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10 best Opening Day games in MLB history

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Every year, baseball fans always get excited about the best MLB opening day games. But while there’s nothing like the anticipation of opening day, there’s nothing wrong with looking back at the best opening day games in MLB history. These are the games that are usually memorable for reasons that go beyond opening day but are easier to remember because they happened on opening day.

Best MLB Opening Day Games

Some of the best opening day performances came from players you might expect, although a few came from more surprising names.

We also got thinking about the most entertaining opening day games that would have been enjoyable to watch any day of the year. With that, let’s take a look back at the 10 best opening day games in MLB history, even as we hope for more of the same in the years to come.

10. White Sox vs Mariners, 1996

This opening day game featured Randy Johnson at his best. He gave up two runs early but then settled down and struck out 14 batters over seven innings.

That gave the Mariners time to tie the game and force extra innings. The game eventually made it to the 12th inning when a young Alex Rodriguez drove in the game-winning run.


9. Mets vs Phillies, 1975

How could you go wrong with a pitcher’s duel between Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver on opening day? Seaver actually made 16 starts on opening day, and this one was surely the best, giving up one run over nine innings.

Meanwhile, Carlton gave up one run over eight innings before coming out for the bottom of the ninth. But he failed to record an out in the ninth, as Joe Torre drove in the game-winning run to give the Mets a 2-1 win.

8. Giants vs Dodgers, 2011

Surely, an opening day showdown between Tim Lincecum and Clayton Kershaw would be one of the most entertaining opening day games ever played, and this one lived up to the hype.

Lincecum allowed just one unearned run over seven innings, only for Kershaw to do him one better with seven shutout innings. That allowed the Dodgers to eke out a 2-1 win in a memorable opening day pitcher’s duel.

7. Mets vs Rockies, 1995

This was Colorado’s third opening day in franchise history and the official debut of Coors Field. Needless to say, plenty of runs were scored, although the game ended up going to extra innings.


The Mets would score in the top of the 14th to take a 9-8 lead. But the Rockies fought back in the bottom half of the inning. Ultimately, Dante Bichette won it with a two-run walk-off homer to give the Rox an 11-9 win.

6. Rays vs Yankees, 2012

This was not a good opening day for the Yankees, as it was one of the few times that Mariano Rivera blew a save. Of course, the Rays started the game with a Carlos Pena grand slam in the first inning. The Yankees would fight back and ultimately take a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the ninth.

An RBI triple from Ben Zobrist tied the game, and after the Yankees chose to intentionally walk the bases loaded, Pena came through again with a walk-off single.

5. Rockies vs Padres, 2005

As always, there was no shortage of offense at Coors Field, even on opening day. The Rockies looked good after taking a 7-3 lead. But no lead is safe in Denver, as the Padres put up five runs in the top of the sixth to take an 8-7 lead.

Colorado’s Todd Helton tied the game in the bottom of the inning, only for the Padres to retake the lead 10-8. San Diego looked good with Trevor Hoffman getting two quick outs in the bottom of the ninth. But the Rockies rallied and a Clint Barmes walk-off home run, the seventh home run of the game, gave Colorado a walk-off win.

4. Senators vs Athletics, 1919

All of the way back in 1919, Walter Johnson gave us one of the best opening day performances. Of course, this was just one of 14 opening day starts Johnson had in his career, so he was accustomed to the pressure.

But he went above and beyond on this day, pitching 13 scoreless innings for the Senators, allowing just 10 hits and striking out six. Eventually, Washington would score a run for him, giving the Senators a 1-0 win in 13 innings with Johnson going on to have a 1.49 ERA during the 1919 season.

3. Giants vs Diamondbacks, 2017

This game featured two of the best opening day performances by a pitcher we’ve ever seen in the same game.

San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner struck out 11 batters over seven innings while hitting two home runs. It looked like Bumgarner had done enough to lead the Giants to a win, but after he left the game, the Diamondbacks scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to win 6-5.

2. Reds vs Braves, 1974

For the entire offseason, Hank Aaron was one home run behind Babe Ruth for the all-time record. But Aaron homered in the first inning to tie the record, making it one of the best opening day games in MLB history.

The rest of the game turned out to be a good one too, as Pete Rose doubled and then came home on a wild pitch to score the game-winning run for the Reds in the bottom of the 11th.

1. Indians vs White Sox, 1940

To date, this is the only game on opening day to feature a no-hitter. Hall of Famer Bob Feller threw the first of his three no-hitters to begin the 1940 campaign.

Cleveland second baseman Ray Mack made a diving catch on the final play of the game to preserve the no-no, undoubtedly making it one of the best MLB opening day games in baseball history.

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