Opening Day highlights: Aaron Judge hits MLB’s first homer of 2023

by Jacob Fuller

Rob Issa, FISM News

MLB Opening Day was filled with familiar sights, history-making hitting performances, and brand-new rules on Thursday.


Aaron Judge, who set the American League single-season record with 62 homers last season, picked up where he left off as he smacked a home run on his first swing of the season. Ace Gerritt Cole struck out 11 batters in six scoreless innings to lead the New York Yankees to a 5-0 win over the San Francisco Giants in an interleague matchup.

Fittingly, Judge’s homer was the first of the season in the majors. Fans at Yankee Stadium serenaded him with “MVP! MVP!” chants.

“You really don’t hear much when you hit it and you’re running the bases,” Judge said. “But once I hit home and saw my family there, the roar of the crowd, my teammates — that’s when you soak it in a little bit.”


While Judge signed a big contract to stay in New York following last season, ace pitcher Jacob deGrom left the crosstown New York Mets for Texas.

He didn’t make a good impression.

DeGrom gave up five runs on six extra-base hits in 3 2/3 innings against the reigning NL champion Philadelphia Phillies, but his teammates bailed him out. The Rangers overcame a 5-0 deficit against ace Aaron Nola and beat the Phillies 11-7.

“I didn’t make some pitches when I needed to. Obviously, I’m not thrilled with how I threw the ball, but, you know, the guys did a good job there in the bottom of the fourth,” deGrom said. “My outing, I’m not thrilled with, didn’t make pitches when I needed to. But the most important thing is we got to win.”


Other highlights on Opening Day included Baltimore’s Adley Rutschman becoming the first catcher in major league history with five hits in a season opener. Rutschman homered in his first at-bat and had a career-best four RBIs to lead the Orioles to a 10-9 win against the Boston Red Sox.

“This is pretty cool,” said Rutschman, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft.

In the eighth inning of the game, Boston’s Rafael Devers became the first player in major league history to be called out on a pitch clock violation. Devers wasn’t ready to hit in time. He was looking down and kicking dirt off his cleats when plate umpire Lance Barksdale signaled a violation that resulted in strike three.

“There’s no excuse,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “They know the rules.”


Marcus Stroman was the first pitcher called for the violation during the third inning of the Chicago Cubs’ 4-0 victory over Milwaukee.

Stroman didn’t deliver a pitch to Christian Yelich within 20 seconds, so plate umpire Ron Kulpa called an automatic ball that made it a 2-2 count.

“You have to be looking at the clock. You’re trying to worry about the pitch. You’re trying to worry about the guys on base. You’re trying to worry about your grip,” Stroman said. “There’s so many things going on now.”


Toronto’s George Springer also had five hits in a 10-9 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. In the loss, Tyler O’Neill tied a major league record by hitting a home run on opening day for the fourth straight season.


The New York Mets beat the Miami Marlins 5-3 on Brandon Nimmo’s tiebreaking, two-run double in the seventh-inning tie. Max Scherzer threw six solid innings to outduel NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara.

The defending World Series champion Houston Astros lost 3-2 to the Chicago White Sox on Andrew Vaughn’s tiebreaking, two-run double in the ninth inning.

Travis d’Arnaud had four hits to help the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 7-2.

Jose Siri and Wander Franco homered and Tampa Bay each hit homers to lead the Tampa Bay Rays to a 4-0 win over Detroit.