Opening Day of the 2022 MLB season is in the rearview mirror, but plenty of teams are still set to make their debut on the diamond.
Thursday’s slate of action provided a wide spectrum of entertainment. The games included everything from a memorable first major league hit for Bobby Witt Jr., to an emotional return to the St. Louis Cardinals for Albert Pujols, and much more.
Friday will start with Red Sox vs. Yankees, one of MLB’s most storied rivalries, bolstered by two of the league’s best aces in Nathan Eovaldi and Gerrit Cole. Robbie Ray, Walker Buehler and Sandy Alcantara are some of the other top pitchers to take the mound on day two.
Be sure to refresh this page early and often for our live updates and takeaways from teams playing their first games on Friday!
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1:05 p.m.: Red Sox (Nathan Eovaldi) at Yankees (Gerrit Cole)
1:10 p.m.: White Sox (Lucas Giolito) at Tigers (Eduardo Rodriuez) (ESPN+)
2:20 p.m.: Brewers (Brandon Woodruff) at Cubs (Justin Steele)
3:05 p.m.: Athletics (Frankie Montas) at Phillies (Aaron Nola)
3:10 p.m.: Orioles (John Means) at Rays (Shane McClanahan)
4:10 p.m.: Mariners (Robbie Ray) at Twins (Joe Ryan)
4:10 p.m.: Dodgers (Walker Buehler) at Rockies (Kyle Freeland)
4:35 p.m.: Marlins (Sandy Alcantara) at Giants (Logan Webb)
7:05 p.m.: Mets (Max Scherzer) at Nationals (Josiah Gray)
7:07 p.m.: Rangers (Jon Gray) at Blue Jays (Jose Berrios)
7:20 p.m.: Reds (Ravier Sanmartin) at Braves (Charlie Morton)
9:38 p.m.: Astros (Jake Odorizzi) at Angels (Reid Detmers)
9:40 p.m.: Padres (Sean Manaea) at Diamondbacks (Merrill Kelly)
Takeaways from Thursday’s action
Diamondbacks defeat Padres 4-2: Game of the day? Easily. Heck, put this down for game of the year: SETH BEER HIT A WALK-OFF HOME RUN ON NATIONAL BEER DAY. Good luck topping that Shohei Ohtani or Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Freddie Freeman or some of you hotshot rookies. Until there is a day named after you, you will not top what Beer did in giving the Diamondbacks a 4-2 win over the Padres with a dramatic three-run blast to right field in the bottom of the ninth.
Beer said when he woke up his fiancée told him it was National Beer Day. “I told her, ‘It better be a good day then,'” he said. It was just the second career home run for the rookie designated hitter, who went 4-for-9 in a brief major league cameo in 2021. He gave the Diamondbacks a victory in which Yu Darvish had pitched six no-hit innings for the Padres. And get this: He’s the first rookie to hit a walk-off home run on Opening Day in a game his team was trailing. Cheers. –David Schoenfield
Astros defeat Angels 3-1: Shohei Ohtani performed well, but the rest of his Angels teammates didn’t do enough. Sound familiar? It turns out the 2022 season has begun similarly to the way the 2021 season unfolded for the Angels, who couldn’t get anything going against Framber Valdez on Opening Day. But there’s a clear bright side — and that, of course, is Ohtani himself, who displayed impressive fastball command, threw a crisp slider and generally looked really good in his debut. Ohtani recorded 14 outs, allowed only one run and struck out nine batters before exiting with 80 pitches (Angels manager Joe Maddon wants to keep his starters around that number early on to make up for the shortened spring training). The 2021 season represented Ohtani’s first full season as a pitcher in five years. As it progressed, his location and command noticeably improved. And that has clearly carried over into 2022. It’s why some have dared to suggest he could be even better in 2022. — Alden Gonzalez
Mets defeat Nationals 5-1: Tylor Megill drew the Opening Day start for the Mets after Jacob deGrom hurt his shoulder and Max Scherzer tweaked his hamstring, pushing his first start back to Friday. Megill is a 6-foot-7 right-hander, listed at 230 pounds, although as Mets announcer Ron Darling said, “He hasn’t been 230 since high school.” So he’s a big dude and as you might expect, he throws some big cheese with an upper 90s fastball. He’s not expected to be the Mets’ ace or anything close to it, but the second-year right-hander has some serious breakout potential.
