MLB Opening Day takeaways: Dodgers falter vs. Rockies; Angels storm back late and Giants lose on walks in 10th

The 2021 Major League Baseball season is underway as Opening Day kicked off Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately, it wasn't a full slate of goodness with the Orioles-Red Sox game being rained out and the primetime Mets-Nationals tilt getting canceled due to the COVID-19 issues among Washington players. 

The latter issue left us without a game that started between 4:10 and 10:05 p.m. ET. Poor scheduling, right? 

Here's a look at the day's scores.

MLB Opening Day scores

The biggest takeaway of all is that this was just 1/162 of the season for the teams that did play. That is 0.62 percent. Don't freak out and overreact! (At least not too much.) Let's run down the day of baseball action that actually did happen. 

Rough start and silver lining for reigning champs

This is a testament to how talented the Dodgers are. Clayton Kershaw didn't have good stuff, they committed two errors, they threw three wild pitches, committed a baserunning gaffe that turned a two-run home run into an RBI single and an out, they went 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position and they left 14 men on base. And yet, they still had the tying run at the plate in the top of the ninth and could very well have won the game against the Rockies.

Credit the Rockies for the win, but beware to the rest of baseball because the Dodgers just played one of their worst-possible games and still had a good shot to win. 

Angels storm back late

The White Sox struck first in Anaheim and then took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning. Heading to the bottom of the eighth they had a 3-2 lead, but there was a problem. The Angels had the top of their order ready to go and it ended up meaning trouble. 

The Angels deserve credit for the comeback, of course, but the White Sox sure left the door open. A David Fletcher grounder up the middle became a single when reliever Aaron Bummer decided to get a piece of it instead of letting it through to his defense. Shohei Ohtani reached on a fielder's choice when Nick Madrigal made a throwing error to second in looking for the force out. 

That brought Mike Trout to the plate, and he delivered a game-tying single. After a strikeout and walk, Albert Pujols hit a high, bouncing ball to third base. Ohtani got such a great jump down the line to home plate, White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada had no choice but to go to first with the play. The Angels took the lead and new closer Raisel Iglesias shut the door with ease in the ninth. 

Giants melt down, come back, lose on walks

The Giants had a 6-1 lead heading to the bottom of the eighth inning. It should've been elementary. And while the Mariners got some big hits, the Giants really gave this one away. 

A walk and two singles were followed by a walk and strikeout. It was a 6-2 Giants lead with the bases loaded and one out. Jarlin Garcia then walked in a run (Taylor Trammell did work an excellent plate appearance, so, again, give him credit) to make it 6-3. Giants reliever Tyler Rogers came in and coughed up a double to Dylan Moore that scored two and made it 6-5. Then Rogers hit a batter. Then there was a weak grounder to first base that Brandon Belt threw away (we could argue it should've been caught, but it ended up in the outfield and that's what really matters), allowing two runners to score. 

That was a six-spot for the Mariners. They were trailing 6-1 heading to the bottom of the eighth and took the lead before the ninth. 

Of course, they only took a one-run lead and Giants pinch hitter Alex Dickerson decided his team wouldn't go quietly. His home run -- muscled to opposite field on an 0-2 count -- tied things up. 

Alas, it was the Mariners' night after all. The Giants couldn't get their free runner home in the 10th and then the Mariners did. 

And, get this, all the Mariners had to do in the bottom of the 10th was stand in the box. There were three plate appearances and all three were walks. The night ended on a walkoff walk! 

Good for the Mariners, rough for the Giants. 

Astros dominate through boos

Among the most rambunctious fan bases in baseball would be the fans of the Oakland A's. They announced their presence with authority Thursday by showering the Astros with boos

The Astros took it from there. Zack Greinke allowed just three hits in six scoreless innings. Michael Brantley homered and doubled in his 3 for 4 day. Alex Bregman also homered and doubled while driving home two. Yordan Alvarez drove three home. 

Unlike the other two dramatic late ones, this game was never really in doubt. 

Bieber stars but doesn't get support

2020 AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber joined elite company by striking out 12 batters, but he got no run support with the Tigers holding a 3-0 lead headed to the ninth. A two-run Roberto Perez shot made things interesting, but Tigers reliever (closer?) Gregory Soto induced Cesar Hernandez to pop out, with a runner on and Jose Ramirez standing on deck, to end the game.

D-Backs make history; Padres still win

The 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks are now the answer to a trivia question. They became the first team in baseball history with a four-homer inning. Still, the Padres wouldn't be denied. They came from behind with a run in the sixth and then one in the seventh to take the lead for good and win, 8-7. They had 10 hits even though Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado combined to go 1-10. They won despite Yu Darvish giving up four runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. 

