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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Baseball Highlights from Opening Day 2007

By David

The first full day of baseball action on Monday saw 13 openers and an abundance of high expectations for many major league clubs.

At Yankee Stadium in the Bronx there was a somber moment before Carl Pavano toed the rubber.Melanie Lidle, widow of the late Cory Lidle, took the mound with her son Christopher to thrown out the first pitch. May we never forget that awful October day when Cory and flight instructor Tyler Stanger were killed when Cory's single-engine plane crashed into a Manhattan building.

It didn't take long for the boo birds to come out in full force after A-Rod missed a pop foul in the first. Despite deplorable defense, New York went on to beat the D-Rays 9-5 and with the victory they won their tenth straight home opener. In watching the game I witnessed just how good all the young players for Tampa are. With his first big league hit center fielder Elijah Dukes blasted a home run off of Pavano.

Ben Sheets proved that he was eager to begin the season as he pitched a complete game two-hitter against the Dodgers'. Mariners' right-hander Felix Hernandez looked to up end the performance by Sheets' as he took the mound against the division rival A's. In eight innings of work, the 20-year old struck out twelve and surrendered no runs. In doing so, king Felix became the third pitcher all-time to strikeout at least twelve on Opening Day.

While many pitchers had impressive outings yesterday, the elite pitchers around MLB struggled in their first appearances of 2007. Cubs' ace Carlos Zambrano lasted only 5 innings and gave up six hits, five earned runs and two homers to Adam Dunn. Red Sox' hurler Curt Schilling looked to have an easy outing in KC, but in only four innings of work he surrendered eight hits and five earned runs.

The reigning CY Young winners in both leagues did not get off on the right foot in their quest to reclaim their awards. Despite picking up the victory, Johan Santana gave up seven hits and four earned runs. Arizona ace Brandon Webb went five innings and gave up eight hits and five earned runs. Orioles ace and White Sox' starter Jose Contreras were both shelled in their first starts. Contreras only lasted through the first and allowed seven Indians' base runners to score. His E.R.A. now stands at an inflated 63.00.

While there were many poor pitching performances, other players got off to auspicious starts. Reds ace Aaron Harang silenced Chicago over seven strong innings of work and the D-Train went six innings and gave up one earned run against the Nationals. In a loss, Dan Haren of the A's went six scoreless innings but was out pitched by Felix Hernandez. Roy Oswalt pitched 7.2 solid innings for the Astros, but saw his bullpen once again blow the win for him.

Offensively, only the Cleveland Indians scored more than ten runs on Monday and eighteen teams scored five runs or less. Four teams managed to score a mere run and the Oakland A's were blanked in their first game.

Grady Sizemore, leadoff man for the Indians, blasted a home run to right to start the season for the Tribe. Shortstop Edgar Renteria of the Braves who had 14 home runs last season belted the tying and game winning home runs for Atlanta in their victory over the Phillies. Lastly, the Marlins continued their success from a season ago as they trounced Washington 9-2. All-star Miguel Cabrera had a homer, three hits, 2 walks and four RBI's. Defending NL Rookie of the Year Hanley Ramirez added four hits, four runs scored and two stolen bases in six at bats.

Later today, Barry Zito will make his debut for the Giants and teammate Barry Bonds will look to take one step closer to Hank Aaron's home run record.


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