MLB: Opening Day Observations

With Sunday night’s season opener between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, and the other 28 MLB teams participating in a full slate of game’s Monday, the 2015 major league baseball season is officially underway.

Here are some observations about Opening Day 2015:

You want the long ball? We got the long ball: There were home runs a-plenty on Opening Day, with 29 longballs being launched into the bleachers around the league.

Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez, both with the Boston Red Sox, each cracked a pair of home runs on the day, helping the Sox to a day-high five home runs in their victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. There were 10 multiple home run games on the day, while just three of the day’s 14 games featured no home runs. There were no home runs hit in Sunday night’s season opener.

Toronto Blue Jays rookie Devon Travis cracked the first home run of his career in the seventh inning of the Blue Jays win over the New York Yankees. He finished the day 1-for-2 with the home run and two walks.

Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins, and Alex Rios all homered, in what were their debuts with new clubs. For Rollins, it was his first home run with a team not named the ‘Philadelphia Phillies’, with whom he spent the first fifteen seasons of his big-league career.

Rollins and Rios, along with Mike Trout and Alejandro De Aza, also accomplished the feat of homering on Opening Day for the second consecutive season.

HR’s by position on Opening Day:

Catcher: 2 (Alex Avila, Stephen Vogt)
First Base: 4 (Steve Pearce, Jose Abreu, Adrian Gonzalez, Edwin Encarnacion)
Second Base: 3 (Dustin Pedroia x2, Devon Travis)
Shortstop: 2 (Ryan Flaherty, Jimmy Rollins)
Third Base:  4 (Nolan Arenado, Evan Longoria, Mike Moustakas, Todd Frazier)
Left Field: 7 (Ben Zobrist, Dustin Ackley, Alejandro De Aza, Hanley Ramirez x2, Corey Dickerson, Brett Gardner)
Center Field: 3 (Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Mookie Betts)
Right Field: 4 (Jay Bruce, J.D. Martinez, Bryce Harper, Alex Rios)

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Laying ‘goose eggs’: Following in the footsteps of the Cubs, who were shutout by the Cardinals on Sunday night, five teams failed to put a run across the plate Monday.

The Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers both suffered 8-0 shutout losses.
The Phillies fell victim to the power bats of the Boston Red Sox, who hit five home runs on the game, and a strong outing from Boston’s starter Clay Buchholz who struck out 9 over 7 innings of work.
For the Rangers, it was the stellar pitching of Oakland A’s starter Sonny Gray, who took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, that halted their offense.

The most lopsided shutout loser of the day fell to the Milwaukee Brewers who were clobbered 10-0 by the Colorado Rockies. Brewers batters were able to scatter seven hits off of Rockies starter Kyle Kendrick, but could not put together any sustained offensive pressure.

The other two teams to be shutout on the day were the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins. The Indians fell at the hands of the Houston Astros 2-0, while the Twins dropped a 4-0 defeat to the Detroit Tigers.

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Runs, Runs, and More Runs: On the flipside of the scoreboard equation, while five teams were shutout Monday, multiple teams enjoyed strong offensive performances, scoring runs in bunches.

The Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals each scored in double-digits, hanging a 10-spot on their opponents.
Colorado’s offensive attack was led by the bats of Corey Dickerson and Nolan Arenado, each of whom doubled, homered, and drove in 4 RBIs, en route to a 10-0 dismantling of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Rockies combined as a team for 8 extra-base hits in the game.
In another lopsided affair, the Royals battered the Chicago White Sox 10-1, behind a strong day at the plate for Alex Rios, who homered and knocked in 3 RBIs. Mike Moustakas also had a home run, while Alex Gordon collected 2 RBIs in the win.

As mentioned above, the Red Sox and A’s each scored 8 runs. All of the Red Sox runs came by way of home runs- 4 solo shots and a grand slam to cap the scoring off. For the A’s, Ben Zobrist and Stephen Vogt each homered, with Vogt driving in 3 runs on the day.

Three teams managed to put six runs on the board- the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

No losing team on the day scored more than four runs.

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Closing the door: Closers played an important role in the first two days of the new regular season, with nine pitchers recording a save to cap off their team’s victory.

Sunday night, Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal shut the door on the Cubs, striking out all three batters he faced to secured Adam Wainwright’s win.

The shortest outing of Monday went to Joe Nathan, who pitched just 1/3 inning, striking out Torii Hunter on four pitches to close out the Tiger’s 4-0 win over the Twins.

At 37 years old, in his 140th career major league appearance, Buddy Carlyle recorded his first career save, setting down the two Nationals hitters he faced without problems to give the Mets a 3-1 win.

Chris Hatcher also recorded his first career save on Monday, going an inning for the Dodgers to close out their 6-3 victory over the Padres.

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Strikeouts, hits, walks: Through the first fifteen games of the regular season, 178 different batters have combined to strike out a total of 242 times.

Eight of those 178 batters struck out not just once, but three times. As a group, those eight players combined to go 2-for-36 at the plate with 24 K’s.

Batters in the first 15 games this season have been over three times more likely to strike out than draw a walk, with only 73 walks being issued over the first two days. Kendrys Morales leads all hitters with three walks already on the season.

149 different batters recorded at least one hit between Sunday and Monday, with those 149 batters combining for a total of 213 hits. 11 players punched out three hits in their first game, with another 42 batters knocking out two hits.

Of the 11 players who had three-hit games, only five of those players struck out, with each of those five players striking out just once. The 11 batters combined for 17 extra-base hits- 12 doubles and five home runs.

Leading the strikeout charge on the mound, Johnny Cueto and Felix Hernandez each struck out 10 batters in their first start of the season, with Clayton Kershaw and Clay Buchholz just behind them with 9 strikeouts each.

15 pitchers recorded at least six strikeouts in their first outing. Of those 15 pitchers, just two were able to record as many as six strikeouts without issuing a walk. On the opposite end, Francisco Liriano and Cole Hamels each managed to strike out at least six batter, but also allowed a league-high three walks.

Interestingly enough, there were also 15 pitchers who allowed six ore more hits in their first outing, with Josh Collmenter and Kyle Lohse leading the way, each giving up 10 hits. Of those 15 pitchers, five of them struck out six or more batters, and one, Jeff Samardzija, allowed three walks.