by Ryan Jones
Though the 162-game regular season is a long one that the everyday fan might not pay much attention to throughout, Opening Day and the first week of the season is an exciting one for all Major League Baseball fans.
Seeing players on new teams, new managers learning the ropes, key players or veterans return to the field make the introduction to the long season a very exciting one.
Fans often overemphasize the importance of these first few games, but that does not mean that there can’t be some actually exciting parts of the opening week. Here is a look at the plays and players that started off the 2018 season with a bang.
Virtually every team in the league was clamoring for a shot to land top prospect Shohei Ohtani, a pitcher who just so happens to crush home runs as well as he throws strikes, this offseason. After weeks of offers and rumors revolving around the stud pitcher, Ohtani ended up with the Los Angeles Angels, pairing up with former most valuable player Mike Trout.
So far, things have been going pretty well for the number one prospect. In his first appearance on the mound against the Athletics, Ohtani struck out six through six innings and picked up his first win.
What made Ohtani’s week truly amazing, however, was his performance off the mound. In his first appearance at home for the Angels, he hit a three-run homer that instantly electrified a home crowd that was dejected after getting shutout in their previous game. He would follow up this picture perfect start by raking in three home runs through his first four games.
As if Ohtani had not done enough, he would take the second start of his career against the athletics and pitch a miraculous game, retiring the first 19 batters he faced and striking out 12 through seven innings, an almost perfect game before a single was let through during the seventh. This monster start has been incredibly promising for one of the most interesting prospects to watch this season.
Stealing a base at the professional level is not an easy task. Stealing second, third, then home is, to put it lightly, nearly impossible. Since John McGraw first did it in 1899, it has only happened 51 times, but in the Blue Jays game against the Yankees on March 31, the impossible occurred. After stealing just 15 bases all of last season, Toronto’s outfielder Kevin Pillar got on first in the eighth inning with two outs and his team-leading 4-3. In the ensuing at-bats, Pillar would steal second and third against New York pitcher Devin Betances.
Pillar would then take a huge lead off of third base and score standing up after Betances threw the ball far above his catcher’s head, recording three steals in the inning and ensuring the Blue Jays’ first win of the season.
Over the next few months, more miraculous plays like Pillar’s will surely happen and more transcendental talent like Ohtani may come about. In the long season that is Major League Baseball, anything is possible; and this is only the beginning.