Yesterday’s games featured an extreme overabundance of fantastic pitching. Of the seven games, only two teams (Toronto and Los Angeles) scored more than four runs. The Marlins, Pirates, and Braves were all shut out, and the Mets, Phillies, and Cubs all only scored one run. I’m sure this is going to be a “well duh” moment, since all the teams aces will be pitching since yesterday was Opening Day for half the league. But man, Erik Bedard held the Phillies to one run over seven innings. Johan Santana shut out the Braves for five. These aren’t exactly star pitchers. In the seven games yesterday, there were a total of 88 hits, or about a little over 12 per game between the two teams. That seems low, doesn’t it? There were also a total of only six home runs, with five of those six coming in the Blue Jays-Indians and Dodgers-Padres games. Pitching fever: catch it!
Game of the Night: Blue Jays 7, Indians 4 (16 innings). It was the longest game ever on Opening Day. Indians starter Justin Masterson allowed just two hits and one run in eight innings, and was pulled at 99 pitches by manager Manny Acta to make way for closer (with a capital C!) Chris Perez. Of course, Perez allowed three runs and put five men on base while only getting two outs (and honestly, Edwin Encarnacion’s game-tying double just missed going out of the park). The teams remained scoreless until the 16th when Toronto got three off of Indians reliever Jairo Asencio, who was acquired from the Braves for cash last week, in his third inning of work. Toronto’s closer Sergio Santos closed it out, and that was that. The Blue Jays revamped bullpen immediately paid dividends, as they threw no less than 11 scoreless innings on Opening Day, allowing four hits, walking eight, and striking out eight. The walks aren’t pretty, but 11 scoreless innings. Come on. That line includes four scoreless from Luis Perez, who didn’t allow a hit. wow.
Pitching Line of the Night: Same game, different team. Justin Masterson was an absolute beast for the Indians, so it’s completely appropriate for him to walk away from things with a no decision. Eight innings, two hits, one run (coming on a Jose Bautista moonshot in the fourth), one walk, and ten strikeouts. Good lord! I labeled him an extension candidate for the Indians, and he did nothing to prove me wrong one start into the season.
Hitting Line of the Night: I hate to keep focusing on one game, but that’s where all the interesting stuff happened. Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista went 3/4 with a homer and two RBI, while also walking twice. So to reiterate, he reached base five times in his first seven plate appearances of the season. Yeah, that’s a pretty good run. Another hat tip to Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, literally the only offense the team had: he went 3/3 with an RBI.
Spotlight Series: my spotlight series for this week was the Nationals-Cubs matchup, and the first game did nothing to calm me down about how critical of a series this was. Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Dempster dueled for seven innings, with Dempster holding a 1-0 lead going into the eighth, having outdueled Strasburg. Dempster left the game with two outs in the eighth and a man on first, and made way for Kerry Wood. Wood proceeded to walk the next three batters to tie the game and blow the Cubs lead. In the ninth, Cubs closer Carlos Marmol got the first two outs with ease before allowing a double to Chad Tracy (really? Chad Tracy?), and a go-ahead single to Ian Desmond to give Washington the lead. Nationals interim closer Brad Lidge got the save despite allowing a one out triple in the ninth, as pinch runner Joe Mather immediately broke towards home on a grounder to third and was gunned out at the plate immediately following the triple. Game two is Saturday, and will pit Matt Garza against Gio Gonzalez.
Other Games: Justin Verlander and Roy Halladay both threw eight inning shutouts, but Verlander’s bullpen blew the game for him, while Halladay’s did not. In a loss to the Mets, Atlanta reliever Kris Medlen threw 21 pitches over two innings of work….and 20 were strikes. That takes some skill. Clayton Kershaw left his start against the Padres after just three innings after experiencing flu-like symptoms. Cameron Maybin had the homer of the night in that game against the Dodgers, a titanic shot to left field off of the third floor of the warehouse. The Marlins fell to 0-2, and Hanley Ramirez and Giancarlo Stanton still don’t have hits. It’s clearly the end of the world in Miami.
Today’s Games: nine games on the slate, highlighted by a Tim Lincecum-Ian Kennedy matchup at 7:00 in the desert. CC Sabathia vs James Shields in Tampa at 3;10 is pretty sexy too, as is the Jaime Garcia vs Yovani Gallardo duel in Milwaukee at 4:10.
Remember, for live tweeting during the games, follow us on Twitter @Outside_Corner!
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone!