Opening Day live blog
SI.com will be live-blogging today's season openers. Check back all day long for updates on Thursday afternoon's games from Cliff Corcoran (Red Sox vs. Tigers, Marlins vs. Reds), Joe Lemire (Mets vs. Braves), Ben Reiter (Phillies vs. Pirates) , Gary Gramling (Nationals vs. Cubs) and Ted Keith (Blue Jays vs. Indians). All times Eastern.
The longest Opening Day game in major league history is finally over. Newly acquired closer Sergio Santos wraps up an impressive comeback win for his new club by getting the last two outs of Toronto's 7-4, 16-inning triumph over the Indians. Compared to Thursday afternoon's other games -- and despite concluding well into the night this was in fact a day game -- this was a slugfest: 11 runs between the two teams compared to 10 from the other four games combined. Look closer though and the pitching was almost as dominant as it was elsewhere in the majors. The Blue Jays held Cleveland scoreless for 15 of the contest's 16 innings, including the final 14.
That's all for SI.com's live blog. Thanks for reading everyone. Enjoy Part IV of 2012's Opening Day on Friday when the rest of the major league teams get their season underway. -- Ted Keith
J.P. Arencibia crushes a slider over the leftfield wall for a three-run homer that puts Toronto on top 7-4 in the top of the 16th. In the Blue Jays' ongoing youth movement, Arencibia was once considered a possible future star but now he's thought of by many as a placeholder until Travis D'Arnaud is ready to take his job, perhaps later this season. Big moments like that will do nothing to help Arencibia's cause for keeping his everyday role. -- Ted Keith
Well why not. This game, now in the bottom of the 15th, has had everything else so how about having the benches clear? Luis Perez threw a little too close to Shin-Soo Choo for the Indian star's liking -- the pitch was up and in, causing Choo to hit the ground -- and he walked out to the mound, causing the benches and bullpens to empty. Perez was not ejected, despite a warning from home plate umpire Tim Welke in yesterday's game. Wait a minute, that was this game. Sorry, just felt like yesterday. Choo eventually walks but is stranded at first and the game heads to the 16th. -- Ted Keith
Toronto's bullpen has been fantastic. Six Blue Jays relievers have now pitched nine innings, the equivalent of a complete game, allowing no runs and just four hits. Luis Perez just wrapped up 1-2-3 14th inning by striking out Jason Kipnis and Jack Hannahan. On to the 15th. -- Ted Keith
The Indians had the bases loaded and one out. The Blue Jays had six defenders in the infield, including former Cleveland star Omar Vizquel. It seemed the Tribe was on the verge of a walk-off win. Instead, one pitch to Asdrubal Cabrera was all it took for a 6-4-3 double play that got Toronto out of the jam and moved the game to the 13th inning. This may be the game of the day, full of great defensive plays (like Colby Rasmus' diving catch on Jack Hannahan), a ninth-inning comeback, unusual strategy and, well, who knows what else. Stay tuned. -- Ted Keith
Sean Marshall, a 6-foot-7 lefty, makes his reds debut a successful one, even if it doesn't come in a save situation. Marshall shuts down the Marlins' two through four hitters on 11 pitches anyway, striking out Emilio Bonifacio, getting Hanley Ramriez on a comebacker and whiffing Giancarlo Stanton to close out the Reds' 4-0 win and dropping the Marlins to 0-2. -- Cliff Corcoran
Jay Bruce greets new Marlins pitcher Edward Mujica with a leadoff homer to dead center in the bottom of the eighth. With two out and one on, Chris Heisey hits a booming double that just evades Bonifacio's leaping attempt at the wall to plate Drew Stubbs and make it 4-0 Reds. That's the lead that new Reds closer Sean Marshall, acquired from the Cubs for Tim Wood this winter, will be protecting against the heart of the Marlins' order in the top of the ninth. -- Cliff Corcoran
Tony Sipp escapes a bases-loaded jam and the Indians are still tied with the Blue Jasys at 4-all heading to the bottom of the 12th. -- Ted Keith
