Opening Day Blog
BALTIMORE -- Here are three things to take away from this game:
What a devastating loss for the baseball-crazy folks in St. Louis.
The Cardinals seemed poised for an Opening Day win after
Here are three things to take away from this ballgame:
BALTIMORE -- Call it the Revenge of
A fan wearing an orange Orioles jersey reached out over the wall and pulled a fly ball away from Yankees left fielder
In a way it's a bit of justice -- though Maier's play on a
It's doubtful this similar call will lead to a championship for the Orioles ...
Honestly, there wasn't much new information to take from this game. We knew Washington has some problems with pitching and defense. We knew Florida can kill the ball against the right pitchers. We knew that while these teams have some real talent, they're not real contenders.
The most interesting point for Florida may relate to
Six innings with four earned runs doesn't look like much in the box score, but the six strikeouts against no walks was probably the more telling point. He had a few bad minutes in the top of the sixth, when he let the first two batters on and then gave up a home run to
For Washington, all their flaws were on display: Weak starting, weaker relief, poor defense and a mismanaged roster that leaves
BALTIMORE -- Who needs
The Orioles' 6-1 lead built against disappointing Yankees starter
It's apt Vice President
And Orioles manager
Combined, the duo reached base eight times in their first eight plate appearances on Opening Day. Each had three hits and walk.
That reflects on them. And also to a degree on
The skipper known as "The Mad Scientist" raised eyebrows when he started
This is a disheartening loss for the Rockies, especially since they were able to rough up one of the NL's top five starters in
One takeaway from Opening Day in Phoenix: The D-backs 'pen could be dominant in ?09. Setup man
Yet, Guthrie was effective against the Yankees, especially when compared to Sabathia.
He allowed only one run through five innings before a two-run sixth inning in which he got a little lucky.
BALTIMORE -- The chants rang out in the fifth. "Over-rated,'' fans here in Baltimore sang to
I don't know about overrated. But so far, he looks overpaid. For $161 million, Sabathia's initial performance was of the journeyman variety.
Sabathia exited the game to a chorus of negativity after issuing a bases-loaded walk to
Sabathia threw 54 strikes and 45 balls by the time he left. He allowed eight hits, six runs and five walks (four of the unintentional variety) with no strikeouts. That's ZERO strikeouts! Not what the Yankees bargained for.
Just a few hours into the new season, we've run into one of the Cardinals' biggest concerns in 2009: the bullpen.
St. Louis possesses a formidable starting rotation (highlighted by Wainwright and a resurgent
Marlins third baseman
Orioles third baseman
All eyes are on Ransom to see how he does replacing
I don't think it was nerves. He said before the game that being a Yankee doesn't feel any different than being an Indian or Brewer, and I believed him.
The big blow was
So far Sabathia doesn't look like a $161-million pitcher.
Oh, how quickly one's fate can change in this crazy game.
Maholm limited the damage, though, getting
BALTIMORE -- Mega free agent signing
The key play was when
Sabathia then got out of the inning unscathed when he got
After 189 days of tinkering and waiting, this was a game that went precisely according to
BALTIMORE -- Maryland product
Or maybe it's a little bit of each.
Maybe it's me, but the fans came off as slightly crabby. Teixeira chose to sign for more money on a better team. He would be quite the rare player to sign for less on a perennial loser when the Yankees -- in the playoffs every year but once since 1995 -- were an option.
Teixiera talked for years about wanting to play for a winner. So it would have been really odd to choose the hometown O's, who haven't been in the playoffs since 1997.
There might still have been a case had the Orioles offered more money. However, it's believed they were bidding about $160 million, or maybe just a bit north of that. The Yankees gave him $180 million.
The one quibble I might have if I were them is, he's laid it on pretty thick since signing about how the Yankees were his first choice. But that kind of rhetoric seems to come naturally to just about all the Yankees' big signings over the years. It's almost expected.
Orioles fans enjoyed it when Teixeira flied out with two on and none out in the Yankees first. All of them except maybe Teixeira's friends who came the 20 miles from Severna Park, Md., that is.
Granting that it's a bit early to be keeping track,
In his first at-bat, Arizona's new second baseman and leadoff hitter took a sinking fastball from
Millwood will likely look to pitch a lot deeper in games this year. He's in the fourth year of his five year contract, but the Rangers can void the fifth year of his deal, which is worth $12 million, if he doesn't pitch 180 innings this season. Last year he got to 168.2 and in 2007 he threw 172.2. That will be an interesting storyline to follow this year.
