We finally made it to MLB Opening Day 2023!
After one of the most exciting preludes to a regular season in recent memory — from offseason chaos to players (and fans) learning baseball’s new rules and enjoying faster-paced games to an epic World Baseball Classic — it’s time to play ball.
What did we see — and what did we learn — in the first day of games as the season gets started? We have you covered with the best moments from the day’s 15 games, as well as takeaways from each matchup.
Takeaways from every Opening Day game
It’s always best to resist the temptation to draw sweeping conclusions from Opening Day, but when the topic is Shohei Ohtani and the Angels, resistance is both futile and impossible. Especially this season, with Ohtani’s pending free agency serving as an ongoing referendum on the entire franchise. And so it begins: In a familiar display of individual excellence amid team-wide ineptitude, Ohtani was phenomenal, throwing six shutout innings, striking out 10 and allowing just two hits. The Angels, collectively, could only manage one run, and it was aided by an A’s error and a wild pitch. The A’s scored two runs off reliever Aaron Loup in the eighth, and once again another of Ohtani’s remarkable performances was lost to the mists of time. The one moment bound to live beyond the night came from Angels right fielder Hunter Renfroe, who made a no-look, behind-the-back catch on a savage liner off the bat of Jace Peterson. Just as Renfroe appeared resigned to playing it off the wall, it landed in his glove. “Wasn’t a good catch,” he said, “but a weird catch.” — Tim Keown
I don’t think the Dodgers exactly need added incentive for 2023 — they’ve been too successful to need some sort of psychological boost — but given all the predictions that the Dodgers’ neighbors to the south are more likely to head to the World Series, well … let’s admit it has to be a little weird even for them to see the Dodgers viewed as the underdogs in the NL West. It’s understandable — the five though nine batters of the Opening Day lineup — are basically all new, including rookies Miguel Vargas and James Outman, but it didn’t stop them on Thursday. The Dodgers beat a good pitcher in Zac Gallen and got six hits, three walks and five runs from those bottom four hitters, with Outman hitting a two-run homer and scoring three runs. Don’t dismiss that this may end up — once again — as one of the best lineups in the majors. — David Schoenfield
Xander Bogaerts debuted with three hits … and that’s about all that went right in what was probably the most anticipated Opening Day in Padres history. The local fans who filled a rain-soaked Petco Park saw Blake Snell work around too much damage to complete five innings, the low-leverage segment of the Padres’ bullpen struggle to keep the game within reach and a much-hyped offense mostly languish against German Marquez and the Rockies’ relievers. Juan Soto went hitless in four at-bats and heard boos after deciding not to dive for a softly hit, two-out RBI single that fell directly in front of him. There will be better nights in San Diego this season. This one, though, belonged to C.J. Cron, the Rockies first baseman who homered twice, accumulated four hits and drove in five of his team’s seven runs. — David Schoenfield
A sellout crowd in Seattle. A first pitch featuring Ken Griffey Jr., Gary Payton, Marshawn Lynch, Kasey Keller and Jewell Loyd. A gem from Luis Castillo. A Ty France three-run homer in the eighth that just cleared the fence in right field to break a scoreless tie. Three scoreless innings from the bullpen. The Mariners are dreaming big, and this is the likely roadmap to winning: Terrific starting pitching, clutch late-game relief (like the past two seasons) and just enough offense. France in the three-hole will be vital to that offensive success. He made the All-Star team last year when he hit .308 and slugged .470 in the first half, but injuries to his elbow and wrist suffered in a collision at first base affected his production in the second half, and he hit just .229. With Julio Rodriguez in front of him and Teoscar Hernandez behind him, France needs to be that third big bat. — David Schoenfield
The last time we saw the Houston relievers, they were carving through opposing hitters in the postseason with cruel efficiency. On a night when the Astros celebrated their World Series championship at Minute Maid Park, the bullpen did not pick up where it left off. Yasmani Grandal homered off Rafael Montero to tie the game in the eighth, and then Andrew Vaughn doubled in two runs off Ryan Pressly in the ninth. Indeed, with the rotation minus Justin Verlander, Dusty Baker needs another dominant year from his pen. He didn’t get it in the opener. Dylan Cease, meanwhile, did pick up where he left off after finishing second in last year’s Cy Young voting, striking out 10 and retiring 18 in a row at one point before ultimately getting a no-decision. — David Schoenfield
