller in 1940.
It’s time for one of the best days on the sports calendar, enjoy all the games!