Opening Day has finally arrived. It has been 148 days since the Astros defeated the Dodgers in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series to clinch the first championship in franchise history. The 2018 regular season is now underway. We'll keep you updated on all Thursday's Opening Day action right here, so make sure you check back often.

Thursday's MLB scores

Let's enjoy this Cruz stroke

Nelson Cruz! Remember when most of us were saying he was a bad free agent signing back in the winter of 2013-14? Well, since his Rangers days ended he's put up an OPS+ of 147 while averaging 42 dingers per season over a span that's covered his age-33 through age-36 seasons. 

On Thursday night against the Tribe, Cruz reminded us that he's still going strong when he absolutely poled one off no less a moundsman than Corey Kluber. It traveled 412 feet to pretty much dead center and left the bat at a robust 111 mph. Normally, we'd show the full journey of the home run in question, but this time we'll just show you the moment of impact ... 

The haters, who are in reality nothing more than motivators, may insist that what you see above has been altered for effect. The right-wise among us, however, know that the blast field captured above consists of actual, real-life rosin dust. Praise be.

Three things to see from the Braves-Phils game

First off, Phillies rookie manager Gabe Kapler pulled Aaron Nola after just 68 pitches despite his being staked to a 5-0 lead (as our own R.J. Anderson explores, Kapler did not have a particularly impressive dugout debut). That backfired, as implied by the final score above. Now for the three things you need to see from this one ...

  1. Chipper Jones' ceremonial first pitch, which appeared to be a sinker with good run ... 

There's a right-hander who could work medium-leverage innings for the Rays. 

2. The Freeze starts 2018 on a perfect note by absolutely lighting up a fool ... 

Those tasked with choosing opponents for The Freeze: Do better next time. Or do worse, which is also entertaining. Finally ... 

3. Nick Markakis' first career walk-off home run ... 

Braves win,  people. 

Boston bullpen blows Sale gem

So here's what Red Sox ace Chris Sale did against the Rays on Thursday ... 

Chris Sale
SP •
vs. TB, 3/29

That's some vintage Sale right there, albeit with some sensible Opening Day workload restrictions. Matt Barnes followed up him with a scoreless seventh, and going into the bottom of the eighth the Sox led 4-0 and had roughly a 96 percent chance of winning the game. Well, then this happened in that bottom of the eighth ... 

  • Joe Kelly relieved Matt Barnes
  • D. Robertson: Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Strike looking, Foul, Ball, Robertson walked
  • R. Refsnyder: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Strike swinging, Strike looking, Refsnyder struck out looking
  • M. Duffy: Foul, Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Duffy doubled to deep right center, Robertson scored
  • K. Kiermaier: Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Strike swinging, Ball, Kiermaier walked
  • C. Gomez: Strike looking, Ball, Strike (foul tip), Ball, Ball, Ball, Gomez walked, Duffy to third, Kiermaier to second
  • Brad Miller hit for C.J. Cron
  • Carson Smith relieved Joe Kelly
  • B. Miller: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Ball, Ball, Miller walked, Duffy scored, Kiermaier to third, Gomez to second
  • W. Ramos: Strike looking, Strike looking, Strike swinging, Ramos struck out swinging
  • D. Span: Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Ball, Ball, Foul, Span tripled to deep right, Kiermaier, Gomez and Miller scored
  • A. Hechavarria: Ball, Ball, Hechavarria reached on an infield single to second, Span scored
  • Joey Wendle hit for Daniel Robertson
  • J. Wendle: Strike looking, Pickoff attempt, Pickoff attempt, Wendle grounded out to shortstop
  • End of the 8th (6 Runs, 3 Hits, 0 Errors)

That 6-4 Rays lead held up, and the Sox as such blew a painful one to start the 2018 season. 

Jones hits walk-off bomb for O's

Well, it didn't take long for us to see the first walk-off home run of 2018. The Twins and Orioles are tied at 2-2 in the 11th at Camden Yards, and Adam Jones is about to send us home ... 

Yep, that's a winner. That's the third walk-off homer of Jones' career. Speaking of third walk-offs ... 

The Orioles, at least throughout recent history, don't disappoint on Opening Day. 

Davidson powers White Sox to Opening Day history

Against the Royals on Thursday, White Sox DH Matt Davidson, fresh off a 26-homer rookie campaign in 2017, went deep three times ... 

As our own Matt Snyder notes, those three homers put Davidson in elite Opening Day company and also helped the White Sox tie an Opening Day record for power outputs. Read more here. 

Happ starts the season with a homer

The first pitch of the new season is supposed to be a fastball down the middle for a called strike, right? That's the way every team opens the season. It's practically a tradition. Gentlemen's agreement.

Well, on Thursday, Ian Happ decided he wasn't going to start the new season by taking a fastball down the middle. He instead ambushed Jose Urena's first pitch -- the first official pitch of the 2018 season -- for a solo home run. Check it out:

First homer of the season came on the first pitch of the season. How about that? Happ socked five leadoff homers during spring training, you know. seems to me the Cubbies have found their new leadoff hitter.

Oh, and by the way, Cubs reporter Michael Cerami made good on his bet to jump into Lake Michigan if Happ hit a leadoff homer on Opening Day. A bet's a bet.

Marlins, Cubs honor Stoneman Douglas victims

Thanks to their 12:30pm ET start time, the Marlins and Cubs played the first game of the 2018 regular season Thursday afternoon. The two teams plan to honor victims of the shooting at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, throughout their four-game series.

