Dave Roberts refused to blame either Cody Bellinger or Justin Turner for the bizarre mix-up that cost the Los Angeles Dodgers in their Opening Day defeat to the Colorado Rockies.

World Series champions the Dodgers outhit the Rockies 15-11, had eight runners on base via walk and 20 total bases, but they scored only five runs.

While an 8-5 defeat ultimately was not decided by one play, the first run of the game summed up a day on which manager Roberts said "all the way around, we didn't play well".

Bellinger hit a home run at the top of the third, with Turner already at first base.

But rather than a two-run homer, Bellinger ended up being given out and had to settle for a one-run RBI.

His hit slipped through the glove of left fielder Raimel Tapia before clearing the park and Turner thought the ball had been caught, meaning he hared back to first and passed the advancing Bellinger in the process.

"I don't think there's blame to be placed," Roberts said.

"I think Cody was coming out of the box hard, which he should have, and he's looking at where the ball was at, going hard.

"Justin was just past second base and when he saw the ball in Tapia's glove, he retreated and put his head down to try to get back to potentially be doubled up.

"And then at that point in time, they just kind of crossed between first and second."

The Dodgers finished with a 43-17 record last season and went 7-3 against the Rockies, with their results against the rest of the NL West a slightly more modest 20-10.

They will hope there are few further mishaps in 2021, although Roberts was also reluctant to criticise the umpire.

"From what I understand, he didn't give the out call, so he was just trying to see it," Roberts said. "And once he did see the ball go over, he gave the home run call.

"At that point in time, Justin had already retreated.

"It's just one of those funky plays that I don't think is going to happen again this year."

Three of first baseman Bellinger's 12 homers last season came against the Rockies and he will get the opportunity to atone for Thursday's error on Friday.

World Series champions Los Angeles Dodgers were humbled on the Opening Day of the new Major League Baseball season 8-5 by the Colorado Rockies on Thursday.

The Dodgers had 14 stranded runners throughout the game while Cody Bellinger hit a ball into the stands which did not count as a home run on a strange afternoon.

With crowds returning to MLB, the Dodgers were unable to get off to a flying start.

"Honestly, we just didn’t play a good baseball game," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "All the way around, we didn’t play well."

In the Houston Astros' first game back playing in front of crowds since their cheating scandal emerged they were jeered and boed in an 8-1 win on the road against the Oakland Athletics.

Back-to-back home runs from Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman in the eighth put the Astros out of sight and silenced the crowd.

 

Trout lifts Angels, Mariners mighty comeback

Mike Trout flexed his muscle as the Los Angeles Angels rallied to beat the Chicago White Sox 4-3. At the bottom of the eighth, a visibly pumped Trout's hit gave him an RBI and tied the game. Shohei Ohtani then got on the board after an error by second baseman Nick Madrigal.

The Seattle Mariners trailed 6-1 in the eighth inning against the San Francisco Giants before mounting a remarkable fightback and eventually prevail 8-7. The winning run came when Jake Fraley walked with the bases loaded.

The New York Yankees' bats let them down as they were beaten 3-2 by the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Tampa Day Rays shut out the Miami Marlins in a 1-0 win earned by Austin Meadows' solo home run in the ninth.

 

Bellinger denied by mix-up

Bellinger was denied his first homer of the new season in a moment of confusion, when team-mate Justin Turner, who was on first base, thought Bellinger had been caught in the outfield and ran back. Bellinger's hit was actually fumbled by Raimel Tapia over the fence so when Turner reversed and passed by the left-hander that made him out and resulted in only an RBI single.

 

First homer of season

Detroit Tigers hitter Miguel Cabrera claimed the maiden homer of the new season in driving snow, which left him confused, sliding into base just in case it had not cleared the fence.

 

Thursday's results

Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 New York Yankees
Detroit Tigers 3-2 Cleveland Indians
Milwaukee Brewers 6-5 Minnesota Twins
Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Chicago Cubs
Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 Atlanta Braves
Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 Miami Marlins
St Louis Cardinals 11-6 Cincinnati Reds
Colorado Rockies 8-5 Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres 8-7 Arizona Diamondbacks
Kansas City Royals 14-10 Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels 4-3 Chicago White Sox
Houston Astros 8-1 Oakland Athletics 
Seattle Mariners 8-7 San Fransisco Giants 

 

Dodgers to bounce back

The Dodgers will look to bounce back from their opening day loss on Friday on the road again versus the Colorado Rockies.

