MLB Opening Day 2024: Highlights, takeaways, and best moments

Friday, March 29, 2024

What anMLB Opening Day!

All 30 teams were scheduled to be in action Thursday before rain postponed the scheduled Milwaukee Brewers-New York Mets and Atlanta Braves-Philadelphia Phillies openers to Friday.

The Los Angeles Angels and Oriolesgot things started with Corbin Burnes delivering a dominant debut for Baltimore. Things really heated up with eight games starting just after 4 p.m. ET -- highlighted by a thrillingNew York Yankeescomeback win over theHouston Astrosin a showdown in Texas.

The Texas Rangersraised the first World Series banner in franchise history before beating the Chicago Cubs in manager Craig Counsell's Cubs debut. And finally, the Arizona Diamondbacks made a loud statement with a 14-run inningagainst the Colorado Rockies.

What did we see -- and what did we learn -- in the first day of games as the season gets started? We have you covered with the best moments from every game, as well as takeaways from each matchup.

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Takeaways from every Opening Day game

Boston Red Sox 6, Seattle Mariners 4

Recap | Box score | Highlights

Everyone is discounting Boston's chances in the AL East, and perhaps over the long haul the Red Sox simply won't have enough pitching depth, but the lineup has a chance to be very good. Boston battled a tough pitcher in Seattle's Luis Castillo, getting to him for four runs and three extra-base hits in five innings. Two of those came from Rafael Devers, including an impressive two-run home run to left-center off a high fastball.

The most impressive achievement of the night, however: Former Mariners farmhand Tyler O'Neill, acquired from the Cardinals in the offseason, homered for the fifth consecutive Opening Day, breaking a record he had shared with Yogi Berra, Gary Carter and Todd Hundley (oddly, three catchers). O'Neill had a huge 6.1-WAR, 34-homer season with St. Louis in 2021, but his production dropped the past two seasons as he battled injuries. It's possible 2021 was a complete fluke, but if O'Neill hits, the Boston lineup is going to score some runs. -- David Schoenfield


Arizona Diamondbacks 16, Colorado Rockies 1

Recap | Box score | Highlights

We have a clear winner for the wildest "You can't predict baseball" result of the day. The Diamondbacks began defense of their National League pennant with the most impressive inning of offense on Opening Day since, well, ever. Their 14-run outburst in the bottom of the third is an Opening Day record, the first inning with 10 runs on Opening Day since the Padres in 1997 and just the fifth 14-run inning in any game of the divisional era (since 1969). Arizona did it with 13 hits -- none of them home runs.

It was a nice reward for a sellout crowd and for an organization that increased payroll in the offseason trying to build upon last year's playoff success. Just a couple of days ago, the Diamondbacks agreed to a deal with free agent starterJordan Montgomery, adding him to a rotation that also brought onEduardo Rodriguez(although he's on the IL to start the season). As for the Rockies, the last team to give up 14 runs in an inning was the 2009 Yankees -- and they won the World Series that season. -- Schoenfield

Cleveland Guardians 8, Oakland Athletics 0

Recap | Box score | Highlights

If the Cleveland Guardians are looking to trade starterShane Bieberat a premium, they might want to check the market after his Opening Day performance against the Athletics. Bieber, who has been rumored to be on the trading block since before an injury ended his 2023 season, began the final year of his contract with the Guardians by easing his way through six innings, allowing four hits and striking out 11 in Cleveland's 8-0 win over Oakland. On a night when the focus was on the thousands of A's fans who chose to protest John Fisher's ownership by partying in the parking lot rather than attending the game, Bieber -- the Cy Young Award winner in the COVID-shortened 2020 season -- gave the fans who did choose to enter the gates no reason to celebrate. -- Tim Keown

Texas Rangers4, Chicago Cubs 3 (10 innings)

Recap | Box score | Highlights

For a contest that ended with a pedestrian 4-3 final, the opener between the Cubs and Rangers was a wild one, beginning with a ceremony celebrating last year's heroes and ending with a game-winning hit from one of Texas' postseason heroes, Jonah Heim.

It was a roller coaster of a game. The early innings in the aftermath of the Texas banner ceremony featured a mini-duel between starters Nathan Eovaldi, who was pitching to contact, and Justin Steele, who mowed down Texas the first time through the order. Then Steele departed in the fifth with hamstring tightness that cropped up when he was fielding a Leody Taveras bunt.

