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Opening Day Blog

8:01 p.m. ET

BALTIMORE -- Here are three things to take away from this game:

1. CC Sabathia wasn't worth $161 million. Or even anything. He was simply awful in his Yankees' debut. He lasted 4 2/3 innings and didn't manage to strike out a single batter. The harsh fans here shouted "Over-Rated'' and other negative things at him. And they were right on the money.

2. The fans were also all over the hometown boy Mark Teixeira, who was a marked man for his own Yankees debut. Booed from the start of the game, Teixeira was quietly unproductive, and thus much better than Sabathia.

3. The Orioles got a nice game from starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and a lot of hitting off a bunch of Yankees pitchers (not just CC).Brian Roberts and Adam Jones were on all day at the top of the Orioles' lineup in a 14-hit attack that overwhelmed their richer rivals.

-- Jon Heyman

7:43 p.m. ET

What a devastating loss for the baseball-crazy folks in St. Louis.

The Cardinals seemed poised for an Opening Day win afterRyan Ludwick led off the bottom of the eighth with a majestic, tie-breaking solo blast. David Freese's sacrifice fly four batters later gave the Cards a 4-2 lead going into the ninth inning. But the Buccos exploded for four runs in the ninth inning off new Cardinals closer Jason Motte, sending the Busch Stadium patrons home with a horrendous taste in their collective mouth.

Here are three things to take away from this ballgame:

1. As we all suspected, St. Louis' bullpen could be a huge problem. The Cardinals repeatedly shot themselves in the foot last season with ninth-inning meltdowns, sporting a 5.01 ERA in save situations. Jason Motte won the closer job with a stellar spring (12.1 IP, 1.46 ERA, 18 K, 1 walk), but he unquestionably flunked his 2009 regular season debut. After giving up a leadoff double to Freddy Sanchez on his first offering of the ninth inning, Motte actually recovered to retire the next two Pirates. But the 26-year-old rookie just couldn't hammer down that last out, and proceeded to take the loss by yielding four earned runs on four hits (including three doubles). Should Motte continue to falter, Tony La Russa will turn to Chris Perez or Ryan Franklin as his ninth-inning man.

2. Impressive start for Nyjer Morgan. He has a long way to go to make fans forget about Jason Bay, but the Pirates' new left fielder (and leadoff hitter) didn't look too shabby on Opening Day. Morgan went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and a steal.

3. Albert Pujols is Albert Pujols. New season, same old Phat Albert. The two-time MVP kicked off the '09 campaign with his standard production -- 3-for-4 with a double and a walk. There have been rumblings that Hanley Ramirez is on the verge of establishing himself as the best player in baseball, but I think Mr. Pujols might have something to say about that.

-- Gennaro Filice

7:39 p.m. ET

BALTIMORE -- Call it the Revenge of Jeffrey Maier.

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A fan wearing an orange Orioles jersey reached out over the wall and pulled a fly ball away from Yankees left fielder Johnny Damon and into the left field stands for a home run. (At least the umpires called it a home run.)

Yankees manager Joe Girardi argued briefly, but to no avail.

In a way it's a bit of justice -- though Maier's play on a Derek Jeter fly ball led to a playoff victory en route to the Yankees' first World Series title in 18 years.

It's doubtful this similar call will lead to a championship for the Orioles ...

-- Jon Heyman

7:32 p.m. ET

BALTIMORE -- Mark Teixeira had a chance to make sure it wasn't a $341 million Opening Day wipeout for the Yankees. But alas, batting before the boo birds in Birdland, Teixeira grounded to second with the go-ahead runs on base -- much to the delight of the hometown that appears to hate him now. That made the $180 million Teixeira 0-for-4 with a walk, which was a slightly better debut than that of $161 million pitcher CC Sabathia, who was truly awful in allowing all six Orioles runs.

Orioles reliever Jim Johnson escaped trouble after allowing a leadoff double to Yankees super sub Nick Swisher. The other key out came when Derek Jeter grounded to shortstop with pinch runner Ramiro Pena at third base, one out and the Orioles infield playing in. This is shaping up as a disastrous opener for the Yankees.

