Heyward's hype is justified and other Opening Day lessons
On Opening Day hope springs eternal -- except in Cleveland, where the rebuilding Indians got off to a terrible start by being the only team to get shutout in the day's 13-game slate.
Even before the games got underway, Monday was full of headlines. In Boston, the Red Sox signed ace
Here are five things we learned about the new season from a scintillating Opening Day:
Even before his shirt was available for purchase at Turner Field -- as one fan noted, Braves merchandise stands apparently
The Braves pounded out 16 runs thanks in large part to Heyward, a native of suburban Atlanta, who finished the day 2-for-5 with four RBIs in front of two very proud parents. His folks obtained 64 tickets for family and friends and their infectious enthusiasm was frequently captured by television cameras. Also noteworthy was that his father,
Toronto's Marcum went 576 days between major-league pitches, a time that included Tommy John surgery and full-time rehab. In taking the ball as the Blue Jays' No. 1 starter, Marcum then threw 81 pitches before allowing his first hit since Sept. 2008, holding onto a no-hitter (and a 3-0 lead) for 6 1/3 innings before the Rangers'
Before his elbow injury Marcum was emerging as great No. 2 starter behind
Asked to name the NL East's best pitcher back in February, Mets ace
There obviously won't be a clear cut winner after just one start or even a dozen, but on this day at least, both were brilliant: Halladay threw seven innings of one-run ball, striking out nine; Santana only went six innings but also gave up just one run and struck out five. Halladay, however, contributed with his bat, knocking in a run on a fourth-inning infield single for his second career RBI. Incidentally, the Mets improved their major-league best Opening Day winning percentage to .653.
The NL West can have a similar debate, though the Giants'
Here's what we know: The sun will rise, the sun will set and the three-time National League MVP will hit on Opening Day. Pujols went 4-for-5 on Monday, including two home runs, and he now has at least one hit in eight of his nine Opening Day games for an aggregate 17-for-35 (a cool .486 average). It was his second two-home run outburst, having done the same in Philadelphia in 2006.
Most importantly for the Cardinals is the return of Pujols' power. Not that there were ever any legitimate questions, but he answered them emphatically anyway after finishing last season with a career-long drought of 89 at bats without a homer (though he batted .357 in that stretch) and undergoing offseason surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow.
There were the aforementioned brilliant pitching performances, and six teams scored at least eight runs in their openers, along with four reaching double figures, but the defense across the majors was mostly offensive (
Of the eight teams with at least two errors, only the Cardinals and Rockies prevailed in spite of their fielding gaffes, and it should be noted that the Brewers, Colorado's opponent, were one of their other teams with a pair of E's.