WASHINGTON – The pandemic-shortened Major League Baseball season finally started Thursday night, with zero fans, Nationals star Juan Soto sidelined by COVID-19 and a 4-1 storm-halted victory for the New York Yankees over reigning champ Washington behind Gerrit Cole, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.
What began as a muggy, cloudy evening, with the temperature around 90 degrees, turned into a serious downpour, replete with rumbles of thunder, flashes of lightning and swirls of wind, prompting a delay in the top of the sixth inning.
After waiting 1 hour, 58 minutes – 15 minutes more than were played – the game was called off and goes into the books as a win for New York.
Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (0-1) had struck out 11 and was still in the game for the Nationals when action stopped, his pitch count nearing 100.
He allowed a two-run homer to 2017 NL MVP Stanton that traveled 459 feet in the first, an RBI double to 2017 AL Rookie of the Year Judge in the third, and an RBI single to Stanton in the fifth.
Cole (1-0) looked every bit the player the Yankees hoped for when they signed him as a free agent to a $324 million, nine-year contract, the largest deal for a pitcher. He gave up one hit in his five innings: Adam Eaton’s solo shot in the first .
This was the official beginning of what is planned as a regular season with just 60 games, instead of the usual 162 – with, at least at the outset, no spectators – instead of the 40,000 or so who usually would be at Opening Day in D.C.
In a fitting choice for a pregame ceremony that included nods to the Nationals’ title and the Black Lives Matter movement, players from both teams held a long, black piece of cloth, then knelt along the foul lines before standing for the national anthem. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, threw out the first pitch while wearing a mask.
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