Game Recaps: April 1, 2013

by Tucker Warner

The first full day of baseball is finally here, with 12 games to talk about and overreact to.  Let’s get to it!

Boston Red Sox 8 (1-0), New York Yankees 2 (0-1)

W: Jon Lester (1-0), L: CC Sabathia (0-1)

For whatever reason, CC Sabathia typically struggles during his first few starts of the season, and his 2013 debut was not an exception to this trend, as he gave up 4 runs on 8 hits and 4 walks in only 5 innings of work.  That didn’t help, but the team also had trouble at the plate, managing just as many runners as they ceded strikeouts.  Eduardo Nunez, who is still awful, went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts.  I’m not entirely sure why Joe Girardi would hit Nunez second in the lineup while Ichiro sat at seventh (behind Ben Francisco, which: ugh), and I don’t think I’ll understand this decision other than to hope it stops by the second game.  More positively, Lester struck out 7 in 5 innings with only 2 walks, and Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-6, drove in 2 runs, and scored another.

Of note: Jackie Bradley, Jr. made his MLB debut in left field, and went 0-2 but drew three walks.  At this point, that probably points more toward pitching errors than anything else, but Bradley looks set for a productive season.

Miami Marlins 0 (0-1), Washington Nationals 2 (1-0)

W: Stephen Strasburg (1-0), L: Ricky Nolasco (0-1), S: Rafael Soriano (1)

The story of the game here, obviously, is Bryce Harper, who hit two home runs to score the only two runs of the game.  For the most part, this game was a pitcher’s duel, though Strasburg was clearly on top the entire way through, retiring 19 straight batters after giving up a leadoff hit to Juan Pierre.  Strasburg finished his 7 innings with only 3 hits, walking no one, and striking out three.  Low for Strasburg against such a weak lineup, certainly, but it took him only 80 pitches to work through those 7 innings, which is a sacrifice I’m sure Washington was fine with.

Of note: the decision to bat Placido Polanco in the cleanup spot was much derided (though there weren’t really any better options for the Marlins), but he currently leads the team in OPS.  So there’s that.

San Diego Padres 2 (0-1), New York Mets 11 (1-0)

W: Jonathon Niese (1-0), L: Edinson Volquez (0-1)

This game was never close; Volquez lost control of the game very early on, and gave up 6 runs over a span of 9 outs, putting 9 men on base during that time.  The Mets took advantage of the poor performances of Volquez and reliever Brad Branch, as six New York hitters finished the game with multiple hits.  Most notably among that group included leadoff hitter Collin Cowgill, who hit a grand slam off Brach in the seventh inning, and catcher John Buck, who is already a significant upgrade over last year’s starter Josh Thole (though the jury is still out on top prospect Travis d’Arnaud).

Of note: Another big prospect made his MLB debut today, San Diego second baseman Jedd Gyorko.  His game was a bit underwhelming today, though he did stroke a double later in the game.

Chicago Cubs 3 (1-0), Pittsburgh Pirates 1 (0-1)

W: Jeff Samardzija (1-0), L: AJ Burnett (0-1), S: Kyuji Fujikawa (1)

This was a game of both strikeouts and predictability.  The strikeouts came from both starters- Samardzija with 9, Burnett with 10- and the Pittsburgh relieving corps, who managed 5 in 3.1 innings, as the two teams combined to whiff 25 times.  Predictability was shown in the first inning, where AJ Burnett unsurprisingly got off to a rough start after one big mistake, and Anthony Rizzo, of course, was the one to take him deep for a two-run homer.  Also, very characteristically, Carlos Marmol let two men on base and gave up a run before he could record his second out of the ninth inning.  Luckily for Chicago, they got a two-pitch save from Fujikawa, who, like a few others pointed out earlier in this space, made his MLB debut today.

Of note: Chicago catcher Welington Castillo hit two doubles, which I’m just going to assume is a new single-game record for the normally powerless backstop.

Colorado Rockies 4 (0-1), Milwaukee Brewers 5 (1-0)

W: Jim Henderson (1-0), L: Adam Ottavino (0-1)

The first exciting finish of the season came in Milwaukee, starting with Aramis Ramirez’s two-run double in the bottom of the 8th inning that gave the Brewers a one-run lead, before Dexter Fowler’s two-out solo shot in the 9th off John Axford sent the game into extra innings.  Adam Ottavino would load the bases before giving up a walk-off sacrifice fly to Jonathan Lucroy in the bottom of the 10th that scored Rickie Weeks.  Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and Norichika Aoki also went deep at various points.

Of note: Colorado’s Matt Belisle, who has very quietly turned into one of the best middle relievers in the game, came in to throw one pitch (which retired the batter), but I’m not entirely sure that new manager Walt Weiss knows what he’s doing with a good, if limited-by-role, bullpen with many assets.

San Francisco Giants 0 (0-1), Los Angeles Dodgers 4 (1-0)

W: Clayton Kershaw (1-0), L: George Kontos (0-1)

Matt Cain pitched great, fanning 8 batters in 6 innings while allowing only 4 hits and 1 walk, but Clayton Kershaw was absolutely masterful today, going the full 9 innings, striking out 7, and only ceding 4 hits to the reigning World Series champion.  Even more impressively, Kershaw needed only 94 pitches to take care of the full San Francisco side.  Seven Giants went hitless, as Pablo Sandoval and Angel Pagan both knocked two base hits.  On the other side of the field, the Dodgers’ offense was led by…well, that was also Kershaw, who hit a solo shot off Kontos in the 8th inning.  Carl Crawford and Mark Ellis also chipped in by adding two hits and a run each.