The Marlins will wear a special Stoneman Douglas patch on their jerseys.

The Cubs wore Stoneman Douglas shirts during batting practice Thursday. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo graduated from Stoneman Douglas and returned to Parkland a few weeks ago to deliver a speech at the vigil.

Blue Jays retire Halladay's number

Former Cy Young award winner Roy Halladay was killed in November when a plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. Prior to Thursday's season opener, the Blue Jays retired Halladay's No. 32 and added him to the Level of Excellence at Rogers Centre.

No. 32 joins No. 12 (Roberto Alomar) and No. 42 (Jackie Robinson) as the only retired numbers in Blue Jays' history.

Giancarlo goes deep twice in first game with Yankees

Welcome to the Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton. He swatted a two-run home run in his very first at-bat as a Yankee on Thursday.

With a 117.3 mph exit velocity, that home run is the hardest hit homer Statcast has recorded at Rogers Centre since the system debuted in 2015. It's also the hardest hit opposite field home run Statcast has recorded at any ballpark.

Here, for the baseball enthusiast, is radio broadcaster John Sterling's home run call for Stanton. Needs work, I think.

Anyhow, Stanton wasn't done. In the ninth, he utterly crushed one to center ... 

Mercy. That one traveled 434 feet and left the bat at 109.4 mph. That blast also put Giancarlo in select Yankee company ... 

Davis hits leadoff for first time

Orioles manager Buck Showalter is not opposed to batting a slugger leadoff. Both Manny Machado and Adam Jones have hit leadoff at times the last few years, and on Opening Day 2018, first baseman Chris Davis got the call at leadoff.

It was, not surprisingly, the first career start at leadoff for Davis. He'd previous batted in every other lineup position in his career. Davis is certainly an unconventional leadoff hitter, but he'll take a walk and he of course has power. Absent a more traditional leadoff, why not give Davis a whirl? (He led the game off with a fly out, by the way.)

Syndergaard fans 10 in uneven start

Bit of a weird outing for Noah Syndergaard against the Cardinals on Thursday. He struck out 10 in six innings and his stuff looked absolutely filthy ...

... but he also allowed two home runs (Yadier Molina, Jose Martinez) and four runs on six hits overall. Syndergaard's fastball averaged 97.6 mph and topped out at 99.1 mph, so the velocity was there. Just seemed like whenever he made a mistake and caught too much of the plate, the Cardinals put a real good swing on it.

Despite that, the 10 strikeouts are the second most on Opening Day in franchise history.

Syndergaard missed most of last season with a torn lat. The Opening Day results were okay at best, but his stuff looked good, and that's the most important thing coming back from injury. As long as stays healthy and holds that stuff all season, I reckon Thursday's outing will be one of the worst of his season. Syndergaard is that good.

Gentry makes 2018's first home run robbery

The first outfielder to rob a home run this season? That would be O's right fielder Craig Gentry. He took a solo shot away from Eddie Rosario of the Twins in the first inning Thursday afternoon. To the action footage:

Well done, Gentry. Always nice to get that first home run (robbery) out of the way on Opening Day.

Springer starts Opening Day with a leadoff homer (again)

Ian Happ was not the only player to begin his team's season with a leadoff home run Thursday. George Springer did it for the defending World Series champions as well.

Fun fact: That is career home run No. 100 for Springer.

Another fun fact: Springer led off last season with a home run as well. Leadoff homers on back-to-back Opening Days is pretty darn cool. Springer is the first player in history to do it.

The 2018 season started the same way as the 2017 season for the Astros and Springer. Will it end the same way? They sure hope so.

Nunez hits inside-the-park homer

Ian Happ hit the first homer of the new season and Craig Gentry robbed the first homer of the new season. Eduardo Nunez? He hit the first inside-the-park homer of 2018. He can thank Denard Span and Kevin Kiermaier for some, uh, communication issues.

It's been 50 years -- 50 years! -- since a Red Sox player hit an inside-the-park home run on Opening Day.

The last two home runs the Red Sox have hit are inside-the-parkers. Rafael Devers hit an inside-the-park shot in Game 4 of the ALDS last year.   

Dodgers hope to extend Opening Day winning streak

The Dodgers have won their last seven Opening Days, the longest active Opening Day winning streak in baseball. Not coincidentally, the great Clayton Kershaw has started all seven of those games. His stats in seven career Opening Day starts are just silly:

  • 5-0 record
  • 45 2/3 innings
  • 0.99 ERA
  • 0.66 WHIP
  • 52/6 K/BB

The Dodgers have outscored their opponents 49-11 during their seven-game Opening Day winning streak. They'll look to keep that streak alive against Ty Blach and the rival Giants on Thursday.

Kershaw, by the way, will set a new franchise record with his eighth consecutive Opening Day start this year, breaking a tie with Don Sutton.

Harper looking to extend Opening Day homer streak

Only one player, Nationals wunderkind Bryce Harper, has hit a home run each of the last three Opening Days. He took Bartolo Colon deep on Opening Day 2015, Julio Teheran deep on Opening Day 2016, and David Phelps deep on Opening Day 2017. He also hit two homers on Opening Day 2013. Harper is 7 for 18 (.389) with five home runs, four walks, and four strikeouts in five career Opening Days.

Alas, Harper will have to wait until Friday to try to extend his Opening Day home run streak. The Nationals and Reds were rained out in Cincinnati on Thursday.

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