Tuesday, April 3, 2007
One Down, 161 To Go
Welp, the Twins just finished game number one with a very nice 7-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles. It was a good game for a first game. You could certainly see some first game jitters, but hopefully those will be out of the way in short time. I am going to be pretty brief today because I was up way too late working on all of those predictions and must sleep, but here are a few thoughts on the season's first game.
Johan Santana picked up his first win of the season. The star lefty gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks in his six innings. At times, he looked spectacular. Other times, he fought some control issues and got hurt. That tells you just how amazing Santana is. Why do I say that? Because if he isn't completely on his game, particularly with location, he too can be hit. It makes it pretty amazing that he is "on" so often. He will only get better!
The vaunted bullpen came through with three scoreless innings. Dennys Reyes did not have much control and got an out and a walk, but Jesse Crain came in and got the final two outs. I thought Crain looked pretty good and he was working all three of his pitches. I know he's been in the league now for two full seasons, but he is someone that I think will only get better and better. Why? Fastball at 95. Slider at 89. Curveball at 80. Control over those three pitches will be key, but when he finally gets it with all three, he will be Nathan-like! Juan Rincon was being squeezed by home plate umpire Joe West, but he got through it. And Joe Nathan was dominant as always.
In the second inning, Justin Morneau hit the first pitch he saw to the opposite field for his first home of the season. The next pitch was to Torii Hunter and he went yard opposite field as well. It was at that moment that I totally wanted to be at the ballpark. That place must have been going crazy!
Morneau came out with three hits. He had the homer, a nice two-strike single to left field, and a line drive should-have-been double off the baggy in right. I think he was safe on a close play at 2B. One example of playing with a little bit too much energy was when he tried to score from 2B on a based loaded single to right by Jeff Cirillo. He had no chance, so I don't know why he went. Nick Markakis, as good of a hitter as he is, has a great arm. Remember that he was a star pitcher in college and had as many teams looking to draft him as a pitcher as as a catcher.
Luis Castillo slapped his way to three hits. As much as we all think Torii Hunter will have a big year because he is playing for his next big contract, maybe Luis Castillo can have a solid contract year too!
Was that great LF defense by Rondell White? He made a great diving catch in which he ran quite a ways to make the play. Oh, and more impressively, White took a walk in the game. It took him six weeks to do that last year!
At this rate, Michael Cuddyer will strike out 486 times and leave 976 runners on base! Note - I'm not worried.
Tonight, it will be Boof Bonser facing Daniel Cabrera. I know a lot of people wanted to believe that Leo Mazzone would work his wonders on the wild, but uber-talented Cabrera. It does take time, but I think that Cabrera could become one of the league's best by the end of this season. It is also a big night for Bonser. he seems pretty composed, but I am sure it will be good to get that first start out of the way.
The Win puts the Twins in first place with the Cleveland Indians and the Kansas City Royals, a game ahead of the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox.
Let's take a real quick look at some Opening Day box scores and see if there is anything interesting:
Gil Meche beat the Red Sox by giving up just one run in 7.1 innings of work. Good for him!
Hanley Ramirez had a nice 4 hit game with two doubles. He also stole two bases. Can he be another Jose Reyes already this year?
Miguel Cabrera drove in four runs with his single, double and home run.
Brian McCann had a single, double and home runs for the Braves against the Phillies. Edgar Renterria hit two home runs including the game-winner in the 10th.
Elijah Dukes homered in his first big league game, for his first big league hit.
Alex Rodriguez went 2-5 with a homer and a stolen base, but he still gave Yankees fans reason to boo him when he misplayed a foul pop up.
Cleveland jumped all over Jose Contreras with seven first inning runs. Grady Sizemore led off the game with a home run. Trot Nixon had three hits in his first game with the Tribe. Sizemore, Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta each had two hits in the game.
So, Ben Sheets has missed time the last two seasons with arm injuries. So, on Opening Day, the Brewers let him pitch a complete game, with only a solo home run by Jeff Kent tarnishing a shutout. It was one of two Dodgers hits. Am I wrong in thinking it is crazy to let him go all nine innings in a 7-1 win? Of course, he threw just 104 pitches.
Adam Dunn had two LONG home runs for the Reds in his first two at bats. The interesting thing is that Dunn is hitting 2nd in the Reds lineup, ahead of Brandon Phillips of all people. With Ken Griffey Jr as the cleanup man, could Phillips be in a better spot?
Speaking of strange lineups... how is Orlando Hudson the #3 hitter for a team that some seem to believe have a playoff chance (Arizona)? Of course, in Game 1, he went 3-4 with a double and two RBI.
Like Michael Cuddyer, Rockies star Matt Holliday is on pace to strikeout 486 times and leave 972 runners on base. In other words, nothing to worry about.
In the Royals big win over Curt Schilling and the Red Sox, Mark Grudzielanek had three hits and three RBI. Mark Teahen, Mike Sweeney, John Buck and Tony Pena, Jr., each had two hits as well. Pena had two triples in the game.
Felix Hernandez went eight shutout innings against the A's. He gave up just three hits, walked none and struck out 12. This may just be his breakout year! Again though, 111 pitches is a lot at this point in the season.
Jason Bay hit a big two run, 10th inning homer to give the Pirates a win over the Astros.
Cristian Guzman batted second for the Washington Nationals and went 0-3. He left the game after the fifth inning with a hamstring injury and could miss some time.
Levale Speigner made his big league debut for the Nationals. He gave up just one run in his 2.1 innings. He allowed three hits, walked three and struck out one. Just 19 of his 41 pitches were strikes.
Todd Jones pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the Tigers.
Doug Mientkiewicz went 1-1 for the Yankees. With Scott Kazmir pitching against the Yankees, Josh Phelps got the start at 1B.
Casey Blake went 1-4 with a double, two runs and an RBI as the Indians first baseman and 5th hitter.
AJ Pierzynski went 0-3 catching for the White Sox.
Jacque Jones was 1-4 and played RF and batted fifth.
LaTroy Hawkins got the loss for the Rockies. He gave up three runs in just 2/3 of an inning.
David Ortiz went 1-3 with a double that drove in a run.
JC Romero came in with runners on in relief of Joel Pineiro. He got the next two outs.
Shannon Stewart went 0-4 as the A's LF and #2 hitter.
Other Things to Read
That is it for today. Did anything catch your interest in the Twins game or in any of the games played yesterday. Send me an e-mail, or feel free to include Comments below.|
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