It was a pretty great day of baseball to start the season yesterday. Before I look at the 10 most impressive things I saw throughout the games, I have to touch briefly on that NCAA game. What a battle. Butler just wouldn’t give up, and Gordon Hayward had two shots at the end to make the biggest shot ever made. Amazing. Now back to the diamond:
1. One of the best plays we’ll see all year happened on the first full day of action. If you saw Mark Buerhle’s play then you know exactly what I am talking about. A hit ball went off of him and towards the first base dugout. He ran for it, got their with no time to spare, and scooped it through his legs with his glove to the outstretched hand of the first baseman. Impossibly brilliant.
2. The Phillies have no regrets about Halladay already. That was an amazing start for the guy – he certainly didn’t look out of place in a new league for the first time. He even added his second career RBI. The guy is ridiculously good.
3. Speaking of ridiculously good, Tim Lincecum seems determined to make it three straight. Seven innings, four hits, no runs, seven strikeouts, no walks. The guy isn’t human.
4. It could be a very long year for Zack Greinke. He allowed just one run in six very nice innings, then the bullpen poured gasoline all over the field and lit it on fire. It was ugly, and a big waste of a great pitching performance. What a terrible team.
5. Atlanta’s Jason Heyward is by far the most hyped rookie in the league this year – at least until Stephen Strasburg gets called up. So how does the outfielder respond to the massive pressure? Pretty darned well. he homered in his first ever at-bat, added a second hit, and piled up four RBIs. Not bad for a start.
6. Tough luck for Toronto’s Shaun Marcum. He had a no-hitter going through six, was the pitcher of record en route to a win when closer Jason Frasor was given the ball in the ninth, and wound up with nothing to show for the day when Frasor imploded. That has to hurt.
7. Hideki Matsui switched coasts, and so far the surf seems to be agreeing with him. In his debut with the Angels he was 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs. If he can stay healthy – a big, big if – then he’ll be a nice addition for a team that badly needs to add some power.
8. Speaking of the Angels and power, one of the hitters they lost was impressive in his first appearance with his new team – Casey Kotchman had two hits and four RBIs to lead his Mariners past the A’s in a divisional contest. Kotchman is great on the field, so anything above average he produces with his bat is a bonus.
9. Having Vicente Padilla as your opening day starter seemed like a bad idea for the Dodgers. Turns out it was even worse than it seemed. Padilla was shelled for seven runs in 4.1 innings – by the freaking Pirates. The Dodgers could be good proof of one of those cliches that are cliches because they are true – if you have five number one pitchers then you don’t have any.
10. Johan Santana wasn’t quite as good as Halladay or Lincecum, but he was still impressive – one run in six innings, and five strikeouts against two walks. The race for the Cy Young in the National League is going to be epic this year. My favorite darkhorse candidate, Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez, got off to a pretty sweet start as well – one run and six strikeouts in six innings.