Opening Day live blog (cont.)
That does it for Bedard, who had a very strong Pirates debut: seven innings pitched, six hits allowed (five of them singles), one walk, four strikeouts and one earned run. Of course, he'll probably be tagged with a loss, given the way Roy Halladay is dealing. Bedard's next outing will come next Wednesday against the Dodgers in L.A., and that might tell us more about whether we might see a real rebirth from him this season. The unintimidating nature of this Phillies' lineup is becoming increasingly evident. Their No. 3 hitter -- Jimmy Rollins -- bunted his way on in the first inning, after all.
Now this is how you start a season: Justin Masterson struck out the side, whiffing Toronto's Yunel Escobar, Kelly Johnson and Jose Bautista. The Indians desperately need a reliable ace now that Ubaldo Jimenez remains a question mark after a shaky spring training and Masterson gave them plenty to feel good about with his first frame this season. -- Ted Keith
Get used to it Nats fans: Bases loaded (Demond reaches on error, Espinosa and Zimmerman walk), one out, Adam LaRoche flails at three straight pitches to strike out and Jayson Werth flies out to right to end the inning. In Werth's defense, he made decent contact on the flyout. In LaRoche's defense, he shouldn't be batting cleanup for anyone outside of the Atlantic League (do the Newark Bears have any scouts on hand?). -- Gary Gramling
In the top of the seventh inning, Justin Verlander strikes out Kevin Youkilis and Ryan Sweeney looking at nasty curveballs, then gets Cody Ross to fly out for his fourth 1-2-3 inning of the afternoon. Lefty Phil Coke and righty Octavio Dotel were warming during that frame and Verlander is now at 95 pitches having allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out seven in seven scoreless innings. -- Cliff Corcoran
I'm not entirely sure what this season will hold for the Blue Jays -- though they could very well contend for the AL's extra Wild Card spot -- but this season is an unqualified success already because they've brought back their classic uniforms from their glory years. Now if they could only bring back in-their-prime stars like Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter to wear them. -- Ted Keith
The game's first run comes in expectedly muted fashion: on a shallow sacrifice fly by Carlos Ruiz to right. A throw of any quality by Pittsburgh's Jose Tabata would have nailed Ty Wigginton at the plate, but Tabata's throw was high. That allowed Wigginton to slide in safely, and seems to have set up the first of what will probably turn out to be very many 1-0 games in which the Phillies will be involved this season. -- Ben Reiter
Jason Bay, a guy who could use a little extra help, narrowly missed becoming the first hitter to benefit from the newly moved-in walls at Citi Field as his two-on, one-out sixth-inning flyball was caught a foot before the fence in leftfield. The Mets later stranded those two runners but take what -- given the pitching dominance across baseball today -- seems to be an insurmountable 1-0 lead into the seventh inning. -- Joe Lemire
Jon Lester gets his third double-play of the game, this one off the bat of Prince Fielder, to strand a one-out walk to Miguel Cabrera in a three-batter sixth inning. Lester, who is now at 87 pitches, won't have to face the Tigers two best hitters again in this game, but they will hit again, and with the game still scoreless after six, that favors the home-team in Detroit. Verlander will open the seventh at 83 pitches. Both teams are getting close to putting this game in the hands of the bullpen given that this is the first start of the year for both pitchers. -- Cliff Corcoran
And they still have two runners on with no outs in the bottom of the sixth, as the Braves make a pitching change. -- Joe Lemire
We're finally getting a glimpse of how Miguel Cabrera looks defensively after his much-discussed move to third base this season. Jacoby Ellsbury hits a foul pop not far from the third base bag and Cabrera stumbles around and falls backward to make the catch. Two pitches later, Pedroia hits a grounder that eats up Cabrera and rolls into left. It's ruled an error, which is a tough call, but the ball was hit directly at Cabrera.
Considering Prince Fielder has already saved Jhonny Peralta a couple of throwing errors with nice scoops at first, this all points to the Tigers' biggest weakness heading into this season. They're going to be a terrible fielding team, and we haven't even seen Delmon Young taking his Family Circus routes to the ball in left field yet.
