After opening the 2018 Major League Baseball season on March 29 – the earliest date in MLB history – the sport saw a number of other firsts that included the usual firsts that begin every season and a few milestones.
Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Urena got his season started off in memorable fashion when Chicago Cubs hitter Ian Happ sent the first pitch of the game over the fence for a home run – an event that hasn’t happened since 1986 when Dwight Evans hit the first pitch for a homer off of Jack Morris.
Jose Urena also got the credit for the first strikeout of the season when Cubs catcher Wilson Contreas struck out swinging; but it was New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard who got credit for being the first pitcher to strike out a side in the new season. Syndergaard also gets the credit for the first 10 strikeout game.
St. Louis Cardinals rookie pitcher Jordan Hicks not only hit the somewhat elusive century mark on the first pitch of his Major League career, he proved that it wasn’t a fluke when he hit over 101mph later in the same game.
After earning a League leading 47 saves in the 2017 MLB season, Tamp Bay Rays relief pitcher Alex Colome earned the first save of the 2018 season in 6-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
Home run king Giancarlo Stanton got his season of to a booming start when he sent his first at bat with his new team – he switched from the Miami Marlins to the New York Yankees in the off season – by hitting a ball into the seats that had a recorded exit velocity of over 117mph. Stanton ended the game in the same manner sending his second homer of the game off the bat at 109mph.
Chicago White Sox’ Matt Davidson became just the fourth MLB player to hit three home runs in the opening day game. The White Sox hitters had a total of six home runs on the way to a 14-7 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Highly sought after as a pitcher in the off season, the Los Angeles Angels finally landed Japanese player Shohei Ohtani who not only pitches but can also hit and in his first at bat in an American Major League game, he hit a single. Ohtani will show off his pitching skills on Easter Sunday.
It took eleven innings before Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones notched a victory with a walk off home run for a win over the Minnesota Twins.
It’s the hardest part of the cycle – a triple. Miami Marlins Derek Dietrich hit a triple in the third inning in the opening game against the Chicago Cubs at Marlins Field.
While the championship series is called the World Series and in fact is played only by North American teams of the MLB, the sport itself is truly an international affair. When MLB opened the season, there were 254 players from the 30 teams who were born outside of the United States from a record breaking 21 countries and every continent except Antarctica. Among those 254 players were two firsts – South African Gift Noepe and Lithuanian Dovydas Neverauskas are the first from their countries to play in the MLB. With a total of 84 MLB players, the Dominican Republic again leads the way of foreign born players. Venezuela is second with 74. While a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico counts in the list of foreign born players and this year 19 MLB players call the island nation home.
The Texas Rangers leads the way in player diversity with 14 players from five countries and territories. The Chicago White Sox with 13; Miami Marlins with 12; Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies, and Toronto Blue Jays all with eleven round out the top six teams.