The Major League Baseball regular season officially begins Thursday with seven games on tap after two were postponed in advance due to weather.
The Chicago Cubs host the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field in the first game of the day at 2:20 p.m. ET with the Houston Astros-Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres-Arizona Diamondbacks matchups the last to begin after 9:30 p.m. ET.
In Atlanta, the Braves kick off their World Series defense against the Cincinnati Reds at 8:08 p.m. ET.
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Keep it here all day Thursday for updates from around the league:
Padres right-hander Yu Darvish held the Arizona Diamondbacks hitless through six innings with four walks and three strikeouts – but his night came to an end after 92 pitches.
Tim Hill relieved Darvish and gave up a leadoff single to Pavin Smith in the bottom of the seventh, ending the bid for a team no-no.
Joe Musgrove threw a no-hitter for San Diego in 2021, the first in franchise history.
Reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani got the Opening Day start for the Angels and racked up nine strikeouts in 4 ⅔ innings against the Astros, giving up one earned run. Ohtani struck Houston second baseman Jose Altuve out three times but left the game trailing 1-0.
Thanks to MLB’s new Shohei Ohtani Rule, Ohtani was able to stay in the game as the designated hitter after his night ended on the mound.
It was supposed to be a party for the sold-out crowd of 40,545 at Truist Park. It was a chance to remember Atlanta’s unlikely run to a title last year and a coronation for one of the National League’s top contenders this season. New addition Matt Olson received a standing ovation in his first at-bat.
Tyler Mahle and the Reds had different plans. Mahle didn’t allow an earned run across five innings, striking out seven, and he helped spoil the party in a 6-3 victory over the defending World Series champions. Brandon Drury hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning as the Reds totaled 10 hits.
– Bobby Nightengale
Making his big-league debut Thursday, Bobby Witt Jr. hit a go-ahead double in the eighth inning to lift Kansas City to a 3-1 win over the Cleveland Guardians.
Witt, one of the top prospects in baseball, started at third base for the Royals and had gone hitless in his first three at-bats until his extra-base hit against Triston McKenzie.
“You couldn’t have scripted that any better,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said after the game. “This isn’t one he’s going to forget, and I probably won’t, either.”
Scott Barlow worked around trouble in the ninth inning to finish off the Royals’ win.
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Cardinals left fielder Tyler O’Neill’s first home run of the season was a three-run shot in the second inning of the opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The homer gave St. Louis a 4-0 lead an inning after O’Neill had opened the scoring with an RBI single
O’Neill finished eighth in NL MVP voting and won his second Gold Glove in 2021, hitting 34 homers with 15 steals and a .912 OPS.
Chicago shortstop Nico Hoerner hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning against reigning NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes, giving the Cubs a 3-1 lead in their season opener.
Milwaukee scored the first run of the 2022 season in the fourth, on an RBI groundout by Lorenzo Cain. Hoerner’s go-ahead homer came after Patrick Wisdom’s sac fly tied it up.
Playing his first game for the Cardinals since 2011, Albert Pujols got a standing ovation from the crowd in St. Louis on Opening Day. Pujols, 42, was the starting designated hitter, batting fifth for the Cardinals.
The Cubs inked Japanese star Seiya Suzuki to a five-year, $85 million contract in March and the 27-year-old made his debut Thursday, starting in right field and batting sixth for Chicago.
Suzuki drew a walk in his first big-league plate appearance (second inning) and then singled leading off the bottom of the fifth against Corbin Burnes.
Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts can opt out of his contract after this season and said Thursday that he and the team weren’t going to get an extension done before Opening Day.
Bogaerts is entering the third year of a six-year, $120 million contract that he signed with the Red Sox at the beginning of 2019. If he opts out, the 29-year-old would be one of the top players available on the free agent market.
Xander Bogaerts said the #Redsox did make an offer, and he rejected it. He doesn’t want to be a distraction to his teammates during the season halting negotiations
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) April 7, 2022
Xander Bogaerts on contract offer: ‘It just didn’t work out. It’s behind us now.’
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) April 7, 2022
The Pittsburgh Pirates are set to issue the largest contract in franchise history, agreeing to an eight-year, $70 million extension with third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes ahead of the 2022 season opener.
Jason Kendall’s six-year, $60 million deal signed in 2000(!) had been Pittsburgh’s biggest contract to date.
Hayes burst onto the scene in 2020, batting .376 in 24 games to earn Rookie of the Year votes, but wrist injuries limited him to 96 games last season.
Awesome scene in the Pirates clubhouse before Hayes talked. Players erupting in applause. Calling him “Rich Guy.” Asking for money. Hayes is asked how many beers he’ll have to buy. “A lot.”
— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) April 7, 2022
Of the seven openers on Thursday, just two – Astros-Angels at Anaheim and Pirates-Cardinals at St. Louis – are sold out. The Atlanta Braves, the defending World Series champions, have standing room only tickets available for both Thursday’s opener and Friday and Saturday’s games against Cincinnati.
The weather also hasn’t cooperated, with rainy conditions already booting the Red Sox-Yankees opener in the Bronx and the Twins’ game against Seattle to Friday. Fortunately for all teams involved, those games were regularly scheduled home openers and will utilize Friday rain dates to get the games in – though that still didn’t guarantee a full house.
– Gabe Lacques
The Minnesota Twins acquired right-handed pitchers Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagán from the San Diego Padres for All-Star left-handed pitcher Taylor Rogers and outfielder Brent Rooker.
The Twins also will receive a player to be named later and the Padres will get $6.6 million in cash under terms of the deal announced Thursday.
– Associated Press
Major League Baseball players openly chastised him. Frustrated fans solely blamed him. He was a living piñata for the media.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred might have been the most hated man in all of sports during the 99-day lockout.
Here we are, with Opening Day arriving a week late on Thursday, and a day even later for the latest chapter of the New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox rivalry. Their season-opener, with Manfred scheduled to be in attendance, was postponed until Friday at Yankee Stadium.
“I have never anticipated a season as much as this one,’’ Manfred told USA TODAY Sports in a wide-ranging interview. “I think given the last two seasons, the idea of having normal, unrestricted fans in the ballpark is a really exciting thing for me.
“I can’t wait for this one to get going.’’
– Bob Nightengale