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Marty’s Musings: Opening Day edition

A wild and fun Opening Day led us to an excellent holiday weekend of baseball bliss. Congratulations everyone, we made it through the dark days of winter!

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to ‘Marty’s Musings’, my weekly column of numbers summarizing the happenings in the baseball world. I am your guide for taking an analytic look at the news and notes throughout baseball, and highlighting this week’s key pitching matchups.

In this week’s Musings, Opening Day gets off to a rocket start, an under-the-radar hitter has a three-home-run game, the Shohei Ohtani experiment starts-off well despite a rocky spring, and the Twins feel they may actually have an ace. It’s all in this week’s Musings.

News and Notes

1 - Pitch it took for the MLB season to start right where we left off in 2017...with dingers! On the first pitch of the season, Marlins starter José Ureña served up a home run to Cubs’ leadoff hitter Ian Happ. The home run set the tone for a wild 2-2 series split in the four-game season opener for Chicago and Miami.

3 a) Opening Day home runs for the White SoxMatt Davidson who hit 26 home runs over the course of 118 games last year.

b) Opening Day walk-offs; the Orioles beat the Twins on an Adam Jones extra-inning walk-off home run, the Athletics won in 11 innings on a Marcus Semien walk-off hit, and the Braves defeated the Phillie via a Nick Markakis walk-off three run homer.

c) Stolen bases in one inning for Kevin Pillar, who earned a single on Saturday afternoon against the Yankees, then followed it up with straight steals of second, third, and home.

117 - MPH home run by newly minted Yankee Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton mashed two home runs in the Yanks’ opener, including that 117 mile per hour blast --- the hardest hit opposite-field homer ever tracked in the Statcast era.

6/1/2015 - The last time the Atlanta Braves were over .500, prior to their Opening Day win against the Phillies. It took a bullpen meltdown for Atlanta to snatch victory from the Phils on Thursday, and they took the series two games to one in what was a rough starting series for rookie Philly manager Gabe Kapler, who inexplicably called in reliever Hoby Millner on Saturday afternoon without warming him up.

11 - Earned runs in 13 ⅓ innings pitched for the Yankees bullpen. Despite New York flexing their offensive muscle, the bullpen was ineffective in the four-game Toronto series. Justin Smoak destroyed the Yankees middle-relief, blasting a go-ahead grand slam against David Robertson on Sunday.

21 - Swinging strikes for the Astros Gerrit Cole, the most swinging strikes of any start of his career. Cole was utterly dominant against the Rangers on Sunday, allowing only two hits including a Joey Gallo home run. He struck out 11, and walked three over seven innings.

9 - Innings pitched in Jose Berrios’ complete game shutout against Baltimore on Sunday. The Twins 23-year-old only allowed three hits and one walk in a 7-0 win.

6 - Innings pitched in Shohei Ohtani’s first-ever MLB start. Ohtani posted a quality start after a rough first inning, in which he gave up three runs to Oakland. He settled in nicely after the first frame, tossing five scoreless innings on his way to his first MLB win.

Matchups to Watch

Tuesday, April 3

Clayton Kershaw (LAD) v. Zack Godley (ARI), 9:40 ET

Kershaw took the hard-luck loss on Opening Day. Unlikely Giants Opening Day starter Ty Blach went five scoreless, which the bullpen followed by four scoreless frames. Kershaw looked good, and gets his second start in the desert.

Wednesday, April 4

Corey Kluber (CLE) v. Tyler Skaggs (LAA), 4:07 ET

American League reigning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber takes on Mike Trout and the Angels in a Wednesday matinee. In his first start, Kluber went eight strong innings, allowing only two runs to the Mariners. Skaggs put up an impressive performance in his season debut as well, going 6 ⅓ scoreless innings against Oakland.

Thursday, April 5

Jacob deGrom (NYM) v. Stephen Strasburg (WAS), 1:05 ET

Two of the NL’s most dominant starters face-off in a divisional game in DC on Thursday afternoon. deGrom picked up the win against the Cardinals on Saturday, striking out seven and allowing only one earned run on four hits in 5 ⅔ innings. Meanwhile, Strasburg struck out seven across 6 ⅓ in his season debut against the Reds.

Blake Snell (TB) v. David Price (BOS), 2:05 ET

A pitching rematch of last week’s game in Tampa, David Price pitched beautifully against Tampa, going seven scoreless innings. Snell looked sharp as well going 5 ⅔ scoreless innings before being relieved in the sixth. The more momentum David Price can muster, the better Red Sox fans will feel about their chances as the year continues.

Friday, April 6

Bryan Mitchell (SD) v. Gerrit Cole (HOU), 7:10 ET

Gerrit Cole looked fantastic in his Astros debut, and he looks to do it again against one of the National League’s worst offensive lineups. A pre-season dark-horse pick for the AL Cy Young, it will be interesting to see how Cole follows up a sterling weekend performance on Saturday night. Pirates fans may want to skip this one.

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Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano