Nine to Know: MLB highlights of 4/5/2012

The great Omar Vizquel

Okay, yesterday was the third Opening Day of the 2012 season and today will be fourth. Somehow, I don’t think this really works. I vote for for the first game to played in Cincinnati and the second in Washington, DC with, for the next four years, President Obama throwing out the first pitch from his box, not the mound.

Here’s your Nine to Know about yesterday’s action:

  1. What a great way to open the season! I watched nine innings of exciting baseball and I didn’t even get on board until the game was in 7th inning. The Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Cleveland Indians in 16 innings, 7-4, the longest opener in MLB history. J.P. Arencibia hit the game-winner, a three-run blast in the top of the 16th. The previous longest openers — 15 innings between Cleveland and Detroit on April 19, 1960, and 15 innings between Philadelphia and Washington on April 13, 1926. The revamped Jays bullpen was amazing. The Indians did not score over the last 14 innings and were held scoreless in 15 of 16 innings after scoring all four of their runs in the 2nd. Jack Hannahan hit a three-run homer to give Cleveland a 4-0 lead against Ricky Romero. Jose Bautista hit his first homer of the season, the only mark against Tribe starter Justin Masterson who was brilliant. His line–8 IP, 2 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 10 SO. Cleveland pitchers combined for 16 strikeouts, Jay’s pitcher’s allowed 11 walks. The Tribe looked lifeless at the plate and on the bases where they did nothing to produce a run.
  2. The Mets are in first place. Johan Santana returned from 19 months away recovering from Tommy John and tossed five innings of two-hit ball.  David Wright hit an RBI single to lead the Mets past the Atlanta Braves, 1-0.
  3. Okay, the Mets are tied for first place as the Phillies also won 1-0 behind Roy Halladay and Jonathan Papelbon. How many times will we read that this season? Plenty. Erik Bedard pitched great for the Pirates (his  line–7 IP, 6 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 4 SO) as this wasn’t September, but Doc was brillant (8 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 5 SO). Carlos Ruiz had three hits but it was his sac fly that drove home the winner.
  4. Justin Verlander looked amazing. The Tigers topped the Red Sox, 3-2. Talk about a vulture win, Jose Valverde blew his first save since save since Sept. 2, 2010, allowing the Sox to tie the game with two runs in the 9th. Verlander’s line–8 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, 1 BB, 7 SO. Jon Lester pitched really well for the Sox and also picked up a no-decision. Lester’s line–7 IP, 6 H, 1 R/ER, 3 BB, 4 SO. The story of the game will be the story of the Red Sox season: four Red Sox relievers faced 10 Tigers batters and six reached base.
  5. Great pitching match-up at Wrigley as the Nationals edged the Cubsteins, 2-1. Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg (-7 IP, 5 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 5 SO) and Cubs starter Ryan Dempster (7.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R/ER, 3 BB, 10 SO) were both outstanding. Tyler Clippard (1-0) worked a scoreless 8th to win in relief. Brad Lidge gave up a one-out triple in the 9th but got the save. Carlos Marmol took the loss.
  6. Mark Buehrle (6 IP, 7 H, 2 R/ER, 2 BB, 5 SO) pitched well in his Marlins debut but not enough to beat Johnny Cueto (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 4 SO) and the Reds. The Reds dropped the MMarlins to 0-2 with a 4-0 victory, the Reds first Opening Day shutout since 1980. The Marlins have 1 run and 7 hits through 2 games.
  7. The Dodgers topped the Padres, 5-3. The good news for the Dodgers was that Matt Kemp picked up where he left off last season by hitting his first dinger of the year. The not as good was poor Clayton Kershaw who had to leave the game after three innings with the stomach flu. He pitched three shutout innings allowing two hits and picked up one of his own. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he saw Kershaw lying down in the tunnel behind the dugout after the 3rd. “It’s not a real good sign when your starting pitcher was laying down,” Mattingly said. Donnie Doctor.
  8. Lowlight of the day: Indians first baseman Casey Kotchman was 0 for 7.
  9. Highlight of the day: 44-year old Omar Vizquel made his Blue Jays debut and received a standing “O” from the great and grateful Cleveland Indian fans. Omar entered the game with one out in the 12th and listed as the left fielder, but he came in as the fifth infielder when the Tribe had loaded the bases (the Indians quickly hit into a DP). Vizquel then played for first for just the second time in his career.