Baseball returned on Thursday afternoon, bringing with it an abundance of highlights. Take Jordan Zimmerman for example. He retired 20 batters in a row against the Blue Jays. Both Robinson Cano and Andrew McCutchen crushed home runs in their debut at-bats for new teams. Tim Beckham took Chris Sale deep — twice! How cool is that?
1. The Orioles ran themselves out of an inning — literally
Okay, I know, poking fun at the Orioles is low hanging fruit. Any talk of wild moments, however, has to include this first inning gem. After Masahiro Tanaka retired the first two batters to start the game, he allowed a single to Jonathan Villar. Trey Mancini followed by hitting a ball against the shift, something that should have set the O’s up for a big inning. Instead, Villar ran into the ball, resulting in an automatic out. Somehow this ended up as the second-worst baserunning blunder of the game.
2. The Yankees didn’t notice the infield fly rule
The Bombers had their own ridiculous moment on the basepaths in the seventh inning. With two runners on and one out, Gary Sanchez went to battle against David Hess. The Yankees catcher fouled off pitch after pitch before finally popping up on the right-hander’s 13th offering. Confusion followed as Baltimore’s catcher, Jesus Sucre, dropped the ball. The third base umpire called for the infield fly rule, but the Yankees’ baserunners apparently failed to notice. That resulted in your run-of-the-mill infield fly out and 5-4-6-4 double play.
Sam Miller once wrote a story about how every game comes with an opportunity to see something new. Maybe this exact scenario played out in history before, but I’ve never seen anything like it, and that makes it fun.
3. Judge showed off his wheels
I promise this is the last note about baserunning. Aaron Judge collected the Yankees’ first hit of the season with a single in the first inning. Giancarlo Stanton followed with a single of his own, and Judge turned on the jets. He went from first to third on a single! And fans said that the Yankees don’t play station-to-station baseball. Recently Judge said that he wanted to help the team in any way he can, whether slugging or running or advancing runners. He may be able to change games with his power and speed.
4. Voit never made an out
The legend of Luke Voit grew on Thursday. In the first inning, he smoked a three-run homer to straightaway center field.
Voit followed that up with a four-pitch walk in his next plate appearance. After that, he got drilled in the elbow by an errant pitch. The 28-year-old wrapped up his day in the seventh inning with another walk. Four trips to the plate, and no outs. That’s one way to jump-start your on-base percentage.
5. Bird’s platoon splits defy conventional wisdom
With Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hicks on the shelf, the Yankees have few options available for left-handed hitting. That made the idea of carrying Greg Bird on the Opening Day roster so appealing. He could, in theory, take advantage of right-handed pitchers and the short porch. On the other side of the coin, a platoon split should make him susceptible to southpaws.
That’s not how Bird operates, however. He owns a career 118 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers, while the mark falls to 91 against righties. The first baseman faced three right-handers today, and he struck out each time. In the bottom of the eighth, he went up against Paul Fry, a left-handed reliever, and did this:
Gregory Paul beyond the wall. pic.twitter.com/jT6t9ubknB— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 28, 2019
6. Tulowitzki played shortstop for the Yankees
Think back to 2011 or so. Now imagine I told you that Troy Tulowitzki would one day play as the starting shortstop for the Yankees. Not only that, but he would get a raucous roll call. Then, after collecting his first hit in pinstripes, he would get choked up at second base.
Was Tulo emotional and soaking in his first hit as a Yankee and after all the injuries or is he just cold and looking around pic.twitter.com/7wJ9eXpaT0— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) March 28, 2019
You probably wouldn’t believe me. You would tell me that it’s too good to be true.
No, he isn’t peak Tulowitzki anymore. And the circumstances that brought him to New York were hardly ideal. It still made for a cool moment, though, and that’s what Opening Day is all about.