-- Jon Heyman

7:14 p.m. ET

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 Ricky Nolasco.

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 Adam Dunn, but for most of the afternoon he was devastating, showing tight command and a variety of breaking pitches.

For Washington, all their flaws were on display: Weak starting, weaker relief, poor defense and a mismanaged roster that leaves Elijah Dukes, one of their two or three best hitters, without a clear role on the team. Very little of this is manager Manny Acta's fault, but he's the one who has to deal with it, and it's hard to see what exactly he's supposed to do.

-- Tim Marchman

7:10 p.m. ET

BALTIMORE -- Who needs Alex Rodriguez? Hideki Matsui, taking A-Rod's cleanup spot, hit a long home run to right-center field off Chris Ray to bring the Yankees within a run at 6-5.

The Orioles' 6-1 lead built against disappointing Yankees starter CC Sabathia looks precarious now -- though Orioles reliever Dennis Darfate induced Xavier Nady to ground into a double play with two runners on, preventing further damage.

It's apt Vice President Joe Biden threw out the first ball. The game is getting to be like a Biden soliloquy -- very long.

-- Jon Heyman

6:53 p.m. ET

BALTIMORE -- Brian Roberts and Adam Jones look like a formidable duo at the top of Baltimore's order.

And Orioles manager Dave Trembley looks like a genius for batting Jones second, where he batted only .252 last year in 25 games.

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 CC Sabathia, the Yankees' well-publicized, well-paid Yankees starter.

-- Jon Heyman

6:38 p.m. ET

The skipper known as "The Mad Scientist" raised eyebrows when he started Tony Clark at first and Chad Tracy at third and benched Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds. But Bob Melvin looks like a genius now -- Clark socked two home runs (one from each side of the plate) and drove in three runs as Chad "Big Red" Tracy added another bomb and drove in another two runs.

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 Brandon Webb but still couldn't pull out the W.

One takeaway from Opening Day in Phoenix: The D-backs 'pen could be dominant in ?09. Setup man Tony Pena was filthy in the seventh and eighth, and new closer Chad Qualls, who was lights out toward the end of last season (in his last 30 appearances, he had a 1.21 ERA), looked sharp -- hitting 95 on the radar gun -- in a 1-2-3 ninth.

-- Albert Chen

6:35 p.m. ET

BALTIMORE -- Jeremy Guthrie didn't take CC Sabathia-type expectations into the opener after a spring in which he played a goat in the WBC, then stunk it up after he returned. His spring numbers? One win, two losses and a 10.57 ERA.

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. Xavier Nady was caught off third base when Orioles shortstop Cesar Izturis smothered Derek Jeter's groundball, unbeknownst to Nady. Izturis alertly fired to Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora and Mora applied an inning-ending tag on Nady, who was rather casually returning to third after realizing his mistake.

-- Jon Heyman

6:21 p.m. ET

BALTIMORE -- The chants rang out in the fifth. "Over-rated,'' fans here in Baltimore sang to CC Sabathia, the Yankees' new star pitcher.

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 Luke Scott (CC had been ahead in the count 0-2 on Scott). It was CC's 99th pitch, and Scott's walk made it three runs in the inning and a 6-1 Orioles lead.

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.

-- Jon Heyman

6:00 p.m. ET

Just a few hours into the new season, we've run into one of the Cardinals' biggest concerns in 2009: the bullpen.

Cards starter Adam Wainwright struck out Adam LaRoche to start off the fifth inning, but then he proceeded to walk the next two hitters, causing Tony La Russa to make a call to the bullpen. Reliever Josh Kinney got Jack Wilson to pop out for the second out of the inning, but then he inexcusably walked Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm, loading up the bases. La Russa gave the ball to Trever Miller, but two singles later, we've got a tie ballgame.

St. Louis possesses a formidable starting rotation (highlighted by Wainwright and a resurgent Chris Carpenter), but the bullpen is highly suspect. Dave Duncan, you've got your work cut out for you ...