The game opened up from there: Adolis Garcia mashed a homer he punctuated with a bat flip. Wyatt Langford collected his first career RBI and base hit. The Cubs' Michael Busch stole a run on a two-base wild pitch by Rangers closer Jose Leclerc. New Cubs skipper Craig Counsell, matchup-maximizer extraordinaire, went deep in both his bullpen and his bench. Texas World Series hero Travis Jankowski tied the game in the ninth with a pinch-hit homer off Chicago closer Adbert Alzolay. After the game flipped to the automatic-runner phase, the Cubs left the bases full in the 10th. Christopher Morel nearly clanged a grand slam off the left-field foul pole but it faded into the second deck and he subsequently popped out.

Finally, that set the table for Heim, who drove in Josh Jung with a bases-loaded, 10th-inning, game-ending single off Drew Smyly, setting of a celebration in the middle of the field.


What do we make of all this? If Steele's injury isn't serious, there wasn't a whole lot to glean from one opening contest, dramatic as it was. Both teams are deep and have managers who can leverage that depth. Both teams have bullpens well suited to navigate tight, tense contests in the later innings. More than anything though, it was a drama-filled, exciting game that hopefully sets the tone for the season in Arlington, Chicago and across the majors. -- Bradford Doolittle

Pittsburgh Pirates 6, Miami Marlins 5 (12 innings)

Recap | Box score | Highlights

The Marlins made the playoffs last season on the strength off a 33-14 record in one-run games -- one of the best such records in MLB history. Beware of regression, Miami. It looked like the Marlins might pull off a win that would have fit in with their 2023 narrative as first baseman Josh Bell -- not known for his defense -- threw out Pirates baserunners at home plate in both the 10th and 11th innings, but the Pirates finally scraped across a run in the 12th while the Miami offense kept failing to score.

The news to watch coming out of this game, however, was that David Bednar, the Pirates' All-Star closer, didn't get the save and was apparently unavailable even though he's on the active roster. Second-year lefty Jose Hernandez instead picked up his first career save. Bednar missed time this spring with a lat injury, so let's see if something is going on with his health. -- Schoenfield

New York Yankees 5, Houston Astros 4

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The knock on Juan Soto in recent years -- the only blemish on a generational player -- has been his defense in the outfield. The numbers supported what eyes indicated: It's been ugly.

He has insisted he's better than that, and that he's worked at it. On Thursday, he showed that off in a huge spot, throwing outMauricio Dubon, the game-tying run, at home plate from right field in the ninth inning. Soto pounded his chest. He let out a scream. The play was reviewed and stood. Moments later, Clay Holmes secured the game's final out in the Yankees' 5-4 comeback win.

Soto had his first signature Yankee moment. And it came on defense -- just as we all expected. -- Jorge Castillo

San Diego Padres 6, San Francisco Giants 4

Recap | Box score | Highlights

The Giants retooled their roster as much as any team in the offseason, adding Blake Snell, Matt Chapman, Jorge Soler, Jordan Hicks and Tom Murphy, plus highly touted center fielder Jung Hoo Lee from Korea. Their linchpin, however, remains ace starter Logan Webb, who has a 3.07 ERA over the past three seasons and led the majors with 216 innings last season.

Unfortunately, his 2024 begins with one of the same issues as last season: a lack of support. In 2023, despite a 3.25 ERA that ranked fourth in the NL -- plus that workload -- Webb finished just 11-13 because of some shaky offensive support (he had 18 games where he allowed two runs or fewer, and won just nine of them). On Thursday, the lack of support came from the bullpen. He left after six innings with a 3-2 lead, but the Padres scored four runs in the seventh inning off the Giants' bullpen, with Jake Cronenworth delivering a key two-run double off Ryan Walker. Nice comeback for San Diego, tough loss for the Giants. -- Schoenfield

Toronto Blue Jays 8, Tampa Bay Rays 2

Recap | Box score | Highlights

The word from the Blue Jays camp out of spring training painted the picture of a rejuvenated Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: He's lost some weight, he's been more joyful, he's more confident and he put together consistently good at-bats, hitting .463 in Grapefruit League play. The hope is he can find his MVP-level stroke of 2021 after two good-not-great seasons in 2022 and 2023. His first hit of 2024: a mammoth 450-foot blast over the batter's eye in center field at Tampa off a cutter from Zach Eflin, matching his longest home run of 2023. That will be a nice confidence boost for the young slugger, who reached the majors in 2019 but is still just 25 years old.

The Jays are trying Guerrero in the second spot in the batting order, essentially flipping spots with Bo Bichette. Indeed, you can argue that Bichette has passed Guerrero as the face of the Blue Jays (he's certainly been more valuable via WAR the past two seasons). You can't argue with this: The Toronto offense isn't as deep as it was even a couple years after finishing eighth in runs in the AL last season. They need both of their young starts to deliver. -- Schoenfield

Minnesota Twins 4, Kansas City Royals 1

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We saw Royce Lewis' star-crossed career on full display Thursday: The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, Lewis twice tore his ACL as a minor leaguer, missing all of 2021 and most of 2022 as a result. He nonetheless remained a top prospect and reached the majors for his first extended stay in 2023 -- only to play just 58 games because of an oblique strain and hamstring. But when he did play, he looked like a star -- hitting over .300 with power, including four grand slams in less than a month.

He began 2024 with a home run in his first at-bat, ripping a 423-foot blast to left field and then singled in his second at-bat. However, when Carlos Correa then doubled, Lewis limped into third base and was replaced by a pinch runner (and don't blame cold weather as it was 65 degrees in Kansas City). The Twins' lineup needs Lewis raking in the 3-hole. Let's hope it's not serious. --Schoenfield

Los Angeles Dodgers 7, St. Louis Cardinals 1

Recap | Box score | Highlights

Miles Mikolas caused a bit of a stir earlier this month when he said the Dodgers were playing "checkbook baseball." On Opening Day, he got a firsthand look at what that checkbook has provided. It got the DodgersMookie Betts ($365 million), who reached base three times, including a solo homer. It got them Freddie Freeman ($162 million), who reached base three times, including a two-run homer. It got them Shohei Ohtani ($700 million), who reached base three times, including a double. And it got them Tyler Glasnow ($136.6 million), who allowed three baserunners in six innings. The Dodgers have written a lot of checks lately, especially amid their $1.2 billion offseason. They're cashing in early. -- Alden Gonzalez

Cincinnati Reds 8, Washington Nationals 2

Recap | Box score | Highlights

All spring, the Reds said they had enough depth to cover anything that came their way. Little did they know how quickly it would be tested as they opened the season with a suspension and myriad injuries. But up stepped journeyman Nick Martini who hit two home runs to propel Cincinnati to an easy win over Washington. Martini came into the game with 354 career at-bats -- and just eight career home runs -- but he was the Opening Day spark for a team who has playoff aspirations. On the mound, the Reds got a solid debut from newcomer Frankie Montas who shut out the Nationals over six innings while giving up just four hits without issuing a walk. That Opening Day combination of power and pitching is exactly what the organization drew up this offseason when they added veterans to a young and talented group of prospects. Cincinnati should be in the NL Central race all year. -- Jesse Rogers

Detroit Tigers 1, Chicago White Sox 0

Recap | Box score | Highlights

Can the Tigers contend in the AL Central? It has been a long standing question as they've been in an extended rebuilding phase -- but if they get performances on the mound like they did today, they'll be in good shape. Tarik Skubal and three relievers shut down the one strength the White Sox have: a veteran lineup that has produced in the past. It also helps to have Javy Baez producing. He batted eighth for Detroit on Opening Day -- singling to right on an 0-2 pitch from left-hander Garrett Crochet in the third inning and eventually scoring the lone run of the game.

Meanwhile, Crochet was the lone bright spot for the White Sox. In his first career start he struck out eight over six innings, but unfortunately for Chicago, he had no help at the plate.-- Rogers

Baltimore Orioles 11, Los Angeles Angels 3

Recap | Box score | Highlights

Corbin Burnesallowed a first-inning home run to Mike Trout but was otherwise absolutely dominant in his Orioles debut. That was the only hit he allowed in his six innings as he struck out 11 of the 19 batters he faced, with seven of those K's coming with his curveball. The Angels had no chance. With Kyle Bradish and John Means starting the season on the IL, the Orioles are looking for their big offseason acquisition to get off to a hot start -- unlike last season with the Brewers, when Burnes uncharacteristically struggled early on with his control and had a so-so 3.97 ERA through his first 10 starts. Even without Bradish and Means, the Orioles have a chance to get off to a blazing start: Of their first 36 games, only six are against teams that made the playoffs last season, and those six are home games against the Brewers and Twins. -- Schoenfield

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