Righty sidearmer Steve Cishek replaces Buehrle to start the seventh. Buehrle recovered from a rocky first inning to turn in a quality debut outing for the Marlins (6 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K), but leaves the game down 2-0 due to Johnny Cueto's strong outing. Cishek gives up a one-out double to Cozart that Giancarlo Stanton can't pick up, allowing Cozart to go to third, but Guillen's subsequent intentional walk to Votto pays off when Rolen hits into an inning-ending double play, stranding Cozart at third. -- Cliff Corcoran
Cueto seemed to have a bit of a tingle in his pitching hand after grounding out to finish the sixth, but it didn't have much impact on his performance in the top of the seventh as he worked around a one-out double by Gaby Sanchez, striking out Chris Coghlin and getting Omar Infate to fly out to strand Sanchez. He did, however, get his pitch count up to 95 that inning, and Reds manager Dusty Baker had righty Jose Arredondo and lefty Bill Bray warming in the bullpen throughout the inning, so he could be done after seven scoreless innings. It's 2-0 Reds at the seventh-inning stretch. -- Cliff Corcoran
The Reds add an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth on doubles by Scott Rolen and Ryan Ludwick, but Buehrle rallies for a key strikeout of Drew Stubbs, allowing him to walk eight-place hitter Ryan Hanagan to face pitcher Cueto with two outs to strand Ludwick and Hanagan. Buehrle's last pitch was his 108th, which means the Marlins will go to their bullpen in the seventh. Cueto, meanwhile, has a 2-0 lead at just 74 pitches after six. -- Cliff Corcoran
Cleveland's Travis Hafner opens the bottom of the ninth by lining a single to center and advances to second when the Jays' Colby Rasmus has the ball go by him for an error. Jason Donald runs for Hafner but after being sacrificed to third is stranded there when Francisco Cordero gets a pair of groundouts, moving the game into extra innings. -- Ted Keith
One always wonders how much impact running the bases has on a pitcher in the following half inning. Johnny Cueto was on base for more than 20 pitches in the bottom of the fifth and had to hustle back to second base after making too large a turn on Brandon Phillips' single. In the top of the sixth, he gave up the Marlins' first clean single of the game, a sharp Jose Reyes grounder into left, issued his first walk of the game to Emilio Bonifacio and went full on Hanley Ramirez. However, Cuteo recovered by striking out Ramirez and Malins manager Ozzie Guillen helped him out by sending the runners, resulting in an inning-ending double play when Reyes was caught dead in his tracks between second and third. -- Cliff Corcoran
Jack Hannahan's good day continues. The Indians third baseman, whose three-run homer in the second had held up as the difference in the game until the ninth inning, made a backhand stab on J.P. Arencibia's groundball down the line and threw a one-hopper to first to get the out and keep the game tied. Bottom of the ninth coming up tied at four. Could we be getting out second walk-off win of the day? We already know this will be the third of today's five games to be decided in the final at-bat. -- Ted Keith
Buehrle worked a 1-2-3 fourth inning on five pitches to bring his pitch count back under control, but the Reds made him work in the bottom of the fifth, forcing him to throw 29 pitches to put him up at 84 after five. Meanwhile, Reds starter Johnny Cueto added to his strong outing with a broken-bat single in that inning, but he and Brandon Phillips, who also singled, were stranded as Buehrle struck out the side around them, including Joey Votto on a checked swing with two outs to end the frame. Still 1-0 Reds after five. -- Cliff Corcoran
Chris Perez strained his oblique early in spring training and didn't make his first appearance in a game until last week. How much that impacted his dreadful performance on Thursday is unclear but there's no question he didn't look ready for a game that mattered. He was overthrowing and all over the strike zone and coughed up a three-run lead.
