We saw a variety of different games on this first day of the 2010 baseball playoffs.
The Rangers routed the Rays in an afternoon tilt with heavy offense and a stellar performance by left-handed ace Cliff Lee. Then Phillies righty Roy Halladay made history in an early evening contest, stealing the show by hurling only the second postseason no-hitter in a decisive Game 1 victory over the Reds.
As for Yankees vs. Twins, the night cap? Well, that had everything.
Minnesota’s Michael Cuddyer launched a two-run homer to straightaway center field in the bottom of the second inning and Francisco Liriano kicked off his start with five strong scoreless innings. The Twins looked confident, Target Field was rocking and the home team carried a 3-0 lead into the sixth frame.
But the Yankees, always primed for a rally, kicked in four runs in the top of the sixth on a series of base hits that knocked Liriano from the game and put the Bombers up 4-3.
The resilient Twins managed three walks in the bottom of the sixth inning against a tiring CC Sabathia, including a bases-loaded free pass that tied the game at 4-4. Sabathia reached 112 pitches and wouldn’t return in the seventh. But that’s the last sniff of hope that the fans at Target Field would get.
Enter Mark Teixeira.
The big first baseman, battling a sore thumb for close to a month, launched a towering two-run homer to deep right field in the seventh inning to put the Yankees back on top 6-4. That lead would hold, many thanks to a four-out save by future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera, who threw cutter after cutter in the exact same spot and left the Twins’ final batters hopeless for a comeback. By our count, Mo broke three bats.
Welcome to the 2010 edition of baseball’s postseason.
Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.
Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.
Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.