-- Gennaro Filice

5:53 p.m. ET

BALTIMORE -- Adam Jones must think he's Willie Mays. No surprise, he's not. Jones tried the over-the-shoulder basket catch Mays made famous in the 1954 World Series. But alas, Jones only looked like a basket case. Johnny Damon's long drive to straightaway center became triple when Jones dropped the ball.

-- Jon Heyman

5:37 p.m. ET

Marlins third baseman Emilio Bonifacio has had a terrific day so far -- coming out of nowhere to snare a routine bunt for an out, stealing third on his way to scoring a run and lining a shot over Lastings Milledge's head for an inside-the-park home run that put his line for the day at 3-for-3. That last hit highlighted a real problem for the Nationals -- with Milledge in center and Adam Dunn in left, the outfield looks like it was scouted on the set of a George Romero flick.

-- Tim Marchman

5:36 p.m. ET

BALTIMORE -- Brooks Robinson lives!

Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora left his feet to make a back-handed catch of a liner hit by Cody Ransom with a runner on.

All eyes are on Ransom to see how he does replacing Alex Rodriguez, but Mora upstaged his third-base counterpart with that spectacular catch, preserving the Orioles' two-run lead.

-- Jon Heyman

5:31 p.m. ET

BALTIMORE -- CC Sabathia doesn't look especially sharp in his Yankees debut. And while he was able to pitch out of trouble in the first inning, he ran into trouble in the third and got burned.

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. Joe Girardi also noted that Sabathia seemed quite loose.

The big blow was Adam Jones' two-run triple in the Orioles' three-run third. But Sabathia hurt himself by allowing a sharp groundball single down the first-base line by No. 9 hitter Cesar Izturis and then walking Roberts, the leadoff man extraordinaire, to start the inning. Jones, perhaps primed for a big second season, then scorched a long double to right-centerfield that became a triple thanks to his superior speed. Nick Markakis' sac fly made it 3-1 O's.

So far Sabathia doesn't look like a $161-million pitcher.

-- Jon Heyman

5:30 p.m. ET

Muhammad Ali -- looking good donning Sedona Red -- is in the house at Chase Field, and he better get comfortable. It's a slugfest here in the desert, where the D-backs and Rockies hit five bombs over the game's first four innings. Brandon Webb's sinker wasn't sinking, and he's done for the day after allowing back-to-back bombs to Troy Tulowitzki and Chris Iannetta. Colorado could surprise a lot of people in the NL West if the young Rox like Tulowitzki and Iannetta have big seasons, as some expect they will. This afternoon the Rockies will need their shaky bullpen to quiet the sizzling Arizona bats, but with homers from two of their key young players, as well as a game-tying fifth-inning single from their 24-year-old second baseman Ian Stewart, the Colorado faithful still must really like what they see so far.

-- Albert Chen

5:12 p.m. ET

John Lannan against Hanley Ramirez has to be one of the more entertaining matchups around. Lannan is a 24-year-old lefty who pitches like he's 44. He had had the 77th-slowest average fastball among pitchers with at least 160 innings last year, mixes slop with his junk and changes pace with slower slop; Ramirez is an incomparably gifted player, all lithe muscle and speed. His at-bat in the bottom of the third -- in which he drove in Emilio Bonifacio from third by muscling a floater off his knuckles and just up the right field line -- wasn't the inning's killing blow, as it was followed by monster long shots from Jorge Cantu and Jeremy Hermida. But it may have been the one that did the most to show why Lannan, for all his talents, probably isn't who you'd ideally like to have as your Opening Day starter.

-- Tim Marchman

5:05 p.m. ET

Oh, how quickly one's fate can change in this crazy game.

Paul Maholm was cruising through two innings, needing just 21 pitches to get through the Cardinals' first eight hitters. Then Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright led off the bottom of the third inning with a groundball to third baseman Andy LaRoche, but LaRoche botched it, allowing Wainwright to reach on an error. The Cardinals proceeded to load the bases, and new Cards shortstop Khalil Greene -- batting cleanup today -- delivered an RBI single. Ryan Ludwick followed with another RBI single to make it 2-0.

