And That Happened

Mets 2, Reds 1: Those of you who followed ATH last season will recall that I don’t have the Extra Innings package and I don’t watch 15 games a night. On a good night I watch parts of two games, on an average night I watch most of one, and some nights I don’t get any. This feature is about parsing box scores and game stories and trying to extract a couple of worthwhile observations from the stories they tell rather than tell you something you couldn’t figure out if you had seen the game. Indeed, the best part of ATH is when someone who actually saw one of these games makes a comment explaining something I missed. Reader APBA Guy is the master of this for A’s games (and it’s necessary — since they usually end the latest, I often give the A’s the shortest shrift). Anyway, this game — which took place while I was toiling at the office — seemed to have something I missed. Something that can explain how Johan Santana went 5.2 innings with seven strikeouts and four walks and only threw 99 pitches, while his counterpart Aaron Harang went 5 innings with only two strikeouts and three walks, yet threw 114. Easily explainable, sure — the Reds were hacking except when they walked and Harang went deep on most hitters — but I’m having trouble picturing how that all went down. Of course, the most critical thing that went down was the Reds only scoring one run with runners on second and third with no one out in the sixth, but those things happen when it’s 39 degrees and windy and crappy out.

Rangers 9, Indians 1: Cliff Lee’s first action since winning the Cy Young award did not go exactly as planned (5 IP, 10 H, 7 ER). Of course, the same thing happened to the 2007 Cy Young award winner in his early action last year and things turned out alright for him. Ultimately, the fact that Lee was facing the stacked Rangers — the Rangers some lone nut is picking to win the AL West this year — mitigates this disaster somewhat. Forget it Cliff, it’s Arlington.

Orioles 10, Yankees 5: It’s really not fair that a team like the Yankees can just open up the vault and buy a championship by picking up guys like Sabathia (4.1 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 0K) and Teixeira (0-4, 4 LOB).

Pirates 6, Cardinals 4: From the recap: “Cardinals Hall of Famers Stan Musial, 88, and Red Schoendienst, 86, tag-teamed the first pitch. Musial rode a cart to the mound and flipped the ball to Schoendienst, who walked halfway to the plate and made an underhand throw.” Given how Jason Motte blew up in the ninth (4 H, 4 ER, BS), I’m guessing La Russa would have preferred Stan and Red to close too.

Marlins 12, Nats 6: I’ve watched the video of that Emilio Bonifacio inside the park home run a couple of times now, and each time Lastings Milledge looks a tad more pathetic trying to catch up to it. Bad positioning, a bad break, or both? No matter how ugly, however, I’ll watch highlights from this game again and again, because it was 90 degrees in Miami and looked it. I may complain about that in July, but from where I’m sitting this morning, it seems just fine to me.

Diamondbacks 9, Rockies 8: IM during the game from Mike McClary of The Daily Fungo (who lives in Arizona): “Webb looks mortal.” I’d say: 4 IP, 6 H, 6 ER. As a Tigers’ fan, McClary himself probably didn’t feel so good, seeing Tony Clark hit two homers nearly a decade after his team made the determination — which seemed like a pretty sound one at the time, actually — that he was toast. Felipe Lopez hit two bombs of his own.

Cubs 4, Astros 2: As the season goes on, you’ll see me alluding to my Carlos Zambrano man crush every fifth day or so. He works fast, he throws hard, and he hits well. He would have fit right in in the 1960s with guys like Drysdale and Marichal and the rest. He tied the Astros up good until he ran out of gas in the 7th but Sweet Lou sent out half the damn pitching staff to finish things off.

Dodgers 4, Padres 1: James Loney had the big bat last night (3-4, 2 RBI), throwing a moderate kink into the opening stages of the great 2009 Jake Peavy marketing tour.

Blue Jays 12, Tigers 5: Whatever was ailing Verlander last year has carried over into this year, as the Tigers’ “ace” gives up eight runs in less than four innings. Roy Halladay wasn’t too sharp himself (7 IP, 6 H, 5 ER), but how many times did he lay it all out on the line last year only to get zilch in run support? He’s due to be carried, frankly, and Adam Lind did most of the carrying (4-5, HR, 6 RBI).

Mariners 6, Twins 1: On a day of blowouts and glorified batting practice, a gem from King Felix (8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER 6K) and a homer from Junior are enough to dispatch the Twins. Meanwhile, my pick of Francisco Liriano for the Cy Young award is stumbling out of the gate (7 IP, 4 H, 4 ER).

