Baseball is back, and FOXSports.com has Opening Weekend covered. Keep it right here all weekend long as we take you inside the sights and sounds of MLB’s return with our live blog from every series and join the conversation below. And check out the scoreboard to see how your team is doing. All times Eastern.
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11:00 p.m. — Dodgers hold on to edge champion Giants
Dodger closer Jonathan Broxton, a two-time All-Star who struggled mightily in the second half of 2010, loses the shutout in the ninth by allowing Pat Burrell’s solo homer, but preserves the 2-1 win over the World Series champion Giants. Don Mattingly got his first win as a big-league manager.
Clayton Kershaw threw seven scoreless innings, and the Dodgers added their much-needed insurance run in the bottom of the eighth as Santiago Casilla replaced Tim Lincecum and immediately walked Matt Kemp. It was Kemp’s third walk, a career high. He stole second and scored when James Loney roped a double into right.
Kemp, caught 15 times in 34 steal attempts last year, is one of the players being tutored on the bases and in the outfield by new coach Davey Lopes, and if one game means anything, Lopes is a good teacher. Click here for more on the Lopes-Kemp relationship.
Kershaw was briliant, allowing just four hits while striking out nine. He was replaced by Hong-Chih Kuo, who struck out Freddie Sanchez and retired the side in order.
10:05 p.m. — Dodgers strike first in sixth … without a hit
The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead over the Giants in the bottom of the sixth as LA scored without the benefit of a base hit. With one out, Matt Kemp walked, Juan Uribe was hit by a Tim Lincecum pitch, James Loney reached on an error by shortstop Miguel Tejada, and Kemp came home on an errant pickoff throw by catcher Buster Posey. Clayton Kershaw has nine Ks through 6-2/3 innings. Lincecum has five….
Dodgers and Giants scoreless in the third. Left-hander Clayton Kershaw has been dominant, striking out six of the first 11 Giants, including Andres Torres twice swinging. Tim Lincecum also has a pair of Ks but has given up five hits, including a second-inning single to former World Series-winning teammate Juan Uribe. Uribe was then thrown out at second trying to stretch it into an extra-base hit. Giants rookie Brandon Belt got his first hit in his first major-league at-bat, an infield single in the second.
8 p.m. — Champion Giants open against hated Dodgers
The World Series champion Giants open defense of their title in Dodger Stadium, the home of their hated rivals. Two-time Cy Young Award-winner Tim Lincecum — booed lustily during introductions — starts for the Giants, while lefty Clayton Kershaw opens for the Dodgers. The Giants’ outstanding closer, Brian Wilson, starts the season on the DL, while rookie Brandon Belt starts at first base. Belt will try to follow the path of teammate Buster Posey, who won the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year award.
Former Dodgers captain Davey Lopes returns to the team as first base coach, the first time he’s worked for the club since he was traded to Oakland following the Dodgers’ World Series win in 1981. Opening Day also marks the 30-year anniversary of Fernandomania. Rookie left-hander Fernando Valenzuela replaced an injured Jerry Reuss as the Dodgers’ Opening Day starter and pitched a 2-0 shutout over the Houston Astros. Valenzuela won his first eight decisions, the Cy Young and NL Rookie of the Year awards that season.
Don Mattingly makes his debut as Dodgers manager, taking over for the retired Joe Torre….
Two runs in the top of the 11th inning gave the Padres a 5-3, come-from-behind win over the Cardinals Thursday at Busch Stadium. The Padres took a 4-3 lead when a lazy throw by Jon Jay in right led to a booted ball and throw home from Ryan Theriot. A single followed to make it 5-3.
Padres closer Heath Bell earned the save. The teams will be off Friday but resume their three-game series on Saturday afternoon.
7:38 p.m. — B-day boy Mathis homers to help Angels win
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim opened the season with a 4-2 win over the Royals in Kansas City.
The Angels bullpen was shaky, giving up two runs, four hits and three walks in 1-2/3 innings in relief of Jered Weaver. Fernando Rodney came in for the bottom of the ninth and walked the first hitter he faced, Matt Treanor. He retired the next two, but Melky Cabrera singled before Rodney struck out Alex Gordon to end the game and save the win for Weaver.
Torii Hunter and Jeff Mathis homered for the Angels. Mathis’ home run came on his 28th birthday, joining a very select group to celebrate their birthday with an Opening Day homer: Scott Rolen did it for Philly in 2000 at Arizona for his 25th birthday, and Ian Stewart did it for Colorado last year at Milwaukee for his 25th birthday.
7:02 p.m. — Cardinals blow lead with two outs in ninth
The Cardinals were one out away from victory Thursday before the Padres’ Cameron Maybin tied the game at 3 with a two-out solo home run in the ninth inning. The Cardinals had just taken a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning on a solo home run by Matt Holliday.
Closer Ryan Franklin got the first two outs in the ninth, a lineout to third baseman David Freese and a flyout to left, before Maybin swung at a first-pitch curveball and put it into the grass beyond the center field fence.
The Cardinals have had a runner on base in each of the first six innings, the first two batters on base in three innings and have nine hits … but have scored just two runs. The offense has hit into three double plays and saw Matt Holliday just get picked off second base as the Cardinals and Padres are tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Chris Carpenter has been strong, allowing just two hits in seven innings of work. But Skip Schumaker dropped what would have been an easy tag for a caught stealing on Ryan Ludwick to end the fifth inning and Chase Hundley followed with a two-out double to tie the game at two.
Brewers reliever John Axford gave the Reds the chance they needed at a 9th-inning comeback and they took advantage.
Axford surrendered a long single to Brandon Phillips before pitching around Joey Votto to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Scott Rolen followed with a slow grounder to third base, where a missed tag and a late throw loaded the bases for Jay Bruce.
Bruce, who had a penchant for late game heroics in 2010, struck out in a seven-pitch at-bat for the first out of the inning. Jonny Gomes laced the next pitch into deep center field, but Carlos Gomez made a leaping grab to record the out as Phillips trotted home on a sacrifice fly.
With two outs, Ramon Hernandez sent the game-winning home run over the right-field wall, sending an eruption of fireworks and cheers throughout Great American Ball Park, as he was mobbed at home plate. Hernandez finished the day 4-for-5, but no hit was bigger than the 3-run blast he launched to give Cincinnati a shocking 7-6 victory.
The game began as cold as the weather for the Angels. They loaded the bases in the top of the first against Luke Hochevar, but Erick Aybar grounded out weakly to second, looking uncomfortably like a replay of Aybar’s 2010 season.
In the fourth inning, however, it was Torii Hunter blasting a 447-foot home run to put the Angels up 1-0, his third career Opening Day home run. Then Aybar atoned for his first at-bat, following new Angel Vernon Wells’ double with a two-bagger of his own. Angels 2-0.
It’s a cold, somewhat windy day at Kaufman Stadium, affecting Hochevar whose given up three doubles in four innings. Weaver, last year’s major league strikeout champ with 233, began the game with a K of Mike Aviles and has two so far.
A Yadier Molina single has give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead here in St. Louis as the Cardinals take the field for the fifth inning.
Chris Carpenter took a no-hitter into the fourth before a leadoff double by Will Venable, a groundout and a sacrifice fly by new-Padres infielder Orlando Hudson briefly tied the game at 1. Carpenter has looked sharp, allowing just one hit and a hit-by-pitch to former Cardinal Ryan Ludwick in four innings.
The Cardinals took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out single by Matt Holliday, which scored Colby Rasmus from third after his triple to the gap in right center.
Albert Pujols is 0-for-2 and grounded into a double play in the third.
The Royals’ Luke Hochevar and the Angels’ Jered Weaver have both been solid in the early going of their game. Weaver hasn’t allowed a hit and Hochevar has coughed up just one through three innings in the scoreless game.
— Zack Pierce, FOXSports.com editor
4:37 p.m. — Brewers keep adding runs vs. Reds
The Reds bullpen hasn’t provided any relief for the fans. Jordan Smith struck out the first two batters he faced, but four straight batters then reached base, stretching the score to 6-2.
