The 2018 MLB season began yesterday. On the first pitch of the first at-bat of the first game of the campaign, Chicago Cubs utility man and former Cincinnati Bearcat Ian Happ did this.
— Cincinnati Baseball (@GoBearcatsBASE) March 29, 2018
“What a start for the @cubs & @ihapp_1!”#Bearcats | #EverybodyIn pic.twitter.com/QYKwsaELL9
As Twitter exploded with jokes about Happ being on pace for a billion home runs and the Marlins already being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, this little nugget came across my timeline.
Ian Happ just duplicated Dwight Evans’ feat of hitting first pitch of season for HR. Evans took Jack Morris deep on first pitch of ‘86 season— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) March 29, 2018
Here’s video of that dinger.
Evans, also know as Dewey, is an under-appreciated Red Sox. He slashed .272/.370/.480 for his career with an OPS+ of 127. He is sixth in bWAR in franchise history (66.5). He won eight Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers and was named an All-Star three times. In that 1986 season which he began with a first pitch home run, Evans slashed .259/.376/.476 with an OPS+ of 131, 26 home runs and 33 doubles. If Happ is able to replicate any more parts of Evans’ career, he’ll have himself a great one.
Later yesterday afternoon, the Red Sox opened their season against the Tampa Bay Rays. While Mookie Betts did not send the first pitch of the game into the seats at Tropicana Field, there was a significant home run via Eduardo Nunez.
First homer of 2018, just the way you drew it up. pic.twitter.com/8QawD06uwe— Red Sox (@RedSox) March 29, 2018
Which led me to this little bit of trivia.
Eduardo Nunez is the first Red Sox player to hit an inside-the-park HR on Opening Day since Carl Yastrzemski on April 10, 1968 at Detroit.— Red Sox Notes (@SoxNotes) March 29, 2018
Being mentioned in the same sentence as Yaz, a Hall of Famer, MVP and 18-time All-Star, is something to cherish no matter how coincidental it may be. By the way, the 1968 season was the year after Yaz won the Triple Crown and won his MVP award. Is Nunez about to shock the world?
Now to the links from a busy Opening Day.
A bullpen implosion ruined the first game for Alex Cora as manager of the Red Sox. (Scott Lauber; ESPN)
Nunez inside-the-park home run aside, the Red Sox also hurt themselves with some base running blunders. (Jason Mastrodonato; Boston Herald)
In case you wanted more, here are some additional takeaways from the opener. (Alex Speier; Boston Globe)
But remember that this is just one game. (Christopher Smith; MassLive)
A wonderful thing about baseball is there isn’t a long wait between games, meaning redemption can come quickly. David Price is ready to lead the way tonight. (Peter Abraham; Boston Globe)