The first six of the 2,430 scheduled MLB games this season will be played on Thursday. Here’s one thing you need to know about each:
The Yankees have won the last 10 times they have played an Opening Day game at home. Their last loss was in 1982 vs the Chicago White Sox, when Ron LeFlore’s single in the top of the 12th provided Chicago’s margin of victory. The only team in MLB history to have a longer win streak in Opening Day games played at home is the New York Mets 11-game streak from 1971-89.
Hopefully the Nationals pitching staff has an easier time with the Braves lineup than the Chicago Cubs did on Opening Day last season. Atlanta blasted the Cubs 16-5 on Opening Day last year behind five RBI from Yunel Escobar and four from Jason Heyward. The Braves 16 runs tied the most scored by a team on Opening Day over the last 30 seasons.
Which team will draw first blood in what could be the most competitive division in the majors in 2011? AccuScore ran 10,000 computer simulations of the 2011 season, with the Reds coming out on top of the NL Central 37.7% of the time. But Cincinnati just edged out the Cardinals (29.2%) and Brewers (26.1%) in the only division that had three different teams win the division in more than 25% of simulations.
The Royals will look to get 2011 started on the right foot against the Angels, but history is not on Kansas City’s side. Among current MLB franchises, the Royals have the worst winning percentage on Opening Day (35.7%) of any club. Kansas City is 15-27 all-time in its first game of the season.
Will Albert Pujols again own Opening Day? Last year against the Reds, Pujols homered twice, recorded four hits and scored four runs in the Cardinals 11-6 win on Opening Day. He became the third player in MLB history with two HR, four hits and four runs in a team’s opener, joining Dmitri Young (2005) and Xavier Nady (2008). Pujols is one of seven players in the live-ball era (since 1920) with two games with two home runs on Opening Day. The others are Adam Dunn, Juan Gonzalez, Eddie Mathews, Raul Mondesi, Xavier Nady and Joe Torre.
The Giants road to a repeat starts tonight in Los Angeles. The odds are against San Francisco. Only three NL teams have repeated as World Series champions, and just one in the last 85 years (1975-76 Reds). The Giants won the World Series in 7.6% of AccuScore’s simulations of the 2011 season, trailing only the Phillies (15.7%), Red Sox (10.7%) and Rangers (8.0).