The long wait is finally over. Baseball has returned to our lives, with Monday marking Opening Day for the 2015 season.

After spending months away from the diamond, fans stayed glued to every pitch and inning from Monday’s action. Everyone flocked to ballparks across the country to watch baseball on a gorgeous day. As one student proved, per’s Twitter account, baseball trumps education:

They were treated to some offensive outbursts, pitching gems and exciting plays. For those who missed the madness, here’s a rundown of Opening Day’s most memorable moments.


Alex Rodriguez Returns

Receiving a warm welcome after a season-long suspension, Alex Rodriguez reached base twice during his first game since September 2013. WFAN’s Sweeny Murti captured his pregame introduction:

The 39-year-old was even embraced in Yankee Stadium’s traditional roll call despite serving as the designated hitter. From the dugout railing, Rodriguez tipped his cap to the surprisingly forgiving Bleacher Creatures. 

“I do appreciate the reception,” Rodriguez said after the game, via Wallace Matthews of “I have to admit, it definitely felt good, that’s for sure. I’ve got a long history here. I think about 2009 and some of the things we accomplished together. I have a lot of love for the city of New York, especially our fans. But let’s make it clear: The fans don’t owe me anything.”

Once baseball’s brightest star before becoming a social pariah for his use of performance-enhancing drugs, Rodriguez was not given star treatment by manager Joe Girardi. ESPN Stats & Info put his lineup positioning into perspective:

Those cheers will only get louder if he performs this well. A-Rod drew a walk in his first plate appearance and sprayed a single into the outfield. In his third at-bat, he lined out to right field. Overall, Rodriguez and the Yankees should be thrilled by his productive return, even though Masahiro Tanaka and Co. didn’t enjoy as encouraging of a day during a 6-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.


David Price is Right

David Price opened the year in midseason form, hurling 8.2 shutout innings versus the Minnesota Twins. He allowed five hits—all singles—and tallied five strikeouts and zero walks through an economical 101 pitches. 

The Detroit Tigers southpaw received some help from new teammate Yoenis Cespedes, who robbed Kurt Suzuki during the third inning. Here’s a look at the outfield thievery, courtesy of the team’s Twitter page:

Last season, Price recovered from a rough patch to finish with a 3.26 ERA and career-high 271 strikeouts. His 2.78 fielder independent pitching represented the best clip of his successful career, according to FanGraphs. ESPN’s Tristan H. Cockcroft chronicled Price’s unheralded dominance:

With some better fortune, Price will challenge the American League’s ilk of aces for Cy Young billing.


Rockies Ravage Brewers

No Coors Field, no problem. Without their precious home-field offensive advantage, the Colorado Rockies steamrolled Kyle Lohse for eight runs during a 10-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Colorado compiled all 10 runs through the first four innings, knocking Lohse out after 3.1 frames. Troy Tulowitzki, a top National League MVP candidate before undergoing season-ending hip surgery last year, collected three hits in his first three at-bats.

The day’s big winner, however, was Nolan Arenado. The young third baseman went 3-for-4 with four RBI, including a two-run homer off of Lohse. Colorado’s Twitter page provided footage of the blast:

An .896 OPS after last season’s All-Star break already generated ample buzz for Arenado entering 2015. Now, the 23-year-old has fans and fantasy owners salivating in hopes of his monster Monday foreshadowing a breakout season.

Speaking of fantasy gamers, everyone expecting a big game from the Brewers’ bats instead watched unlikely Opening Day starter Kyle Kendrick stymie them through seven scoreless innings. Courtesy of WFAN’s Joe Giglio, the veteran made a fool out of Carlos Gomez:

In case anyone had forgotten, baseball is weird sometimes.  


Red Sox Hit Five Homers

Since the Boston Red Sox couldn’t orchestrate an offseason trade for Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels, they simply beat him instead. They earned an 8-0 victory on the strength of five homers.

Dustin Pedroia, who hit seven deep flies last season with a career-low .376 slugging percentage, sent two solo shots over Citizen Bank Park’s shallow fence. Boston’s Twitter feed gives a look at his vintage hearty hack:

Along with Pedroia’s two dingers, free-agent signee Hanley Ramirez hit another pair, including a ninth-inning grand slam off of Jake Diekman. So far, so good for Boston’s new left fielder:

Breakout candidate Mookie Betts also delivered a solo blast. Grantland’s Bill Simmons is hopeful this Mookie won’t cause the Boston faithful more heartbreak:

The lineup spawned grand expectations during the preseason, but Boston’s rotation was met with skepticism. Clay Buchholz, however, recorded nine strikeouts during seven scoreless innings. If he reverts to the useful starter of old, the Red Sox are on the path to another last-to-first jump in the American League East.


Dodgers Fend off Padres

The new-look San Diego Padres fell short of making a major statement against the Los Angeles Dodgers. After scoring three runs off of Clayton Kershaw, their bullpen coughed up four runs to suffer a 6-3 loss.

Facing the team that sent him San Diego’s way, Matt Kemp drove in all three runs. As Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller observed, the Dodger Stadium crowd eventually came around to cheer his first at-bat after some reluctance:

In his first plate appearance for the Padres, Kemp brought home fellow newcomer Wil Myers. San Diego’s Twitter account showcased the promising start:

James Shields introduced himself by surrendering two runs through six innings with eight strikeouts. Nick Vincent, however, squandered his potential victory during the seventh, sending the game into a 3-3 stalemate. Then Jimmy Rollins, playing the first game of his career in a non-Phillies uniform, went yard off Shawn Kelley with a go-ahead three-run bomb.

Both the Dodgers and Padres retooled, but the reigning NL West champions still wield a more complete club.


Mike Trout, Bryce Harper Shine

Yep, didn’t take long for Mike Trout to begin his AL MVP defense. The Los Angeles Angels superstar began 2015 the exact way he kicked off 2014, taking Felix Hernandez deep during his first at-bat. Per MLB:

He later decided only he can hit home runs, reaching over the wall to rob Logan Morrison. Justin Russo of Clips Nation offered a glimpse of Trout’s first 2015 Web Gem:

The Angels, however, suffered a 4-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners. After the Trout homer, Hernandez yielded just one other hit through seven stellar frames. Two of baseball’s elite teams will provide a thrilling AL West race that could quickly evolve into baseball’s best new rivalry.

Once upon a time, Trout vs. Bryce Harper was a popular discussion among MLB fans hungry to create a Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird-type feud. Only 22 with a career .816 OPS entering Opening Day, it’s still not far-fetched for Harper to supplement Trout as the National League’s MVP.

He also opened the season strong, hitting a solo blast off the New York Mets’ Bartolo Colon. Harper celebrated by flipping his luscious locks, courtesy of MLB GIFs:

Harper’s Washington Nationals were also on the wrong end of the box score, falling 3-1. Six strong innings from Colon and two Ian Desmond errors spoiled Max Scherzer’s team debut.

One of these years, the most hyped hitting prospect in quite some time is going to go bonkers. His walk-up music, as The Washington Post‘s James Wagner pointed out, says it all:

Trout and Harper went tit for tat in their season openers. Both young stars will grace us with their auras for several more Opening Days to come.

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