What once was a loud stadium had grown cold and quiet until Joey Votto hit a solo shot into the right field seats. He now has 1 HR and 2 RBIs for the day, but the Reds still trail 6-3 heading into the eighth inning.
The fans have slowly began their exit, but the diehards are fighting through the temperatures, which are holding steady in the low-40s.
The festivities have concluded and the game has begun here in St. Louis after the sold out crowd at Busch Stadium was treated to another Opening Day celebration like none other in baseball. An appearance by the Budweiser Clydesdales opened up the afternoon as six living Cardinals Hall of Famers, including 90-year-old Stan Musial, greeted the current team as they arrived at home plate in the back of Ford pickup trucks. Recently retired Jim Edmonds threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Fredi Gonzalez couldn’t have written a better script for his first game as Braves manager, as Atlanta got great starting pitching, a lights-out bullpen, solid defense and just enough offense to get the job done in their 2-0 victory.
Derek Lowe, picked up where he left off, last September, when he won National League’s Pitcher of the Month, throwing 5 2/3 shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out six. He threw 105 pitches, 59 for strikes and allowed only two walks after allowing an infield single to Danny Espinosa with one out in the second inning.
The bullpen also was outstanding, as Eric O’Flaherty, Peter Moylan, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel allowed only two hits, both by Eric O’Flaherty, in 3 2/3 innings. Moylan was impressive is striking out Laynce Nix and Venters and Kimbrel each had easy 1-2-3 innings.
— Jonathan Cooper, FOX Sports South
Throughout spring training there was a recurring theme from both the players and manager Fredi Gonzalez. When asked what needs to happen for the Braves to make the playoffs again, the answers were all the same: stay healthy. All the pieces are there for this team to make a run at the playoffs, and with Chipper Jones, Martin Prado, Jair Jurrjens, Jason Heyward, and Nate McLouth all healthy and ready to go, the sky’s the limit for the 2011 Braves.
Yes, it is just the first game of the season, but it’s easy to get excited after a game that saw a Chipper Jones comeback, another opening day homer for Jason Heyward, and a stellar pitching performance from Derek Lowe. And isn’t that what Opening Day is all about? Everyone is optimistic about the future and what could be for their team this season.
4:05 p.m. — Yankees score late to take down Tigers
Oh, Curtis, part II! Granderson greeted Phil Coke with a solo home run leading off the seventh inning. That’s the third straight season Granderson has homered on Opening Day. That gives the Yankees a 4-3 edge. The Tigers then compound the problem when Russell Martin reaches first on Brandon Inge’s throwing error, a bouncer that Miguel Cabrera can’t scoop up. Ryan Perry replaced Coke but allowed Derek Jeter’s sacrifice fly, so the Yankees lead 5-3.
Nick Swisher makes it 6-3 in the bottom of the eighth when he singles off Daniel Schlereth to score Alex Rodriguez. And I think we all know what happens when you give Mariano Rivera a three-run lead in the ninth inning. The Yankees closer seals the deal with a 1-2-3 ninth.
In Cincinnati, Pete Rose is seated eight rows behind home plate, thumbing through the 2011 Cincinnati Reds Media Guide. The section he was spending time on was the team records section.
Through five innings, the Brewers have played the long ball to stay ahead. three solo shots have given them a 5-2 lead over the Reds. Joey Votto has hit the ball solid today, but is still hitless with one RBI.
Five pitchers combined to shut out the Nationals as Atlanta picked up the first win of the MLB season with a 2-0 victory. Those two early runs held up the whole way. Derek Lowe gets the win and Livan Hernandez the tough loss.
— Zack Pierce, FOXSports.com editor
3:30 p.m. — Verlander, Sabathia finish their days
An emphatic fist pump from Justin Verlander, who finally got Jorge Posada to strike out to end the sixth inning. As FOX Sports Detroit analyst Rod Allen pointed out, that was going to be Verlander’s last batter, regardless. Verlander’s line through six innings: 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 8 K. Verlander threw 114 pitches (far too many for six innings for him) with 65 strikes. How fun, former Yankee Phil Coke, now a starter but in the bullpen this weird first week, replaces Verlander.
