Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 8:56 PM
The best way to get up to speed in major league baseball is to watch as many games as you can in the opening week, and to spend some time digging through all the boxscores. To help you with that, we’re going to run stat summaries of Thursday’s action for you in this edition of the NOTEBOOK. Then we’ll come back in about 24 hours and do the same thing for Friday afternoon action…which will include the NY Yankees at Tampa Bay in the second-most anticipated series of the opening weekend.
The FIRST most anticipated series of opening weekend is Boston at Detroit. Let’s start with that game as we run through Thursday’s action…
DETROIT 3, BOSTON 2
Total Bases + Walks: Boston 10, Detroit 18
Lester 7 IP, 1 ER 4 K, 3 BB
Verlander 8 IP, 2 ER 7 K, 1 BB
Vegas Line: Detroit -145, total of 7
Not exactly a thrilling start to the American League season on the mainland, as two powers were scoreless into the bottom of the seventh inning. Boston was actually scoreless into the ninth, unable to touch Justin Verlander even if he didn’t have his best stuff (less than a K an inning for a guy who’s truly unhittable at his nastiest). The Sox DID get two runs immediately upon his departure, as Valverde kicked off his season with blown save. The Tigers won it in the bottom of the ninth off Melancon. The raw stats show it should have been easier. Detroit won Total Bases plus Walks by an 18-10 count. The math usually works out to about four bases per run…so this was more like a 4-2 game…and more on-sided before the ninth inning. You can’t draw any conclusions off just one game, particularly at the top of the rotation. The Bobby Valentine era begins with a whimper…but in a game nobody will remember a month from now. Prince Fielder debuts for Detroit with a single and an RBI on a sac-fly in three at-bats.
Also in the American League Thursday…
TORONTO 7, CLEVELAND 4 (in 16 innings)
Total Bases + Walks: Toronto 23, Cleveland 23
Romero 5 IP, 4 ER 4 K, 2 BB
Masterson 8 IP, 1 ER 10 K, 1 BB
Vegas Line: Toronto -125, total of 7
The only day game that had any early scoring. Cleveland scored four runs in the second inning, which felt like about a dozen on a day where NOBODY scored in the first two hours of diamond action. The big blow was Hanahan’s three-run homer…which is something you don’t expect from the #9 hitter in the lineup. Masterson had a fantastic game, with 10 K’s in eight sparkling innings. Chris Perez came in for the perfunctory save in the ninth and blew the margin. Given the flow of the day, extra innings was going to last awhile. And it did! A couple of hours later, Toronto put up three in the top of the 16th to win…and celebrate victory in the longest opening day game ever played.
Thursday afternoon in the National League…
NY METS 1, ATLANTA 0
Total Bases + Walks: Atlanta 10, New York 12
Hanson 5 IP, 1 ER 4 K, 3 BB
Santana 5 IP, 0 ER 5 K, 2 BB
Vegas Line: NY Mets -115, total of 7
Usually the starting pitchers go longer than five innings apiece when the final score is 1-0! Santana was sharp with a K per inning. Hanson seemed to tire in the sixth, and did put the runner on base who eventually scored the game winner. Offensive bases show more of a 3-2 type game…which means neither team did much with opportunities that presented themselves. Mostly a bunch of yawners today if you like offense. Cool temperatures and ace pitchers can have that affect. Just remember that the Mets reduced the dimensions in their park this year to make scoring easier. Didn’t work out today.
PHILADELPHIA 1, PITTSBURGH 0
Total Bases + Walks: Philadelphia 11, Pittsburgh 2
Halladay 8 IP, 0 ER 5 K, 0 BB
Bedard 7 IP, 1 ER 4 K, 1 BB
Vegas Line: Philadelphia -155, total of 6.5
Be glad you’re not in charge of the highlight shows on ESPN. Busy schedule and they have no runs to show! Great outing from Halladay. He wasn’t overpowering in terms of strikeouts. But, he didn’t need to be as he allowed just two hits in eight innings of work. Let’s keep an eye on Bedard for the Pirates. He’s likely to offer value for this disrespected team as long as he stays healthy. If you don’t want to risk losing one-run heartbreakers with him….then consider Unders as long as the weather stays mild. Be sure you have a list prepared of potential value pitchers. Everyone KNOWS Halladay is going to be strong. Look for guys in new environments who will be able to take advantage.
WASHINGTON 2, CHICAGO CUBS 1
Total Bases + Walks: Washington 11, Chicago 9
Strasburg 7 IP, 1 ER 5 K, 1 BB
Dempster 7.2 IP, 1 ER 10 K, 3 BB
Vegas Line: Washington -150, total of 6
Horrible scoring conditions with the wind blowing in from center at about 15-20 mph on a cool day. It’s hard enough to hit Strasburg and Dempster in normal conditions. The two were dominant, with Dempster actually getting much the better of it in terms of strikeouts. Washington forced across a run in the top of the ninth inning off Marmol. We do believe the changes the Cubs have made in the front office will payoff down the road. It’s going to be tough this year given the current lineup. Washington is enthusiastic…and the drive to win is often the difference-maker in close games. Cubs fans can tell you about that…and about a lot of LOST close games in recent seasons. Strasburg won’t be a bargain pitcher this year…but the Nationals may offer value again this year as they did during long stretches last season.
CINCINNATI 4, FLORIDA 0
Total Bases + Walks: Miami 6, Cincinnati 21
Beurhle 6 IP, 2 ER 5 K, 2 BB
Cueto 7 IP, 0 ER 4 K, 2 BB
Vegas Line: Cincinnati -135, total of 8
Brutal that Miami had to fly to Cincinnati for a day game after a night game in South Beach. That’s the burden of being the new girl in town (new stadium, new uniforms, new manager, new stars). But, on a day where everyone was having trouble scoring, it probably didn’t matter much. The difference between jet lag and freshness was nada with good pitchers helped by chilly temperature. We’re interested on monitoring Buerhle this year as he switches leagues. Normally allowing two runs in six innings is cause for celebration. Not today. Let’s see if NL hitters have trouble dealing with his motion and savvy. Vegas sharps were fond of Miami entering the season…but are now 2-0 with their financial shows of support vs. St. Louis and Cincinnati. Nice day for Cueto. Bruce had a 440-foot homer and drove in two of Cincy’s four runs.
That wraps up our stat briefs for early Thursday action. We encourage you to keep digging through the boxscores online or in your morning newspaper to find gems the market is missing. We’ll talk mostly generalities here in the NOTEBOOK because we have to protect plays for our paying customers. You can become a paying customer very easily. Log on daily for top plays you can purchase with your credit card. Seasonal packages are available at amazing rates. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.
Back for more baseball tomorrow. We’ll move back to the NBA very soon. We still need to get caught up with the jumbled Western Conference playoff picture. There are some big TV games coming up too as we enter the last two weeks of the regular season.
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