Yesterday was Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Sure, the Mariners and Athletics played a couple of regular season games in Japan during the Opening Series, but yesterday was considered by many to be the start of the 2012 season.
Of the seven games played, every inning of every single game was exciting. None more than the Blue Jays and Indians game, which lasted longer that any game ever has in Opening Day history–going 16 innings. Breaking the old record of 15.
Being such a big day, I thought I’d go through each game and give a SHORT recap, followed by my impressions of the game.
Recap: This game started out a real pitchers dual, as it took all the way to the bottom of the seventh before a run was put on the board by either team. It was the Tigers scoring first, and going into the top of the ninth they were up 2-0. The Red Sox rallied back however, as they scored two runs off Jose Valverde to tie it up. This was the first blown save for Valverde since 2010. Valverde ended up getting the win as the Tigers won 3-2, with Austin Jackson being the hero with a walk-off single.
Impressions: Starting pitcher Justin Verlander looked good as usual, pitching 8 scoreless innings, giving up a mere two hits and striking out 7. This was the regular season debut of Prince Fielder in a Tigers uniform. Fielder went 1-3, with an RBI in this game, but I thought he looked really comfortable with his new team. Give him a game or two more, and I think he’ll really start putting up big numbers.
I thought the Red Sox looked a little off. The team as a whole didn’t do all that well in their first game of the season, as only four of their players recorded hits. Although starting pitcher Jon Lester gave up 6 hits, which subsequently ended with a run scoring, I thought he looked rather decent on the mound. He walked three, and only struck out four through 7 innings pitched, but I thought his command was there, at least more than it was last season. I look for a good year out of him.
Recap: Just as the Tigers-Red Sox game had been, this game also started out with both starting pitchers doing well. It took until the bottom of the sixth inning for either team to score. It had the Mets scoring a run, off an RBI single by David Wright. The one run proved to be enough in this game, as the final score was 1-0, Mets.
Impressions: Obviously the big story of the game was Mets’ starting pitcher Johan Santana. This was his first start since 2010, as surgery in 2011 caused him to miss the entire season. Santana looked really good out of the gate, as he gave up only two hits through 5 innings pitched, while striking out five and giving up no runs. Although his fastball might of lost a mile per hour or two, it’s still affective. I think Santana is due to have an extremely good year.
David Wright is the guy that I’m going to keep a close eye on for the 2012 season. He has the ability to be a real star, but hasn’t put up star numbers in recent years. Batting right-handed, the shortened distance to the outfield wall is sure to give him another homer or two for the season. Wright went 2-3 with an RBI in yesterday’s game. I look for him to keep putting up those kind of numbers through out the remainder of the season.
I thought the Braves looked sloppy in this game, both offensively and defensively. Their pitching wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good enough to get the job done. Only four Braves recorded hits in the game, as the Mets pitching proved too much.
Recap: Both starting pitchers started out well in this game. I expected Roy Halladay to dominate like he always does, but I never thought Erik Bedard would keep the tough Phillies lineup scoreless through six. I was really impressed with Bedard. He did end up surrendering what would turn out to be the game winning run in the seventh however, as the Pirates failed to bat anyone home, making the final score 1-0, Phillies.
Impressions: I didn’t watch much of this game, but the few innings that I did I was really impressed. It was no surprise that Roy Halladay had the game that he did, I mean, he’s Roy Halladay, but I was really surprised at the great game that Erik Bedard had. It was truly remarkable.
What it came down to in this game was offense. Only two Pirates recorded a hit, versus the Phillies eight hits. Although Bedard had a great game, his teammates couldn’t help him out with any runs. Subsequently the game had Phillies newcomer, Jonathan Papelbon coming in to record his first save of the season.
Recap: Run one of the game came in the fourth inning, as the Cubs struck first. It appeared at first that one run would be enough for the Cubs, as the Nationals went the first seven innings without a run scored. They finally scored in both the eighth and ninth innings. The Cubs couldn’t rally back however, as the National’s recorded the victory, 2-1.
