The 2020 MLB regular season kicked off Thursday night with a two-game slate featuring Yankees-Nationals and Dodgers-Giants. Friday, however, offered baseball fans a true Opening Day, with a 14-game schedule. The Mets picked up an early win over the Braves as Yoenis Cespedes provided the game’s only run, and Kyle Hendricks threw a complete game shutout for the Cubs against the Brewers. Action continues with the Angels-A’s and Astros-Mariners among the late-night games.
Baseball fans have waited nearly four months for the return of games after the 2020 season was delayed due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and this weekend’s games are the start of a 60-game season that features a 16-team playoff field.
We’ve got everything you need to know as the season fully gets going. Baseball fans can stream select regional games through fuboTV (Try for free). Here’s the 2020 Opening Day schedule:
Opening Day scores
- Mets 1, Braves 0 (box score)
- Reds 7, Tigers 1 (box score)
- Blue Jays 6, Rays 4 (box score)
- Marlins 5, Phillies 2 (box score)
- Indians 2, Royals 0 (box score)
- Cubs 3, Brewers 0 (box score)
- Red Sox 13, Orioles 2 (box score)
- Rangers 1, Rockies 0 (box score)
- Twins 10, White Sox 5 (box score)
- Cardinals 5, Pirates 4 (box score)
- Astros 8, Mariners 2 (box score)
- LIVE – Diamondbacks at Padres (GameTracker)
- LIVE – Giants at Dodgers (GameTracker)
- LIVE – Angels at Athletics (GameTracker)
And below are some key takeaways from Opening Day.
Bieber sets franchise strikeout record
Have a night, Shane Bieber. The Cleveland ace carved up an admittedly weak Royals lineup on Friday night. He struck out 14 batters in six scoreless innings,. Bieber’s 14 strikeouts are the second most ever on Opening Day.
Here is the all-time Opening Day strikeout leaderboard:
- Camilo Pascual, 1960 Senators: 15 strikeouts
- Shane Bieber, 2019 Cleveland: 14
- Randy Johnson, 1996 Mariners: 14
- Randy Johnson, 1993 Mariners: 14
- Don Drysdale, 1960 Dodgers: 14
No other pitcher has struck out 14 batters on an Opening Day. Bieber finished fourth in the Cy Young voting last season, his first full season in the big leagues, and he struck out 259 batters in 214 1/3 innings. His career high is 15 strikeouts, done once last season.
Cleveland came a little too close to wasting Bieber’s masterpiece. The team did not push across a run until the fifth inning, when two runs scored. Two runs were all Cleveland scored and two runs were all Cleveland need. Bieber was great and the bullpen made those two runs stand up.
Hendricks twirls Opening Day shutout
In an era of big velocity, Cubs ace Kyle Hendricks is a throwback. The professorial righty lulls hitters to sleep with mid-80s fastballs and a dead fish changeup. His curveball looked solid during summer camp as well and looks like a potential third weapon.
Hendricks dominated the Brewers on Friday night,. It’s the first Opening Day shutout since Clayton Kershaw in 2013 and the first Opening Day shutout by a Cubs pitcher since Bill Bonham in 1974.
Hendricks did not throw a single pitch over 90 mph on Friday night. He held the Brewers to an 83.8 mph average exit velocity, well below last year’s 88.1 mph league average. Despite the lack of velocity, Hendricks is awfully tough to square up. He throws below the hitting speed, not above it like so many others these days.
Add in Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer on Thursday night, and this is the first time there have been three complete games on Opening Day since Dwight Gooden, Mark Langston, Terry Mulholland, and Bill Wegman all did it on Opening Day 1993. Of course, Cole’s and Scherzer’s were rain-shortened, so they don’t really count.
On the bright side for the Brewers, their uniforms looked spectacular Friday night. The navy blue tops and yellow panel hats are razor sharp. The outfit get a big thumbs up from me.
Cespedes powers Mets to another Opening Day win
Friday was a tough day for fans of pitchers hitting. Rather than watch Jacob deGrom strike out a few times and maybe lay down a bunt,.
