Opening Day is in the books, and what an eventful day it was. In case you missed any of the action, these are the guys we feel had the most outstanding season-debut performances.
Consider by most to be the leading candidate for NL Cy Young, Kershaw literally did it all for the L.A. Dodgers in their 4-0 win over defending champion San Francisco. The Dodgers ace dazzled on the mound, throwing a complete game shutout in just 94 pitches. He struck out seven Giants batters while allowing just four hits. And it was Kershaw’s bat that broke a 0-0 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning, as the pitcher belted a solo shot off reliever George Kontos to plate the first of four runs the Dodgers would score in the inning.
Kershaw’s wasn’t the only dominant pitching performance among Monday’s contests. The Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg tossed seven shutout innings of three-hit baseball and struck out three against the Marlins. The Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija was even better with eight shutout innings and nine strikeouts, while walking just two Pirates in Chicago’s Opening Day win. Chris Sale and Felix Hernandez each turned in 7.2 shutout innings to lead the White Sox and Mariners to victories as well. Sale struck out seven against the Royals. Hernandez struck out eight against the Athletics.
Seeds All Day covered Harper’s performance yesterday, but it is worth repeating again. The 20-year-old smashes home runs in his first two at bats of the season, accounting for all of the offense in the Nationals’ 2-0 win over Miami. By doing so, the kid also made history, becoming the youngest player ever to homer twice in his teams’ first game of the season.
The Angels Bullpen
The L.A. Angels bested the Cincinnati Reds 3-1 in the lone extra inning game of the day. And it was the Angels’ bullpen – a glaring weakness from last season – that helped propel the team to victory. Right hander Garrett Richards threw 1.2 scoreless innings and notched a key strikeout with the bases loaded. Left hander Sean Burnett came in to face Jay Bruce with the bases loaded in the eighth, and he too ended the Reds’ scoring threat with a strike out. Scott Downs, the veteran member of the L.A. bullpen, pitched a scoreless tenth, and Mark Lowe followed with two scoreless innings of his own. After the Halos seizes a 3-1 lead in the top half of the 13th, closer Ernesto Frieri sealed the deal in the bottom half, K-ing two batters en route to his first save of the season.