Thursday, April 9, 2009

Keeping Things Interesting: April 9, 2009

Of the three teams looking to start the season 3-0 this afternoon, only the Marlins were able to achieve the feat. Thanks to a four-run fifth-inning, highlighted by a bases loaded double from Dan Uggla, Florida was able to pull away from the Nats to sit atop the NL East alone. Up the coast, the Braves looked assured of joining the Marlins at 3-0 when they took a 10-3 lead into the bottom of the 7th. But then something clicked in Philly's offense, and 8 runs later, the Phils were ahead. They won the game 12-11, and now Braves fans are stuck wondering just how good their team really is, despite a strong showing in the first two games. Atlanta wasn't the only team to melt down in the late innings, though. Leading the A's 4-0 heading into the top of the 8th, the Angels decided to go to their new look bullpen. That didn't work so well, as Arredondo, Shields, and Fuentes gave up 6 runs in the last two innings on nothing but singles (with one walk and one wild pitch thrown in). The A's beat the Angels 6-4.

Over in San Francisco, the Brewers showed their willingness to swing the bat early on, notching six strikeouts against the Big Unit in the first three innings. But their bats woke up just enough to earn the win, as Mike Cameron hit a solo shot in the second and Yovani Gallardo, the 23-year-old pitcher, crushed a 3-run bomb off Johnson in the fifth. That Gallardo-Johnson at-bat proved to be a much more interesting face-off than their pitching match-up did, but it's difficult to imagine that anyone left AT&T Park disappointed in how it played out.

In Texas, the Rangers were able to once again handle the Indians and their pitching staff, beating them for the second time. They'll try for the sweep today. The Mets will also be going for a sweep this afternoon, after battling back for a 9-7 victory over the Reds. K-Rod notched his second save in two games. At this pace, he'll shatter his save record with 162 saves. That would definitely be something to see.

A few pairs of teams will be playing each other for the 4th time tonight. The Cards, Mariners, and Tigers will each be looking to steal a series split before the weekend.

Today's game of interest is found in Baltimore, between the Yankees and the Orioles. The O's go for the surprising sweep of the big spending Yankees after shelling both CC Sabathia and Chien-Ming Wang in the first two games of the season. They'll have to beat AL strikeout leader and $82 million man AJ Burnett in order to do that.

The most interesting thing about this game, though, isn't the O's chance at an early 3 game division lead over the Yankees, but what they're young outfielders are doing with the bat. Granted, we're only two games into the season, so extrapolations aren't possible. That's fine - I wasn't trying to do that anyway. Instead, I just want to point out what Nick Markakis and Adam Jones have been able to manage in their first two games of the year:
Nick Markakis (25 years old): 7 ABs, 5 hits, 4 Runs, 5 RBIs
Adam Jones (23 years old): 6 ABs, 4 hits, 4 Runs, 3 RBIs, 2 BBs
That's a pretty strong start for two young outfielders, and it should be interesting to see how long they can keep it up. If they can get to Burnett the same way they got to Sabathia and Wang, then Baltimore fans might have a legitimate reason to get excited even before Matt Wieters hits the bigs.

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