Opening Day.

A term synonymous with baseball across the United States and the globe. For fans, it is nothing short of a national holiday.

The highly anticipated start to the season on April 1 is an occasion steeped in history, with tradition front and centre.

This year's Opening Day means more than most. It is the latest signal of American life and sport returning to normal amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The coronavirus pandemic led to an enforced break and a reduced 60-game regular season schedule behind closed doors, with a limited number of fans allowed to attend the playoffs as the Los Angeles Dodgers went on to end their 32-year World Series drought.

But 2021 will see the return of the usual 162-game calendar and more importantly, spectators in the stands. All but one of the 30 teams will start at reduced capacity – the Texas Rangers hosting a full house for their home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.

As America's pastime begins anew, we preview the upcoming season, in which the Dodgers look to defend their World Series crown, using Stats Perform data.
 

Kershaw gears up for a franchise-record start

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw – entering the final season of his three-year, $93million deal – will be on the mound when the Dodgers open their title defence against the Colorado Rockies.

It will be Kershaw's ninth Opening Day start – the most in franchise history – after injuries prevented him from beginning the 2019 and 2020 campaigns, the eight-time All-Star getting the nod ahead of Walker Buehler and high-profile recruit Trevor Bauer, the reigning National League (NL) Cy Young winner.

Future Hall of Famer Kershaw boasts a 5-1 record on Opening Day, with a 1.05 ERA (6/51.2), 59 strikeouts and eight walks. The 2014 NL MVP's only loss came in his previous start in 2018 as he allowed eight hits and one earned run, while tallying seven strikeouts in six innings against the San Francisco Giants.

Since 1913, when ERA became an official stat, Kershaw has managed the lowest Opening Day figure among pitchers with six starts – 1.05. The 32-year-old's ERA is ahead of Bob Feller (1.21), Jim Palmer (1.40), Hal Newhouser (1.41) and Walter Johnson (1.51).

As for the star-studded Dodgers, they are 74-62 (.544) all-time on Opening Day, winning nine of their 10 season openers since 2011, losing only in 2018.

Their 9-1 (.900) Opening Day record over this stretch is the best in the league, ahead of the Houston Astros (8-2), Baltimore Orioles (8-2), Seattle Mariners (7-3), Detroit Tigers (7-3) and New York Mets (7-3).
 

All eyes on Tatis and Padres

Fernando Tatis Jr. heads into the 2021 season fresh off signing his eye-popping 14-year, $340m contract with the San Diego Padres.

The Padres – winners of two NL pennants – are pinning their hopes on MLB's new poster boy delivering a first World Series to San Diego.

Tatis won a Silver Slugger award last year, having hit .277 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season.

The powerful 22-year-old is the first player in MLB history to have at least 35 home runs and 25 stolen bases within the first 150 games of his career.

Tatis – the youngest Padres player to debut on Opening Day (20 years and 85 days) in 2019 – became the fastest player in franchise history (24 team games) to reach the double-digit home run mark in a season in 2020 after hitting his 10th and 11th homers in August.

In the postseason, Tatis homered twice against the St Louis Cardinals in October, becoming the youngest Padre to ever homer in a playoff game (21 years and 273 days) and the third-youngest player in MLB history to homer twice in a postseason match, behind Carlos Correa (21 and 20 days old) and Andruw Jones (19 years, 180 days old).

When it comes to on-base plus slugging, Tatis stacks up well. Since 1920, Tatis (150.8) is only behind Juan Soto (153.9 – 2018-20), Albert Pujols (159.3 – 2001), Jimmie Foxx (160.0 – 1925-29), Ted Williams (161.5 – 1939-40) and Trout (165.0 – 2011-13) for highest OPS-plus up until the age of 21.

Across his two Opening Day appearances, Tatis has three hits in seven at-bats and two runs while slugging at .571. The Padres will be hoping he can improve on that when they host face the Arizona Diamondbacks.

