Back-to-back home runs by Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez in the top of the first inning were only the start of the action at the Great American Ball Park on Opening Day. Even after Weeks and Gomez made the Milwaukee Brewers the first team to start a season with consecutive home runs since the 1969 Cincinnati Reds, there was still plenty of history to be made Thursday.
Trailing 6-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, Ramon Hernandez’s third career walk-off home run capped the Reds four-run rally and gave Cincinnati its third straight win over the Brewers. The Elias Sports Bureau says Hernandez is the first catcher with a walk-off homer in his team’s first game of the season since Gary Carter’s solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning gave the New York Mets a 6-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on April 9, 1985.
Late rallies are nothing new to the Reds, who finished third in the majors with 45 come-from-behind wins in 2010. But even the biggest Reds fan couldn’t have been confident entering the bottom of the ninth facing a three-run deficit. Historical data shows that teams trailing by three runs entering the bottom of the ninth inning win only 5.4% of the time. Don’t tell that to the Reds, who are now 1-0 for the first time since 2007.
Elsewhere in the majors Thursday:
Albert Pujols on Opening Day
• Albert Pujols’ 2011 season got off to the worst start possible as he went 0-5 and grounded into a career-high three double plays against the San Diego Padres. Pujols is the first player in MLB history to ground into three double plays on Opening Day, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He’s also the first player to go 0-5 with three or more GIDP in any game since Miguel Tejada on September 10, 2009.
• The New York Yankees won their 11th straight Opening Day game when playing at home, a streak that dates back to 1986. That ties an MLB record also held by the New York Mets, who won 11 straight Opening Day games at home from 1971-89.
• Jason Heyward became the second player ever to homer on Opening Day in each of his first two seasons as the Atlanta Braves blanked the Washington Nationals 2-0. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us Heyward joined Kaz Matsui, who did it in 2004 and 2005.