The Latest: Matt Davidson homers 3 times vs Royals

March 29, 2018 GMT
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Members of the grounds crew prepare the infield at Marlins Park before the opening day baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Miami Marlins, Thursday, March 29, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)
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Members of the grounds crew prepare the infield at Marlins Park before the opening day baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Miami Marlins, Thursday, March 29, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)

The Latest on baseball’s opening day (all times Eastern):

7:20 p.m.

Matt Davidson became the fourth player in major league history to homer three times on opening day, and the White Sox have homered six times total against the Kansas City Royals, as they spoil their AL Central rivals’ 50th anniversary celebration at Kauffman Stadium.

Tim Anderson also homered twice and Jose Abreu went deep for the White Sox, matching the big league record for opening-day homers set by the Mets in 1988.

Three of the four players to homer three times on opening day have done so against the Royals.



7:15 p.m.

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw gave up consecutive singles to open the first inning against the San Francisco Giants.

Austin Jackson singled to left center and Joe Panik followed with a single to right field. Kershaw then got Giants newcomer Andrew McCutchen to hit into a double play to shortstop before striking out clean-up hitter Buster Posey to end the inning.

Kershaw had a 0.00 ERA in six spring training starts.


7:10 p.m.

The Dodgers have turned the ceremonial first pitch into an elaborate affair.

George Lopez and Samuel L. Jackson narrated a video recounting Kirk Gibson’s historic pinch-hit, walk-off home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

Rob Lowe, Ashton Kutcher and wife Mila Kunis, Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Arsenio Hall and Oscar De La Hoya were shown mimicking Gibson’s double fist pump as he rounded the bases.

The video ended with retired Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully in his old booth welcoming Gibson back to Dodger Stadium.

Gibson walked through the dugout and on to the field holding the same bat he used back in ’88. He took a few swings in the on-deck circle before walking out to home plate, where he took the ball from Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda with Orel Hershiser looking on.

Hershiser urged the crowd to do a double fist pump on the count of three.

Gibson, who has Parkinson’s disease, tossed a strike to Hershiser and then did a double pump.


7 p.m.

Felix Hernandez will join select company when he makes his 10th straight opening day start for the Seattle Mariners.

Hernandez will become just the seventh pitcher to make at least 10 straight opening day starts, joining Steve Carlton, Roy Halladay, Walter Johnson, Robin Roberts, Tom Seaver and Jack Morris. Carlton, Johnson and Halladay started 10 straight; Roberts and Seaver started 12 straight; and Morris started 14 straight opening days from 1980 to 1993.

Hernandez has started 11 season openers overall in his career beginning in 2007. The one gap came in 2008 when Erik Bedard started the opener for Seattle.



5:50 p.m.

Justin Verlander has finished his first opening day start for the Houston Astros with six scoreless innings.

Verlander struck out five, walked two and hit a batter while throwing 90 pitches for the World Series champions in their season opener at the Texas Rangers. The big right-hander, who had started nine of the previous 10 openers for Detroit, allowed four singles.

Verlander has a 0.90 ERA in his six regular-season starts since getting traded from the Tigers to the Astros last Aug. 31. He was 5-0 last September, then won four more postseason games, and was the AL Championship Series MVP.

Houston led 3-0 when Chris Devenski took over for Verlander at the start of the seventh inning.


5:45 p.m.

Some of the biggest names in Dodgers history are gathering for opening day against the rival Giants as the franchise marks its 60th anniversary in Los Angeles.

Sandy Koufax and Fernando Valenzuela chatted each other up on the field under sunshine and blue skies. Steve Garvey and Ron Cey caught up near the dugout.

Kirk Gibson is on hand to toss out the first pitch as the franchise marks the 30th anniversary of its 1988 World Series championship team.

Singer Brad Paisley is set to perform the national anthem.

There’s no evidence of the sewage spill that affected the field and Dodgers dugout on Tuesday night. Manager Dave Roberts says the clubhouse was unscathed, but his office and the coaches’ room had damage that has been repaired.


5:22 p.m.

Zach Duke performed a baseball rarity at Camden Yards, striking out four in an inning.

Unfortunately for the Twins reliever, he yielded two runs in the process.

Duke entered in the seventh inning of a scoreless game and promptly struck out Trey Mancini, who reached when the third strike got past catcher Jason Castro.

Duke also struck out Tim Beckham, Craig Gentry and Chris Davis. Between those Ks, however, Caleb Joseph hit a two-run triple.

The last Twins pitcher to strike out four in an inning was Tyler Duffy in May 2016.


4:50 p.m.

Braves catcher Tyler Flowers has left the game after injuring his left oblique while batting in Atlanta.

In his first at-bat of the season, Flowers fouled off a pitch and a winced in pain before heading straight to the clubhouse.

He was replaced by Kurt Suzuki.

Flowers had surgery on both his left wrist and forearm after the 2017 season, the result of being hit by 20 pitches over the course of the season. But the Braves announced that he left the game with “left oblique discomfort.”

