The 2018 season opened with a bang across the nation with many players and teams making MLB history. Power and comebacks highlighted a magnificent Opening Day.
Perhaps the 2018 MLB season was validated as a season for the ages after the first pitch of the season left the hand of Jose Urena. Ian Happ became just the second player in MLB history to hit the first pitch of the season for a HR. The only other player to do so was the Boston Red Sox Dwight Evans when he homered off Tigers starter Jack Morris to start the 1986 season at Tiger Stadium.
Little did the MLB world know that Happ’s HR was a harbinger of things to come in a record-breaking Opening Day display of power.
In Toronto, Giancarlo Stanton started his New York Yankees career by giving fans of the pinstripes a preview of what could be an MVP season. Stanton became just the second Yankee to hit multiple home runs in his debut with the team and the first since Roger Maris, who did it against the Red Sox on April 19, 1960.
Stanton became the seventh reigning home run champ with a multi-HR game on Opening Day, including the fourth in the Divisional era (since 1969. Only one of the previous six went on to win at least a share of the home run title again that season (Juan González in 1993). In addition to the offensive display of Stanton, the Yankees got a stellar performance from Luis Severino who held the Blue Jays to just one hit over 5.2 innings in a 6-1 win for the Bronx Bombers.
In Texas, George Springer made history, becoming the first player in MLB history with a leadoff home run on Opening Day in consecutive seasons. The Astros are the first defending World Series champion with a leadoff home run on Opening Day. Houston defeated the Rangers 4-1.
Adam Jones gave the Orioles their third straight walk-off win on Opening Day, with a walk-off HR in the 11th inning. Baltimore defeated the Minnesota Twins 3-2. The Orioles are the first team to win three straight opening day games in walk-off fashion.
Thursday was also a day for comebacks. The Rays, White Sox, Braves and Athletics each completed comeback wins after trailing by at least four runs on Thursday, marking the first Opening Day in MLB history in which four teams overcame deficits of at least four runs at any point in the game
Nick Markakis hit his 166th career home run, his first in walk-off fashion, to give the Braves an amazing 8-5 win over the Phillies. Entering Thursday, Markakis had the second-most home runs among active players who had never hit a walk off homer. Troy Tulowitzki is atop that list with 224 lifetime homers but no game-enders.
Markakis’ home run helped the Braves overcome a 5-run deficit. That was the largest deficit overcome in a season opener in Braves history. The Braves franchise dates to 1876, the first year of the National League. The Braves became the first team since the 2004 Royals to rally from at least five runs down on Opening Day.
In Kansas City, Matt Davidson of the White Sox became the fourth player in MLB history to hit three homeruns on Opening Day. Davidson helped the White Sox tie a MLB record with six HR on Opening Day as Chicago overcame a 4-0 deficit and defeated the Royals, 14-7.
In Oakland, the Athletics rallied from four runs down to defeat the Angels 6-5 on Marcus Semien’s first walk-off hit of his career. The loss was the fifth straight for the Halos on Opening Day.
The Rays completed the final comeback from at least four runs down on Thursday. Trailing 4-0 entering the eighth inning, things looked very bleak for the home team. The Rays were winless (0-28) when trailing in that situation last season, while the Red Sox were unbeaten (31-0) when leading. Denard Span’s three-run triple, helped key a six-run eighth inning as the Rays were able to rally and defeat Boston.
On Friday four teams get ready to start their season, but Thursday’s three walk-off victories have already set the record for most on Opening Day in MLB history.
If Opening Day is any indicator for what is set to come for the 2018 season, fans should get ready to see plenty of offensive fireworks.