Not only was it Friday, but it was the first full day of baseball on the 2022 MLB calendar.
Well, it was supposed to be. Mother Nature had other ideas in that area as she wiped out the second game of the Milwaukee Brewers–Chicago Cubs series at Wrigley Field. Still, 16 teams had their Opening Day, while the other 12 played Game 2 of 162.
"The heart and soul of our game."
— MLB (@MLB) April 9, 2022
Judge’s Ruling: No Deal
In a negotiation that came down to the morning of Opening Day, slugger Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees were unable to reach a deal on a contract extension. Judge had set a deadline of Opening Day to agree to a contract that would likely allow him to retire in pinstripes.
Neither side appeared close to a deal. Judge was seeking ten years, $360 million, while the Yankees had seven years, $213.5 million on the table. Now, Judge will become a free agent at the end of the season as he said Friday there will be no more negotiations. One of his main suitors is expected to be the San Francisco Giants, which would return Judge to his Northern California roots.
Judge, who has a career slash line of .276/.386/.554 with 158 homers and 366 RBIs, is projected to earn $19 million in his final year of arbitration. Hearings have been pushed back into the season due to the lockout.
Brian Cashman says the Yankees did not reach an agreement on an extension with Aaron Judge. “We were unsuccessful in concluding a multiyear pact,” Cashman says.
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) April 8, 2022
Mariners Extend Crawford
On the other side of the country, shortstop J.P. Crawford agreed to a five-year, $51 million contract extension. The deal buys out the 2020 Gold Glove winner’s last three years of arbitration and first two seasons of free agency.
Crawford, 27, who came to the Mariners in a five-player December 2018 trade with the Philadelphia Phillies, has a career slash line of .250/.331/.367, including .273/.338/.376 in 2021.
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) April 8, 2022
Baez Caps Tigers’ Comeback
As the cautious coaching staff stood on the field, the scene was priceless: Players were mobbing Javier Báez after the Detroit Tigers‘ 5-4 walk-off win over the Chicago White Sox that needed a little extra time to confirm.
You see, Báez — the Tigers’ major offseason acquisition on a six-year, $140 million free-agent deal — drilled an 0-1 offering from new White Sox closer Liam Hendriks to right field that Chicago’s A.J. Pollock looked to initially snag after deflecting off his glove as be banged into the wall. But in fact, the ball had hit the very top of the wall and bounced into Pollock’s glove. Players stormed the field when they saw the initial replay, but it wasn’t until home plate umpire Marvin Hudson took to the new announcement system and said the play was overturned and ruled a hit and that Austin Meadows could trot home from third with the winning run.
Báez’s dramatics were set up by two other big hits in the late innings. First, Miguel Cabrera looped a two-run single into right-center with two outs in the eighth to tie the game 3-1. After White Sox slugger Andrew Vaughn hit a solo homer in the top of the ninth, Eric Haase homered on a 3-2 pitch to tie it 4-4 with one out. Meadows tripled with two outs, setting up Báez.
After further review … a Javy #walkoff winner!
— MLB (@MLB) April 8, 2022
Bart Train Arrives For Giants
It is never easy for a young player to quell all the anxiety that comes with starting your first Opening Day game. For Joey Bart, Friday was filled with more pressure as it was the first game the San Francisco Giants played since Buster Posey’s offseason retirement.
Now, Bart has been primed for this role. He was the second overall selection in the 2018 draft out of Georgia Tech and has played in 35 major-league games over the last two seasons. Still, he hadn’t gone deep in any of his 117 plate appearances.
Until Friday. Bart mashed an 0-1 pitch from Miami Marlins right-hander Sandy Alcantara 414 feet (108.9 mph exit velocity) halfway up the left-field bleachers at Oracle Park in the fifth inning for a 3-0 lead. Bart is the first Giant to hit his first career homer on Opening Day since Will Clark in 1986. The Giants won 6-5 on Austin Slater’s walk-off double in the 10th inning.