Entering today, this game was tagged with the "wintry mix" forecast, putting it in question. But it's currently 41 degrees and cloudy in St. Louis; hopefully the precipitation will hold off until later tonight.
This game offers a very intriguing pitching matchup. The home Cardinals offer 6-foot-7 right-hander
On the other side, the Pirates will start
It's easy to see why Marlins fans might feel good about their team coming into this season. Last year, with the second-youngest pitching staff and the fifth-youngest group of hitters in the league, they won 84 games -- and that despite a payroll of $22 million, a bit more than half what the next stingiest team in the majors spent.
There are some reasons to be down on the Marlins, not least that it won't be easy to replace what they got from
The first of those, of course, is 24-year-old shortstop
On the other side of the field you have the Nationals, at this point one of the worst jokes in the majors. Leave aside departed general manager
BALTIMORE -- Yankees manager
"I feel as good about this team as any team I've been on,'' Girardi said before Opening Day here against the Orioles.
Pressed as to whether that meant Girardi felt as good about this one as the historic 1998 team, Girardi said, "To me, the expectation is a lot like the feeling we had in '98.''
Of course, Girardi knows how the club-owning
To say anything less would have been silly, really.
He surely understands the pressure's on his second season after the Yankees failed to make the playoffs in his first.
Meanwhile, the Orioles aren't attaching their names to any playoff predictions, one way or the other. But one Orioles person did tell me, flat out, "We're not a contender.''
Truthfully, that's no surprise, either.
In something of a shocking move,
The sun is blazing down on Chase Field in Phoenix (88 degrees and sunny!), where we're a few minutes from first pitch and where D-backs skipper
Thanks mostly to a sharp breaking ball,
Of course, he hadn't seen many
A terrific nine-pitch at-bat from
Is the arm affecting Lee at all? Too soon to say. After all, the Rangers did have one of the most potent offenses in the majors last year, and they showed that again this inning by batting around.
We're already seeing some encouraging signs from Mets right fielder
By the way, Harang just induced a fly out from Santana with two outs and the bases loaded to keep the game scoreless through the middle of the fourth.
Among the batters he'll be facing today are his counterpart for last year's best and most surprising feel-good story -- outfielder
CHICAGO -- There is no Opening Day in Chicago -- Royals-White Sox was postposed -- for the simple reason that last night the skies dumped an inch or two of frozen slush on the city. Living two El stops from Sox Park, I was more or less expecting this, and since both the White Sox and the Red Sox had their openers cancelled, I now expect that we'll hear a lot of cries for baseball to schedule its openers in fair-weather towns. This would be preposterous.
The great baseball cities are grey, wretched places like Boston, Chicago and New York. Which is probably not coincidence -- who has more use for a pastoral game of green spaces than someone foolish enough to spend winter just off Lake Michigan or the Atlantic Ocean? -- but also leaves the game dealing with such inconvenient facts as torrents of ice in April.
I just don't see why this is a problem. If we want perfect safety, we can raise domes on Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. Since we don't, we can acknowledge that a game that has most fully taken in cold industrial cities will have to share in their miseries, the memory of which will just make games played on perfect June Saturdays all the more enjoyable.
Well, it appears as if my weather forecasting skills are about as advanced as those of Brick Tamland (the meteorologist in
It's 39 degrees and raining in Cincinnati right now, with winds reaching 35 miles per hour. Even the Bengals might not play in that. Of course, some might contend that the Bengals don't actually
If the Mets and Reds do somehow manage to play today
I'll also have my eye on the Reds' second-year sluggers,
"Skip," Votto said, "It was crazy. Is that what it's like? Is that what the playoffs are like?"
"That's what it's like," said Baker, the veteran of eight postseasons as a player and a manager.
"I can't wait, Skip," Votto said. "I can't wait."
Like the rest of you seamheads, I woke up this morning with Christmas Day-caliber glee.
Then I looked out the window.
With heavy rain pounding us in the Northeast and the ever-popular "wintry mix" reeking havoc in the Midwest, Mother Nature doesn't seem quite ready to welcome in a new baseball season.
So far, two openers have been postponed until Tuesday:
- Royals at White Sox (A forecast of snow doomed this one on Sunday night)
And the current weather doesn't look too promising in Cincinnati (Mets at Reds), St. Louis (Pirates at Cardinals) and Baltimore (Yankees at Orioles).
So, this puts a bit of a damper on our plans to live blog the first eight games of Opening Day. But we refuse to let a little rain ... uh ... rain on our parade. We'll be here all day discussing the afternoon openers that actually do take place, as well as some other topics.
Bottom line: It's Opening Day and it's time to talk baseball, whether Mother Nature wants to cooperate or not.