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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Red Sox Opener and Notes from Opening Day.

After tripling to drive in the game-tying run in the top of the 9th and deliver the Big Potato, Jose Velvarde his first blown save of 2012 and the first since 2010, Ryan Sweeney was in line to be the hero on Thursday. Sadly, that only lasted for about 20 minutes as the Boston bullpen went on to give up the walk off to Austin Jackson in the next half inning. It was unlikely that the Red Sox were going to get to see the bottom of the 9th because Justin Verlander delivered one of the most dominating opening day performances that I have ever seen. He pitched 8 innings of 2 hit ball and looked very strong. Jon Lester was great as well, going 7 innings and giving up just one run on 6 hits.

The story of the game for me was how Bobby Valentine handled the bullpen in the 9th inning. After not giving the now open closer job to the most experienced man in his bullpen, Mark Melancon, Valentine brought him in to start the 9th. Melancon recorded the first out and then gave up two opposite field singles, neither of which was hit hard at all. Valentine then pulled Melancon with the 9 hole hitter up for his “closer”, Alfredo Aceves. Aceves hit the next batter and gave up the walk off single to Austin Jackson. But regardless of the outcome, it was Melancon’s mess and he should have been left to clean it up. Melancon is the guy the Sox traded for and put him in line to be their closer before acquiring Andrew Bailey, and after not naming him your closer following the Bailey injury, I highly doubt that he thinks that Valentine has much confidence in him.

Notes from around the league-

It was a day of pitching around the majors on Thursday. The Pirates came up with two hits in their first two at bats but that was all they could do against Roy Halladay as they fell to the Phillies 1-0.

The Cubs lost to the Nationals 2-1 in a game that Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Dempster combined to pitch 14.2 innings and give up just 7 hits. The loss marked the fourth year in a row that the Cubs lost in their home opener.

Johnny Cueto worked over the Marlins and handed them their second loss in about 20 hours going 7 innings and giving up just 3 hits. He allowed just one batter to reach second base when Gaby Sanchez doubled in the 7th.

Johan Santana pitched five scoreless innings in his first start since September 2nd, 2010 as the Mets beat the Braves 1-0.

The best game of the day so far (Dodgers and Padres play tonight in San Diego) took place in Cleveland where the Blue Jays beat the Indians 7-4 in a game that took 16 innings to finish. The difference was a JP Arencibia 3 run homer in the top of the 16th. Chris Perez blew the save for the Indians and Jose Bautista hit his first HR of 2012 after hitting 43 in 2011. The Benches cleared in the bottom of the 15th after Luis Perez threw high and tight to Shin-Soo Choo. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Opening Night

Wednesday was a night of many “official” firsts for the Miami Marlins and it was as colorful as the language of Ozzie Guillen. New uniforms, new manager, new players, new fans, and of course an immaculate new ball park. The only problem was that their first house-guests, the Cardinals, were ungrateful and all but took a dump right in the middle of center field where Wednesday, many balls went to die.

“The Greatest” Muhammad Ali highlighted the pre game festivities by delivering the game ball. Josh Johnson then took that ball and delivered it for a strike to Rafeal Furcal to officially open the baseball season, stateside. 

Johnson went on to give up 3 hits and two runs in that first inning. Both runs came on a double by the legend of last October, David Freese. Johnson only allowed one more run in his six innings of work but gave up a total of 10 hits and 12 base runners while never really being in control.

In control is how I would describe how Kyle Loshe looked on Wednesday. Through 6 he faced the minimum and took a no-hitter into the 7th inning. He was effective but by no means dominating. The Marlins just did not seem interested in swinging at hittable pitches.

The Hanley Ramirez at third experiment gave us our first “LOL” or maybe “WTF” moment. On a soft ground ball to the five and a half hole by Carlos Beltran in the second, Ramirez simply watched the ball trickle by. Jose Reyes did not make the play either and the ball ended up in left field, but the play was obviously the third baseman’s to make. Josh Johnson got out of the inning on the next pitch but could be seen shaking his head as he went to cover third on that miss play by Ramirez. The next inning, Ramirez did make a great play to double up Freese at first on a liner by Yadier Molina.

I hope the new park does not affect Hanley, Giancarlo Stanton and other Marlin power hitters like Citi field did David Wright and Jason Bay. Stanton hit 2 balls to center/right center that would of gone out of most parks in the majors, but both were caught. I will have to wait and see how that park plays over the next few months before I give my final impressions of it. But I will say this, it aint no Yankee Stadium.

All night I kept saying that I wanted to see “the thingy” and was disappointed that I did not get to see the new home run structure in center field go off. Other than that it was good opening night. I would of loved to see the first opening day no hitter since 1940 when Bob Feller pitched one, but hey, we have to be realistic. 

The Marlins travel to Cincinnati to play the Reds tomorrow while the Cardinals will be in Milwaukee for the Brewers home opener on Friday.