Maholm limited the damage, though, getting Yadier Molina to ground into a double play with the bases loaded. The Pirates head into the fourth inning with facing a two-run deficit -- and with the Buccos' offense, that could prove daunting -- but it sure could have been much worse.

-- Gennaro Filice

5 p.m. ET

BALTIMORE -- Mega free agent signing CC Sabathia got off to a rough start in pinstripes, allowing a line single up the middle to WBC standout Brian Roberts and walking super sophomore Adam Jones. However, Sabathia pitched out of it, getting Nick Markakis on a flyout and inducting two straight groundouts.

The key play was when Alex Rodriguez's replacement, Cody Ransom, fielded Melvin Mora's one-out groundout and fired a strike to catcher Jorge Posada to nail Roberts at the plate. ("Cody can play,'' Derek Jeter said before the game. "Sometimes, all a guy needs is an opportunity. Cody's getting that opportunity.'') Yankees people are starting to love Ransom, who's filling some $275 million shoes.

Sabathia then got out of the inning unscathed when he got Aubrey Huff to ground out.

-- Jon Heyman

4:55 p.m. ET

Final Thoughts:

1. Kevin Millwood was locked in, particularly with his sweeping curve ball that confounded the Indians all afternoon. Millwood allowed just one run on five hits, with one walk and five strikeouts in a stellar seven-inning performance. Starting pitching has long been the Rangers' Achilles' heel, but Millwood got their season off to an ideal start.

2. The Rangers are every bit the offensive force they were last season. Texas led the American League with 901 runs in 2008 and pounded out nine runs and 15 hits in the opener. Ian Kinsler received some publicity last year, but because of a season-ending injury suffered in August, he didn't get nearly the attention his .319/.375/.517 season deserved. Good health, and a few more days like Monday (3-for-5, two doubles, two RBIs) will make him almost impossible to ignore this year.

3. Cliff Lee was off. It may just be a coincidence, but Lee's afternoon started going downhill the moment he was hit on his pitching arm by Hank Blalock's comebacker in the second inning. That single jumpstarted a four-run Rangers rally, which ended up being all the offense they needed. Lee seemed fine physically, coming back to strike out the side in the fourth. The bigger concern was his poor location, which was the hallmark of his success in 2008. He left way too many pitches in the middle of the plate on Monday.

-- Ted Keith

4:49 p.m. ET

After 189 days of tinkering and waiting, this was a game that went precisely according to Omar Minaya's offseason design: a strong start from his ace, Johan Santana, followed by 3 1/3 scoreless innings from Sean Green, J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez to close things out. A terrific way to begin the season for the Mets -- and not a bad start for the Reds, either, as they got a generally solid performance from Aaron Harang and a few nice at-bats from their young lefties, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, against the southpaw Santana. It's tough to see how the Reds are going to score many runs this season, and Putz looked just the tiniest bit shaky (and still doesn't seem to have the velocity he did a couple of years ago in Seattle) -- but why focus on the negative, when there will be so much time for that?

-- Ben Reiter

4:30 p.m. ET

BALTIMORE -- Maryland product Mark Teixeira was booed vociferously during the pregame introductions and again when he batted for the first time as a Yankee. Apparently, the locals are upset at him for either A) not signing with the Orioles, or B) signing with the hated Yankees.

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.

-- Jon Heyman

4:30 p.m. ET

Granting that it's a bit early to be keeping track, Ricky Nolasco has to be leading baseball in feeble swings induced per inning. Claims of bias in baseball coverage are usually overstated, but you have to think this guy would be getting some Cy Young talk if he pitched for in Boston.

-- Tim Marchman

4:15 p.m. ET

Felipe Lopez, welcome to Phoenix!

In his first at-bat, Arizona's new second baseman and leadoff hitter took a sinking fastball from Aaron Cook and smoked it 385 feet to left-center to give the D-backs an early 1-0 lead. This spring Lopez vowed to be a big-time base stealing threat for 'Zona after attempting just eight steals in 100 games for the Nats last season (he stole 44 bases as recently as 2006). But in his first at-bat, Lopez showed he's got some pop, as well. D-backs coaches think he can be a 20-20 player for them this year.

