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Bryce Harper struck out twice in green Phanatic cleats in his US$330-million debut and bowed to thousands of fans in No. 3 jerseys who gave him rousing standing ovations in the Philadelphia Phillies’ 10-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.

Harper had the city electric in anticipation for his first game in Philly since he signed a US$330-million, 13-year deal that was briefly the richest in baseball.

He went 0 for 3 with an intentional walk and failed to deliver a big hit – but no worries, the Phillies picked up the scoring slack. Harper’s presence in the lineup helped blow the game open when the Braves walked the lefty slugger to load the bases. Rhys Hoskins, once the franchise player, followed with a grand slam off reliever Luke Jackson that blew open the game.

Citizens Bank Park was packed with nearly 45,000 fans dressed like their new favourite player and ready to go wild, hours before the first pitch. Harper fist-bumped fans as the Phillies walked through the outfield stands and onto the red carpet on the field for opening day festivities. He got his first standing O when he jogged out for the lineup introduction – his green cleats visible from the last row of the upper deck – and heard another when he dug in for his first at-bat in the first inning.

Harper bowed to the fans when he took his spot in right field in the opening inning and chucked a ball into the third deck for a souvenir.

But he never launched one there with his bat.

The other NL MVP pickup this off-season for the Phillies delivered instantly: Andrew McCutchen, who signed a US$50-million, three-year deal, led off the game with a homer to left off Braves starter Julio Teheran (0-1).

Maikel Franco hit a three-run homer to left in the sixth inning for a 6-1 lead in a fun day in Philly against the defending NL East champions.

Aaron Nola (1-0) was uncharacteristically wild, walking five in six innings; one more than any start in 2018 when he was third in Cy Young Award voting.

Harper grounded out, then struck out his next two times up against Teheran. The Phillies had nine All-Stars, two MVPs, one Cy Young Award winner and one Rookie of the Year award winner on the roster. The average age of the 25-man roster is 28.5.

Cano’s HR, deGrom’s 10 Ks lift Mets past Scherzer, Nats

Robinson Cano homered in his debut at-bat for the Mets then added a late RBI single, Jacob deGrom outpitched Max Scherzer as each struck out at least 10 in a sterling matchup between the winners of the past three NL Cy Young Awards, and New York edged the Bryce Harper-less Washington Nationals 2-0 in the opener for both teams Thursday. A day after signing a US$137.5-million, five-year contract, deGrom (1-0) compiled 10 strikeouts with one walk and five hits in six innings, setting a major league record with his 30th consecutive start allowing three runs or fewer. The lanky righty topped runner-up Scherzer in Cy Young voting last season – and got the better of him in the win and run columns on this day. Scherzer (0-1) was charged with both of the Mets’ runs in 7 2/3 innings, with 12 Ks, three walks and two hits. Scherzer and deGrom are only the second pair of starters in an opening day game to both get to double figures in strikeouts. The other such situation came nearly a half-century ago, when Dave McNally of the Orioles and Sam McDowell of the Indians did it on April 7, 1970.

Yankees, Orioles pay homage to Stottlemyre

On a day when baseball teams look with hope toward the future, the Yankees and Orioles are putting some focus on the past. The Yankees announced Thursday that they will wear a black armband on the left sleeve of their jerseys this season to honour former pitching coach and left-hander Mel Stottlemyre, who died in January at the age of 77. The Orioles, meanwhile, are wearing commemorative patches with Frank Robinson’s No. 20 this season. The Hall of Famer died in February at 83 years old.

Thanks, Ichiro!

Dee Gordon wanted to express his appreciation for Ichiro Suzuki, who announced his retirement following the Seattle Mariners’ two games in Japan. But he wanted to do more than a social-media post. So Gordon took out a full-page ad in The Seattle Times on Thursday ahead of the Mariners’ home opener against the Boston Red Sox. “Honestly, I didn’t think that writing up an Instagram post or something would be meaningful enough,” Gordon said. “And he probably wouldn’t be able to see it. I thought this was over the top, too.” In the ad, Gordon wrote, “Thank you for being a great friend to me and being my favourite player to this day.”

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