Clayton Kershaw and Bryce Harper showed why the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals entered the Major League Baseball season as two of the leading favorites to win the World Series.
Kershaw pitched the Dodgers to a 4-0 win against the defending World Series-champion San Francisco Giants while becoming the first player to throw a shutout and hit a home run on opening day since Hall of Famer Bob Lemon in 1953.
Harper became the youngest major leaguer to hit two home runs in his team’s first game of the season, leading the Nationals to a 2-0 win against the Miami Marlins yesterday.
The wins by the Dodgers and Nationals were among four shutouts in 12 games on baseball’s first full day of play, when ace pitchers such as Washington’s Stephen Strasburg, Detroit’s Justin Verlander and Seattle’s Felix Hernandez joined Kershaw in getting opening day wins.
The New York Mets, who scored the sixth-fewest runs in the majors last season, were the only team to score more than 10 runs in a 11-2 victory against the San Diego Padres.
The New York Yankees were beaten by the Boston Red Sox 8-2, ending a record-tying run of 11 straight wins in home season openers that dated back to 1982. Both New York teams started their season at home yesterday for the first time.
The Los Angeles Angels won yesterday’s longest game, pulling out a 3-1 victory against the Cincinnati Reds on a two- run single by Chris Ianetta in the 13th inning. Milwaukee and Colorado also went to extra innings, with the Brewers winning 5-4 on Jonathan Lucroy’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th.
The Atlanta Braves hit three home runs off Cole Hamels in a 7-5 home win against the Philadelphia Phillies, while Verlander tossed five shutout innings in the Detroit Tigers’ 4-2 victory at the Minnesota Twins.
In yesterday’s other season openers, the Chicago Cubs topped the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1, Chris Sale pitched the Chicago White Sox to a 1-0 win against the Kansas City Royals, the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 6-2, and the Mariners blanked the Oakland Athletics 2-0 as Hernandez pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings.
Kershaw had the most dominating pitching performance of the day, limiting the Giants to four hits over nine innings for the first shutout in a Dodgers home opener since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981. Kershaw also hit a solo homer in the eighth inning to snap a scoreless tie, the first by a pitcher on opening day since Joe Magrane in 1988.
“We had opportunities but didn’t get him run support, so he did it himself,” Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. “To me, he’s probably the best pitcher in baseball.”
Harper, 20, hit solo home runs off Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco in the first and fourth innings yesterday at Nationals Park in Washington. Harper’s two home runs accounted for Washington’s only scoring as Strasburg, another No. 1 draft pick, allowed three hits in seven innings.
The Nationals entered this season with 7-1 odds of winning the World Series, tied with the Angels for second best behind the Tigers. The Dodgers are fourth with 8-1 odds.
The Mets, tied for 28th out of 30 teams with 100-1 odds of winning the World Series, started their season by scoring multiple runs in the second, third and fourth innings at Citi Field in Flushing, Queens. Nine of the team’s 11 runs came with two outs. Collin Cowgill hit a seventh-inning grand slam in his Mets debut, while captain David Wright was 2-for-5 with a run batted in and two stolen bases.
At Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, the Red Sox opened the scoring with a four-run second inning and never trailed. Jacoby Ellsbury was 3-for-6 with two RBIs and a run scored as the Red Sox snapped a five-game losing skid against the Yankees.
New York catcher Francisco Cervelli drove in both runs for a Yankees roster thinned by injuries to Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. New York starter CC Sabathia allowed eight hits and four runs in five innings as the Yankees lost their season-opening game for the fourth time in the past five years.
With Granderson, Teixeira, Jeter and Rodriguez injured, and Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez, Nick Swisher, Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones having left in the offseason, the Yankees entered this campaign without players who combined for 206 homers last year. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the missing home runs would not affect the team’s ability to rally late in games.
“I’m sure I’m going to be asked that question a lot without some of the firepower that we’ve had in the past,” Girardi told reporters. “But I feel these guys are more than capable of coming back.”
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