Meanwhile, Brandon Webb has looked sharp in his first two innings. No surprise: The 2006 Cy Young winner is a sick 18-2 over his career in March and April.

-- Albert Chen

4:10 p.m. ET

Kevin Millwood finally gives up a run when he bounces a curveball past Jarrod Saltalamacchia, allowing Travis Hafner to score from third. Having gone north of 100 pitches, Millwood is likely done now, but he's gotten his season off to a great start. In 29 starts last year, he only pitched seven innings seven times, and went through a four-month, 18-start stretch from mid-April to mid-August when he only went that deep into a game once.

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.

--Ted Keith

4:07 p.m. ET

David Weathers enters his 897th big league game (that's 22nd all-time, one behind Jim Kaat), and quickly goes 1-2-3. Here comes J.J. Putz to pitch the bottom of the inning, and then, presumably, Francisco Rodriguez for the ninth. It's difficult to overstate how crushed Mets fans -- not to mention GM Omar Minaya -- would be if Putz and Rodriguez don't manage to cleanly close out an Opening Day win.

-- Ben Reiter

4:05 p.m. ET

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 Adam Wainwright. When healthy, Wainwright has proven to be one of the best hurlers in the NL Central. But a finger injury last season limited him to 20 starts (he went 11-3 with a 3.20 ERA).

On the other side, the Pirates will start Paul Maholm. The 26-year-old was one of the few bright spots for the Buccos in 2008, going 9-9 in 31 starts with a staff-leading 3.71 ERA. This spring, Maholm was one of the most dominant starters in the Grape League. The left-hander posted a 1.52 ERA over 23.2 innings, boasting a 14-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. It should be very interesting to see how he'll deal with Albert Pujols and Co.

-- Gennaro Filice

4 p.m. ET

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 Scott Olsen, Kevin Gregg and Joe Nelson -- three pitchers who combined to pitch more than 20 percent of their innings last year with a 3.65 ERA and are now working for other teams. Still, the two best reasons to be high on them will be on vivid display against the Nationals today.

The first of those, of course, is 24-year-old shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who may be the best player in the game. He enters the game with a career batting line of .308/.379/.529, essentially identical to what Alex Rodriguez did through the same age. The second is 26-year-old ace Ricky Nolasco, who takes the hill today looking to continue his blinding performance from the last two months of the 2008 campaign, when he ran up a Madduxian strikeout-to-walk ratio of 82:8 in 77.2 innings.

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 Jim Bowden's sketchy dealings in the Dominican Republic; this is a team that's spending $10.5 million on two injury-prone first basemen and $8 million more on another first baseman who will play left even though the team has four other starting outfielders. All of which would be more defensible if they had, say, a full rotation; but they don't. There's a lot of talent on this team, but it would take an Earl Weaver to make it all fit just so.

-- Tim Marchman

3:45 p.m. ET

BALTIMORE -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi certainly isn't hiding from the high expectations that come with a $200 million-plus payroll and big-ticket purchases like CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett.

"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 Steinbrenners feel about this team after they spent $423 million to ensure greatness, so maybe it isn't such a surprise he was bold enough to say, "We expect to be in the playoffs.''

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.

-- Jon Heyman

3:43 p.m. E.T.

In something of a shocking move, Jerry Manuel yanks Johan Santana from the game with a man on second and two outs. I understand that the next batter, Edwin Encarnacion, has had great success in his limited exposure to Santana (4-for-5 with two home runs entering the day), but still -- Santana had thrown only 99 pitches and was looking strong. Looks as if that revamped Mets' 'pen will be tested early ...

-- Ben Reiter

3:38 p.m. ET

Hank Blalock was once considered one of the game's best young power hitters, but largely due to injury his power has declined significantly the past couple years, with 38 home runs from 2006-08 after hitting 86 from 2003-05. He showed plenty of pop by yanking a Lee pitch into the seats in right for a three-run homer. The Rangers are raking against the defending Cy Young winner, having racked up seven runs and 10 hits in five innings. It will be a surprise if Lee returns for the sixth.

