It was opening day all across the majors Monday, and pitchers were in command early.
Oakland right-hander Sonny Gray took a no-hitter into the eighth inning of his win over Texas. New Washington ace Max Scherzer and Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber of Cleveland carried their no-hit bids into the sixth before falling behind. Seattle star Felix Hernandez, Detroit lefty David Price and Boston righty Clay Buchholz dominated.
A day after the Cardinals blanked the Cubs at Wrigley Field in the big league opener, the other 28 teams were in action. To fans, players and everyone else at the ballpark and watching on TV, it was easy to be optimistic.
“This day brings a lot of hope for a lot of different reasons for people,” New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before predecessor Joe Torre threw out the first ball in the Bronx.
“The hope of, your team is going to be in the World Series at the end. If you live in the Northeast and the Midwest, the hope that we’re actually going to have warm days again and everything is going to be green,” he said.
After a wicked winter in many places, it was sunny at most ballparks.
An exception was Miami, where the game against Atlanta had a 16-minute rain delay. That was a first for 3-year-old Marlins Park, where there’s a retractable roof.
With no rain in the forecast, the top was open when showers came in the second inning. It takes about 15 minutes to close the roof, and the infield got soaked.
Some fans booed and the Marlins tweeted on their Marlins Park site: “Sorry for the delay, folks.”
In New York, where the Empire State Building was lit up in a rotating display of all 30 clubs’ colors, A-Rod returned.
With Derek Jeter retired, the crowd at Yankee Stadium saved its biggest cheers for Rodriguez. Back from a season-long drug suspension, the three-time AL MVP singled, walked and lined out in a 6-1 loss to Toronto.
“It means the world to me,” he said. “I don’t think I ever took it for granted, but I can guarantee you I won’t take this year for granted.”
There was a mutual sign of acknowledgment at Dodger Stadium as the cheers built when San Diego newcomer Matt Kemp stepped to the plate against his former teammate, Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for him and I feel like he has a lot of respect for me,” Kemp said. “I think he saw the crowd’s reaction and kind of stepped back and let it play out. Then we went at it.”
Boston won 8-0 at Philadelphia, though Ortiz didn’t do any damage in going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.
At least Big Papi stayed in the batter’s box, part of Major League Baseball’s pace of play guidelines. Ortiz sure sped up things in the first inning – he fanned on three pitches.
Plate umpire Gerry Davis said there were no rubs with the new rules.
“We didn’t have any problems at all. The hitters were excellent. I didn’t notice anybody having any problems,” Davis said.
New clocks at every ballpark counted down the time between innings, trying to hurry along pitchers with their warmups.
Three times, Buchholz grounded out to end an inning. That meant he had to get back to the dugout on the third base side, get his glove, head to the mound and loosen up.
Buchholz was a little long, but he tried.
“It’s difficult to get out in that time. He worked hard at doing it. It’s the only thing we had the whole game,” Davis said. “I actually noticed that he was hustling and thanked him for doing it.”