A week ago the inaugural game for the 2008 season was played in Tokyo, Japan between the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics. While the two teams enjoyed the trip and media hype, the rest of Major League Baseball could only watch and wait for their first regular season games. Well after yesterday, the wait is over and baseball is back in season! Thirteen games graced ballparks across the country and fans returned from their winter hibernations, awaking to the sounds of sausage and beer vendors roaming the stands. For 26 teams yesterday was a new slate, a fresh start and chance to show everyone that this is their year.
It’s too early to make any predictions, but the only thing that really matters right now is that its baseball season and fans couldn’t be happier.
AL Round Up
The last opening day at Yankee Stadium will have to wait at least one more day due to rainstorms in the Bronx, NY that forced the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays to postpone yesterday’s scheduled afternoon game. The Yankees have already announced that 2008 will be their final season in the 76 year old stadium, and at years end will be moving to a brand new park that has cost the team over 1 billion dollars to construct.
In Detroit, the Kansas City Royals spoiled the Tigers home opener with a 5-4 victory in 11 innings. Tony Pena Jr.’s tiebreaking RBI single with two outs in the 11th would prove to be the game winning hit for the Royals. Mark Grudzielanek had three hits and a stolen base in the win. Justin Verlander pitched the first six innings for the Tigers allowing 4 earned runs on 4 hits over 6 innings. He stuck out 6 batters and walked one in the performance and came away with a no decision. Right-handed pitcher Leo Nunez threw two hitless innings of relief and picked up the victory. Over the off-season the Tigers were one of the teams who hit the market hard for new players and currently have a pay-roll of $138 million dollars compared to the Royals $57 million.
C.C. Sabathia struggled in his opening day performance but the Cleveland Indians were still able to hold on for a 10-8 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Jacobs Field. Chicago 1B Jim Thome welcomed Sabathia, the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner, back home with two monster home runs to center field in his first two plate appearances. Still, the Sox could not overcome a 7 run 2nd inning by the tribe that was led by a Franklin Gutierrez three-run homer and a solo shot by Grady Sizemore. Gutierrez went 3-3 on the day. The knock out punch for the Indians came in the bottom of the 8th inning when Casey Blake hit a two-out double with the bases loaded to break a 7-7 tie. Octavio Dotel took the loss for the White Sox while Rafael Betancourt logged the win with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless work.
With ace pitcher Scott Kazmir on the 15-day DL to start the season, the Tampa Bay Rays handed the ball to James Shields to open the year and it turned out to be a great move. Shields pitched 7 strong innings and picked up the win in Tampa Bay’s 6-2 opening day victory over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. After allowing two runs on a Kevin Millar 2 RBI double in the 1st inning, Shields settled down and did not allow another run in his outing. The Rays received three hits from C Dioner Navarro and a solo home run from OF Eric Hinske. Jeremy Guthrie suffered the loss for Baltimore, allowing all 6 runs (5 earned) over 5 1/3 innings while scattering nine hits and 1 walk.
The Seattle Mariners have high hopes for the 2008 season, and a lot of that is based on the off-season acquisition of new ace pitched Erik Bedard. In his first outing with his new team, Bedard pitched 5 innings while allowing 1 run on 3 hits that helped lift the Mariners past the Texas Rangers 5-2 last night. Bedard struggled at times finding the plate and throwing strikes, and in return walked 4 batters. 2B Jose Lopez went 2-4 and had 2 RBI’s in the win for Seattle. In the losing effort, SS Michael Young went yard in the 1st inning off Bedard and losing pitcher Kevin Millwood pitched well allowing only 2 unearned runs on 4 hits through 6 innings.
Torri Hunter returned to Minnesota for his debut with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim only to be welcomed with an 0-4 performance at the plate and a 3-2 loss from his former Minnesota Twins. Livan Hernandez hurled 7 innings for to earn the win allowing 7 hits and 2 runs. Hunter’s replacement in CF for the Twins, Carlos Gomez, scored two runs in the game, including the eventual game winner in the 5th on a Michael Cuddyer RBI single. Joe Nathan pitched the 9th inning and earned the save, striking out Hunter during his effort.