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30 Teams, 30 Words Each: 2019 MLB Opening Day Snap Judgments

Just because we can’t draw full conclusions from small sample sizes doesn’t mean we can’t draw any at all. So here’s a key takeaway from every team’s performance after one day of games.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

One game of baseball is not enough to be meaningful. On last year’s Opening Day, Matt Davidson and Tim Anderson combined to hit five home runs for the White Sox, and Ty Blach outdueled Clayton Kershaw in a 1-0 Giants win; on a team level, the Orioles won a game and Boston lost in a late-inning collapse.

But just because we can’t draw full conclusions doesn’t mean we can’t draw any at all. Plus, after an offseason spent discussing important but less invigorating topics like financial inequality and labor strife, it’s nice to remember why we love this silly game—and why we’re so eager to follow its daily twists for the next seven months. So after all 30 teams played on Thursday’s Opening Day, let’s zip around the league and assess in 30 words—no more, no fewer—a key takeaway from each team’s performance.

Mets 2, Nationals 0

New York: Robinson Canó is not just a giant salary; he can still play, too. He homered, knocked a run-scoring single, and threw out Víctor Robles at home to preserve the shutout.

Washington: Sure, they didn’t score on Thursday, but with Robles and Trea Turner (two hits and three steals off Jacob deGrom), the Nationals’ speed could make opposing catchers miserable all season.

Yankees 7, Orioles 2

New York: Luke Voit—not Aaron Judge, not Giancarlo Stanton, not Gary Sánchez, but Luke Voit—hit cleanup. He reached base in all four trips to the plate and crushed a three-run first-inning homer.

Baltimore: Chris Davis struck out thrice in three at-bats. His five swings yielded one foul and four whiffs. A pinch-hitter replaced him in the ninth. The situation grows ever more somber.

Brewers 5, Cardinals 4

Milwaukee: OK, maybe the predicted regression won’t actually come for Christian Yelich, and the reigning National League MVP will continue to homer on seemingly every fly ball he hits in Milwaukee.

St. Louis: The Cardinals finished three games shy of the playoffs last year, four in 2017, and one in 2016. Another close miss, and Lorenzo Cain’s game-saving catch will haunt their dreams.

Phillies 10, Braves 4

Philadelphia: Who needs Bryce Harper (0-for-3, two strikeouts)? Not Philadelphia, when Andrew McCutchen, Maikel Franco, and Rhys Hoskins are all parking hangers from a division rival and delighting the Phillies crowd.

Atlanta: Preseason concerns about Atlanta’s pitching staff were far from assuaged as Philadelphia’s offense erupted. Julio Teheran is a better midrotation man than ace, and the bullpen’s underbelly looks mighty soft.

Tigers 2, Blue Jays 0

Detroit: Christin Stewart beckons as a deep-sleeper RoY candidate. He can’t much field or run but thumped the game-winning homer in extras and represents a rare bright spot for these Tigers.

Toronto: Toronto collected just two hits, which sure makes one wonder why the organization didn’t think—even before his injury—that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was good enough to make the Opening Day roster.

Dodgers 12, Diamondbacks 5

Los Angeles: L.A. homered eight times to set an Opening Day record. Highlights abounded, but the most encouraging dinger was Corey Seager’s in his first game back from Tommy John surgery.

Arizona: It wasn’t, perhaps, the best start for a team that might seek a Zack Greinke trade this summer, as the 35-year-old righty allowed four homers in 3 2/3 innings.

Astros 5, Rays 1

Houston: Justin Verlander allowed one run and struck out nine in seven innings. Houston’s lineup pounded reigning Cy Young winner Blake Snell with three homers. The Astros look dominant again. Yawn.

Tampa Bay: Even in a loss, Tampa Bay used just two pitchers—tied for the fewest of any team. Reliever Jalen Beeks tossed three frames, hinting at more Rays bullpen weirdness to come.

Cubs 12, Rangers 4

Chicago: Like his division rival Yelich, Javy Báez began his season by confounding concerns of regression, as the reigning National League MVP runner-up mashed two homers to propel Chicago to victory.

Texas: Opening Day for the Rangers can be summed up with the phrase “Hunter Pence, designated hitter, batting fifth.” Texas couldn’t have collected a more 2013 team if it had tried.

Athletics 4, Angels 0

Oakland: Oakland probably wishes this game were its 2019 season opener, rather than the two it lost in Japan. But a strong Mike Fiers–to-bullpen pitching performance is ample reason for enthusiasm.

Los Angeles: Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout experienced about the most divergent seasons possible in 2018. Both went 1-for-3 with a walk on Thursday. It’s not predictive, but it’s a poetic start.

Padres 2, Giants 0

San Diego: It was one game against the Giants. Logic says to remain calm. But the Padres won their first Opening Day game since 2014; there’s reason to celebrate—and hope for more.

San Francisco: After a rough month of spring training, Madison Bumgarner struck out nine Padres, his highest single-game total since Opening Day 2017. Giants fans should forget everything else about this game.

Twins 2, Indians 0

Minnesota: José Berríos tallied 10 K’s and allowed three base runners in 7 2/3 innings. He must work on his consistency, but that’s the line of a Cy Young contender.

Cleveland: Yet Berríos had some help from Cleveland’s lineup—a Lindor-less unit that slotted Tyler Naquin third and Hanley Ramírez fifth. Cleveland’s rotation might need to throw shutouts every day to win.

Rockies 6, Marlins 3

Colorado: While his performance comes with a giant “against the Marlins” caveat, Kyle Freeland was the pitcher version of Yelich and Báez on Thursday, spinning impressive numbers despite outsized regression fears.

Miami: The Marlins’ young starters—the oldest member is 27—ooze with potential, but José Ureña failed to last five innings against the Rockies. Miami should hope his rotation-mates fare better this weekend.

Reds 5, Pirates 3

Cincinnati: Reliever Michael Lorenzen pinch-ran and played center field, the latter for the first time in his career. He’s the majors’ best two-way hope at the moment, with Shohei Ohtani injured.

Pittsburgh: Yes, injuries hurt, but after yet another thrifty offseason, it’s a sad but fitting state of affairs that the Pirates started both Melky Cabrera and JB Shuck in their outfield.

Royals 5, White Sox 3

Kansas City: With two steals on Thursday, both courtesy of Whit Merrifield, the Royals are on pace for 324 this season. This is the only statistic that matters for this Royals season.

Chicago: This game’s start was delayed, and the White Sox—who finished with four hits and three errors, and no runs until the ninth—apparently didn’t show up even after the rain relented.

Mariners 12, Red Sox 4

Seattle: The Mariners are 3-0 for the fourth time ever, with a franchise-record nine home runs through three games. Is Chris Sale in trouble, or is Seattle secretly an offensive juggernaut?

Boston: Scherzer, deGrom, Nola, Verlander, and Kluber were all great; Sale, conversely, allowed seven runs in three innings—not the most auspicious beginning for the Boston ace after a lighter preseason workload.