Blue Jays 3, Rays 0: When the plan works, it looks great. Jose Bautista hitting two homers and Mark Buehrle tossing eight shutout innings with 11 strikeouts. That’s how they drew it up on paper entering last year and that’s what they counted on happening for real this year.
Rangers 4, Phillies 3: Jonathan Papelbon was handed the ball with a 3-1 lead and promptly gave up three runs on four hits and two walks, including a game-ending bases-loaded walk to Shin-Soo Choo. And then Papelbon blamed his defense for not turning a double play to end the game despite the fact it was drawn in because he had loaded the friggin’ bases. He had no command and no velocity. And, apparently, no sense of shame or responsibility.
Tigers 2, Royals 1: Welcome to Detroit Ian Kinsler. A homer and the walkoff single for the sleazeball whisperer. Not such a warm welcome to newcomer Joe Nathan who couldn’t hold a 1-0 lead in the ninth, but we’ll let that slide for a moment. He has a lot to overcome what with the curse that old fortune teller placed on anyone who is named the Tigers closer.
Pirates 4, Cubs 3: Sixteen innings. 5 hours and 55 minutes. Ended at 1am and they gotta turn around and play today at 12:30. Sometimes I write my best stuff when I am tired and punchy. Some of the greatest albums were recorded in the wee small hours when everyone was totally wiped out. I doubt the best baseball is played under exhausted conditions, but I suppose we’ll see this afternoon.
Astros 3, Yankees 1: Jarred Cosart allowed four hits in five scoreless innings. Dexter Fowler homered and tripled. Thank goodness this was a baseball game and not a gutter wrestling match, because otherwise his contributions would’ve been meaningless and unwelcome.
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White Sox 7, Twins 6: There were approximately 11 people on hand for this chilly game. Those that stuck around for the 11th inning saw some fun stuff. Leury Garcia bunted for a base hit, took second on a balk, took third on a wild pitch and scored the winning run on another wild pitch. The balk and wild pitches came courtesy of Sam Deduno. The overall arc of that inning came courtesy of Rube Goldberg.
Reds 1, Cardinals 0: I have a sick, sick side of me that wants 2014 to be 1968 redux. All pitching, no hitting. Batting leaders who hit .301 and home run leaders who it, like, 23. Adam Wainwright or someone pulling a Denny McLain and Felix Hernandez or someone pulling a Bob Gibson. Hand-wringing about lowering the mound or juicing the balls. It’s not gonna happen, but when you see a couple of 1-0 games on the same day you think about it. In this one you think about how Carlos Martinez giving up three hits in the ninth to lose the game wasn’t particularly likely but happened anyway.
Athletics 6, Indians 1; Indians 6, Athletics 4: If two teams split a doubleheader is their overall velocity 0? I think so, but it’s been a long time since I took physics. Scott Kazmir tossed seven and a third shutout innings against his old mates in game 1. The Indians rallied from one run down in the ninth to take the nightcap. Jim Johnson has now pitched two games for the Athletics and he has stunk up the joint both times.
Nationals 5, Mets 1: Gio Gonzalez allowed one run over six innings and [all together now] helped his own cause with a solo home run in the fifth. The Nationals have struck out Mets batters 31 times in their two games, which is a modern major league record for the first two games of the season. Kind of an esoteric record, actually, which means far more for the ones against whom it was set than the ones setting it.
Red Sox 6, Orioles 2: Whew! This, I was told, was a must-win game for the Red Sox. Thank God they won. David Ortiz and Mike Napoli each hit two-run homers. Napoli singled in two more in the seventh.
Rockies 6, Marlins 5: The Rockies offense finally woke up as all eight position players had a hit in this one. The pitchers were seen over at the smoking circle with the upperclassmen saying that “hitting is for geeks,” but that bravado really only masks their own insecurity.
Giants 2, Diamondbacks 0: Welcome to San Francisco Tim Hudson. Well, the game was technically in Phoenix, but let’s not get technical. Hudson allowed only three hits, no runs and struck out seven while pitching into the eighth inning.
Dodgers 5, Padres 1: Dan Haren was good and terrible in his last spring training appearance on Saturday. Guess he figured something out since then. He allowed only an unearned run in six. There was an attempted replay challenge in this game, but the umpires ruled that it wasn’t timely, as Bud Black took a while to come out of the dugout. This is why, in other challenges, managers are coming out early and stalling as their coaches review the plays and flash them a thumbs up or thumbs down. It’s also another reason why manager challenges are stupid.
Mariners 8, Angels 2: James Paxson pitched seven scoreless and Robinson Cano had his first RBI as a Mariner, while Justin Smoak, Mike Zunino and Corey Hart all homered. That makes it a sweep for Seattle. Expect enthusiasm to surge among Mariners fans. Expect the same old gripes and groans we’ve heard for the past two seasons from Angels fans. In both cases it’s justified.
Braves 1, Brewers 0: Dueling no-hitters into the seventh but then a Chris Johnson home run provided all of the game’s scoring. Matt Garza was great until then. So too was Aaron Harang, who was on fire: