Opening Day walk offs

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Chris Owings hits a walk off against the Giants.

Ben Clanin, Co Sports Editor

Opening Day for the Major League Baseball season was on Sunday, April 2nd when six teams took to the field for the first time in 2017. Opening Day magic was in the air that day as in two of those three games there were come-from behind victories and walk off wins.  The first game of the day was between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Francisco Giants.

     Early on in the game the Giants were in charge, tacking on five runs and only allowing three.  The headline of the game appeared to be the dominant starting pitcher for San Fran, Madison Bumgarner. Mad Bum, as he is lovingly known by Giants fans, had seven strikeouts through five and a third innings pitched, and only allowing three runs and retiring the first 16 batters he faced.  But more impressively Bumgarner also hit two towering home runs against the D-Backs to help his own cause, becoming the first starting pitcher to ever do so in an opening day game. But the game began to go downhill for the Giants when their ace left the game.  Last season the Giants bullpen had a major league worst 32 blown saves last year, and they continued to show signs of weakness in their first save opportunity.  Even though San Fran went out in the off season and looked to improve their bullpen with the addition of Mark Melancon, they were still unable to hold onto their two run lead in the ninth inning. Melancon retired the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth with no issues, but after that he allowed a double by Jeff Mathis, followed by three singles, one by AJ Pollock which scored the tying run, and one by Chris Owings, which ended the first game of the major league season.

     The next game that aired on Sunday was the Tampa Bay Rays versus the New York Yankees. That game was the one game that did not end in a walk off that day.  In that game the Rays defeated the Yankees with ease, behind a line drive home run by All Star third baseman Evan Longoria and pitching star Chris Archer, who dominated the Bronx Bombers.  The final of that game ended up 7-3 in favor of the home town Rays.

     The most anticipated game of opening day was at 7:30, which was a rubber match between the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs and their biggest rival, the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis. The pitching matchup looked to be a good one between veteran left hander Jon Lester for the Cubs and up-and-coming star Carlos Martinez for the Redbirds. Scoring in that game was few and far between, while the Cubs only allowed three runs three runs in the first nine innings and the explosive offense of the Cubs was held at bay by Martinez, who went seven and one third innings, only allowing six hits, and striking out ten while not scoring a run until the ninth inning.  The score was 3-0 heading into the top of the ninth inning with the Cardinals needing only three more outs to close the game, they brought in one of the top closers in the league Seung Hwan Oh.  Oh allowed the first two runners on base after a hit batter, and an error by first baseman Matt Carpenter.  With two on and no out that brought Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras to the plate, and he promptly planted the next pitch from Oh into the left field seats, tying the game in the top of the ninth inning.  The Cards escaped the top of the ninth without any more damage done and that brought up Matt Carpenter who flew out to left field. Next up was career minor leaguer Jose Martinez. Martinez had an impressive Spring Training which earned him a spot on the Opening Day roster with the major league club, and he started the offense with a leadoff double off the top of the wall in center field. Following him was the catcher, Yadier Molina, who was awarded the first no-pitch intentional walk in Major League history.  After Yadi was Stephen Piscotty who flew out to center field for the second out of the inning.  Kolten Wong was next up, who has struggled at the plate late in Spring Training.  He was walked after a long at bat.  That brought up Randal Grichuk who had already hit a two run home run earlier in the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth.  Grichuk took a Mike Montgomery fastball and hit it off the wall in left field to end the game, with the Cards winning by a score of 4-3.

     Opening Day for major league baseball is exciting regardless of how the games play out, but 2017 got off to an incredibly exciting start.