By comparison, Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper and New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton love Opening Day.

Harper – the 2015 NL MVP and six-time All-Star – has nine hits, five homers and six runs in eight appearances, while 2017 NL MVP Stanton has 13 hits, four homers, 10 runs and 12 RBIs through 10 games.

Blue Jays recruit George Springer, a World Series winner with the Astros, has also impressed on Opening Day following five hits, three homers and six RBIs in six games.
 

Can Abreu and Freeman go back-to-back?

Chicago White Sox star Jose Abreu was crowned the American League's best in 2020.

Becoming the 28th player to win both the MVP and Rookie of the Year in his career, Abreu beat Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians and Yankees star DJ LeMahieu.

Abreu – the fourth White Sox player to win the award – was second in MLB with 19 home runs and fourth in the AL with a .317 batting average.

Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves trumped Dodgers star Mookie Betts and Padres sensation Manny Machado to the NL honour.

Freeman's 1.102 OPS was the second highest in MLB, trailing only Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, while he led the majors with 51 runs scored and was second in the NL in batting average (.341), on-base percentage (.462) and slugging percentage (.640).

Does it bode well for the pair in 2020?

In a season after winning the MVP award, a player averages 135.9 hits, 21.5 homers, 80.5 runs and 79.5 RBIs with a slugging percentage of .516.

There have been 13 players to win back-to-back MVPs; 11-time All-Star Miguel Cabrera (AL) was the last to do so in 2012 and 2013. The most recent player in the NL was Albert Pujols (2008-09).
 

The end of Cleveland as we know them

After 106 years, this will be the last season the franchise will be known as the Indians, following the example of the NFL's Washington Football Team, who dropped their Redskins nickname in 2020 amid a long-time controversy.

Since 1915, Cleveland have won two World Series – in 1920 and 1948 – with their current streak of 71 seasons without a World Series title the longest active run in the majors.

In 1954, Cleveland went 111-43 (.721) in the regular season, before being swept in the World Series by the Giants. It stands as the highest single-season win percentage in AL history, and the best by any MLB team in the past 100 years.

Cleveland have had a winning record in each of the past eight seasons (2013-20), making them one of four MLB teams with an active streak of eight-plus (also Yankees 28, Cardinals 13, Dodgers 10). It is tied for the second-longest streak of winning seasons in franchise history (10 straight 1947-56; eight in a row 1994-2001).

Three Cleveland players have won the AL MVP Award – George Burns (1926), Lou Boudreau (1948) and Al Rosen (1953) – while five have claimed the AL Cy Young Award: Gaylord Perry (1972), C.C. Sabathia (2007), Cliff Lee (2008), Corey Kluber (2014 and 2017) and Shane Bieber (2020).

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will start for the MLB World Series champions on Opening Day.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Sunday that Kershaw will be on the mound when the team open their 2021 season against the Colorado Rockies on April 1.

It will be Kershaw's ninth Opening Day start – the most in franchise history – after a back injury prevented him from beginning the 2020 campaign.

Kershaw got the nod in a star-studded bullpen, including Walker Buehler and high-profile recruit Trevor Bauer, who is the reigning National League (NL) Cy Young winner.

"There's really no wrong decision," Roberts said. "I just feel that he's earned it, he's the right guy for the spot for 2021 -- for every reason I just think it makes the most sense."

The 32-year-old Kershaw – entering the final season of his three-year, $93million deal – helped guide the Dodgers to their first World Series triumph since 1988 last season.

During the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign, eight-time All-Star and 2014 NL MVP Kershaw had a 2.16 ERA with 62 strikeouts and eight home runs allowed.

In the playoffs, Kershaw's ERA was 2.93 with 37 strikeouts and four wins in five appearances.

The Dodgers will open their title defence away to the Rockies at Coors Field.

Kershaw is 11-5 with a 4.44 ERA when pitching at Coors Field, while the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner owns a 24-8 career record against the Rockies, including a 3.22 ERA.

The St Louis Cardinals made a splash after acquiring Nolan Arenado on Monday.

It cost five players, but the Cardinals fleeced the Colorado Rockies to bring in a five-time All-Star via a blockbuster trade.

