BY ANDY FLINT: Thursday kicked off the opening day of the 2011 MLB season and this guy was pumped! 150 days since we last saw baseball, when the San Fransisco Giants crushed the Texas Rangers, four games to one, in the 2010 World Series. If you guys are anything like me, you’ve been counting the days like a lifer awaiting a parole hearing. I was so excited that I actually ran out and got enough snacks and beer to feed myself and several friends. It wasn’t until I returned home, bags in hand, that I realized I would be enjoying the games alone. My point is, some of us never completely grow up, and if there is one thing that can show a guy’s immaturity, it’s baseball. Maybe it’s crazy, maybe I’m crazy, but I love the smell of the fresh cut grass, the rows of die-hard fans, the hot dogs, the beer and the reality that, for the next six months, it’s baseball season. Even though I have to enjoy this glorious occasion from the comfort of my living room, hey, at least I have HD.
Thursday saw six games of hardball action. Two AL games and four NL games. The Yankees won their home-opener, 6-3, against the Detroit Tigers, behind home runs from both Teixeira and Granderson. CC Sabathia got the start but, was replaced by Joba Chamberlain after going six innings and collecting seven strike outs. Chamberlain secured the win for the “Bronx Bombers”, while Mariano Rivera started the season by bringing in his first save. Justin Verlander put in six innings of work and gathered eight strike outs but, gave up three earned and raking in an ERA of 4.50. Miguel Cabrera had one hit and two runs in the loss, but the Tigers bullpen couldn’t get it together as they fell to 0-1 to start the season.
The Cincinnati Reds outlasted the Milwaukee Brewers, 7-6 in an old-fashioned slug-fest. The Reds kick off their home opener with a win as the Brewers were sent packing after Ramon Hernandez belted a three-run, walk off bomb in the 9th. Hernandez went 4-5 at the plate. Joey Votto, Drew Stubbs, Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Rickie Weeks all homered as well. Was it a case of some hot bats or just lack-luster pitching from both teams? Edinson Volquez got the start for the Reds, he threw six innings, notched five strike outs and got knocked around for five earned. Logan Ondrusek claimed the win, while Jon Axford took the loss for the Brewers after racking up an ERA of 54.00 in just 0.2 IP.
The Dodgers spoiled the Giants first game back after winning the World Series just 5 months ago with a score of 2-1. Clayton Kershaw pitched a gem, collecting nine strike outs in seven innings. Kershaw finished with an ERA or 0.00 and the win. On the other end of that spectrum was Tim Lincecum. Lincecum tossed seven innings, collecting five strike outs and a 0.00 ERA, but ultimately got the loss. Two great pitchers that I’m excited to watch and write about all season. Great young arms, both with the capability to win the Cy Young.
Other action on Thursday saw the the Braves down the Nationals, 2-0. The Angels outlasted the Royals, 4-2 and the Padres opened up the season with a win on the road, knocking off the Cardinals, 5-3.
Clayton Kershaw: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ERA, 9 K, W
Ramon Hernadez: 4-5, HR, 3 RBI, 1 R
Jered Weaver: 6 1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 ERA, 6 K, W
Matt Holiday: 3-4, HR, 2 RBI, 1 R
Ryan Braun: 2-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R
I for one am looking forward to the many months of MLB excitement still in store. This should shape up to be another great, action packed season with all of the fixings. Grab a beer, a hot dog, some fellow major league fans and enjoy the game that Americans have enjoyed since 1869… hopefully they don’t decide to have a lock out by season’s end.