Joba Chamberlain replaced CC Sabathia, who allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits while walking two and striking out seven. His pitch count was not as high — 106 pitches, 70 strikes. Nice of Chamberlain to pick up where Sabathia left off, with a strikeout, Austin Jackson’s third of the day. Still an area that Jackson needs to work on.
In Cincinnati, the season’s first controversial call has been registered.
With a man on first and two outs in the third inning, Jay Bruce sent a looping fly ball down the right field line. RF Mark Kotsay slid under the ball, and replays show that he made a clean catch. That’s not what the umpiring crew saw, and it kept the inning alive. The Reds loaded the bases, but couldn’t take advantage of the situation, and still trailed 4-1 at the end of the third inning.
FOX Sports Detroit’s Mario Impemba says, "First RBI of the season for Cabrera." Won’t be the last for Miggy, of course. The fifth-inning sacrifice fly drove in Austin Jackson, Jackson’s first run scored of the season, which tied the game at 3. Jackson didn’t have a great hitting spring, batting only .209, and everyone outside of manager Jim Leyland is going to expect a drop-off in his sophomore season.
Jackson doesn’t give much thought to the dreaded "sophomore slump."
"I really didn’t even know too much about it until this offseason when I got asked the question," Jackson said during spring training. "I don’t really think about it. I think that you really can’t control having a great season or a bad season. You always go out there with the intentions of doing good but it doesn’t always work out that way. It’s a tough game."
Ryan Raburn, not exactly known for his glove, called off Jackson to make a nice diving play on Russell Martin leading off the bottom of the fifth. And Justin Verlander is grateful.
2:28 p.m. — Brewers silence crowd in Cincinnati with HRs
In Cincinnati, starter Edinson Volquez got off to a horrible start, silencing the sold-out crowd.
Rickie Weeks led off the season with a blast over the left-center field wall, a 386-foot home run. Carlos Gomez followed it up with an upper-decker home run on the very next pitch for a 429-footer. A walk and a single into the right-center field gap brought out the frustrations of the fans, who let out a Bronx cheer when an out was finally recorded on a sacrifice fly. No further damage is done, unless you count confidence. Brewers lead 3-0 as the Reds come to bat for the first time.
Russell Martin led off the bottom of the third with the Yankees’ first hit of the game. The speedy Brett Gardner moved Martin to second on a sacrifice. Justin Verlander issued another walk, this one to Yankees captain Derek Jeter. Martin stole third? Really?
Well, he didn’t need to. Mark Teixeira came into the game with a lifetime .059 batting average (1-for-17) against Verlander but made his second career hit against him count. He puts the Yankees up 3-1 with a three-run homer that just stayed fair. The Yankees’ plate discipline ends up hurting Verlander again — 66 pitches in three innings is not what he was looking for.
Can he make a comeback? That was the big question throughout the offseason and spring training about Chipper Jones. He vowed to start opening day. And on Thursday afternoon in Washington, Jones let his bat answer the questions surrounding his injury.
After a phenomenal spring in which he batted .387 and led the team with 15 RBI’s, there was never any doubt for Jones or first year Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez that he would start Opening Day. Back in February, Gonzalez told us he had not made out an Opening Day starting lineup that did not include Chipper Jones. There may have been other question marks out there, but for Gonzalez, Jones was not one of them. Throughout the spring, each day was a battle for the 38-year-old. And each battle brought him closer to his goal, a goal that he accomplished with one swing of the bat.
Just like Opening Day last season, as Jason Heyward thrilled fans around the south with his dramatic entrance, Jones’ comeback promises this season will be another special one in Braves Country. And a slightly older crowd, one who has watched Jones from the beginning and barely remembers a Braves team that did not include Chipper, breathes a sigh of relief as their hometown hero makes yet another opening day start.
2:00 p.m. — Reds, Brewers ready to kick off their season
Opening Day festivities are winding down in Cincinnati as game time approaches. The sold-out crowd at Great American Ballpark is filtering in, and were just treated to a memorial video honoring Sparky Anderson. The Reds have unveiled a banner in left-center field, commemorating their former manager. Player introductions are complete, and the largest cheer of the day did not go to 2010 MVP Joey Votto, but instead went to Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce. A military flyover just completed, and we are ready for baseball.
