Well, it was the unofficial Opening Day, anyway, for those who don’t count the 1–game showstopper on Sunday, incomprehensibly staged in Boston after the Yanks won the World Series last year. Yes, yes, we know. The schedule is arranged beforehand. Still, Yankee fans will remember that the Opening Day 2005 rematch between the Yankees and Red Sox was also held in Boston, following Boston’s first championship in 86 years on the heels of the Yankees’ collapse in the 2004 ALCS after a highly-charged season marked by on-field hostilities between these 100+-year rivals. But at least, that year, the whole country — that is, Baseball Nation — wasn’t held hostage to a single game in the allegedly “liberal elite” northeast, paradoxically home to these 2 mega-corporations (by baseball standards) which are so often accused of monopolizing not just the national broadcast agenda but the game itself, while handing out millions to front offices across “the real America,” where the fruits of revenue sharing are too often treated like entitlements and frittered on anything except the very players that would draw the kind of crowds that support winning teams while creating profits. On the political ambiguities of baseball, enough said, for the moment.
Opening Day April 5, 2010: Some Highlights
Garrett Jones put the Allegheny River on the baseball map yesterday! The Pirates picked up right where I saw them leave the Dodgers flailing near the end of last season: Bucco Paradise: PNC Park. (Dodgers 5 @ Pirates 11) Nice that David Wright could reclaim CitiField after a tough year, with a HR on a new opening day. (Marlins 1 (@ Mets 7) Tigers batted .308, largely off Greinke’s relievers, and Detroit’s bullpen shut down the Royals for 4 innings after Verlander’s brief outing at Kauffman Stadium, where I have not been, yet. (Tigers 8 @ Royals 4)
Buehrle! I just listened to yesterday’s Right Sox host the Indians. 7 shutout innings for the win. That was some play in the 5th, running into foul territory for a ball that had struck his ankle/shin, then flipping between his legs to Konerko, who caught it barehanded. I am glad he started strong after struggling following the perfect game last year. (I attended the disappointing match-up with Sabathia at The Cell shortly after that.) It was also refreshing to see the team score in early innings with 2 outs and runners in scoring position. Alex Rios seemed sharp after last year’s talk of “lackadaisicality” in his approach. (Indians 0 @ Right Sox 7)
- Greinke wins! He bats 2 for 3 and scores, too! KC vs Florida 9-3
- How cool — in an intra-state interleague ERA staredown in Ohio, Cleveland’s bounding LHP Cliff Lee (6-0.067) faces RHP Edinson Volquez (6-1.112) at Cincinnati.
- Lefty Shawn Estes (1-0, .257) starts his 2nd game since 2006 vs Seattle’s RHP Felix Hernandez (2-4 3.38) at 1:10pm. (His 1st game was his 100th win! May 13, 2008, at Wrigley) He’s a Padre, and that makes me feel good. Did you wonder where he was? As he comes back from a long recovery from Tommy John surgery and works on some of his old trouble spots, I am hoping that being this inspired pitching-focused team — home of former Angels pitching coach Bud Black as Manager and Coach of last year’s MLB-leading pitching staff Darren Balsey — will make his return a welcoming one. Otherwise, maybe Dave Duncan on the Cardinals would be a good match. Not that they can just choose their locations like that. I’ve enjoyed him since his presence on the Mets, where, like Steve Trachsel‘s, his record did not always reflect what happened on field, For awhile the easiest way to keep track of him was to follow Dusty Baker. It was nice to see that.
SHAWN CHACON Makes Houston’s Rotation!
“Chacon pitched five innings, allowing three hits and one run with four strikeouts in Houston’s 8-7 win over Atlanta.
“Astros general manager Cecil Cooper said after the game that the right-hander has ‘got to be 1 of the guys’ who will join ace Roy Oswalt in the rotation.” KLTV 7 (East Texas) 3-20-08“Chacon’s work in win over Braves earns spot in Astros’ rotation” (AP) http://www.kltv.com/Global/story.asp?S=8044019&nav=1TjF
“‘Chacon retired nine of his first 10 batters before allowing three hits in the fourth, and overall, he held the Braves to one run. After giving up five runs over three innings in his previous outing and rating it ‘G,’ for ‘garbage,’ the right-hander was considerably happier with this showing.
“‘That’s a lot better,’ Chacon said. ‘I just pounded the strike zone from the first inning. That’s the difference. I had a good changeup tonight, threw the breaking ball for strikes. I didn’t get as many ground balls as I’d like, but I’m not complaining at all.'” “Chacon throws himself into the rotation: Cooper says righty practically a lock after Wednesday’s outing” by Allyson Footer, MLB.com 3-19- 08 http://houston.astros.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080319&content_id=2445882&vkey=spt2008news&fext=.jsp&c_id=hou
ZACK GREINKE Is Back, Shuts Down White Sox A-Team!
“The Royals…built leads of 5-1 and 6-2 behind Zack Greinke, who limited the White Sox to two runs and four hits in six innings. Greinke struck out six and walked one…
Greinke got stronger in each of his five spring starts. In all, he gave up 12 runs and 18 hits in 20 innings but just three runs and seven hits in his last 11 innings.
“‘I was a little worried at the start of spring training,’ he said. ‘I started off way worse than I ever imagined. The first game was horrible. I had no idea where anything was going or what it was going to do. I just felt lost out there.'”
“‘The last two outings, I’ve been really happy with how they’ve been.'” “Royals’ Day in Camp” by Bob Dutton 3-23-2008 http://www.kansascity.com/baseball/story/543682.html
SHAWN ESTES Wins in Relief!
- 2 scoreless hitless innings of 10, ending 3-2 over KC on 3-22!
Lefty tosses two scoreless, hitless innings with two K’s by Alan Esquew Special to MLB.com March 22, 2007 http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080322&content_id=2452369&vkey=spt2008news&fext=.jsp&c_id=sd
- + 2 SO’s and 3 groundball outs! one walk.
- Was in Minors last year from 2006 Tommy John surgery
- “‘I’m getting more comfortable on the mound,’ Estes said. ‘I felt like I was going in the right direction today. My breaking ball was coming around. It’s hard to gauge after two innings, but I felt like I was throwing the ball a little bit better today.
“‘That was the hope all spring that I gradually got better. I didn’t feel like I would struggle this bad with my command, but I’m improving, making progress.'”
- “Padres manager Buddy Black liked what he saw of Estes against the Royals.
“‘Shawn threw well,’ Black said. ‘I liked Shawn’s sink on the fastball. He had some good running action and got some grounders. He ran it in on some lefties and away from righties. He looked good.’
“Black noted Estes hasn’t missed his turn in a game or throwing bullpen sessions. ‘So that’s a great sign for Shawn that he’s coming around physically,’ Black said.”
“‘It’s just a matter of fine-tuning some things, finding my release point more consistently, being more consistent with my mechanics, being more fluid,’ Estes said. ‘Now that I’m full strength, it’s like the first time I’ve picked up a baseball. When I get on the mound, I feel great at 80 to 85 percent, but when I get that extra 10 to 15 percent effort, things have been falling out of whack a little bit.
“I’t’s a matter of being able to throw and compete at full-strength again, mentally knowing that everything is fine, now throwing strikes. It’s just been different. It’s been difficult.'”