And in one of the great entrances to a ballpark, Brandon Belt — who took on “The Captain” nickname last season — arrived on a boat! (It was towed in by a Jeep.) Belt then threw a ceremonial first pitch and homered in the game. Aye-aye!
Exit Velocity: 108.9 MPH
Distance: 1 MILE pic.twitter.com/m0flcI1yzL
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 8, 2022
Balkovec Makes History
So we won’t be dipping into the minor leagues very often, but there are things that make you stop and appreciate progress in the game. And that might be selling this accomplishment short.
Rachel Balkovec became the first woman to manage a minor-league team on a full-time basis when she guided the Tampa Bay Tarpons to a 9-6 victory over the Lakeland Tigers in a Class A Florida State League game.
Rachel Balkovec announced as manager of Yankees Single-A affiliate Tampa Tarpons on Opening Day 👏 pic.twitter.com/KeF0B5RlpT
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) April 8, 2022
Drama in D.C.
New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor avoided a more serious injury when he was hit on the C-flap of his batting helmet by a pitch from Washington Nationals reliever Steve Cishek. The benches cleared after Lindor, who had squared around and was showing bunt on the 0-1 pitch, became the fourth Met hit in 14 innings. Cishek was ejected.
The Mets said Lindor, who got up on his own after a few moments and was removed from the game, did not sustain any broken bones and passed a concussion test. Lindor said he might have a chipped tooth. Veteran manager Buck Schowalter, in his first season on the Mets’ bench, came out immediately asking the umpires to take control of the game, which could have precipitated the benches emptying. The Mets won 7-3.
Tensions flare and the benches clear in Washington as Francisco Lindor takes a pitch to the head pic.twitter.com/6QSJROpmHM
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) April 9, 2022
Bashing Blue Jays
This comes from the It’s Not Surprising Department, but the Toronto Blue Jays can flat-out hit. In their season opener, the Jays dug themselves a 7-0 hole after the top of the fourth inning but promptly rallied to tie the game by the end of the fifth.
Teoscar Hernández provided the big blow, a three-run homer in a four-run fifth en route to the Blue Jays winning 10-8 over the Texas Rangers. Oh, and The Blue Jacket has made a marvelous return. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. each drove in a pair of runs to overcome José Berríos‘ shaky debut with the Jays.
In case you didn't know…
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 9, 2022
2 Games, 2 No-Hit Bids
It took the San Diego Padres 8,206 games to record their first no-hitter. That took place last season when Joe Musgrove didn’t yield a hit to the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park on April 9, 2021, becoming the last team in the majors to have a no-no.
The Padres seem intent on adding to that total in 2022. One night after Yu Darvish didn’t allow a hit through six innings, newly acquired Sean Manaea tossed seven no-hit innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Darvish came out after six innings and Manaea after seven, only to see the first batter the bullpen faced break up the no-hit bid.
Manaea’s bid came almost a year to the day of Musgrove’s gem. Unlike Thursday, when the Padres were walked off by the Diamondbacks, San Diego held on for a 3-0 win Friday.
The @Padres are the only team in the modern era to have their starter pitch 6.0+ innings without allowing a hit in back-to-back games (at any point).
— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) April 9, 2022
For Openers, Burger Has a Double
Jake Burger made his MLB debut for the White Sox last season at Comerica Park and was hoping this spring to break with the big club for his first Opening Day in the majors. Instead, he was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte, where he opened the season Tuesday on the road against the Norfolk Tide. Still an Opening Day, just not the one he was looking forward to.
But that changed when third baseman Yoán Moncada was placed on the injured list with a slightly strained right oblique, which popped up Monday during spring training batting practice. Burger was yanked midgame Wednesday in Norfolk and headed to … Comerica Park, where he would have Opening Day No. 2 of the week, this one in a White Sox uniform. Burger doubled and scored in three at-bats.
“The adrenaline is probably about the same right now,” Burger said when comparing his MLB debut with his first MLB Opening Day.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 8, 2022
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)