Cespedes was playing in his first game since July 20, 2018. He’d been sidelined by heel surgery and a dating back to 2018. The homer streak spans 804 days. That is not a record. ESPN Stats & Info reports the longest span for a three-game homer streak is 1,053 days by Calvin Pickering (2001-04).. Cespedes actually has a three-game homer streak
“I don’t have words for a situation like that,” Cespedes said following the game. “With the way I’ve been preparing myself and the way I’ll continue preparing myself, I will return to being that player from back then.”
(five shutout innings) and the Mets continued their Opening Day excellence. They are now 39-12 in their last 51 Opening Days.
Positives abound for Reds
The season could not have started any better for the Reds. They scored two runs and sent six men to the plate before their new-look lineup made an out Friday, and Joey Votto slugged a home run in the fifth inning. Votto hit one home run against lefty pitchers in 2019. He took Tigers southpaw Matt Boyd deep on Opening Day 2020.
Votto turns 37 in September and he is looking to rebound from, by far, the worst season of his career in 2019. He hit .261/.357/.411 overall and slugged just over .300 against southpaws. The homer against Boyd and a 2 for 4 effort on Opening Day are encouraging signs, if nothing else. It’s a good start for Votto.
It was a good start for Sonny Gray as well. Gray held the Tigers to one run on three hits and two walks in six innings Friday. He struck out nine. It was his 34th consecutive start with no more than six hits allowed, extending his major-league record. Here’s the leaderboard (not including openers):
- 2018-20 Sonny Gray: 34 consecutive starts with six hits or less
- 1991-92 Nolan Ryan: 31
- 1966-71 Marcelino Lopez: 30
- 2018-19 Luis Castillo: 29
- 1984-1987 Len Barker: 29
A cherry-picked stat, to be sure, though Gray has been awfully good since joining Cincinnati last season. He threw 175 1/3 innings with a 2.87 ERA, which earned him a seventh-place finish in the Cy Young voting. Between Gray, Castillo, and Trevor Bauer, the Reds have the makings of a real nice rotation.
and that gives the Reds an even better chance to play October baseball. The NL Central is wide open though, and they have a real shot at their first division title since 2012. Friday was a very nice start to the season.
Rangers win Globe Life Field opener
The Texas Rangers opened their new ballpark, Globe Life Field, on Friday. It’s unfortunate there were no fans in attendance, but at least baseball is back, and watching on television is better than nothing.
Things were not going well for the Rangers early on. Rockies righty German Marquez took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Danny Santana broke it up with a one-out double. Two batters later, Rougned Odor doubled home Santana to score the first run in the ballpark’s history.
That run remains the only run in Globe Life Field history. The Rangers won Friday’s season and ballpark opener 1-0. Closer Jose Leclerc stranded a leadoff walk to close out the game. Four Texas pitchers held Colorado to three hits, all by David Dahl. All other Rockies went a combined 0 for 26 with 14 strikeouts. Yikes.
The Rangers are among the biggest beneficiaries of the new 16-team postseason format. According to Sportsline, their postseason odds went from 20.0 percent with the old format to 40.7 percent with the new format. One win in the books. Another 30 or so should punch their ticket to October.
Kepler hits two homers in opener
If you like offense, then you loved Friday night’s Twins vs. White Sox game. Minnesota put a four-spot on the board against Lucas Giolito in the top of the first, but the ChiSox answered back with four runs against Jose Berrios in the bottom of the second to tie the game 5-5. Ten runs in two innings? Hooray offense!
The Twins continued adding runs in the middle and late innings. The White Sox did not. Minnesota scored two runs in the fourth and three runs in the seventh to pull away and earn the Opening Day win. Max Kepler hit two home runs against Giolito, including a first pitch homer to leadoff the game. He is the first Twin with two homers on Opening Day since Jacques Jones in 2002.
Giolito was charged with seven runs (all earned) in 3 1/3 innings Friday night. He has a 17.18 ERA. In a 60-game season, this one start may’ve ruined his Cy Young chances. Pitchers will only make 12 starts this season, maybe 13, and one real stinker will skew a pitcher’s stats. It is what it is during this short season.
More importantly, the Twins banked a win on Opening Day and the White Sox are starting the season behind the 8-ball. The 16-team postseason field increase their chances of playing in October, but still, no team can afford to let one loss snowball into an extended losing streak during a short season. The ChiSox will try to shake it off and secure their first win Saturday.
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