Of note: Santiago Casilla was credited with an earned run despite not retiring any batters.  He currently has an infinite ERA in 2013.  I hope, for his sake, it does not stay that way.

Kansas City Royals 0 (0-1), Chicago White Sox 1 (1-0)

W: Chris Sale (1-0), L: James Shields (0-1), S: Addison Reed (1)

This game was literally as low-scoring as a baseball came could possibly be, but the teams combined for 15 hits nonetheless, which peaked in Tyler Flowers’s solo home run off Shields in the 5th inning.  No individual player really stood out, but Salvador Perez smacked a line drive so hard that it bounced off the wall to a Chicago outfielder before he could safely make the turn into second.  Chris Sale, possibly a dark horse Cy Young candidate, struck out 7 in 7.2 innings while only walking one.

Of note: Jeff Francoeur grounded out to end the game while representing the winning run because of course he did.

Detroit Tigers 4 (1-0), Minnesota Twins 2 (0-1)

W: Justin Verlander (1-0), L: Vance Worley (0-1), S: Phil Coke (1)

Verlander turned in the shutdown performance we all expected from him, allowing 5 baserunners (3 his, 2 walks) in 5 innings, while striking out 7.  No home runs were hit in this game, and Detroit’s power-filled lineup actually hit fewer doubles than the Twins.  The nine hits they pieced together, though, were enough to put runs on the scoreboard, though they may be disappointed with only four runs off the less-than-dominant Worley.

Of note: Aaron Hicks went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts.  He’s Minnesota’s leadoff hitter.  That’s probably not good.

Los Angeles Angels 3 (1-0), Cincinnati Reds 1 (0-1)

W: Mark Lowe (1-0), L: JJ Hoover (0-1), S: Ernesto Frieri (1)

Oh man, this game was a pain to sit through.  It lasted for a LONG 13 innings, where both teams combined for 9 hits, and it wasn’t because of particularly good pitching, outside of a strong seven-inning start by Johnny Cueto.  No, the problem was just that nobody could hit.  Los Angeles catcher Chris Iannetta got off to a strong start, lacing the first home run of the season for the Angels, while their top 7 hitters combined to go 2-33, though they did draw 7 walks.  Meanwhile, the Reds managed only 3 hits all game, two of which came from leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo.  This game was awful.

Of note: The Angels used 20 men of their 25-man roster.  Of the five they didn’t use, four were pitchers in the starting rotation.  The other was backup outfielder JB Shuck, who must feel awful.  Someone should cheer him up.

Philadelphia Phillies 5 (0-1), Atlanta Braves 7 (1-0)

W: Luis Avilan (1-0), L: Cole Hamels, S: Craig Kimbrel (1)

Cole Hamels wanted to impress the national audience in his first Opening Day start of his career.  He did not do that.  Hamels gave up three home runs, to Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla, and Justin Upton, and let in 5 runs in 5 innings on 7 hits.  Tim Hudson was fairly lackluster as well, but managed to minimize his mistakes a little better than his counterpart.  Freeman, Chris Johnson, and Gerald Laird each knocked multiple hits for Atlanta.  Then Craig Kimbrel came in for the 9th inning and dominated everyone, like usual.

Of note: Chase Utley had 3 hits and 3 RBI, and was a double away from hitting for the cycle.  Yeah, Chase Utley hit a triple, hitting 50% of his total from last season in just one game.

St. Louis Cardinals 2 (0-1), Arizona Diamondbacks 6 (1-0)

W: Ian Kennedy (1-0), L: Adam Wainwright (0-1)

Sometimes a pitcher doesn’t really do anything wrong, necessarily, but just gets crushed nonetheless.  Adam Wainwright just couldn’t stop giving up line drives.  In his 6 innings, he allowed 11 hits, including 4 doubles, that cost St. Louis 4 runs.  Fernando Salas relieved Wainwright and gave up 3 hits (including 2 more doubles) before even recording an out.  Gerardo Parra hit three of the doubles, and added another base hit, while Ian Kennedy managed to go relatively untouched for most of the game.

Of note: AJ Pollock had 4 doubles in all of 2012. He hit 2 against St. Louis

Seattle Mariners 2 (1-0), Oakland Athletics 0 (0-1)

W: Felix Hernandez (1-0), L: Brett Anderson (0-1), S: Tom Wilhelmson (1)

Seems like Felix Hernandez lost nothing in the offseason, as he went 7.2 innings in and threw 8 strikeouts, only giving up 3 hits and 1 walk.  It’s the type of dominant performance that we sometimes overlook with him, but this was especially crucial as Brett Anderson was also throwing a strong game.  The winning score came on a base hit from Franklin Gutierrez that knocked in Dustin Ackley and Brendan Ryan, none of whom are exactly known for their offensive prowess.

Of note: Felix Hernandez is awesome. Let that stand until his next start.

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