They can try to convince us Opening Day happened last week. We may even accept that the season started last night. Yet, nothing can compare to a full slate of day games signifying the start of a new season. Ladies and gentlemen, baseball is finally underway. And what better way to kick things off than with the return of a great and the obvious absence of another great. Johan Santana made his return to baseball after missing the entire 2011 season, but Chipper Jones wasn’t in the Braves lineup on Opening Day for the first time since 1996.
Santana went five strong innings, he allowed just two hits, and did not allow a runner to cross the plate. The two hits were garden variety with neither runner advancing past second. Santana, who last pitched in a Major League game near the end of the 2010 season, had fantastic command and threw first-pitch strikes to 12 of the 19 batters he faced. Atlanta, lacking their ever-present third basemen, couldn’t do much all day and fell to the Mets 1-0.
Mr. Perfect, Jose Valverde, wasn’t so perfect as he blew the save for the Tigers, but Austin Jackson saved the day with a game winning walk-off single. Verlander went eight strong but took the no-decision.
The Blue Jays and the Indians were so excited to get back to regular season baseball, it seemed as if they didn’t want to stop playing. They went 16 innings and set the record for longest opening day game before J.P. Arencibia smashed a three-run homer to give the Jays the win.
David Wright knocked in the lone Mets’ run, but it was all they needed with Santana on the bump.
Roy Halladay shined in his 2012 debut. He went eight innings, gave up two hits, and didn’t allow a run as Jonathan Papelbon picked up his first save as a Phillie. Carlos Ruiz drove in what would be the lone and winning run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Stephen Strasburg went seven innings and gave up just one run, Washington scored in the eighth and the ninth, and the Nationals beat the Cubs at Wrigley. Ryan Dempster matched Strasburg pitch for pitch, but embattled closer Carlos Marmol gave up the winning run.
Matt Kemp hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning which proved to be the winning runs. Cameron Maybin made it close in the bottom of the eighth hitting the seventh-longest home run in Petco Park history, but it would’t be enough.
Topics: Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Nationals, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays, Washington