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Opening Day 2017: MLB opens season schedule with 3 Sunday games

‘Sunday Night Baseball’ features the Cubs visiting the Cardinals on ESPN.

Chicago Cubs v St. Louis Cardinals
Carlos Martinez starts on opening day for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday night on ESPN.
Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images

The 2017 Major League Baseball season opens with not one, but three games on Sunday. The day of divisional matchups culminates with the St. Louis Cardinals hosting the defending champion Chicago Cubs, their fiercest rival.

All three games on Sunday will be televised by the ESPN family of networks, with online streaming available through WatchESPN.

The Cubs are coming off a juggernaut 103-win season that saw them win the World Series for the first time since 1908. Chicago has 200 wins in two years under skipper Joe Maddon, and with their array of young hitting talent and veteran pitching, the Cubs are arguably the best team in baseball again for 2017.

St. Louis was a 100-win team as recently as 2015, though at 86-76 last year, the Cards finished just a game out of a wild-card spot, snapping a string of five straight playoff appearances and three straight National League Central division titles.

The first game on Sunday features the Tampa Bay Rays hosting the New York Yankees. The 1 p.m. ET game is technically the first MLB game of the regular season.

That game gives us our first 2017 look at Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting last year after he hit a whopping 20 home runs in just 53 games. He’ll face Rays ace Chris Archer, making his third straight opening day start for Tampa Bay.

In between is a National League West battle between the San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix. The pitching matchup in this game is excellent, with Madison Bumgarner facing Zack Greinke on the mound. But those two are also productive at the plate, as two of the best hitting pitchers in baseball.

Bumgarner leads all pitchers with 12 home runs and 33 RBI over the last three years, and dating back to 2013 among all pitchers with at least 100 plate appearances, Bumgarner’s 72 wRC+ ranks second in baseball behind Greinke’s 73 wRC+.

All six teams playing Sunday have Monday off while the remaining 24 MLB teams start their 2017 slates. The first day with all 30 teams in action is Wednesday, with 15 games on the docket.

Sunday Opening Day schedule

All times ET

1 p.m. - Yankees at Rays
Tropicana Field | TV: ESPN, WatchESPN
Masahiro Tanaka vs. Chris Archer

4 p.m. - Giants at Diamondbacks
Chase Field | TV: ESPN2, WatchESPN
Madison Bumgarner vs. Zack Greinke

8:30 p.m. - Cubs at Cardinals
Busch Stadium | TV: ESPN, WatchESPN
Jon Lester vs. Carlos Martinez