The biggest pitch of his night came in the third inning when the score was still 0-0 and the Nationals had runners at the corners with one out and the dangerous Juan Soto at the plate. Megill got ahead 1-2, Soto took a 98-mph fastball a hair or two off the plate, and then Megill blew a 97-mph heater past Soto. He got Nelson Cruz to ground out and then breezed through two more innings, finishing with five scoreless innings, six K’s and no walks. If you play fantasy baseball, pick this guy up. — David Schoenfield
Reds defeat Braves 6-3: The Reds might not have opened the season in their usual way — at home, after a citywide party and parade through downtown Cincinnati — but that didn’t matter. A major reason for their success spoiling the Braves’ banner-unveiling party at Truist Park was the work of starter Tyler Mahle. The right-hander struck out seven and gave up a lone unearned run in a rather strong 84-pitch, five-inning outing. For the start of April, it was certainly a commendable performance — and one the Reds hope he can build upon.
Mahle also had the most impressive moment of the night. He ended the third inning by somehow snagging a comeback liner that left Marcell Ozuna’s bat with a 104.5 mph exit velocity. As for the most impressive audio moment of the night? Hands down that belonged to Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who was miked up throughout the game for ESPN and had his share of fun interactions. — Coley Harvey
Cardinals defeat Pirates 9-0: It was turn back the clock day at Busch Stadium: Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright were all in the starting lineup for the Cardinals for the first time since Sept. 9, 2010. While the Cardinals cruised to a 9-0 victory behind Wainwright’s six scoreless innings and Tyler O’Neill ‘s five RBIs, it wasn’t quite the storybook return to St. Louis for Pujols that everyone desired.
“He’s back,” intoned the Cardinals’ PA announcer during pregame introductions and Cardinals fans gave Pujols a standing ovation as he hugged former Cardinals greats like Mark McGwire and Jim Edmonds. In his first at-bat, Pujols wiped away some tears as the fans chanted “Al-bert! Al-bert!” — echoing the joyful chorus heard so many times during his initial 11 seasons with the Cardinals. He flew out to left field and would finish 0-for-5, twice reaching on errors.
Can he help the Cardinals? That’s the risk in bringing an aging all-time great back. If he struggles, it puts rookie manager Ollie Marmol in a tough spot. Pujols started this game against a right-hander — Marmol wasn’t about to sit him on Opening Day — but Pujols will primarily serve as the DH against left-handers. Let’s hope there’s enough juice left in the bat to help in that small role. –David Schoenfield
Royals defeat Guardians 3-1: Before today’s Opening Day start, the last time Zack Greinke pitched for the Kansas City Royals was 12 years and more than 2,000 innings ago. As many things as age changes, it cannot rob Greinke of what’s always been his greatest asset, even better than his fastball or slider or changeup: his mind. Greinke’s approach to pitching, combined with the stuff of his youth, made him elite and will forge his path toward the Hall of Fame.
To see him on Thursday afternoon, carving up a Cleveland Guardians lineup in a 3-1 victory highlighted by top prospect (No. 2 on Kiley McDaniel’s top 100 list) Bobby Witt Jr.’s go-ahead RBI double in the eighth inning, was to see a master craftsman making art in real time.
The radar gun doesn’t light up as it once did, and the batters don’t swing and miss as they used to, but Greinke, through location, sequencing and other tricks of the trade, still understands how to get outs. Some lineup will prove more difficult to traverse than others. One strikeout in 5 2/3 innings is not a long-term recipe for success, even with Kansas City’s phenomenal defense. And yet Greinke, now 38, left to a huge ovation in his return. On the day the future of the franchise debuted, the prodigal son returned, different than before, same as ever. –Jeff Passan
Cubs defeat Brewers 5-4: The first game of the 2022 MLB season provided a reminder that you never know what you are going to see when you go to the ballpark. Cubs shortstop Nico Hoerner hit the first home run of the 2022 season off reigning NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes. Yes, you read that right. Hoerner, who hadn’t hit a long ball in two seasons, became the first player to follow up a homerless year with a dinger on Opening Day since Emilio Bonifacio in 2009. Burnes, on the other hand, walked the first batter he faced in 2022, after the Brewers ace set a major league record by striking out 58 before issuing his first base on balls a season ago. Yeah, you can’t predict baseball.
All in all, Burnes walked three batters in five innings on Thursday — including issuing a free pass to Japanese rookie Seiya Suzuki, who walked twice, had a single and scored a run in his MLB debut. — Jesse Rogers
Thursday’s live action
Walkoff for Arizona!
Yu Darvish pitched a gem and the Diamondbacks were nearly no-hit … but then Seth Beer stepped up to the plate and changed the narrative.
