The A's have started off 0-2 against the Mariners, of all teams, and it hasn't been especially pretty. An error turned into a meltdown for Dan Haren (three-run homer for Richie Sexson being the key blow) and two bullpen stalwarts (Kiko Calero and Justin Duchscherer) sucked last night. Four runs scored over the two games also isn't going to get it done. Rich Harden gets his first start tonight, though, so hopefully things get better from here.
Meanwhile, around the rest of the league from the first two days (two full days - I don't count the Mets-Cardinals tilt on "Opening Day" as a real day of baseball) in the majors:
The Nationals suffered two injuries in their first game. Nook Logan and Cristian Guzman both went down. Neither are very good players, but if Washington had anyone better, these two wouldn't be starters in the first place. The result at shortstop is apparently that Felipe Lopez, who'd been moved to second this spring, will play short in Guzman's absence, with Ronnie Belliard playing second. Swapping Belliard in for Guzman can be nothing but good, can it? Meanwhile, recent Athletic D'Angelo Jimenez is up from the minors to take Guzman's roster spot.
For some reason, the Orioles are going with 13 pitchers. 13. That's ridiculous. Although as that story notes, Ramon Hernandez's injury means that they've had to adjust that - he's not DL'd, but he can't catch right now, either. Of course, that kind of thing is exactly why you don't want to be carrying all those pitchers in the first place. That and how on earth do you keep eight guys fresh in the bullpen? Especially early in the season with all the off-days?
If Grady Sizemore is the leadoff hitter for Cleveland long-term, he could threaten Rickey Henderson's record for homers leading off a game. He hit on one Opening Day and with his kind of power, it shouldn't be all that rare an occurrence.
"As is [Ron] Washington's style, the Rangers elected to play for a run." Source. Did Washington learn nothing from being with the A's? Furthermore, the Rangers, with that lineup (Texeira, Blalock, maybe Sosa, Kinsler, Young) in that ballpark, should not be playing one-run strategies all that often, and certainly not as a matter of first option.
Notable lines from all over:
Congratulations to Elijah Dukes for hitting his first major league homer in his first major league game for the Devil Rays. That Devil Ray outfield, with Dukes, Carl Crawford, and Delmon Young looks dangerous. Rocco Baldelli has been pushed to the DH spot. They also flashed some speed (steals for Crawford and Baldelli) and defense (an assist for Dukes) in their first game against they Yankees.
Edgar Renteria's two homers, including one in the tenth inning, were the story out of the first Braves-Phillies tilt, but Brett Myers' quality start (three runs in 7 2/3 innings) with nine strikeouts is also pretty sweet. Too bad fellow youngster Ryan Madson couldn't hold things down in extra innings.
Hanley Ramirez scored four of the Marlins' nine runs against Washington after two singles and two doubles. He also stole two bases, including third once. Rookie center fielder had a nice debut, with two hits, including a triple. Three strikeouts and eight baserunners in six innings doesn't usually translate into just one earned run, but that was Dontrelle Willis's result.
Craig Monroe took the sombrero in Detroit's loss to the Blue Jays on Opening Day, going 0-4 with four whiffs. Jeremy Bonderman's supposed to be a power groundball guy, but he had only four groundouts in the game compared to eleven in the air. Detroit had better hope that's just an aberration.
Ever Darin Erstad homer is improbable, so Erstad hit an improbable homer off of CC Sabathia in the White Sox's Opening Day loss to the Indians. Trot Nixon had an auspicious debut for Cleveland, going 3-4 with a walk and a double, leading to three runs scored.
Milwaukee might be my favorite NL team, from the perspective of finding a team to root for with a neat collection of young talent that could be really good for some time. Ben Sheets led the way to victory on Opening Day, throwing a complete game (the first Opening Day complete game in fifteen years, I think someone said) on just 104 pitches. He only struck out three, so his two hits allowed have to have involved some luck, but he didn't help the Dodgers out: no walks, no HBP's. Weirdly, both hits went for extra bases: Jeff Kent's homer and Brady Clark's double.
Aaron Harang didn't need much help, giving up only an unearned run in seven innings against the Cubs, but Adam Dunn gave it to him anyway, popping two homers off of Carlos Zambrano. He also walked once and struck out once, so his Three True Outcomes percentage was 80% for Opening Day. That's the Adam Dunn we know and love.
Willy Taveras also didn't make the defense work against Arizona, but his result was four strikeouts and a walk, which is not so good, particularly in Colorado - the thin air and spacious outfield only helps you if you put the ball in play, Willy.
The story of the day was Kansas City beating up on Boston, 7-1. The $55 Million Man pitched like one, allowing just one run in 7 1/3 innings, even striking out six Sox along the way.
One note about the Mariners-A's game: Felix Hernandez did not even have one out recorded in the air. Twelve strikeouts, twelve groundouts. That's remarkable. Is this the year that he turns into King Felix for real?
Brad Lidge continued his slide, blowing the Astros' game against the Pirates by giving up a game-tying homer to Xavier Nady. Roy Oswalt bore the brunt, as his 7 2/3 innings, one-run performance was wasted.
All kinds of baserunning going on in the Texas-Anaheim game, with Kenny Lofton stealing two bases, Mike Napoli (a large catcher) stealing one, and Shea Hillenbrand getting thrown out twice.
Alberto Castillo might want to work on his throwing. The Orioles' third string catcher, playing because Ramon Hernandez is hurt and Paul Bako got clocked in the chin by Justin Morneau on Monday, got stolen on five times by the Twins on Tuesday, including once by Joe Mauer. That Twin bullpen is nasty. This time it went Neshek-Rincon-Reyes-Crain-Nathan, with the result being three innings, two hits, one walk, three strikeouts, while preserving a one-run lead over the Twins.
Barry Zito didn't pitch great in his debut, but when Jake Peavy and his bullpen buddies Cla "Y" Meredith and Heath "Cliff" Bell throw a donut at the Giants, it doesn't matter how you pitch - you're probably in line for a loss. Barry Bonds somehow stole a base in the game.
Scott Olsen had a single and a double and overcame five walks in 5 1/3 innings to get the win over Washington. Josh Wilson showed why Manny Acta wanted to move Felipe Lopez over to short, making two errors, both on throws.
Pittsburgh beat Houston's bullpen again by scoring two runs in the top of the eighth to take a 3-2 win. The culprit this time was Dan Wheeler, blowing a nice six-inning, one-run start by new Astro Jason Jennings. Ian Snell had eleven strikeouts in just six innings for Pittsburgh.
Moises Alou and Shawn Green looked their age for the Mets, stranding eleven men between them as they batted back-to-back. Lastings Milledge, where are you? (The Mets won anyway.)
Arizona scored one in the top of the eleventh against Colorado only to see the Rockies plate two in the bottom half to take the win. Byung-Hyun Kim got the semi-vulture win.
Joe Blanton had a game that you'd love to see from him in some respects: no walks, seven strikeouts in six innings, just five hits allowed. Problem: two of those hits were doubles and a third was a two-run Richie Sexson homer. Still, five-hit, no-walk, seven-strikeout games will result in a lot of wins for Blanton this year if he can keep it up.