We have our game of the day. Nineteen runs, 34 hits, multiple late-inning lead changes, Tyler O’Neill homering for the fourth consecutive Opening Day and a five-hit game from George Springer, including the game-tying blooper in the top of the ninth. More of this, thank you very much — even if it lasts 3 hours and 36 minutes. Not a great debut for the Cardinals bullpen as late-game relievers Andre Pallante, Jordan Hicks and Ryan Helsley all surrendered runs. Hicks even knocked catcher Willson Contreras out of the game when Contreras whiffed on catching one of Hicks’ 103 mph(!) fastballs, and the ball hit him in the knee. Contreras will remember his first official game in a Cardinals uniform for all the wrong reasons. — David Schoenfield
Oneil Cruz and Hunter Greene will be competing as division rivals for the next six years, so while the Pirates and Reds aren’t exactly favored to make the playoffs, these two young stars are worth keeping an eye on because the spectacular may happen at any time. Round one in 2023 goes to Cruz, as he launched a 425-foot home run off a Greene 101-mph heater. Greene racked up the K’s — eight in 3.1 innings — but the command he showed down the stretch in 2022 wasn’t present, and it led to an early exit. He did, however, throw 44 pitches at 100-plus mph … which, well, velocity isn’t everything. — David Schoenfield
The Rangers are a popular pick to make a leap in the American League and while Jacob deGrom gathered plenty of headlines leading into Opening Day, new manager Bruce Bochy has to like what he saw from his offense. A solid approach produced 10 hits and six walks as a nine run fourth inning changed the dynamic of the game.
Perhaps it made fans forget deGrom’s forgettable performance. He simply couldn’t put guys away after the first inning as the Phillies pummeled him with opposite-field extra base hits — five of them in total — chasing him from the game after just 3.2 innings. He gave up five runs in his Rangers debut. Thankfully his offense picked him up. Texas is an intriguing team with a veteran, know-how-to do it manager. — Jesse Rogers
Max Scherzer versus Sandy Alcantara was the must-see pitching matchup of the day, and while that didn’t end up materializing, this game had a little bit of everything. Mets owner Steve Cohen hung out in right field with the Mets fan club 7 Line Army. Jeff McNeil was given a strike because Pete Alonso took too long to get back to first base. The Mets blew a 3-0 lead but rallied as Brandon Nimmo hit a go-ahead two-run double. In the absence of Edwin Diaz, David Robertson got the save. The biggest Mets news of the day, however, came before the game when Justin Verlander went on the IL — joining Diaz and Jose Quintana. Mets fans will enjoy the win and then start sweating Verlander’s injury on Friday. — David Schoenfield
We get our fourth shutout of the day as the Twins shut down the Royals on two hits, tying their team record for fewest hits allowed on Opening Day. New starter Pablo Lopez drew the start and tossed 5.1 innings with eight strikeouts, but the key takeaway is the Twins have a chance to have a really good bullpen. Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Lopez, Griffin Jax and Jhoan Duran combined for the final 3⅔ hitless innings with Duran and his 100 mph fastball finishing it off, so Duran does get ninth-inning duties over Lopez (who was an All-Star in that role for the Orioles last season). Also: Byron Buxton legs out a triple. Stay healthy, BB. — David Schoenfield
One sequence from Shane McClanahan, facing Jonathan Schoop in the fifth inning: Changeup on the outside corner, swing and a miss; curveball low and in, taken for a ball, looked like a strike; another changeup that starts on the outside and darts left at the last moment like a Wiffleball, swing a miss; 97 mph four-seamer at the top of the zone, swing and a miss. Good night and good luck. Look, the Tigers aren’t exactly the ’98 Yankees, but McClanahan is one nasty lefty. He looked like the pitcher who dominated the first half last season and started the All-Star Game, throwing six scoreless innings and registering 16 swings and misses. He’s an ace. — David Schoenfield
Boston threw gasoline on the overreaction fears of fans with their performance on Thursday. Opening Day starter Corey Kluber looked like a mess, struggling to throw strikes and working deep into counts, going 3⅓ innings while walking four and allowing five runs on six hits. The Red Sox bullpen struggled to throw strikes too, as Zack Kelly walked two batters followed with Ryan Brasier allowing three runs on two walks in an inning.
