Pitching was the story of the day as opening week continued with 13 teams playing their first game of the season.
After Kyle Lohse tossed a gem on Wednesday, Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Justin Masterson and Ryan Dempster all allowed two or fewer hits while throwing at least 7 innings. Even with 13 teams yet to make their 2012 debut, this is the first time in the Modern Era (since 1900) that there have been five season-opening starts to meet that threshold. According to Elias, the previous high was three in 1910.
The New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds all opened their season today by throwing shutouts. Elias points out that the last time there were three shutouts thrown by teams that opened their season on the same day was April 9, 1976. That season, the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals all pitched Opening Day shutouts.
The Miami Marlins became the first team with two losses this season and have managed a single run on seven hits in their two games. From Elias, they are the first team with that low an offensive output in their first two games since 1993. That season, the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies each had one run on six hits after two games.
Not all of the pitching news was good. Justin Verlander was denied a win after pitching 8 shutout innings after Jose Valverde blew a save for the first time since Sept. 2, 2010. Valverde was 49-for-49 in save opportunities last season and had converted 51 in a row dating back to 2010.
Longest MLB Season Openers
The game wasn’t decided until J.P. Arencibia hit a three-run home run in the top of the 16th inning. Elias confirmed that this was the longest season opener in MLB history. The Indians have the dubious distinction of losing two of the three season openers that lasted at least 15 innings. In the other, Walter Johnson threw a 15-inning complete game as the Washington Senators beat the Philadelphia Athletics.
The wait for a National League home run is finally over. Jay Bruce hit a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth as the Reds beat the Marlins. Four NL games had been completed before Bruce went deep, and his homer came in the 44th NL inning of the season.
After nearly winning the MVP Award last season, Matt Kemp added to his legend in the season opener this year. Kemp became the first right-handed hitter with two opposite field home runs at Petco Park since the start of the 2009 season.