Wanting to reward the guy who caught his perfect game against the Rays last year, Mariners starter Felix Hernandez sent A’s catcher John Jaso a Rolex before the two squared off Monday.
Hernandez had “Perfect Game ” and “8/15/12” inscribed on the watch, which was delivered via a clubhouse employee about 90 minutes before first pitch. Jaso was traded from Seattle to Oakland in the offseason as part of the three-team Michael Morse deal.
“It’s pretty heavy. It’s got to be real,” Jaso told MLB.com’s Jane Lee. “The watch I own, I think it’s a Timex, so this is a bit of an upgrade.”
Despite the kind gesture, Jaso wasn’t feeling especially magnanimous during the game; he doubled in the fourth for Oakland’s first hit of the game off Hernandez. That came after he told CSNBayArea.com’s Casey Pratt he wouldn’t have much help for his new teammates in the hitting department:
“What does he go to for his strikeout pitch? A change up? A curveball? A slider? I don’t want to say watch out for his change up and then he’s flipping curveballs up there,” Jaso said.
King Felix did, in fact, have the last laugh tonight, throwing 7 2/3 scoreless innings in the Mariners’ 2-0 victory.
Despite facing a very tough left-hander in Chris Sale, the Royals had Mike Moustakas batting cleanup today. Why? Because Ned Yost wants a set lineup. Pay no attention to those splits behind the curtain.
That set lineup:
LF Alex Gordon
SS Alcides Escobar
DH Billy Butler
C Salvador Perez
1B Eric Hosmer
CF Lorenzo Cain
RF Jeff Francoeur
2B Chris Getz
The problem here is that while it’s a fine lineup for Yost to use against righties, it makes zero sense to stick Moustakas in the cleanup spot against lefties. The 24-year-old is a career .233/.283/.349 hitter versus southpaws. Francoeur, for all of his faults, is a .289/.341/.479 hitter against lefties. Common sense would dictate that he and Perez, in either order, would be the Royals’ No. 4 and 5 hitters against lefties.
That’s not part of Yost’s strategy, though. In Monday’s opener, Escobar and Butler both reached safely twice apiece. Moustakas had six men on base over the course of his four at-bats and went hitless, striking out twice. Francoeur, on the other hand, singled twice out of the eighth spot. Unable to put their hits together, the Royals lost 1-0. For that, Yost deserves some of the blame.
Even before taking the loss to the Cubs, A.J. Burnett got dusted in Monday’s game:
Burnett recovered from the traumatic incident to strike out 10 in 5 2/3 innings. However, he did give up all of the Cubs’ runs in the Pirates’ 3-1 defeat.
For those of us who miss Manny Ramirez’s antics on the field, we do have an awkward sort of replacement in Hunter Pence patrolling right field for the Giants.
Here’s Pence today giving the Dodgers’ Mark Ellis a double when he lost a flyball on the sun.
And here is Pence with Matt Kemp up a minute later. Spot the difference?
Fortunately, Matt Cain was able to pitch around the non-error. He and Clayton Kershaw are locked in a scoreless duel in the seventh.
Jumping all over CC Sabathia, the Red Sox racked up 13 hits and eight walks to beat the Yankees 8-2 in Monday’s opener.
A typical Red Sox-Yankees game, it finished about an hour and a half later than the Nationals’ 2-0 win over the Marlins, which also started at 1:05 p.m. EDT.
The Red Sox scored four times off Sabathia in the second, leading the Yankees to get the bullpen active. Sabathia was able to stay in and hold the Red Sox scoreless through the fifth, but the Red Sox got to both David Phelps and Joba Chamberlain out of the pen. Jacoby Ellsbury and Jose Iglesias collected three hits apiece for Boston, though none of Iglesias’s singles left the infield. 11 of Boston’s 13 hits were singles.
Jackie Bradley Jr., making his major league debut after a terrific spring, walked three times, scored twice, knocked in a run on a groundout and made a fantastic catch in left field to rob Robinson Cano of a double in the third.
While the Bombers got little going offensively today, their bigger concern has to be Sabathia’s diminished velocity. He was typically around 90 mph with his fastball, and he was forced to rely more on breaking balls and changeups as a result. It makes one wonder if he was going through his dead-arm period a bit later than most. The Yankees were protective of Sabathia this spring after October surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow.
Besides the patience displayed by the bottom half of the lineup, the Red Sox had to be most encouraged about the showing of their pen today. Jon Lester left after striking out seven in five innings, and Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller, Andrew Bailey, Junichi Tazawa and Joel Hanrahan combined to give up just one hit the rest of the way.
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