While the Red Sox offense struggled in the first half of the game, they slowly chipped away at Baltimore’s lead. After scoring a run to bring Boston within two, Masataka Yoshida came to the plate as the go-ahead run. Yoshida promptly grounded into what looked like a sure double play to end the game, but Orioles shortstop Jorge Mateo made a throwing error, bouncing a ball to first baseman Ryan Mountcastle that allowed Boston to come within one run. Baltimore held on, though, with Felix Bautista striking out Adam Duvall to end the game.
Boston ultimately could not keep up with the Orioles offensive output, which was led by star catcher Adley Rutschman, who had five hits and four RBIs with a homer, looking every bit the part of the player he became upon his callup last season.
Fans left Fenway Park by the top of the sixth inning, leaving large splotches of seats empty, an unusual Opening Day sight at Fenway Park since John Henry brought the team ahead of the 2002 season. — Joon Lee
It was a brisk game at Wrigley Field in more than one sense of the word. It was a chilly 42 degrees at first pitch, and for fans worried about lingering in the cold, their first pitch-clock game zipped by in 2 hours, 21 minutes. Warning to scorecard keepers: Stay alert and forget bathroom breaks. There’s no time. The Cubs took advantage of a rare erratic outing from Corbin Burnes, who walked three and struck out just three. Highlighting the Cubs piecemeal offense was a three-hit game for Dansby Swanson in his Cubs debut, backing a sharp Marcus Stroman. Stroman would certainly prefer this day be remembered for his six shutout innings. Alas, he will go down in the history books as the first pitcher to be issued a pitch clock violation in a regular season game. It was a familiar day at Wrigley Field even as the game on the field felt, well, not exactly new. Let’s say it felt tuned up. — Bradford Doolittle
On the second pitch he saw as Yankees captain, Aaron Judge homered into Monument Park, 422 feet away. Rookie Anthony Volpe manned shortstop — at 21 the youngest Yankee to start on Opening Day since Derek Jeter — and, while he didn’t get a hit, he kissed the “NY” on his jersey during the Bleacher Creatures roll call, then walked in his first plate appearance and stole his first base. Gerrit Cole set a Yankees Opening Day record with 11 strikeouts. The Bombers’ bullpen threw three scoreless innings to preserve a shutout against the San Francisco Giants. It was chilly day in the Bronx, but pretty much a perfect afternoon for the home team. And the whole thing took a grand total of 2 hours and 33 minutes. — Matt Marrone
No surprise here. A team that won 101 games last season beat a team that started a pitcher who led the majors in losses each of the past two seasons. The Braves knocked out Patrick Corbin in the top of the fourth inning after hitting him around for seven hits, three walks and four runs. It wasn’t all happy news for the Braves, however, as Max Fried left the game in the fourth inning with left hamstring discomfort. The Braves are already starting the season with rookies Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd in the rotation, so their starting pitching depth will be tested early on here if Fried misses any time. Bryce Elder probably gets the first call if Fried has to go on the IL, with Ian Anderson another option. — David Schoenfield
Opening Day sights, sounds and moments