Unlikely players gave New York Mets fans hope at chilly Citi
Field before the Washington Nationals rescued a 9-7 win in 10
innings with the help of a career-high four runs batted in by number
eight hitter Anthony Rendon, including a three-run blast in the
The Detroit Tigers sent their fans home happy with a 4-3 win after a
ninth-inning, walk-off RBI single by 37-year-old Alex Gonzalez,
acquired last week following an injury to shortstop Jose Iglesias,
off Kansas City Royals closer Greg Holland.
Those were two early contests among 13 Opening Day games across the
MLB landscape that signaled a belated end to a long, cold winter for
many fans following the Los Angeles Dodgers' two-game sweep of the
Arizona Diamondbacks to start the season 10 days ago in Sydney,
Opening Day is celebrated as something of a holiday for fans, with
inaugural contests of each team marked by ceremonies, player
introductions and packed stadiums that include children whose
parents allowed them to skip school.
The chilly 44 Fahrenheit (7 Celsius) New York conditions gave way to
warm cheers as the Mets at first seized the upper hand in a game
that featured five home runs.
New York's power came from unexpected sources.
Juggling their lineup after allowing second baseman Daniel Murphy to
rush home to Florida on Monday when his wife went into labor, the
Mets received a three-run home run by back-up outfielder Andrew
Brown in the first inning and a later home run by light-hitting Juan
But the Nationals, tipped as favorites to win the National League
East, battled back each time.
Adam LaRoche bombed a two-run homer over the corner of the upper
deck in right in the second inning, and two runs in the seventh
allowed them to tie the game, keyed by an RBI double by Rendon and a
spate of wildness by Mets' relievers.
After New York reclaimed the lead on Legares's home run in the Mets'
half of the seventh, closer Bobby Parnell failed to shut the door in
Needing one more out in the ninth with a man on first, Parnell gave
up a walk and then a run-scoring double by Denard Span to send the
game to extra innings.
A sacrifice fly by Ian Desmond snapped the tie in the 10th before
23-year-old Rendon's three-run blast.
Mets captain David Wright made it interesting with a two-run homer
in the bottom of the 10th, but the comeback fell short.
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New York manager Terry Phillips tried to be philosophical.
"It's only Day One of 162," he said about a grueling 162-game
regular season that goes on until late September. "We'll get
Matt Williams was elated after winning his first game as Nationals
manager. "We're feeling pretty good. Our guys played a great game
The high-scoring contest obscured two strong performances by the
Washington's Steven Strasburg struck out 10 in six innings while
giving up five hits. New York's Dillon Gee was cruising along,
having retired 15 consecutive batters before Washington rallied to
tie it in the seventh.
The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs, also in 10 innings,
but in contrasting fashion to the Mets-Nats slugfest.
After nine scoreless innings, Neil Walker belted a walk-off homer
off Carlos Villanueva to lead off the bottom half of the 10th,
igniting a homefield celebration for the Pirates.
A two-run double by Aramis Ramirez in the fourth inning accounted
for all the runs in the Milwaukee Brewers' 2-0 win against the
visiting Atlanta Braves.
In a scoreline that looked more like an NFL result, the Philadelphia
Phillies, who hit three home runs including a grand slam by Jimmy
Rollins, ruined the home opener for the Texas Rangers with a 14-10
(Reporting by Larry Fine; editing by Frank Pingue)
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