Trout is ready to stay healthy, win in the playoffs
It has been six years since Mike Trout played a full, traditional season without missing stretches of time because of injury.
He has noticed.
“It’s my main goal,” Trout, speaking ahead of Opening Day on Thursday, said when asked about the importance of playing a full season. The Los Angeles Angels’ star center fielder, who spent the last four-plus months of the 2021 regular season sidelined by a calf injury that became far more serious than expected, has a new program with the team’s new training staff that emphasizes flexibility and mobility in his lower body. Trout hopes it will make all the difference.
“In the past, I would wake up sore a little bit and just have to grind through it,” he said. “Now I gotta really harp on taking care of my lower body.”
The Angels lost 85 games last year even though Shohei Ohtani put together a historic season as a two-way player. The biggest reason (aside from their usual lack of pitching depth): Ohtani, Trout and Anthony Rendon played in the same lineup for only 17 of their 162 games. Their health, plus the addition of Noah Syndergaard and a deeper bullpen, has Trout believing he might finally win his first playoff game this year.
Yes, you might have heard that Trout, the greatest player of his generation, has yet to win a single postseason game.
He is 30 years old now.
This is his 12th season.
“I’m tired of hearing it,” Trout said. “I talked to the guys in there; we’re all tired of hearing it. We’re eager to go.”— Alden Gonzalez
Soto clocks one
People keep comparing Juan Soto to some of the greatest hitters of all time … and dingers like this are the reason why.
Nothing but love for the MVP
Shohei Ohtani has taken the mound for the Angels, and the Los Angeles faithful showed their appreciation for his legendary 2021 season.
Play at the plate!
The Nationals needed a perfect relay to get Pete Alonso out at home … and a perfect relay is what they pulled off.
Votto on the mic
Miking up Joey Votto was a good idea, especially considering he might be one of the funniest players in the league.
Right back atcha
If Tyler Mahle wasn’t already awake, he certainly is now after snagging this comebacker.
Ruiz with the cannon
Making the first out of the season on a caught stealing is unusual — but that’s what Keibert Ruiz just did to the Mets.
A beautiful night to defend a title
Here’s a quick look at the gorgeous scene at Truist Park tonight as the defending champion Atlanta Braves take on the Cincinnati Reds.
Zack Greinke has been one of the best pitchers in the majors for almost two decades, and he cut his teeth as a young member of the Kansas City Royals from 2004 to 2010. Now he’s back on his original team and picking up right where he left off, throwing 5⅔ innings and giving up just five hits and one run against the Cleveland Guardians on Opening Day.
The last dance
Superstar slugger Albert Pujols announced that 2022 will be his final season in the majors after signing a one-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals in March. He spent the first 11 seasons of his MLB career with the Cardinals, winning two World Series titles and three National League MVP awards. As Pujols approached the plate for his first at-bat of the season Thursday against the visiting Pirates, fans showered him with cheers.
First home run of the year
Cubs shortstop Nico Hoerner hit the first home run of the MLB season. He smashed a pitch by Brewers pitcher Corbin Burnes out of the park in the bottom of the fifth inning.
First run of the year
After three innings, the first run of the season is on the board. Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain hit a groundout to first, but Andrew McCutchen was able to make it home to give visiting Milwaukee a 1-0 lead over the Cubs in the top of the fourth.
Welcome to the league
Getting called up to the majors is a big moment for any baseball player. Leading up to Opening Day on Thursday, players were notified that they made their teams’ rosters, which produced some touching moments for the teams and players.
During the Chicago Cubs’ spring training game against the Chicago White Sox on Monday, pitcher Ethan Roberts was notified by manager David Ross that he made the Opening Day roster. Roberts, who was drafted by the Cubs in 2018, was visibly emotional after receiving the news. The Cubs’ first game of the season is against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday.
Julio Rodriguez, the No. 3 prospect as ranked by ESPN, got the nod for the Seattle Mariners’ Opening Day roster. He signed with the team as an international free agent in 2017. Rodriguez is slated to start in center field and will make his debut on Friday against the Minnesota Twins.
Rodriguez was full of excitement when manager Scott Servais broke the news. Things got even better for the 21-year-old when he was informed that his parents will be in attendance for his first MLB game.
The Kanas City Royals drafted Bobby Witt Jr. second overall in the 2019 MLB draft. Roughly three years later, he will make his big league debut, starting at third base for the team against the Cleveland Guardians. The 21-year-old was all smiles after hearing he made the Royals’ Opening Day roster … and later recorded his first hit.