The 32-year-old Flowers is coming off one of his best years, hitting a career-high .281 with 12 homers and 49 RBIs. He combined with Suzuki to give the Braves one of baseball’s most productive catching duos.


4:40 p.m.

Just like that, Shohei Ohtani has his first major league hit.

Ohtani lined a first-pitch single down the right-field line against Oakland’s Kendall Graveman with two outs in the second inning and the Angels ahead 1-0.

The two-way Japanese star is set to pitch for the first time starting Sunday’s series finale against the Athletics.


4:20 p.m.

Giancarlo Stanton quickly got into the swing with his new team.

Stanton has hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat with the New York Yankees. He connected in the first inning against Toronto lefty J.A. Happ at Rogers Centre.

Stanton led the majors with 59 homers last year and was the NL MVP. Traded to the Yankees in the winter, he batted third in his Yankees debut and was the designated hitter.

After taking a called strike on the first pitch, Stanton lined an opposite-field shot estimated at 426 feet over the wall in right.

Teammate Aaron Judge, who topped the AL with 52 homers, raised his arm in the dugout and broke into a smile. In 2016, Judge homered in his big league debut with the Yankees.


4:17 p.m.

The Royals have marked the start of their 50th season with a lengthy celebration that included such franchise luminaries as Bo Jackson and Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett.

The club honored players from every era, highlighting its world championship teams from 1985 and 2015 and paid tribute to the Royals players who passed away last year.

They also honored outfielder Alex Gordon with his latest gold glove.

The only damper on the festivities was the weather. It was 45 degrees at first pitch with winds gusting from the north, and the result was plenty of empty seats at Kauffman Stadium.


4:15 p.m.

The Braves have brought out some of their biggest names for opening day.

Eighty-four-year-old Hank Aaron and his wife were driven around the edge of the field during the pregame ceremony at SunTrust Park.

Chipper Jones then stepped out of the Atlanta dugout to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. During this past offseason, the longtime Braves star was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Finally, the Braves called in another sport from the bullpen to proclaim “Play Ball!”

Georgia running back Nick Chubb got the honor after starring on the Bulldogs team that reached this year’s national football championship game. His appearance along the third-base line brought out the familiar “woof! woof! woof!” chant from Georgia fans.


3:42 p.m.

George Springer has led off the season for the World Series champion Houston Astros with his 100th career homer.

Springer, the World Series MVP, hit a 2-0 pitch from Texas Rangers starter Cole Hamels into the right-field seats in Arlington, Texas.

It is the second year in a row that Springer has hit a leadoff homer in the season opener.


3:30 p.m.

The first home run of the season at Camden Yards was turned into an out by Orioles right fielder Craig Gentry.

Minnesota’s Eddie Rosario lifted a drive that was headed over the 7-foot wall before Gentry leaped, stuck up his glove and snagged the baseball before it disappeared.

Orioles starter Dylan Bundy remains perfect through two innings, thanks to Gentry’s sensational grab.


2:45 p.m.

Atlanta and Philadelphia set their 25-man rosters ahead of opening day at SunTrust Park.

The Braves got down to the limit by placing four players on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to March 26. They include third basemam Johan Camargo (right oblique muscle strain), left-handed pitcher Luiz Gohara (left ankle sprain) and right-hander Chase Whitley (right heel infection).

Left-hander Jacob Lindgren, who is recovering from elbow surgery, also went on the DL.

The Braves are carrying 12 pitchers and 13 position players until they need a fifth starter, which is not expected until April 17 because of three off days early in the season. Anibal Sanchez is expected to fill the role until Gohara is ready.

The Phillies placed three players on the 10-day disabled list: right-handers Jerad Eickhoff (right lat strain), Tommy Hunter (right hamstring strain) and Mark Leiter Jr. (right forearm strain), all retroactive to March 26.

Jake Arrieta was also optioned to Class-A Clearwater while he gets into shape for his scheduled Phillies debut on April 8. He is behind the other pitchers after signing with Philadelphia on March 12.


2:20 p.m.

The Houston Astros won 101 regular-season games last year, and then went on to win their first World Series title.

Before the Astros opened the new season at the instate and AL West rival Texas Rangers, manager A.J. Hinch was asked if he had a win total in mind for this season.

“One. Today,” he said.


1:40 p.m.

Two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani is set to make his major league debut for the Los Angeles Angels at Oakland.

Manager Mike Scioscia hadn’t said when Ohtani would first play as designated hitter.

He is set to pitch for the first time starting Sunday’s series finale against the Athletics.

The A’s and Angels play seven times in their initial 10 games.

“I’m intrigued based on the fact that the athleticism is obvious. Looking at video from his time in Japan he is a true two-way guy,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Hopefully he gets off to a rough start and we see what he’s all about later on when he leaves us.”


1:30 p.m.

Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo made his emotional homecoming for this week’s season-opening series at Miami even more memorable by hitting a homer into the upper deck in the second inning.