-- Ted Keith

3:35 p.m. ET

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 Bob Melvin's opening day lineup included a few mini-bombshells: with tough right-handed sinkerballer Aaron Cook on the mound for Colorado, Melvin's sitting both right fielder Justin Upton and third baseman Mark Reynolds (who quietly hit 28 bombs last year), replacing them in the order with Captain America (Eric Byrnes) and Tony Clark (who will play at first, as Chad Tracy shifts over to third). Upton didn't look so hot this spring (.197 average) and Melvin might be trying to light a fire under the 21-year-old, while going with two veterans that finished the spring strong. So here we go, in this duel of sinkerballers (Cook and Brandon Webb) and a pair of clubs -- both playoff teams in '07 -- coming off disappointing 2008 seasons.

-- Albert Chen

3:18 p.m. ET

Thanks mostly to a sharp breaking ball, Kevin Millwood has kept the Indians off balance, pitching shutout ball through the first four innings. The only bright spot for Cleveland's offense so far: at least they won't be no-hit by Millwood. (Grady Sizemore led off the fourth inning by lining a single to right, and Victor Martinez followed two batters later with a single to left.) Millwood escaped further damage by getting Travis Hafner to bounce into a 6-6-3 double play. In case you were wondering, Hall of Famer and Indians legend Bob Feller is the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter on Opening Day.

-- Ted Keith

3:16 p.m. E.T.

Aaron Harang is pulled, after 114 pitches, for pinch hitter Micah Owings. Owings was traded last September from the Diamondbacks to the Reds in the Adam Dunn deal. And although he's a pitcher, this guy can absolutely mash -- D-backs manager Bob Melvin told me last April that Owings and third baseman Mark Reynolds had the most power on the entire club -- and he enters '09 with five home runs, 21 RBI and a ridiculous .907 OPS in his two big league years. He's also looking more than ever like the actor Seth Rogen, now that Rogen has shed 40-plus pounds.

Of course, he hadn't seen many Johan Santana-caliber changeups in his career as of yet, and mighty Micah struck out. (Side note: Replacing the 6-foot-7 Harang will be 5-foot-7 reliever Danny Herrera -- it's got to be tough for Mets hitters to pick up that change in arm slot).

-- Ben Reiter

2:57 p.m. ET

A terrific nine-pitch at-bat from Daniel Murphy ends when Murphy drives a Harang meatball over the right-field wall for the game's first run. (The first four-bagger of Opening Day!) Count me among those who love the Mets' new low-cost left-field platoon of Murphy and Gary Sheffield. I have to laugh at concerns that Sheff will somehow damage the Mets' chemistry, as if this particular club has any sort of chemistry to begin with. In fact, I expect Sheffield's intensity to have a positive impact on the clubhouse when late September rolls around. I'd be much more worried about his declining skills in the outfield.

-- Ben Reiter

2:50 p.m. ET

Chris Davis struck out on a high-80s fastball with runners at second and third and one out. Not only did he fail to get the runs in, the bat slipped out of his hands and went about 10 rows deep in the first base stands. Jarrod Saltalamacchia picked him up with a two-run single to right, Elvis Andrus followed by lining a double to right, and Ian Kinsler delivered an RBI single up the middle. After a walk to Young, Lee gets Hamilton to fly out with the bases loaded to end the 34-pitch inning.

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.

-- Ted Keith

2:38 p.m. ET

We're already seeing some encouraging signs from Mets right fielder Ryan Church, who played only 90 games in '08 due to a concussion and its aftereffects. Church is now 2-for-2 (true, the hits were a dribbler to third and a bloop to center, but still), and he also made a fine sliding catch in the second, after which he was able to pop up and fire a laser to first base to double off Edwin Encarnacion.

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.

-- Ben Reiter

2:35 pm

Cliff Lee just took a sharp one-hopper off his pitching elbow from Hank Blalock. Lee made one warm-up pitch and, aside from a knot on his arm, appears to be fine, but it will be worth watching to see if his arm tightens at all. Remember how we said Lee was critical to the Indians' chances this year? I don't think losing him in the second inning of the season opener is what manager Eric Wedge was hoping for.