Verlander, of course, is not fazed by any of it. He strikes out David Ortiz on a big 0-2 curveball to strand two runners on base and keep the game scoreless. -- Cliff Corcoran
As nothing much is happening in this game -- or in any of them, for that matter (how about mixing in a run, fellas?) -- perhaps it's time to talk ballparks. The cameras keep showing shots of a packed PNC Park. The standing room ramps in leftfield, for example, seem completely full. But Pennsylvania's newish ballparks -- Pittsburgh's PNC, opened in 2001, and Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, opened in 2004 -- have had significantly different early histories, and impacts on the clubs that play within them.
The Pirates upped their payroll in '01 from $26.6 million to $57.8 million, and the new stadium's opening spurred an attendance increase from 1.75 million to 2.44 million. But Pittsburgh has never drawn more than 2 million fans in a season again, and the payroll has again never been so high. The Phillies, meanwhile, also bumped their payroll significantly after moving into their new place -- from $70.8 million in '03 to $93.2 million in '04 -- and their attendance also increased, from 2.26 million to 3.25 million. In the Phillies' case, though, annual attendance has actually exceeded even that of their first year in Citizens Bank in each of the past four seasons, and their payroll will this season be nearly twice what it was back in '04.
The lesson, as always? New ballparks mean nothing, at least not for long, unless the clubs that call them home win. -- Ben Reiter
Ryan Raburn pulls Lester's first pitch of the fifth past the dive of Aviles at shortstop. That's the fourth leadoff single in five innings against Lester. Finally, the Tigers add a second runner when Jhonny Peralta follows with a five-pitch walk. That makes the Tigers the first team in this game to get two runners on in an inning.
With men on first and second and no outs, the Tigers ask Alex Avila to bunt. Avila had three sacrifice bunts last year but falls into an 0-2 hole (one strike called and a bunt attempt at a cutter missed) and strikes out on a 91 mph fastball up in the zone. Lester then gets ahead of Ramon Santiago 0-2 and gets him to pop out to Pedroia in shallow left and battles back from a 3-0 count on Austin Jackson to go full and get him to fly to right to strand both runners. Lester has now thrown 76 pitches and stranded or erased six baserunners. Verlander has allowed just two men to reach base. Still scoreless after five. -- Cliff Corcoran
Ryan Dempster works out of some trouble in the first. After Desmond's single, Danny Espinosa draws a walk and the runners move to second and third on a deep Ryan Zimmerman flyout that's a three-run home run on most days in Wrigley (temperatures are in the 40s and the wind is blowing straight in). And then there's Adam LaRoche. Sorry, clean-up hitter Adam LaRoche (.546 OPS in an injury-plagued 2011). Down on strikes. Jayson Werth flies out to end the threat. Sorry to spoil your Strasmas Day, Nats fans, but that Washington lineup is... interesting.
And if you're wondering, Strasburg starts his 2012 with a 95-mph two-seamer. Thank you, Tommy John. -- Gary Gramling
The top of the fifth inning saw the first runner reach third and the first bases-loaded situation, as the Braves filled them up on a Matt Diaz double and then walks to Tyler Pastornicky (the No. 8 hitter making his second big-league plate appearance who fell behind 0-2) and Tommy Hanson (the pitcher). But Johan Santana, despite working Michael Bourn to a full-count, then got an inning-ending grounder back to the mound. (His throw to first was high, but thankfully for him, Ike Davis is 6-foot-4.)
The walks gave Santana his first stress test but also cost him length in this outing. Manager Terry Collins said before the game that he'd probably let his pitcher go 85 to 95 pitches, with 100 as the absolute max. Santana needed 16 pitches to end the inning after getting within one strike against Pastornicky and is now up to 84 through five innings. The Mets' bullpen is active, likely meaning Santana's day is done. And it's nothing but an unqualified success. -- Joe Lemire
Oooo, first Bill Murray bounces the ceremonial first pitch, then Ryan Dempster gives up a first-pitch single to Ian Desmond, he of the .298 OBP a year ago (yes, .298 OBP, and yes, he's still hitting leadoff for the Nats). So far the Theo Epstein era in Wrigley feels an awful lot like the Jim Hendry era. -- Gary Gramling
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