Harper homers twice for Nats
WASHINGTON — For Bryce Harper, two homers in his first two at-bats, and even some "M-V-P!" chants. For Stephen Strasburg, 19 consecutive outs during one stretch of seven scoreless innings.
And for the defending NL East champion Washington Nationals, a 2-0 victory over the Miami Marlins on Monday in Game 1 of a season lame-duck manager Davey Johnson declared months ago should be defined as "World Series or bust."
Harper, the 20-year-old left fielder coming off NL Rookie of the Year honors, hit solo shots over the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center field off Ricky Nolasco in the first and fourth innings. He sprinted around the bases both times, and after his second trip, he climbed back out of the dugout for a curtain call, pumping his right fist.
It was Harper's first taste of opening day; he began last year in the minors before getting called up.
For Strasburg (1-0), this marked the start of what should be his first full season in the majors, with zero pitch or inning limits. The All-Star ace, shut down before the stretch run in September and division series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012, was dominant against a trade-depleted Marlins lineup that features Giancarlo Stanton and little else.
The right-hander went seven innings, matching his career high, and allowed three hits. Pitching to contact more than in the past, Strasburg used his electric, high-90s mph stuff for three strikeouts and did not walk a batter.
Harper and Strasburg are only the second pair of No. 1 overall picks in baseball's June amateur draft to start an opening-day game for the team that chose them, and the 100-loss seasons in 2008 and 2009 that gave Washington the right to those selections seem quite distant nowadays.
Mets 11, Padres 2
At New York, Jonathon Niese stepped nicely into his new role as No. 1 starter for the Mets, and Collin Cowgill capped a successful New York debut with a grand slam in a rout of the San Diego Padres.
Handed the opening day assignment in place of injured Johan Santana, Niese enjoyed a big afternoon with both his arm and bat. He breezed into the seventh inning against a Padres lineup missing slugger Chase Headley (broken thumb) and catcher Yasmani Grandal, suspended for the first 50 games after testing positive for testosterone.
Cubs 3, Pirates 1
At Pittsburgh, Jeff Samardzija struck out nine in eight nearly flawless innings and the Chicago Cubs held on for a victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The right-hander allowed just two hits and walked one as the Chicago won on opening day for the first time since 2009. Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run homer and Wellington Castillo added an RBI double for the Cubs.
Kyuji Fujikawa got a save in his major league debut after closer Carlos Marmol struggled.
Brewers 5, Rockies 4, 10 inn.
At Milwaukee, Jonathan Lucroy hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning to give the Milwaukee Brewers a victory over Colorado, ruining the first game for new Rockies manager Walt Weiss.
Rickie Weeks sparked the winning rally when he stole second after he was hit by a pitch with one out. Adam Ottavino then issued an intentional walk to Ryan Braun and lost Aramis Ramirez to another walk before Lucroy ended the game with a fly ball to center field.
Braves 7, Phillies 5
At Atlanta, Freddie Freeman drove in three runs with three hits, including the first of three Atlanta home runs, and the Braves beat Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies.
Dan Uggla and Justin Upton, making his Braves debut, also homered for Atlanta, which led National League teams with 49 in spring training.
Hamels (0-1) struggled in his first opening day start. He gave up five runs on seven hits, including the three homers, with five strikeouts and one walk in five innings. The three homers allowed matched his high from last season.
Diamondbacks 6, Cardinals 2
At Phoenix, Ian Kennedy struck out eight in seven strong innings and the Arizona Diamondbacks used 15 hits to beat the St. Louis Cardinals.
Kennedy (1-0) allowed two runs on five hits with one walk. St. Louis' Adam Wainwright (0-1) went six innings, giving up four runs, three earned, on 11 hits. He struck out six with no walks.
Tigers 4, Twins 2
At Minneapolis, Justin Verlander won on opening day for the first time in six tries, pitching five shutout innings at frosty Target Field and sending defending American League champion Detroit past Minnesota.
With the gametime temperature at 35 degrees and the wind blowing at 17 mph, fans had to bundle up. But opening day is always a draw, as evidenced by the announced sellout crowd of 38,282.
Verlander (1-0) had been 0-1 in his previous five openers. Phil Coke got the last two outs for the first save by the Tigers' closer committee.
Red Sox 8, Yankees 2
At New York, Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox got off to a quick start after a dreadful 2012 season, giving new manager John Farrell an opening day win over the depleted New York Yankees.
Newcomer Shane Victorino led a revamped Red Sox lineup with three RBIs and rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. walked three times and scored twice in his big league debut. Boston's big day against CC Sabathia (0-1) came a year after it lost its first three games under Bobby Valentine and went on to a 69-93 finish.
White Sox 1, Royals 0
At Chicago, Chris Sale outpitched James Shields, Tyler Flowers homered and the Chicago White Sox beat Kansas City in their season opener.
Sale (1-0) showed the form that made him a 17-game winner and an All-Star in his first season as a starter. On a chilly day when the gametime temperature was 44, he allowed seven hits and struck out seven in 72/3 innings. Addison Reed worked the ninth for the save.
Shields (0-1) was a tough-luck loser in his first start since the Royals acquired him from Tampa Bay in the offseason. Flowers homered leading off the fifth.
Mariners 2, Athletics 0
At Oakland, Calif., Felix Hernandez struck out eight on opening day in his first start since signing a $175 million, seven-year contract in February, and the Mariners beat the reigning AL West champion Oakland Athletics.
King Felix surrendered one walk while pitching 72/3 scoreless innings. He didn't allow a hit until John Jaso doubled to left-center with one out in the fourth, only a couple of hours after the pitcher gifted his former backstop with a Rolex watch for catching his perfect game in August against the Rays.
Hernandez (1-0) outdueled Brett Anderson while making his sixth career opening day start and fifth in a row, retiring the first 10 batters of the game in order. Franklin Gutierrez hit a two-run single in the fifth to break a scoreless tie, and it held up for Hernandez.
Angels 3, Reds 1, 13 innings
At Cincinnati, Chris Iannetta hit a solo homer early in the game and a bases-loaded single in the 13th inning, powering the Los Angeles Angels past the Cincinnati Reds in the majors' first interleague season opener.
The Angels loaded the bases with two outs in the 13th off J.J. Hoover, who walked two and hit Hank Conger, the Angels' final position player. Iannetta worked the count full, fouled off a pair of pitches, then singled to left.
Ernesto Frieri, the Angels' seventh pitcher, finished off the Reds' longest opening game since 1975, when they beat the Dodgers 2-1 in 14 innings.