Seiya Suzuki made his MLB debut against the Brewers on Thursday. In March, he signed a five-year deal with the Cubs. Before joining Chicago, he played in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league, in which he was a four-time All-Star and three-time Golden Glove winner. In the bottom of the fifth, Suzuki hit a ball into left field for the first hit of his MLB career.
Opening Day well wishes
The Atlanta Braves begin their quest to defend their World Series title against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday. The Georgia Bulldogs, who won the College Football Playoff National Championship in January, wished the team good luck on their upcoming season.
The Chicago Bears shouted out to both the White Sox and Cubs ahead of their first games of the MLB season.
Opening Day predictions and what we can’t wait to see
What’s the one thing you are most excited to watch on Opening Day?
Bradford Doolittle: I’m in Minneapolis for a Twins-Mariners series that was pushed back a day because of some inhospitable early spring weather. The upside is that I get two Opening Days and can watch the debut of Bobby Witt Jr. in Kansas City on a screen of some sort Thursday before getting to see Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez firsthand on Friday. We haven’t always seen the most exciting prospects on Opening Day (Witt is No. 2 and Rodriguez is No. 3 on Kiley McDaniel’s top 100 prospect list), so this is a wonderful thing. A great American League Rookie of the Year race is on.
Jesse Rogers: The debut of Cubs rookie Seiya Suzuki. He’s a multiple-tools player with power to all fields and a rocket of an arm. As noted in the recent collective bargaining agreement battle, most rookies don’t make a lot of money — but Suzuki signed a five-year, $85 million contract this offseason, so eyes will be on him throughout the baseball world. He has a chance to be the next big star on a team suddenly void of them. Thursday is his first chance to show fans across the city of Chicago what they’re getting.
David Schoenfield: The most fascinating team to watch in April might be the Padres. There is a lot of pressure on a team that now runs one of the highest payrolls in baseball and is coming off a losing season. They collapsed down the stretch, and while the rotation is healthy again, the Padres will have to play a couple of months without Fernando Tatis Jr. So on Opening Day, I want to see how Yu Darvish looks after going 1-8 (6.16 ERA) in the second half. I want to see how new manager Bob Melvin sets up his late-game bullpen. I want to see if Ha-Seong Kim can not only fill in for Tatis but hit like he did in Korea after struggling in his debut season. I want to see which Manny Machado shows up. The Padres begin with 14 games against the Diamondbacks, Giants, Rangers and Pirates — a golden opportunity to get off to a hot start and put 2021’s disappointment behind them.
Joon Lee: I’m with David on this one. The Padres are at a fascinating inflection point in the tenure of AJ Preller with the injury of Tatis and the level of financial investment in this team’s core. According to multiple sources, the Padres club chemistry suffered under Jayce Tingler, so the addition of Melvin will completely shake up the team’s locker room dynamics. I’m interested to see which Darvish shows up on Opening Day and how former Cy Young winner Blake Snell fares in his second season in San Diego after struggling to put up numbers akin to his tenure in Tampa Bay. Especially after the trade for Eric Hosmer fell through and Tatis’ injury, the team will need its high-salary players to play better in 2022.
Buster Olney: I’m in Atlanta, and I’ll be fascinated to see the reception for new first baseman Matt Olson — and I’d expect that it will be loud and lasting. If anybody is going to replace Freddie Freeman at first, Olson is the perfect candidate given his local roots, his age, his power. If the Braves’ magic script from last year’s World Series is still in play, then Olson will get a pivotal hit — and the Atlanta fans will go wild. What a story that would be.
Coley Harvey: I am beyond excited to be joining Buster in my hometown of Atlanta, where I’ll have a front-row seat for a coronation that’s been a generation in the making. And as a lifelong supporter of all things ATL, 404, Chick-fil-A and Waffle House, the 10-year-old inside me still can’t believe one of the pro teams from his city is finally about to have another banner-raising night. The Braves’ 1995 and 2021 championships and Atlanta United’s MLS title in 2018 are all we’ve got! After the 28-3 memes and jokes, the City Too Busy To Hate more than deserves to celebrate last October’s World Series win one more time. Atlantans have earned it.
Alden Gonzalez: I’ll be at Angel Stadium on Thursday, and because of that I’ll be the luckiest of us all. Shohei Ohtani will be on the mound and he will be in the lineup, beginning what promises to be another enthralling season as a two-way player. The talk around Angels camp this spring centered on whether Ohtani can actually be better this year, given how he improved as a pitcher and how he grew comfortable with the two-way role as the season progressed. It sounds impossible — until you realize how special this man is.
