His face and head covered in shaving cream and his first home run ball stashed safely away, Jason Heyward stood in front of his locker and beamed.
“I had a blast,’’ he said.
He stole the show on Opening Day.
Minutes after catching the ceremonial first pitch from Hank Aaron, Heyward hit a three-run homer in his first major league at-bat to spark the Braves to a 16-5 win yesterday over Carlos Zambrano and the Chicago Cubs in Atlanta.
Heyward, who also had a run-scoring single in the eighth, was 2 for 5 with four RBIs.
“It was the first of many career highlights for him,’’ said Atlanta’s Chipper Jones. “That was impressive, that was very impressive.’’
Braves fans in the sellout crowd eagerly embraced Heyward, from Henry County, about 30 minutes south of Atlanta.
Fans chanted “Let’s go, Heyward!’’ as he confidently took two pitches in his first-inning at-bat, then sent a fastball from Zambrano into the Braves’ bullpen behind the right-field wall on his first swing, sending the crowd over the top.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever heard this stadium that loud,’’ Jones said.
Added Heyward when asked how he felt as he ran around the bases: “I felt my legs but I couldn’t hear myself think, it was so loud.’’
After the game, Braves reliever Peter Moylan crept behind a crowd of reporters and hit the rookie with a towel full of shaving cream.
“I guess shaving cream is a good thing,’’ Heyward said with a smile.
Yunel Escobar drove in a career-high five runs as Zambrano gave up eight runs in 1 1/3 innings, matching the shortest of his 239 career starts.
Winner Derek Lowe gave up five runs, five hits, and three walks in six innings.
Mets 7, Marlins 1 — David Wright hit a two-run homer, Johan Santana pitched six effective innings, and New York finally solved Josh Johnson as the host Mets beat Florida for their fifth consecutive win on Opening Day. Newcomers Jason Bay, Rod Barajas, and Gary Matthews each got two hits for New York, which improved to a major league-best 32-17 (.653) on Opening Day. Johnson dropped to 7-1 with a 2.69 ERA in 10 career starts against New York.
Cardinals 11, Reds 6 — Albert Pujols went 4 for 5 and had two of St. Louis’s team-record four homers on Opening Day as the Cardinals routed host Cincinnati on an unseasonably warm afternoon that belonged to power hitters. Yadier Molina completed the Cardinals’ barrage with a grand slam in the ninth. Only two other Cardinals have hit slams in season openers — Scott Rolen (who homered for the Reds) and Mark McGwire, who was back in uniform as St. Louis’s batting coach.
Angels 6, Twins 3 — Hideki Matsui drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth and added an eighth-inning homer in his Los Angeles debut, and Jered Weaver pitched six strong innings to spark the host Angels.
Mariners 5, Athletics 3 — Casey Kotchman hit a go-ahead two-run single with two out in the ninth inning to go with two earlier RBIs, sparking visiting Seattle.
Tigers 8, Royals 4 — Johnny Damon and Brandon Inge drove in two runs apiece in a six-run seventh inning against Kansas City’s shaky bullpen as visiting Detroit rallied to victory. The Royals led, 4-2, when Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke departed after giving up six hits and one earned run in six innings. The Tigers then sent 10 men to the plate in the seventh and punished three relievers for six hits and six runs.
White Sox 6, Indians 0 — Mark Buehrle pitched three-hit ball over seven innings, Paul Konerko homered, and host Chicago spoiled Cleveland manager Manny Acta’s debut and Jake Westbrook’s first start in nearly two years. Westbrook — back from reconstructive elbow surgery — tied a club record with four wild pitches, hit Carlos Quentin twice, walked four, and gave up five runs and five hits in his first start since May 28, 2008.
Giants 5, Astros 2 — Tim Lincecum pitched seven scoreless innings and San Francisco got a boost from new left fielder Mark DeRosa in beating Roy Oswalt in Houston.
Rangers 5, Blue Jays 4 — Shaun Marcum took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning on Opening Day for Toronto before host Texas rallied to victory on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s run-scoring single in the ninth. The Rangers scored twice in the ninth off Blue Jays closer Jason Frasor.
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3 — Stephen Drew hit an inside-the-park home run and Dan Haren held San Diego to three hits in seven innings in host Arizona’s victory. Mark Reynolds added a two-run homer for the Diamondbacks.
Rockies 5, Brewers 3 — Ubaldo Jimenez stayed out of big trouble with his big fastball and Ian Stewart homered on his birthday to lift visiting Colorado.
Pirates 11, Dodgers 5 — Garrett Jones homered in his first two at-bats and pinch hitter Ryan Church doubled home three runs as host Pittsburgh, coming off a record-setting 17th consecutive losing season, won on Opening Day for the fourth season in a row.