By: Ben Burke
The dust has settled on the first week of the 2016 edition of America’s pastime, teams have wrapped up their first series of the season, and already the seeds of a few interesting storylines to follow have been sewn.
Now of course it’s a long season, and come October, this first week will be a distant memory. But for now, it’s all we have. Without further ado, here are a few takeaways from opening week of the 2016 MLB season.
Takeaway No. 1: The nightmarish start in San Diego
It’s tough to have high hopes for a team that’s bringing in a new manager after finishing 74-88 the previous year. However, not even the most cynical of critics could’ve imagined that the San Diego Padres would be outscored 25-0 over their opening three-game series versus Los Angeles.
Things got ugly right out of the gate, as San Diego’s 15-0 loss in game one set a new record for most lopsided opening day shutout in MLB history. The debut loss for Padres manager Andy Green looks even worse when you consider the fact that the Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was also making his managing debut.
It only got worse for San Diego throughout the remainder of the series. The Padres became the first team in MLB history to be shut out in each of its first three games, surpassing the previous record for most scoreless innings to begin the season by one inning.
It should be noted that the 1943 St. Louis Cardinals, who held the previous record for most scoreless inning to start a season at 26, finished their season 105-49 and won the national league pennant. So there’s definitely room for this San Diego team to turn things around.
Takeaway No. 2: Failed free agent pursuit haunts St. Louis as Pirates sweep Cardinals
St. Louis’s failed bid at landing David Price in the offseason probably hurts a little more now after seeing what the Cardinals’ two and three pitchers did in their opening series against Pittsburgh.
The Redbirds looked to the former Cy Young Award winner to help create a one-two punch with Adam Wainwright at the top of the rotation, as well as to help fill the hole left when Lance Lynn underwent Tommy John surgery last November.
To his credit, Wainwright didn’t have a terrible start in game one. Wainwright allowed three earned runs on six hits in six innings of work. However, the rotation unraveled in games two and three, with neither starter making it to the fifth inning of their respective game.
Price, on the other hand, struck out 10 while only allowing two runs over six innings of work in his debut with the Boston Red Sox.
Although it is just one series, the sweep is significant when you consider the fact that last season; the Cardinals were never swept in any of their 24 series against division opponents.
Takeaway No. 3: Orioles get it done with rotation and bullpen in sweep of Twins
From a pitching staff with possible question marks to one that didn’t appear to have any in its first series of the season, the Baltimore Orioles staff looked very impressive in its sweep of the Minnesota Twins.
The Orioles allowed just two runs in each game of the series, against a Minnesota offense that finished in the top half of the league in runs scored a season ago.
It wasn’t just the starters getting it done, either. Ubaldo Jimenez was the only Baltimore starter to go more than five innings in the series. However, the Oriole bullpen combined to allow just three runs in 13 innings of work over the course of the series.
The pitching performance was a stark contrast from when these two teams met last season. In that series, the Twins were able to accumulate 26 runs in a four-game sweep of the O’s.