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A grand Opening Day for new faces

A grand Opening Day for new faces

It was a grand Opening Day for those playing or managing in their first games in new uniforms.

Johan Santana's debut with the Mets was all that New York fans could hope to see. Kosuke Fukudome, the latest big-time player to migrate here from Japan, took a star turn for the Cubs with a game-tying three-run homer. Joe Torre, the longtime manager of the Yankees, traded his pinstripes for Dodger Blue and came away a winner. The Tigers' major offseason acquistion, Miguel Cabrera, homered in his first game.

Only Mother Nature could play havoc with Monday's pageantry-packed openers. The Yankees-Jays and Cardinals-Rockies were postponed because of Mother Nature's crankiness on the last day of March.

But at the 12 other ballparks where baseball was played for the first time in 2008, there was plenty of drama to behold. Here's a roundup of all the day's action.

Mets 7, Marlins 2

The league has changed, but it's still the same Santana. That became abundantly clear to the Opening Day crowd in Dolphin Stadium as Santana and his new club, the Mets, rolled over the Marlins on Monday.

Santana did his usual thing, striking out eight in seven innings, and the Mets put six runs up in the fourth inning to put it away.

Pirates 12, Braves 11, 12 innings

In the craziest game of the day, the visiting Pirates shocked the crowd at Turner Field when Xavier Nady's second homer of the night, a three-run blast in the top of the 12th inning, broke a 9-9 tie the Braves had forged with a miraculous five-run bottom of the ninth.

Then, to make it even more interesting, the Braves almost climbed all the way back, scratching out two runs in the bottom of the 12th to barely fall short.

This one had offense all over the place, with Braves Yunel Escobar, Brian McCann and Chipper Jones driving in three runs apiece, and the Pirates getting Nady's four-hit, four-RBI masterpiece in addition to a three-hit, four-RBI night from leadoff man Nate McLouth.

Brewers 4, Cubs 3, 10 innings

Fans in the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field sat through eight scoreless frames courtesy of Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano -- 6 2/3 shutout innings before leaving with forearm cramps -- and Brewers right-hander Ben Sheets -- 6 1/3 shutout innings -- before Opening Day really got going in the ninth.

Cubs righty Kerry Wood made his debut as the team's closer but failed to preserve the scoreless tie, giving up three runs in the top of the ninth. Japanese import Fukudome did all he could do in his American debut, tying the game in the bottom of the frame against Brewers closer Eric Gagne, capping a 3-for-3 Major League coming out party.

The excitement for the home team died down in the 10th, however, when Tony Gwynn Jr.'s sacrifice fly off Bob Howry got it done for the Brew Crew, 4-3.

Royals 5, Tigers 4, 11 innings

This game had it all: Lead changes galore, a homer for Detroit's high-priced new guy, Cabrera, one for Kansas City's young slugger, Alex Gordon, a play at the plate with Brandon Inge cutting down Mark Teahen, and a dramatic finish.

In the 11th inning, Tony Pena Jr. blooped a single that scored John Buck to give the Royals and their new manager, Trey Hillman, an upset victory in game No. 1 of the 2008 season.

Indians 10, White Sox 8

The Indians' potent offense got their home crowd at newly renamed Progressive Field into it early, piling on seven runs in the second inning. The White Sox didn't give up, pecking away at the lead on the strength of Jim Thome's two homers, but the Indians pulled away with a three-run eighth inning.

The man of the hour for the Indians was third baseman Casey Blake, who doubled home the deciding three runs with two out in the eighth.

Diamondbacks 4, Reds 2

The Reds' Opening Day at Great American Ball Park didn't turn out the way they wanted because the defending National League West champions brought great pitching in the form of three-hit ball by starter Brandon Webb and relievers Chad Qualls, Tony Pena and Brandon Lyon.

Arizona also got homers from Eric Byrnes and Chris Young in the third inning and a key insurance homer by pinch-hitter Jeff Salazar in the seventh.

Mariners 5, Rangers 2

Erik Bedard made his much-anticipated Seattle debut in front of the home fans at a chilly Safeco Field, and Rangers shortstop Michael Young greeted him with a bang, homering in the first inning to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

The Mariners scraped against Rangers starter Kevin Millwood in the sixth, when second baseman Jose Lopez executed a hit-and-run play that led to two runs when Raul Ibanez singled one in and Adrian Beltre beat out a double-play ball.

A Kazuo Fukumori wild pitch with the bases loaded in seventh and a two-run double by Lopez sealed the deal for Seattle, which got a rousing save from closer J.J. Putz.

Top Opening Day Performances
Hitter
Team
AB
R
H
HR
RBI
X. NadyPIT74424
J. ThomeCHW52224
N. McLouthPIT52314
K. FukudomeCHC31313
F. GutierrezCLE32313
L. MilledgeWAS43212
M. YoungTEX51311
Y. EscobarATL41303
R. FurcalLAD41301
PitcherTeamIPHERKW-L
J. SantanaNYM7328W
L. HernandezMIN7721W
J. ShieldsTB7522W
B. PennyLAD6 2/3403W
C. ZambranoCHC6 2/3305ND
B. SheetsMIL6 1/3207ND
B. WebbARI6 326W
J. PeavySD7 304W
Dodgers 5, Giants 0

Dodgers starter Brad Penny didn't need much help, and Jeff Kent proved he's still got some thump in his aging bat, homering and driving in two to beat Barry Zito.

Dodgers leadoff man Rafael Furcal went 3-for-4 and James Loney added two hits, but Penny's dominance -- 6 2/3 shutout innings, four hits -- set the tone and relievers Scott Proctor, Joe Beimel and Takashi Saito finished off the shutout to send the Dodger Stadium faithful home happy.

Rays 6, Orioles 2

The Rays made a statement in their Opening Day game on the road at Camden Yards, and it was starter James Shields doing most of the talking. Shields went seven strong innings, giving up two runs on five hits.

Meanwhile, Dioner Navarro chipped in three hits, Eric Hinske homered and B.J. Upton knocked in two for the Rays.

Nationals 11, Phillies 6

The Nationals' feel-good season continued, at least for their second game, as they rallied for five runs in the ninth inning to break a tie and stun the defending NL East champions in Philadelphia's home opener at Citizens Bank Park.

Nick Johnson, Ronnie Belliard and Dmitri Young each hit RBI doubles in the ninth, pacing the 2-0 Nationals, who also got a 2-for-4, three-run, two-RBI effort from outfielder Lastings Milledge.

Twins 3, Angels 2

Any sadness brought into the Metrodome by the fact that former Twins outfielder Torii Hunter made his first visit back to Minnesota as a member of the opposing Angels was forgotten once the Twins outlasted the defending AL West champions by getting a solid start by Livan Hernandez.

The Twins also took advantage of another situation brought about by the absence of Hunter: namely the play of new center fielder Carlos Gomez, one of the chips of the Johan Santana trade, who led off and had two hits, two runs and two stolen bases to help beat Jered Weaver.

Padres 4, Astros 0

Jake Peavy showed the home crowd at PETCO Park and opposing pitcher Roy Oswalt why he was the NL's unanimous Cy Young Award winner in 2007, starting off the new season with absolute domination.

Peavy scattered three hits over seven innings and struck out four, and if that wasn't enough, he also singled in two runs and drew a walk in his two plate appearances.

Doug Miller is Senior Writer for MLB.com/Entertainment. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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