Opening day is always a happy occasion and this year’s start to the season was special in many ways. Of the seven games played to open the 2022 campaign Thursday, we were treated to heroics from baseball’s #1 prospect making his MLB debut, a vintage performance by a pitcher who made his debut 17 years ago in of the Big League, a record streak of Opening Day success and much more. Here are seven amazing facts from seven amazing season openers:
One of the joys of baseball is that you can always expect the unexpected. And the 2022 season wasn’t even through its first inning before we got a vivid reminder of that fact.
In 2021, Brewers ace Corbin Burnes sparked a run to NL Cy Young Award honors by notching 49 strikeouts and zero walks in his first five starts. In fact, Burnes faced 126 batters before issuing his first free pass. So what happened to Burnes on the opening day hill at Wrigley Field? He went with Cubs leadoff man Rafael Ortega because of course he did. Burnes finished with three walks in five innings — more than his first seven games last year.
No. 1 overall contender Bobby Witt Jr. showed off his exciting tools in his MLB debut for Kansas City:
Uncle Charlie is still going strong
Adam Wainwright decided to return for another season with the Cardinals – one that could prove to be his last alongside Yadier Molina and returning Albert Pujols. And so far so good.
Wainwright mostly drove through six scoreless innings against the Bucs, and he did it at the age of 40 years and 220 days. This made him the fourth oldest AL/NL pitcher to pitch a goalless game of at least that length on opening day, dating back to 1901. He is only behind Rip Sewell of the 1949 Pirates (41 years, 343 days) and Charlie Hough of the 1989 Rangers (41 years, 89 days) and Roger Clemens of the 2003 Yankees (40 years, 239 days).
He entered his opening-day start against the Nationals — on the road — as the most inexperienced pitcher to ever take the mound to open the season for the Mets. When all was said and done, Tylor Megill left the mound after five scoreless innings in which he had just three hits while walking none and striking six.
While Mets fans were certainly disappointed that they couldn’t see Jacob deGrom or Max Scherzer on opening day, they would take Megill’s performance any day. In fact, a Mets starter in 2021 ran at least five scoreless innings while walking none and fanning out at least six on just three occasions in 2021, and each of those performances was authored by deGrom.
Megill’s four-seam fastball averaged 94.6 mph during his 2021 rookie campaign. It averaged 96.1 mph and peaked at 99.1 mph in Thursday night’s season opener.
Brandon Drury delivered a three-run homer to open the game in the sixth inning, extending Cincinnati’s lead to 6-1 over the defending World Series champions. Overall, the veteran utility man went 2-for-4 on the night, driving in three runs in a game for the first time in almost three years — the last time was on Aug. 12, 2019, when Drury drove in five for the Blue Jays against the Rangers.
Astros makes 10th place on opening day
History was made on both sides in the opening-day encounter between the Astros and Angels, but Houston’s performance was to win the game while the Halos provided another individual performance for reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani.
Ohtani became the first player in AL/NL history to both pitch his team of the season’s first pitch and make his team’s first plate appearance on Thursday night, hitting nine batters over 4 2/3 innings, but 0-for went -4 on the record.
The Astros, meanwhile, set an AL/NL record by winning their 10th straight opening day contest thanks to back-to-back homers from Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez in the eighth inning. Houston’s 10 consecutive Opening Day victories tied to the Boston Beaneaters’ 1887–96 run.
Walk-off homers on National Beer Day? Leave it to Beer
After Yu Darvish went without a hit in the first six innings of the season opener at Chase Field, the D-Backs’ chances of an opening-day win seemed slim. But had they looked at the calendar and seen that Thursday was not only Opening Day but also National Beer Day, they might have guessed who their hero must be.
Pavin Smith broke the no-no by singles to open the end of the seventh against Padres-Relive Tim Hill, and at the end of the ninth Seth Beer smashed a three-run walk-off homer ahead of Craig Stammen to set the D to lift. back to victory on what is undoubtedly Beer’s Day. It was Beer’s second career home run after hitting a homer in his first career on September 10 of last season, and his first career walkoff shot. Beer also became the first rookie in MLB history to hit a walk-off homer with his team on opening day.