Opening Day thoughts and observations

Rule No. 1 of Opening Day: Do not overreact.

Rule No. 2 of Opening Day: Make sure your shower shoes are clean. You'll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you'll be classy.

Rule No. 3 of Opening Day: See Rule No. 1.

Some observations from Opening Day:

Best game of the day: First of all, there are few sights in baseball as beautiful as a day game at Dodger Stadium with Clayton Kershaw pitching and the San Gabriel Mountains in the background. But this had lots of built-in drama: The remade San Diego Padres against their rich rivals from the north, Matt Kemp facing his old teammates, the best pitcher on the planet. Kershaw pitched better than his three runs in six innings indicated, but Kemp drove in all three runs, including a two-run double in the fifth off a first-pitch fastball that caught too much of the plate.

But the big blow came in the eighth, when Jimmy Rollins introduced himself to Dodgers fans with a three-run homer off San Diego's Shawn Kelley to break a 3-3 tie. Interesting that Bud Black stayed with Kelley, who got the final out of the seventh, over Joaquin Benoit for the eighth. Kelley, acquired from the Yankees, is a fastball/slider guy who has been prone to giving up home runs throughout his career. Rollins hit a 3-2 fastball.

A lump of Cole: Cole Hamels, pitching against the team everybody tried to trade him to in the offseason, gave up four solo home runs (two to Dustin Pedroia). It was the second four-homer game of his career and the Red Sox beat the Phillies 8-0. In 30 career interleague starts, Hamels now has a 4.61 ERA against AL teams compared to 3.13 against NL teams. He's spent a lot of his career beating up on weak offenses in the NL East, and there's the distinct possibility he's merely a No. 3 starter and not an ace if he gets traded to the AL.

Reds scare: For seven innings, Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto dominated the Pirates just like last year, when he went 5-0 in six starts with an ERA under 2.00. He left with a 2-0 lead after seven innings and struck out 10, only to see Kevin Gregg -- yes, that Kevin Gregg -- serve up a game-tying two-run homer to Andrew McCutchen. Look, Gregg is a bad pitcher and has been for a long time. It doesn't say much for an organization's decision-making if it thinks Gregg is a key bridge between the starters and Aroldis Chapman. Todd Frazier rescued Reds manager Bryan Price by crushing a 1-1 fastball off Pirates reliever Tony Watson for a three-run homer.

We love you, Alex: Wally Matthews has the story of Alex Rodriguez's return to Yankee Stadium. Group hug:

King for a day: Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez had a terrible spring, with an ERA over 10.00 and then gave up a first-inning home run to some kid named Mike Trout. But the King then settled down with a dominant effort in a 4-1 Mariners win over the Angels, firing his third Opening Day start of at least 10 strikeouts, a feat matched only by Bob Gibson, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez. Six of the K's came on fastballs, two on changeups, and one each against his curve and slider. That's one thing that makes Hernandez so tough: He'll often pitch "backward" with two strikes, using the fastball instead of that lethal changeup or a breaking ball.

Big win for the Mets, bad D for Nats: I'd argue no team is under more pressure to have a good April than the Mets. This is Terry Collins' fifth year as manager, and he hasn't had a winning season. He's not under contract past 2015. Expectations are high. The Mets have a pretty soft April schedule against primarily NL East opponents (but only this opening series against the Nationals). You get the feeling the whole organization could implode with a bad month. So Max Scherzer took a no-hitter into the sixth. He walked Curtis Granderson with two outs and David Wright hit a routine popup behind second baseman Dan Uggla -- yes, that Dan Uggla -- only to have Ian Desmond call him off and drop the ball. Lucas Duda then broke up the no-hitter, lining a 1-2, 98 mph fastball up the middle for a two-run single. Another Desmond error led to a third run and a 3-1 Mets win. And for everyone who questioned Bartolo Colon getting the Opening Day start, the old and large man delivered in typical Colon fashion: 76 of his 86 pitches were fastballs.

Photo of the day: Oops …

Pace of play: Heading into the two late games, the average game lasted 2 hours, 46 minutes, a much quicker pace than 2014's average time of 3 hours, 8 minutes. So, pace-of-game problems solved? Not so fast. Opening Day is the day of aces, so we had a lot of low-scoring games: four shutouts, plus 2-1, 3-1 and 4-1 games. There were no extra-inning games. Still, last season's Opening Day games averaged 3:08, same as the overall season average. A very small sample size, but a good start.

Quick thoughts: You know David Price wanted that shutout, but Tigers manager Brad Ausmus brought in Joe Nathan for the final out, a called strike on a checked swing that Torii Hunter didn't like. … Jeff Samardzija had a terrible spring, giving up nine home runs, and struck out just one in his White Sox debut. … Nice Red Sox debut for Hanley Ramirez, who homered twice. If he stays healthy, he's a good sleeper MVP candidate. … Mookie Betts also homered, which you know I had to mention. … I wrote about this: Mike Moustakas hit the first opposite-field home run of his career. … Kyle Kendrick was mocked as an Opening Day starter for the Rockies and instead pitched seven scoreless innings in a 10-0 win over the Brewers. … Great duel in Houston between Corey Kluber and Dallas Keuchel, Astros winning 2-0. Keuchel is legit. … The Phillies are terrible.