-- Ted Keith

2:26 p.m. ET

Ben Reiter might have promised not to talk about the weather anymore, but I feel the need to remind fans that the entire country isn't in the same cold, wet boat this afternoon. First pitch in Arlington today came amid sunny skies and 53 degree temperatures. I'm sure folks in Boston, Kansas City and Cincinnati don't want to hear it, but that's actually 23 degrees cooler than the average April day near Big D. In other words, at least one baseball game today is being played in actual baseball weather. Oh, and neither team scored in the first inning.

-- Ted Keith

1:59 p.m. ET

Cliff Lee began last year as an afterthought in the Indians' rotation. He begins this season as the reigning Cy Young winner and Opening Day starter. Lee's transformation from demoted veteran in 2007 to the AL's best pitcher in 2008 was well-chronicled, and it will be interesting to see if he is able to pick up where he left off. He entered 2008 with almost no expectations. With CC Sabathia gone and Fausto Carmona not yet the sure thing many thought he'd be, Lee will be asked to pitch at a level very similar to his Cy Young-form of a year ago.

Among the batters he'll be facing today are his counterpart for last year's best and most surprising feel-good story -- outfielderJosh Hamilton -- as well as one of the most intriguing prospects in the game, 20-year-old shortstop Elvis Andrus. Hamilton emerged as one of the game's premier sluggers, and his light-tower power show at the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium was arguably the signature moment of the season. Andrus, meanwhile, has been deemed so good that he bumped five-time All-Star Michael Young, a Gold Glover last year, from shortstop to third base. The move was controversial at the time, and if Andrus struggles early this season, how long will manager Ron Washington and Rangers brass stick with him?

-- Ted Keith

1:55 p.m. ET

It took Johan Santana 31 pitches to get through the first -- a surprisingly high total, as he made the inning's first two batters, Jerry Hairston and Darnell McDonald, look absolutely foolish in striking them out with his patented changeup. We're at 0-0, and the rain appears to be coming down harder now. (I promise this will be the last time I mention the weather today, lest I begin to remind you of your Great Aunt Rose or something.)

-- Ben Reiter

1:45 p.m. ET

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.

-- Tim Marchman

1:28 p.m. ET

Well, it appears as if my weather forecasting skills are about as advanced as those of Brick Tamland (the meteorologist in Anchorman who boasts an IQ of 48), as Harang delivered the first pitch of this Opening Day at 1:23 p.m. ET -- a strike to Jose Reyes on the outside corner. The ceremonial first pitch came from none other than Nick Lachey, which is somewhat mind-blowing. No offense to Mssr. Lachey's fine work in 98 Degrees and on reality television, but this is the best we could do for the first day game of the season?

-- Ben Reiter

12:32 p.m. ET

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 play in any weather, but I digress.

If the Mets and Reds do somehow manage to play today (UPDATE: First pitch has now been pushed back from 1:10 p.m. to 1:20 p.m.), I'll be closely watching the young home team, which enters '09 with a number of question marks -- and a serious amount of potential. Of particular interest will be the performance of starter Aaron Harang, the big righty who put together three consecutive terrific seasons from '05-'07 (he finished 4th in the NL Cy Young voting in '07) before scuffling terribly in 2008, when he went 6-17 and saw his ERA jump by more than a full run, to 4.78. It is indeed unfair to judge a pitcher who is attempting to perform under conditions like today's, but I'll be looking for an indication as to whether last year was a miserable detour in Harang's career, or a sign of things to come.

I'll also have my eye on the Reds' second-year sluggers, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, who are due to hit third and fifth (respectively) today. This will be the Reds' first Opening Day without Adam Dunn since 2002, and much of the run production load in a relatively powerless lineup will fall on the shoulders of Votto and Bruce, who certainly have the right attitude. I happened to be sitting in manager Dusty Baker's office in Bradenton this spring at the moment when Votto returned, wide-eyed, from playing for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic.

"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."

-- Ben Reiter

12:10 p.m. ET

Hip, hip, hooray, it's Opening Day!

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)- Rays at Red Sox (Shower time!)

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.

-- Gennaro Filice