The Cardinals will reportedly receive $50million in cash considerations, new deferrals in Arenado's contract that has six years and $199m remaining, and the waiving of his no-trade clause.

Arenado only signed an eight-year, $260m contract with the Rockies prior to the 2019 MLB season but Colorado opted to make a deal with the Cardinals.

The 29-year-old's arrival is a significant addition and quickly establishes the Cardinals as the team to beat in the National League (NL) Central ahead of the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates.

St Louis – eyeing their first World Series championship since 2011 – now boast a formidable corner-infield combination in Arenado and six-time All-Star Paul Goldschmidt.

We take a look at the numbers behind Arenado using Stats Perform data as the World Series-chasing Cardinals eye success in 2021.

 

Arenado's a genuine star

The third baseman's record speaks for itself.

Eight Gold Gloves, four Silver Slugger awards and four Platinum Gloves, to go with three NL home run and NL RBI leader honours.

Arenado is one of two players in MLB history to win a Gold Glove in each of his first eight seasons in the majors, along with former Seattle Mariners favourite Ichiro Suzuki.

While he was hampered by a shoulder injury during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season – tallying 46 hits, 23 runs, eight homers and 26 RBIs in 182 at-bats for the Rockies, Arenado was coming off a career-best .315 with 41 home runs and 118 RBIs in 2019.

Arenado had five successive seasons with at least 35 home runs and 110 RBIs from 2015-19 (before the shortened 2020 season) – tied for the longest streak in NL history, alongside ex-Cubs star Sammy Sosa (1997-2001).

The Cardinals, on the other hand, have never had a third baseman hit 35-plus home runs in a season in their history.

St Louis are one of five current franchises that have never had a third baseman hit 35-plus homers in a season (34 in 1992 and 2004), and they are the oldest team (1882) in that group, ahead of the Boston Red Sox (1901), Washington Nationals (1969), Mariners (1977) and Miami Marlins (1993).

After making his debut with the Rockies in 2013, Arenado has amassed 1,206 hits, 649 runs, 235 homers and 760 RBIs at an average of .293 in his career.

Since his first MLB appearance almost eight years ago, only Nelson Cruz (287), Mike Trout (267) and Edwin Encarnacion (265) have hit more homers than Arenado.

Arenado, though, tops the list for most RBIs since 2013 – ahead of new team-mate Goldschmidt (720), who sits fourth.

In the postseason, Arenado has two runs, one homer and three RBIs while averaging .190 in 21 at-bats.

The Cardinals – beaten in the Wild Card Round last season – lost to the Nationals in the 2019 National League Championship Series (NLCS), while they went down to the Red Sox in the 2013 World Series.

The St Louis Cardinals have acquired five-time MLB All-Star Nolan Arenado in a blockbuster trade with the Colorado Rockies.

St Louis and Colorado announced the deal on Monday, with the Cardinals sending Austin Gomber, Elehuris Montero, Tony Locey, Mateo Gil and Jake Sommers to the Rockies in exchange for Arenado and cash considerations.

The Cardinals will reportedly receive $50million in cash, new deferrals in Arenado's contract that has six years and $199m remaining, and the waiving of his no-trade clause.

Arenado signed an eight-year, $260m contract with the Rockies prior to the 2019 season but Colorado opted to deal the eight-time Gold Glove Award winner.

The 29-year-old was hampered by soreness in the AC joint of his left shoulder during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, tallying 46 hits, 23 runs, eight homers and 26 RBIs in 182 at-bats for the Rockies – who missed the playoffs.

Arenado was coming off a career-best .315 with 41 home runs and 118 RBIs in 2019.

A Gold Glove winner in each of his eight seasons in Colorado, where he made his debut in 2013, Arenado has amassed 1,206 hits, 649 runs, 235 homers and 760 RBIs at an average of .293 in his career.

In the postseason, the four-time Silver Slugger and four-time Platinum Glove winner has two runs, one homer and three RBIs while averaging .190 in 21 at-bats.

The Cardinals, who lost in the Wild Card Round last season, quickly become favourites to win the National League (NL) Central, which consists of the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Not since 2011 have the Cardinals won the World Series.

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