During the series the Cubs and Marlins are honoring victims of last month’s mass shooting at Rizzo’s former high school in Parkland, Florida.

Both teams are wearing patches with the initials “MSD” and 17 stars to honor the number of lives lost in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Rizzo homered in the second inning off Jose Urena to put the Cubs ahead 4-1.


1:20 p.m.

The Marlins watched Jose Urena give up a homer on the first pitch of the season, allow a walk and hit two batters in the first inning before making the first mound visit under MLB’s new rules.

Urena trailed the Cubs 1-0, loaded the bases and fell behind Jason Heyward before Miami pitching coach Juan Nieves went to the mound. The scoreboard registered the trip and showed the Marlins had five visits left.

Major League Baseball is imposing stricter limits on mound visits this year in an effort to speed up games. The general limit is six visits per nine-inning game without a pitching change, whether by a manager, coach or player.

Ian Happ homered leading off to start Urena’s troubles.


1:15 p.m.

Royals general manager Dayton Moore spent part of opening day cutting the ribbon for the $20 million Urban Youth Academy in downtown Kansas City, not far from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

The pet project of Moore has been two years in the making. It includes a spacious indoor facility with batting cages and a field, and four outdoor fields.

The idea is to expose inner-city children to baseball and softball, particularly those children who come from less affluent backgrounds.

The Royals will provide much of the equipment.


12:45 p.m.

One pitch, one home run.

Chicago Cubs’ Ian Happ drove Miami right-hander Jose Urena’s pitch, the first offering of the 2018 major league season, into the right field seats at 12:43 p.m.

New Miami owner Derek Jeter watched his Marlins fall instantly behind from his seat two rows back of the Marlins dugout.

Dwight Evans of the Boston Red Sox homered on the first pitch of the 1986 season, connecting off new Hall of Famer Jack Morris at Tiger Stadium.


12:40 p.m.

After having the dozen or so media in his office share their memorable opening days, Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister shared some of his own before the home opener against the World Series champion Houston Astros.

On the top of Banister’s list was the 2015 opener, his first as a major league manager. That game was at Oakland, four days before his first home game with the Rangers.

There was also a bittersweet memory when he was the major league field coordinator for Pittsburgh in 2001, and the home opener when the Pirates played their first game at PNC Park. Willie Stargell, the MVP of the Pirates 1979 World Series championship team, died earlier that same day.

“We had just gotten news that Willie has passed away,” Banister said. “Willie was expected to be there, help open the ballpark. ... You wake up and go to the ballpark and get the news that he had passed away was pretty sobering.”


12:00 p.m.

A small grease fire in the upper deck of Tropicana Field caused a smoky haze to fall over the playing field at the dome stadium five hours before the first pitch of the regular season opener between host Tampa Bay and Boston.

The smoke came out of a vent located below the second deck.

The Rays in a statement said the sprinklers were activated and the fire was extinguished, and the incident is not expected to impact game-day operations.

The St. Petersburg Fire Department responded to the fire, which did not stop the ground crew from preparing the field for pregame workouts.

Within an hour, much of the smoke had been cleared from the ballpark and several Rays’ players were playing catch in the outfield.


11:40 a.m.

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo says the opening series of the season at Miami will be emotional for him as both teams honor victims of last month’s mass shooting at his former high school in Parkland, Florida.

The Cubs and Marlins are wearing patches with the initials “MSD” and 17 stars to honor the number of lives lost in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. A large replica of the patch will be on the outfield wall at Marlins Park all season. Rizzo plans to host four families of victims of the shooting at Friday’s game.

Speaking before the opener, Rizzo praised as “amazing” the activism by students at the school in the wake of the tragedy. He says the students are holding politicians accountable, and the entire nation is rallying behind them. When asked about accusations the students are actually actors, Rizzo said those making such allegations are “losers.”

Rizzo says he attended a Stoneman Douglas baseball game Tuesday night and was motivated by their 15-0 victory.


11:30 a.m.

Rain was the early winner on opening day, with games at Comerica Park and Great American Ball Park postponed and gloomy skies threatening another at Citi Field.

All 30 teams in the majors had been scheduled to play Thursday. Jose Urena was set to throw the first pitch of the season, when Miami hosted the Chicago Cubs.

The Pittsburgh-Detroit game was washed out, as was the Washington-Cincinnati opener.

No weather worries in Toronto, where New York newcomer Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and the power-packed Yankees were facing the Blue Jays. J.D. Martinez was ready to make his debut when the Boston Red Sox took on Tampa Bay.

Justin Verlander and the World Series champion Houston Astros were at Texas, and lefty ace Clayton Kershaw led Los Angeles against San Francisco — provided the sewage problems that seeped into Dodger Stadium this week stayed away.

It was a somber setting in New York as the Mets prepared to host St. Louis on a rainy day. Hours earlier, the team announced that popular Mets star Rusty Staub had died at 73.