1:55 p.m. — Cabrera, Peralta get Tigers going early
Oh, Curtis! Former Tiger Curtis Granderson was a question mark for Opening Day because of a strained oblique muscle, but he was able to start. Then of course he has to thwart his former team with a diving grab of Will Rhymes’ tailing hit attempt. Mark Teixeira spoiled Verlander’s first inning with a walk. Then Alex Rodriguez worked a walk. Verlander finally got Robinson Cano to strike out but not before the Yankees had made him work. Verlander threw 31 pitches in the first, more than twice as many as CC Sabathia, who threw 14 in his perfect first.
It’s pretty amazing that Miguel Cabrera, who got the Tigers’ first hit leading off the second, is now 8-for-14 lifetime against Sabathia. Victor Martinez reached on a single that went off Derek Jeter’s glove. New dad Ryan Raburn walked and then Jhonny Peralta’s sacrifice fly drove in Cabrera, giving the Tigers their first run of the season and first run of the game.
1:47 p.m. — Heyward homers in first at-bat … again
Jason Heyward appears to be showing greater patience at the plate, as his homer this year came on the fourth pitch he saw, a 2-1 pitch from Livan Hernandez. Last year’s first at-bat blast came on a 2-0 count off Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano.
Heyward’s homer on Opening Day for the second consecutive year moves him into a tie for third place on the all-time Atlanta list for Opening Day homers. He joins Joe Torre, David Justice, Ryan Klesko, Edgar Renteria and Chipper Jones.
Next on the list are Dale Murphy and Brian McCann, who have three Opening Day dingers. The Atlanta record for Opening Day homers is four, held by Andruw Jones.
Brian McCann singled home Chipper Jones in the top of the first inning of the Braves’ tilt against the Nationals to score the first run of the MLB season. Currently 2-0 Braves in the second inning in Washington. Sabathia and Verlander struggling early in New York, with the Tigers taking an early lead.
— Zack Pierce, FOXSports.com editor
12:49 p.m. — Braves prepare for life after Bobby Cox
As the Atlanta Braves open the Fredi Gonzalez era they’re hoping that lightning can strike twice. (Not literally, of course, as it was drizzling during warm-ups in D.C. and is expected to rain throughout the day).
Gonzalez made his managerial debut for the Florida Marlins against the Washington Nationals on April 2, 2007. The Marlins won that game, which was played at RFK Stadium, 9-2. Dan Uggla also would like Opening Day history to repeat, as he homered in the seventh inning of that game. He went 1-for-4 on the day.
It’s Atlanta’s first season opener without Bobby Cox as manager since 1990 and the team has seven players playing in their first Major League Opening Day.
12:25 p.m. — Big-time pitching matchup today in the Bronx
It’s time. Time to see whether Justin Verlander can take that next step to being one of the top five pitchers in baseball. It’s hard to complain about someone who went 18-9 with a 3.37 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, but Verlander should be a perennial Cy Young candidate. To his credit, Verlander knows this. He knew his results in April are sub-par — 7-11 with a 5.02 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. So Verlander attacked spring training as he did a mid-season start against a division rival, with purpose and focus. As a result, Verlander arrived in New York having amassed a 3-0 record and 0.96 ERA this spring. Verlander has a worthy foe on the mound in CC Sabathia, now 25 pounds lighter, and in possession of two things Verlander covets — a World Series ring and a Cy Young Award (2007). It’s time.
More than four hours before first pitch here in St. Louis but the baseball-starved Cardinals fans are already pouring into the streets around the ballpark in anticipation of the regular-season opener. A sea of red can be seen throughout the city as a pep rally just began in a parking lot near the ballpark. Inside the ballpark, the grounds crew has cut a huge arch into the outfield grass as a symbol of the famed Gateway Arch which can be seen beyond the buildings in right-center field.
We’re inside of an hour until baseball returns, and you can feel the excitement here in the newsroom. Team pride on display everywhere. Just 12 teams in action today, with the Tigers facing the Yankees and the Nationals hosting the Braves in the first games of the season coming up just after 1 p.m.