NEW YORK — From walk-offs to baseball veterans scripting their resumes to Cooperstown, Opening Day was able to illustrate our childhood joy and bring it to life as 26 teams donned their uniforms and played the game we grew to love. A feeling that should never be taken for granted ever again. The mere sight of a baseball finding itself soaring into the stands and into the hands of fans allowed us to touch a reality that seems so distant. Opening Day gave us a snippet of normalcy as the world tries to champion COVID-19.
Here are a few things we hoped you didn’t miss on Opening Day.
In a blustery snowy scene, baseball was played in Detroit as the Tigers opened the season against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park on Thursday afternoon.
To spark the first home run of the season across all of baseball, there was no better way to start baseball festivities than having 19-year veteran Miguel Cabrera sling a home run over the right-field wall in his first at-bat.
The snowy conditions made it very difficult to view the baseball, so much so, Cabrera first thought his first at-bat of the season resulted in a double, sliding into second base and soon realizing — with the help of second base umpire Will Little — that the baseball indeed found itself on the other side of the right-field wall.
“First of all, when I hit the ball, we didn’t know where it was going to be. I looked at right-field, he went back and when the ball hit the fence I thought there was going to be a play at second base so that’s why I slid to second. So when I see the umpire he said, ‘home run’ and I said, “Okay, thank you.”
With Cabrera tallying career home run No. 487 he inches closer to the 500 home run milestone. But that’s not the only milestone that looms ahead for the 37-year-old. Cabrera is only 134 hits shy of career hit No. 3,000. When both milestones have been reached, Cabrera would become the seventh MLB player to conquer such a prolific feat, sitting alongside baseball legends Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols, and Alex Rodriguez.
Go Crazy, Folks, Go Crazy
The thrill of Opening Day is contagious, but how about walk-offs?
A pair of walk-offs set 2021 in motion as the excitement of baseball resurrected our famished souls deprived of our favorite sport.
The Milwaukee Brewers trailed 5-2 entering the ninth inning but were able to tack on runners on first and second for Christian Yelich who slugged a 1-1 pitch from Alex Colomé that dunked in and out of the glove of Twins right fielder Max Kepler, reducing the Twins’ lead to two runs. Two batters later, Travis Shaw blazingly took a hack to right field, splitting the outfielders to tie the game with a two-run double and setting the stage for the Brewers to make the first comeback of the 2021 season.
One inning later, with runners on the corners, Orlando Arcia became a hero.
With the infield shifted and Twins second baseman Jorge Polanco shifted to the left side of the infield, Arcia was able to chop the ball to the right of the second base bag, giving Polanco the handful of steps he needed to make a delayed throw to home plate, allowing Lorenzo Cain to dive across home plate to score the game-winning run.
It was like deja vu (all over again) when the Philadelphia Phillies hosted the Atlanta Braves in the south side of Philly at Citizens Bank Park. With some impeccable defensive gems by Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorious and third baseman Alex Bohm, the Phillies were able to lock down the Braves despite Pablo Sandoval maximizing a pinch-hit opportunity with a two-run home run to tie the game at two in the seventh inning off Aaron Nola.
As a prized opportunity was presented, Jean Segura stepped into the batter’s box with one desire and that was to give the Phillies their 62nd franchise win on Opening Day. As the 31-year-old Dominican Republic native stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the (you guessed it) tenth inning with runners on (you guessed it, again) the corners, Segura laced a single down the left-field line allowing Bryce Harper to score the game-winning run causing a frenzy from the Phillie faithful.
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) April 1, 2021
The Forces Awaken for Gary Sánchez
The Yankees harbored many expectations as Gerrit Cole was handed the ball on Opening Day and their all-star lineup was stacked from head to toe against a young but igniting Blue Jays club. However, those expectations barely touched the surface as the Yankees dropped the season opener 2-1 Thursday afternoon at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
Despite the deflating loss, Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez found his stride. In just one game, Sánchez was able to eradicate almost all of the noise that had lingered after a .147 average in the 2020 season had people speculating his eliteness and ability to perform at an all-star level in the batter’s box and behind the plate.
“I want to find that consistency,” Sánchez said after the Yankees win. “Keep that consistency going behind the plate as well. I think if I’m able to do that, if I’m able to execute the way I did during spring training, I think it’s going to be a good year.”
The Santo Domingo native went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run, a single, and a walk. His patience at the plate looked promising, as the 28-year old catcher and outfielder Clint Frazier were the only two Yankees with a multi-hit game.
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