After an almost four month delay, baseball is back. After the suspension of spring training in March because of the coronavirus, the boys of summer have made their return back to the field. Months of back and forth negotiations between players and owners and thousands of Covid-19 tests have finally brought us to the start of an unprecedented 60 game season with a 16 team playoff format.
Before the first pitch was even thrown, there were already some star-studded headlines. The defending champion Washington Nationals’ were going to start without their star fielder and young stud Juan Soto after it was revealed he tested positive for Covid-19. Soto took four immediate result coronavirus tests yesterday that came out negative. However, he can’t play again until he has two negative tests 24 hours apart and not show any fever-like symptoms for a 72 hour period. Also, Dodgers’ star pitcher Clayton Kershaw was a late scratch for yesterday’s game because of back tightness.
Lastly, the MLB and the MLBPA agreed to an expanded playoff format for the 2020 season. This expands the seeding format from 10 teams to 16 teams.
Prior to the national anthem, player from both the Yankees and the Nationals took a knee on the field and held a long piece of black fabric while Morgan Freeman gave a speech about social injustice.
The Yankees bats got off to a hot start after Giancarlo Stanton sent Max Scherzer’s pitch 459 feet, bringing in Aaron Judge and giving New York an early 2-0 lead. Washington would get one of these runs back in their half of the inning after Adam Eaton hit a 406 foot home run. This would end up being the Nationals lone run of the night. An RBI double by Judge in the third inning and an RBI single by Stanton in the fifth inning would extend the Yankees lead to 4-1. A heavy thunderstorm would put the game in a rain delay in the top of the sixth inning. The rain would continue to fall with no signs of stopping soon, so the game was called. Gerrit Cole gets the win in his first start as a Yankee, while Scherzer takes the loss despite having 11 punchouts.
The Dodgers and Giants also showed their unity and solidarity by kneeling before the anthem, with some players and coaches remaining kneeled during the anthem.
With Kershaw scratched, Dustin May would get the start for LA. The Giants lone run of the evening would come from a sac fly by Sandoval that brought in Heineman. An RBI single by Kike Hernández in the bottom of the fourth would knot the game up at 1-1. The Dodgers did most of their damage in the seventh inning, scoring five runs to extend their lead to 6-1. Hernández would cap off the night with a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to make their lead 8-1. Kike was the star of the show last night, going 4-5 with 5 RBIs.
The other 28 teams across the league open their seasons tonight, with the Braves-Mets, Brewers-Cubs, and Angels-Athletics getting the primetime slates.