Angels 3, A’s 0: On a day of blowouts and glorified batting practice, a shorter but still impressive gem from Joe Saunders (6.2 3 H, 0 ER) and a homer from Howie Kendrick are enough to dispatch the A’s. Get Oakland: lead runner thrown out on a double steal in the third inning. Is this evidence that Beane pays more attention to soccer than baseball anymore? Because that’s the kind of thing that got chairs thrown at people (or something) back in the Moneyball days.

Rays vs. Red Sox: Postponed: Cats and dogs.

Royals vs. White Sox: Postponed: Dogs and cats. Or snow. Or the threat of snow. Heck, according to Posnanski’s Facebook status “It ain’t that bad in Chicago … they could have played ball. It won’t be any better tomorrow,” so who knows? Also, can someone tell me if I’m breaking some kind of ethical rule by posting Posnanski’s Facebook status? This seems like a gray area. Of course the guy has like 1,500 friends, so it’s not like I’m revealing state secrets here.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Now that we have a full slate of games — and now that I’m moonlighting for NBC — the daily schedule is going to change a bit around here. ATH will still be up at or around its usual time. Unlike last year, however, I’m not going to to follow it up immediately with other posts. Rather, those will start coming online mid-to-late morning and into the afternoon. This (a) allows me to get stuff up over at the other gig; while (b) allowing ATH to have a little longer in the prime, first-post real estate that it deserves; and (c) balancing the day out a bit more, which many of my west coast readers have asked. Ultimately, there shouldn’t be much of a falloff in volume most days, just a shifting around of posting times.

As always, the email address is to the upper left if you wanna complain about it. I may even listen.

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  1. Levi Stahl said...

    Yesterday I re-learned a lesson I should have learned long ago: don’t have choose as your closer on your fantasy team the closer from your real favorite team.

    That way, when Jason Motte blows a lead spectacularly—to the Pirates!—it will only annoy you on one level rather than two. Grr.

    But hey, baseball’s back!

  2. Doug said...

    Even with the Sox game getting rained out, the return of ATH means that the season has finally begun.

  3. Andrew Zwillinger said...

    The Mets-Reds game went as you might have thought.  The Mets ran a lot out of deep counts.  Murphy saw nine pitches and then hit a homer, Santana had an eight pitch AB, Church had a couple of seven pitch ABs.  In contrast, the Reds had several one-pitch ABs.

    The score should not have been as close as it was.  The Mets had nine hits and seven walks yet left 12 on base and scored only two runs.  David Wright was thrown out trying to score on a hit and got himself picked off first.  The Reds’ only serious threat was in the 6th.

  4. mattt said...

    The thing you missed with the Mets/Reds game is that in addition to the 3 walks, the Mets got 9 hits and left a lot of men on base.

  5. bigcatasroma said...

    Re: Mets v. Reds.  You have trouble picturing the disparity in pitching counts?  Craig, Dusty Baker manages the Reds!!!  Without looking, I can *guarantee* that the pitches seen by both teams were that skewed.  Really, why, if you’re the Reds, would you want to work deep counts against the best pitcher in the NL when you could go up there and hack away at his slider?  I love Dusty Baker. 

    Baseball is back, baby!!!  Go Phitin’ Phils!!!

    Stupid Braves.  Myers is a mess.  Jair gets rocked tonight!!  (Except, Moyer is pitching.  I’m not liking this).  My worst fear for this year is that Cole goes like 50 crappy innings or so, has *the*  injury nobody wants to talk about, and is shutdown in May . . .

  6. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Let history record that it was a Phillies fan—and not me—who first alluded to the possibility of a season-ending Cole Hamels injury.

  7. lar said...

    A couple of things, Craig:

    * Those pairs of home runs by Clark and Lopez in Arizona were from both sides of the plate for both guys. That’s pretty cool, especially since it had never happened once on Opening Day.
    * It definitely seems like Webb was mortal yesterday, but I’m not sure you can totally fault him. There were a lot of long balls hit at Chase yesterday, off of Webb and Cook (and others). I’m guessing the conditions were definitely playing in the hitters’ favor yesterday.
    * Watching that Florida game yesterday, how pathetic is it that they couldn’t even sell out the lower bowl of the stadium? I mean, I know that it’s a huge stadium and that the Marlins aren’t the biggest draws at the gate, but you’d think they could at least sell out the lower level, right? Man, what it would be like to be a Marlins fan in Miami…
    * Finally… I was listening to that Mets-Reds game on my computer here at work yesterday, and I can’t even tell you what was happening. When they mentioned Harang was at 110 pitches in the 5th, it seemed crazy. Those Mets players must’ve been a lot more patient than I realized. But, like you said, with weather like that, you never know what’s going to happen. (The highlights certainly made it look like Santana was just cruising along, though).