Impressions: Nationals’ starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg looked decent, but nothing he did really stood out to me. He pitched seven innings of one-run ball, but in that time gave up five hits, while striking out five. Like I said, not bad, but nothing that makes me say WOW.
I thought Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster looked fantastic. He pitched 7.2 innings before being pulled, and in that time only allowed one run on two hits, while striking out ten. While Dempster was the more dominant of the two starting pitchers, the National’s had the better offensive lineup, as a late rally was enough for a one-run win.
Recap: Unlike the first few games of the day, this one didn’t take long before it’s first run was scored. A sacrifice fly by Jay Bruce, was enough to give the Reds a one run lead in the early going. The next run of the game came off an RBI double by Ryan Ludwick, that gave the Reds a 2-0 lead. The Reds would score two more times in the bottom of the eighth–a home run by Jay Bruce, and an RBI double by Chris Heisey. The Reds beat the Marlins, 4-0.
Impressions: So far things aren’t looking much better than last season for the Marlins. They’re now 0-2, and only recorded three hits in their game against the Reds. While I’ve seen a lot of people saying that the Marlins are on track for another terrible season, I feel it’s MUCH too early to judge the team. Sure, their starting pitching has failed to dominate thus far, but it’s just two games into the season. They still have 160 left to go, and I guarantee they won’t go 0-162.
As far as the Reds go, I thought they looked really good. Their highest paid player Joey Votto went just 1-3, but he looked really good at first base, digging many balls out of the dirt. Another player that I was impressed by is Jay Bruce. I thought he showed well plate discipline, as well as good power.
The Reds are going to be an exciting team to watch this season. While I’m still sticking with my prediction that the Cardinals will win the division, the Reds are sure to make things interesting, especially towards the end of the year. They could really end up doing some big things.
Recap: The Indians went into the ninth inning with a three run lead, but their closer Chris Perez blew the save by giving up three runs. Going into the tenth tied 4-4, both the Blue Jays and Indians pitchers looked really good. After the game hit the 15th inning you had to wonder if this game would ever end. It did, as in the top of the 16th inning J.P. Arencibia hit a three-run homer to left field, giving the Blue Jays a 7-4 lead, which would turn out to be the final, as the Indians failed to score in the bottom half.
Impressions: Justin Masterson looked incredible in yesterday’s game. He struck out the side to start out the game, and ended up allowing a run on only two hits while striking out ten, in eight innings pitched. I thought the Indians team as a whole, regardless of the loss, was really good last night. They looked really dialed in at the plate, as they combined for a 4-run inning in the bottom of the second.
The Blue Jays starting pitcher, Ricky Romero, didn’t have his best stuff last night. Only lasting 5 innings before being pulled from the game, he allowed 4 runs while only striking out four batters. The rest of the team looked good, however. Especially Jose Bautista, who went 3-4 with a home run.
Just like the Cincinnati Reds, this team is going to be interesting to watch to see how they do this season. They’re part of the very tough AL East, but if they can get things going they can be real contenders in my opinion.
Recap: The Dodgers were the first team to score in the game, as two batters were forced home due to walks in a bases loaded situation. The Dodgers would score again in the next inning giving them a 3-0 lead. The Padres finally cracked the run column in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI double by Jesus Guzman. The Dodgers and Padres both scored two runs in the eighth, off a two-run homer by Matt Kemp, and a two-run homer by Cameron Maybin. The final score of the game had the Dodgers recording a 5-3 win.
Impressions: Although he had to leave to game after just three innings pitched due to a stomach flu, Clayton Kershaw looked really good, as usual. On the other hand, Padres starting pitcher Edinson Volquez didn’t look nearly as good. Lasting five innings, Volquez gave up three runs on three hits, while striking out seven. To me, Volquez is the key for the Padres. He needs to perform well in order for the Padres to succeed.
Matt Kemp and Cameron Maybin were the two stand out players of the game. Kemp picked up where he left off in 2011, going 2-5 with a home run. Maybin–who is really going to have a good year, in my opinion–went 2-4, with an absolute bomb.
If we learned anything from yesterday, it’s that it’s sure to be another exciting season of Major League Baseball.