After 151 days of offseason rumors, trade speculation and roster reshuffling, Opening Day has returned in all of its glory and spectacle. The Yankees and Rays kicked off the first of three games scheduled for Sunday afternoon, pitting Masahiro Tanaka against Chris Archer in a battle of aces during the Rays’ home opener.
Tanaka, who looked unflappable with an 0.38 ERA in spring training, stumbled out of the gate. He allowed four hits and three runs in the first frame of the game and surrendered a two-run jack to Rays’ third baseman Evan Longoria in the second inning:
The Rays tacked on another two runs in the third, effectively forcing Tanaka out of the game after just 2 2/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Mel Stottlemyre was the club’s last Opening Day starter to allow 7+ runs in less than three innings, a feat he accomplished when he was tabbed for eight runs during the 1973 Yankees’ 15-5 beatdown by the Red Sox.
Tanaka wasn’t the only one to make history on Sunday, however:
There’s little that should be read into any one game in April, no matter how disastrous or successful. Still, it’s a reassuring start for the Rays as they come off of an injury-riddled 2016 campaign. The Yankees, meanwhile, will likely be grateful for an off day on Monday as CC Sabathia prepares to take the mound for Game 2 on Tuesday.
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets may move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base when he returns from the disabled list. Cabrera has been on the disabled list since June 13 with a sprained left thumb, but he’s expected to be activated on Friday.
Cabrera, 31, last played second base in 2014 with the Nationals. He has played shortstop exclusively as a Met the last two seasons. Jose Reyes would continue to play shortstop if the Mets were to go through with the position change. Cabrera would displace T.J. Rivera, who has been playing second base in place of the injured Neil Walker.
In 196 plate appearances this season, Cabrera is hitting .244/.321/.392 with six home runs and 20 RBI. He has made 11 defensive errors, which is tied for the third-most among shortstops behind Tim Anderson (16) and Dansby Swanson (12).
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.