The first two hitters -- Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson -- singled, Jose Bautista hit a sacrifice fly and after a walk to Adam Lind, Edwin Encarnacion ripped a double high off the leftfield wall to score two runs and tie the game. After erasing Encarnacion on a comebacker by Brett Lawrie, Perez walked Eric Thames and was pulled from the game with the score now tied at four. -- Ted Keith
Officially, Justin Masterson got 24 outs today, 10 of them via strikeout. Unofficially, he's gotten 25 outs through eight innings. With the Progressive Field crowd on its feet, Masterson struck out J.P. Arencibia with a wicked breaking ball that should have ended the eighth. The pitch was so good though that it got past Indians catcher Carlos Santana, allowing Arencibia to reach first.
Just as he's done all game, Masterson was unfazed, responding by getting Colby Rasmus to line out to right and end his day with a terrificline: eight innings, two hits, one walk, 10 Ks. Cleveland is three outs away from a season-opening victory. -- Ted Keith
Sorry Cubbies. Down 2-1 and facing Brad Lidge, birthday boy Ian Stewart hits a one-out drive to right that would have tied the game most days at Wrigley. But it stays in the ballpark and Stewart has to settle for a triple. Jeff Baker then chops a groundball to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman who cuts down pinch-runner Joe Mather (running on contact) at the plate. Quietly, this has been a great day for Zimmerman, who made a couple nice defensive plays, drew two walks and drove the ball on two long outs.
Lidge, who's lost some velocity (he scrapes 90 mph with his fastball but still has a pretty filthy slider), then gets Marlon Byrd staring at a 3-2 fastball on the outside corner to end it. Lidge struck out two in the inning, basically serving up one bad pitch that Stewart made him pay for. It's his first save for the Nationals, who are without regular closer Drew Storen. Tyler Clippard is your winning pitcher with Carlos Marmol taking the loss and the Nationals are tied for first place with only 161 more to go. -- Gary Gramling
Mark Buehrle won the Gold Glove in the American League the last three years but couldn't handle a chopper to the left of the mound by Zach Cozart to lead off the bottom of the third. That was ruled a hit, and after a fielder's choice by Votto, Buehrle picked him off to end another scoreless inning. Buehrle seems to be settling down, and with Cueto cruising, the next few innings could fly by. -- Cliff Corcoran
Oh, Marmol! After the Cubs' best reliever got a couple easy outs to start the top of the ninth in a 1-1 game, Washington's Chad Tracy (Chad Tracy is back in the league?!) drives a double off the almost-blooming ivy at Wrigley Field for the game's only extra-base hit (so far). Ian Desmond shoots one to rightfield off the end of the bat to score pinch-runner Brett Carroll and give the Nats a 2-1 lead. Brad Lidge is coming on in the bottom half to try and lock down his first save as a National. -- Gary Gramling
Drew Stubbs pushes a bunt past a diving Buehrle to lead off the bottom of the second for the Reds with a single, but Buehrle escapes further trouble, striking out Brandon Phillips with a changeup. That was a 13-pitch inning, but Buehrle is already up to 40 tosses after two.
Johnny Cueto, meanwhile, looks sharp in Cincinnati. After three innings, the only Marlin to reach did so on a bunt and an error. He has thrown 25 of his 35 pitches for strikes and is sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball. Reds lead 1-0 going to the bottom of the third. -- Cliff Corcoran
It won't get a lot of attention given the way Justin Masterson is pitching but Casey Kotchman's defense has been impressive in every possible way in this game. He ranged to his right to handle a tough chance by Brett Lawrie in the second inning and has handled a couple of tough throws in the dirt to prevent rallies from getting started. The latest came in the top of the seventh when he scooped a low throw by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to complete a double play and erase a leadoff walk.
Kotchman was a low-cost offseason signing over the winter but he was exactly what Cleveland had in mind when its front office went searching for proven major league veterans who could play everyday this offseason. His arrival basically signaled the end of the Matt LaPorta experiment at first base in Cleveland and one day in, no one is going to complain. -- Ted Keith