    Glad to have a full slate of ATH back, Craig… Looking forward to six more months of this.

  8. Kelly said...

    Carlos Zambrano went and put on his big boy pants yesterday and didn’t pitch like a zapped up amphetamine with a glove for the first time EVER on Opening Day.

    It was, indeed, refreshing.

  9. Jacob Rothberg said...

    hey Dashing,

    Halladay was great yesterday. The runs he gave up came with the score 9-1 and the game already in the bag.

  10. Pete Toms said...

    Jacob, agreed on Doc.  I was makin my kids lunches and listening to the postgame show and the FIRST caller starts expressing concern about Doc.  Lighten up!

    Travis Snider’s opposite field shot was very impressive.  I don’t think most Toronto sports fans (the casually interested in the Jays) realize how great a talent he is.

    On the pregame show (while washing dishes) Jerry Howarth acknowledged the passing of John Brattain with some kind words.  Howarth always a class act.

    Jacob, I assume you are a Torontonian?

  11. RoyceTheBaseballHack said...

    Re: TEX-9, CLE-1

    In Cliff Lee’s defense to staggering off in the fifth inning with a 12.6 ERA for the day, he was actually throwing very well for 1-1/3 innings, until Hank Blalock sent a pretty hard one-hopper off of his left arm. He stayed in the game, but after that, The Rangers pretty much took him to school. He also made sure he greeted Elvis Andrus to The Bigs with some 90+MPH chin music in his first at-bat.  Elvis took him hard to right, two pitches later, though…

  12. APBA Guy said...

    Unfortunately, the failed double steal only served to distract the A’s faithful from how utterly helpless the new, improved A’s lineup looked against Jamie Moyer Jr, or Joe Saunders as he’s known in SoCal.

    Saunders was the model of efficiency, keeping the A’s off balance with his changeup and an assortment of slow, slower, slowest breaking stuff, all of it nibbling at the corners like a finicky, gourmand mouse nibbles at a piece of aged cheddar.

    Dallas Braden did not look terrible. He maintained his composure, and in only surrendering 3 runs, certainly kept the team in the game under most circumstances.

    Of course, no Angels game is complete without Scott Boras patrolling the ground level seats behind the plate. I’m sure he was salivating watching his guy Holliday get a hit and make a sliding catch in the first game of his contract year. But I wonder if he wasn’t also scheming to get Saunders as a client?

  13. Mark said...

    The only thing I can figure on Bonifacio’s inside the parker was that Milledge was playing in in hopes of stopping a run from scoring on a sac fly.  For as bad as he looked trying to chase the ball down though it seemed like he threw it in relatively quickly once he got to it but Bonifacio wasn’t stopping for anything.

  14. Patrick said...

    Don’t worry about Liriano.  He just left a couple of pitches up last night but he did make some guys look silly with his offspeed pitches, especially Mike Sweeney.

  15. Breaker said...

    The best thing about Bonifacio’s inside-the-parker was when the camera’s panned the crowd celebrating and there was a Wookie in Marlin’s jersey.  I didn’t realize Chewy was a Marlins fan…

  16. lookatthosetwins said...

    I wouldn’t feel too bad about your AL Cy Young pick… I bet at least 75% of people saw their pick pitch much, much worse.

  17. Daniel said...

    The tough thing is that this looked like par for the course for the Angels’ offense, but with Moseley, Loux, and Adenhart as their 3-4-5 starters, they are going to give up well north of zero runs most games.

    On a more positive note, Howie Kendrick is a stud.  Let’s all hope and pray he stays healthy.

  18. mkd said...

    The Felix line looks a lot better than the trouble he kept getting into early (plus, he seemed to be doing everything in his power to sprain an ankle).

    @ Patrick- I don’t think making Mike Sweeney look silly is a good criteria for determining a pitcher’s skill. Not that that you’re wrong about Liriano or anything, but I think Mike Sweeney will be making Mike Sweeney look silly all year. He doesn’t need help.

  19. Steve Watson said...

    O.K., I live in Boston, but I absolutely loved the take on the O’s/Yanks game. Hysterical.

  20. Chris H. said...

    Zambrano looked a bit wild early in the game—in fact, I don’t think he had a single strikeout until the 3rd inning.

    Still, he’s usually a lot worse on Opening Day, and yes, I realize he was only facing the Astros.  Even so.

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