Good signs for Jays 

A trendy playoff pick, the Blue Jays went into the Bronx and beat the Yankees with Gerrit Cole on the hill. Teoscar Hernandez -- a breakout offensive star in 2020 -- went 3 for 4 with a home run and Vladimir Guerrero looked pretty damn good with a line drive single and two walks. The Jays didn't have George Springer yet, either. 

Hyun-Jin Ryu went 5 1/3 innings, allowing only two runs (both on a Gary Sanchez homer), but the real story on the pitching side was the Blue Jays' bullpen going 4 2/3 scoreless innings while allowing just two hits. 

The Yankees had a few late threats, but Aaron Judge twice struck out, leaving five men on, to end those rallies. 

Brewers storm back

The Twins scored two runs in the top of the third inning and held the lead all the way until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Some sloppiness let the Brewers hang around, as a hit batter and throwing error put two runners on base before Christian Yelich singled home a run and then Travis Shaw came through with a game-tying, two-run double. The three-run ninth for the Brewers extended the game to extras and the Brewers would walk it off. 

Hello Phillies bullpen?

The Phillies had one of the worst bullpens in recent memory last season. It was a disgrace to the league the kind of numbers they put up (7.06 ERA, 1.79 WHIP). 

Thursday, the Phillies used four relievers -- Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado, Hector Neris and Connor Brogdon -- who allowed just one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings while striking out four. It's not like they were facing a lineup full of pushovers, either, as this was the high-octane Braves' offense. 

The good outing from Aaron Nola and walk-off single from Jean Segura will be most of the highlights here, but don't sleep on that good bullpen performance. 

A Florida duel 

The Rays and Marlins combined for just eight hits with an Austin Meadows solo homer being the only offense in Miami. Starters Tyler Glasnow (6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) and Sandy Alcantara (6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) were brilliant. Marlins first baseman Jesus Aguilar -- who had two of their three hits in the game -- gave the Rays a scare when he flew out to the warning track with what would've been a game-tying home run in a few parks, but the Marlins came away empty on Opening Day.

Cards offense unloads early; uh oh Eugenio

The Cardinals pounded out 11 runs on nine hits through just four innings in Cincinnati on Thursday. Sure, they only had one hit in five scoreless innings after that, but who cares? The 11 runs were more than enough to win. The new look Paul Goldschmidt-Nolan Arenado combo in the 2-3 spots combined to go 6 for 10 with four runs and two RBI. How about rookie Dylan Carlson clubbing a three-run homer in the first? 

On the Reds' end, I suppose there's some silver lining to clawing out seven runs even after allowing six in the top of the first. Still, their possibly dubious decision to try All-Star third baseman Eugenio Suarez at shortstop resulted in two errors, including one that could have ended up costing them the game. In the first inning, with just one Cardinals run having scored to that point, Yadier Molina sent a routine grounder to short that could've been an inning-ending double play and Suarez booted it. Sure, it was in the hole, but Molina is one of the easiest in baseball to double up with his lack of speed. 

Shaky start for Cubs

The Cubs are at a crossroads this season with several key players hitting free agency after. It's possible they make one last playoff run with what's left of their 2016 core or fall apart and sell in front of the trade deadline. Thursday was a brutal start. Kyle Hendricks only lasted three innings, issuing three walks for the first time since exactly two years ago while the offense only mustered two hits all game. Cubs pitchers issued 11 walks and this could've been way worse, but the Pirates left a ridiculous 15 men on base. 

Royals' new-look offense wouldn't be denied in wild one

The Royals allowed five runs in the top of the first inning. It has to be pretty deflating to see one's opponent score five runs before you even get to bat in the opener, right? No matter. The Royals matched that five-spot with five of their own in the bottom half. They would then trail 6-5 through two innings and 8-5 after the top of the third. But the Royals never stopped hitting. They scored multiple runs -- the ol' "crooked number" -- in four different innings. Kyle Isbel, Michael Taylor and Whit Merrifield all had three hits. Taylor, Merrifield and Jorge Soler all homered. They were relentless with the bats basically from start to finish. 

The 14 runs were a Royals record for opening day. It was the longest nine-inning game in Royals opening day history. 

Oh, and get this (via Jeremy Frank on Twitter): This was the first Opening Day game ever in which neither starting pitcher got five outs (1 2/3 innings). Royals starter Brad Keller went 1 1/3 innings while Rangers starter Kyle Gibson left after 1/3 of an inning. He faced eight batters, allowing four hits and three walks while getting one out (a strikeout). 

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