A total of 14 games make up the MLB Opening Day 2018 schedule on Thursday, with the reigning World Champion Houston Astros on the road as they begin their title defense. Houston is set to battle the Texas Rangers, so they won’t be too far from home. In addition, three other teams considered among the top 10 contenders this season have road games to open their latest MLB seasons. Here’s a look at what fans can expect on Opening Day 2018 as games take place from early afternoon to late night.
The first day of the new season’s schedule opens with the day’s first game taking place at Miami’s Marlins Park. Jon Lester will take the mound for the Chicago Cubs as they battle Jose Urena and the Miami Marlins at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. ESPN will provide televised coverage of the game at that time. They’ll follow it up with the 2017 World Series winners, the Houston Astros, at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Astros ace Justin Verlander will get the start versus Cole Hamels of the home team Rangers.
Two other teams that are known for their historic rivalry over the years will be in action, but not against each other just yet. The New York Yankees start their latest campaign at 3:37 p.m. Eastern Time when they take on the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s the first official game with Giancarlo Stanton as part of the New York lineup. The starting pitchers will be Luis Severino for the Yanks and J.A. Happ for the Jays.
Meanwhile, early Cy Young odds contender Chris Sale takes the mound for the Boston Red Sox at 4 p.m. Eastern Time, as his team faces the Tampa Bay Rays with Chris Archer getting the home start. This game also features Boston’s offseason acquisition J.D. Martinez as part of the lineup.
MLB Opening Day 2018 Schedule:
- Chicago vs. Miami – 12:30 p.m. ESPN (Jon Lester vs Jose Urena)
- Pittsburgh vs. Detroit – 1:10 p.m. (Ivan Nova vs Jordan Zimmermann)
- St. Louis vs. New York – 1:10 p.m. (Carlos Martinez vs Noah Syndergaard)
- Minnesota vs. Baltimore – 3:05 p.m. (Jake Odorizzi vs Dylan Bundy)
- Houston vs. Texas – 3:30 p.m. ESPN (Justin Verlander vs Cole Hamels)
- New York vs. Toronto – 3:37 p.m. (Luis Severino vs J.A. Happ)
- Boston vs. Tampa Bay – 4:00 p.m. (Chris Sale vs Chris Archer)
- Los Angeles vs. Oakland – 4:05 p.m. (Garrett Richards vs Kendall Graveman)
- Philadelphia vs. Atlanta – 4:10 p.m. (Aaron Nola vs Julio Teheran)
- Milwaukee vs. San Diego – 4:10 p.m. (Chase Anderson vs Clayton Richard)
- Chicago vs. Kansas City – 4:15 p.m. (James Shields vs Danny Duffy)
- San Francisco vs. Los Angeles – 7:00 p.m. ESPN (Ty Blach vs Clayton Kershaw)
- Cleveland vs. Seattle – 10:00 p.m. ESPN (Corey Kluber vs Felix Hernandez)
- Colorado vs. Arizona – 10:10 p.m. (Jon Gray vs Patrick Corbin)
- Washington vs. Cincinnati – postponed
The ESPN network will provide two other games for baseball enthusiasts to enjoy on MLB’s opening day. At 7 p.m. Eastern Time, Clayton Kershaw is on the mound at home for the Los Angeles Dodgers as they host Ty Blach and the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers are right up there as top contenders for the World Series in 2018, so this gives fans an early look.
Closing out the televised schedule for Thursday on ESPN will be another Cy Young hopeful this season as the reigning AL winner Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians will take on Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners at 10 p.m. Eastern Time. One of the big stories for the home team will be the return of Ichiro Suzuki as he’ll play in left field after spending last season as a member of the Miami Marlins. Look for Ichiro to hit in the ninth spot in an emotional return at Safeco Field.