Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Keeping Things Interesting: April 21, 2009

Yesterday's Most Interesting
In a day full of east coast rainouts, the Florida Marlins are probably wishing that they could've joined that list. Behind the steady bats of Adam LaRoche and Nate McLouth and the excellent pitching of Ross Ohlendorf, the Pirates handed the Marlins their first road loss of the year (and only second overall loss) with a two-hit, 8-0 shutout. Florida was only able to manage four baserunners all game, with only one walk and one runner reaching base by error. It was a great game for the Pirates, and they should be feeling quite pleased with it. However, we all knew that Florida wasn't an 11-1 team, so it can't come as a shock to see them lose on the road. But for those lucky hometown few who actually made it out to the ballpark, they saw a pretty fun game.

More From Yesterday
On a day where there weren't many games scheduled to be played anyway, a rainout in two different cities is quite significant. In yet another "first" for the stadium, the A's-Yankees tilt at the new Yankee Stadium was rained out. The San Diego-Philly game was also postponed.

In the games that actually played, the Red Sox crushed the Orioles 12-1 to complete a four-game sweep on Boston's Patriot's Day. Baltimore fans cannot be happy this morning. In Houston, the Astros continued their weak play at home in losing to the Reds 4-3. Bronson Arroyo improves to 3-0 on the year and Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman both hit home runs for the 'Stros. The Nationals surprised everyone by taking a lead into the ninth inning and actually holding it. Joel Hanrahan earns his first save of the year and Josh Zimmerman, in his major league debut, earns the win while giving up 6 hits and 1 walk with 3 strikouts in 6 innings pitched. The Nats improve to 2-10 while the Braves fall to 6-7.

Today's Games
With a full slate of games today (assuming the weather cooperates, of course), there's a lot to talk about. Rich Harden heads to the hill for the Cubs today, trying to improve on his historic loss from last week. He'll be taking on the Reds and Micah Owings, who hasn't been pitching all too great this year. The Dodgers take their 8-game winning streak on the road to Houston, where young stud Clayton Kershaw faces Russ Ortiz. In Philadelphia, the Brewers and Phillies meet for the first time since the World Champs knocked the Crew out of the playoffs (right in front of me, I might add). Joe Blanton, who started that Game 4, will pitch for the Phillies against a struggling Manny Parra. And in what will be just one of many excellent NL West pitching matchups throughout the year, San Diego's Jake Peavy will face San Francisco's Matt Cain at AT&T Park.

In the AL, the Royals visit Cleveland to face the Indians for their second series of the year. Aruban royalty Sir Sidney will take the mound for the Royals against Cleveland's Aaron Laffey. The Twins play the first of a quick two-game series at Fenway Park today and will face knuckler Tim Wakefield, fresh off his near no-hitter in Oakland. In Seattle, the last-place 5-8 Rays take on the first-place 8-5 Mariners in a battle of teams not quite playing as predicted. Andy Sonnanstine will take on Jarrod Washburn. Andy Pettite will finally get to face Dana Eveland in the new Yankee Stadium after yesterday's rainout. I wonder how the rainy weather and different air conditions will affect the Stadium this week.

Today's Most Interesting
The most interesting game of the day, though, is the Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays. While the Rangers have had an interesting first couple of weeks and have been featured here a couple of times, the Blue Jays have been flying under the radar. You could attribute that to the fact that they play their home games up in Canada but it's more likely because they just aren't the Red Sox or Yankees (or even Rays). With the stadium opening in New York, all the excitement about the young, surprising Rays from last year, and because the Red Sox are the Red Sox, the press just doesn't have a lot of room for Toronto. But they currently sit comfortably atop the AL East, with a 10-4 overall record and a 5-2 home record. And, with Doc Halladay taking the mound for them today (3-0, 17 Ks, 3 BB, 3.00 ERA in 21 IP), they have a pretty good shot at stretching that lead. The Rangers hope Brandon McCarthy can do something about that, but it'll be hard. Whatever happens, though, this game is still the most interesting game of the day.

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