Tim Keown: The Mets got Max Scherzer to team with Jacob deGrom, and they’re Opening Day starter is … Tylor Megill. Next to the Pirates’ JT Brubaker, Megill is the most non-Opening Day starter on Opening Day. Even Oakland has Frankie Montas, even though there’s a chance he could be traded before Friday’s first pitch in Philadelphia. This might not mean a whole lot — Scherzer is supposed to be back soon, maybe even for the second game — but it sure feels like an omen.
Jeff Passan: All due respect to Bobby Witt Jr., whose debut I’ll see in person, but the greatest show in sports is performing today on a different stage. For the first of hopefully many times this season, Shohei Ohtani spends his day pitching in the top half of innings and hitting in the bottom half. He will do that thing where he throws 100-mph pitches and hits 100-mph rockets. His magnificence knows no bounds. And as a bonus Opening Day treat, the Shohei Ohtani Rule — which allows him to remain in the game as a hitter after he’s yanked as a pitcher — gets its first whirl.
It’s time to call your shot: What is your one Opening Day prediction that will definitely come true?
Doolittle: Albert Pujols is going to homer in St. Louis. Even if it turns out to be the only homer he hits all season, there is no way this doesn’t happen. There are a lot of young Cardinals fans in St. Louis who have only heard about Pujols from their parents. It’s tremendous that they get to experience him this year as he moves on from a Hall of Fame career.
Rogers: Corbin Burnes will one-hit the Cubs — and Suzuki will be the only hitter to get to him. Chicago has little left-handed pop, while right-handed opponents compiled a miniscule .179 batting average against him in 2021. With a right-handed-hitting player at first base and right field — two positions often reserved for lefty power hitters — the Cubs will be at a disadvantage against top righties all season. Trying to hit against Burnes on Thursday, in 40 degree weather, will make things that much more difficult.
Schoenfield: Machado got off to a slow start in 2021, but with Tatis out, the Padres need him to hit from the get-go. He hasn’t hit Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner that well during his career (.212/.257/.515), although three of his seven hits off him are home runs. I say he goes yard twice off MadBum as the Padres win their opener.
Olney: He’s not pitching on Opening Day, but I’ll call that this will be the last year that future Hall of Famer Jacob deGrom is with the Mets. Steve Cohen has demonstrated he’s ready and willing to invest in any way he feels can help the Mets, but there are just too many variables involved for deGrom to return — the questions about his health now, his health moving forward, and most importantly, what he wants. We’ll look back at his assertion that he’s opting out of his contract in spite of his recent injury as the first true signal that he’s headed elsewhere.
Gonzalez: Rodriguez and Witt Jr. will each hit home runs in their major league debuts. The two highlight what looks like an incredibly deep AL Rookie of the Year field, along with Spencer Torkelson. Eventually Adley Rutschman and Riley Greene will join them. Not included in this list: Wander Franco, who exceeded his rookie eligibility last year but will play in his first full season in 2022. He might be the biggest star of them all. The young talent in the sport is amazing right now — and I only accounted for one league.
Keown: We’ll all be reminded that Mike Trout not only exists but remains the best player in the sport. The eyes of the game will be on Shohei Ohtani to start the Angels’ opener against the Astros, but by the end of the fourth or fifth inning, it’ll be Trout’s night.
Lee: Shohei Ohtani will come out of the gates strong on Opening Day, showing that last year wasn’t a mirage and that it’s possible to pitch and hit at a high level across multiple seasons — and opening up the idea that teams could potentially develop more two-way players, not necessarily at the level of Ohtani, but to maximize the value of every roster spot.
Harvey: OK, so Austin Riley’s Grapefruit League showing wasn’t the strongest (.214, 6-for-28), but I’m banking hard on him having a big opening night. This will happen in what will be his first game at Truist Park since the World Series. At home last postseason, he hit .419 (13-for-31) with five extra-base hits. He’ll tap into that hitting success again in front of another raucous and frenzied Atlanta crowd, giving fans some late-inning magic.
Passan: Last we saw Max Fried, he was throwing six shutout innings for Atlanta in a World Series-clinching game. Prior to that, he had the lowest second-half ERA of any pitcher (1.74). And today, in front of a Truist Park crowd ready to fete its world champions, Fried gets the ball against a Cincinnati Reds team that traded its best hitter amid an ugly teardown. All of which is to say his pitching line will be 6 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 1 walk and 9 strikeouts — and he’ll be in Cy Young contention throughout the season.
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