As everyone continues to maneuver through a, let’s say….. “rocky” 2020. We all got a break from the craziness as we got our beloved baseball back. For today, is opening day! Although 2020 made sure we still knew who’s boss by ending the first game of the year in the middle of the 6th inning due to a passing lightning storm that flooded the dugouts. All the stars were still out for this one.
We had Cole vs. Scherzer, Mookie as a Dodger, Stanton starting the year off right with a 459-foot B.O.M.B, and of course, Angel Hernandez. Which, by the way, how the hell is anyone going to beat the Yankees if Gerret Cole is on the mound and getting balls thrown a foot outside the zone called for strikes? That was insane! I mean, kudos to Howie Kendrick for not losing his ever-loving mind after getting rung up on a pitch that looked like an exact replica of Dr.NeverThrownABaseball’s ceremonial first pitch. Best opening day first pitch ever.
I know I shouldn’t be harsh on the good ol’ doctor, but that first pitch almost sucked as bad as Angel Hernandez strike zone.
We did get some surprises before the start of the two-game opening day. One came with the news that Juan Soto is out with a positive Covid test. The other was Kershaw getting scratched with back stiffness and placed on IL. It’s unclear for how long, but both players will miss some time. Who does that affect more? 100% the defending champs. I don’t think the absence of Kershaw is going to hurt the Dodger team much at all. Obviously, he is a great pitcher, probably the best of the generation, but that Dodger team will score runs against any pitcher in the league. They’re like a freakin all-star team.
With Kershaw out, the team still has Buehler, Urias (who I like), and Dustin May, who looked damn good. Dude’s straight throwing a 93mph slider…. Filthy…..
On the other hand, Soto being out of the Nats lineup is going to be devastating for that team. Yes, they still have one of, if not the best rotations in the league, but the Nats are without Zimmerman, without Rendon obviously, and now being without Soto is going to hurt. That’s a lot of pop missing from that lineup.
Both Cole and Scherzer gave up first-inning homers but settled in quickly after. Scherzer went on to strike out the next four batters after getting taken deep by Stanton and finished his day with 11Ks. It looked like he doesn’t have his command where it needs to be yet, but that low changeup that falls off the bottom of the zone makes me feel all tingly inside.
Cole was Cole, also settling in after the first. The homerun he gave up to Adam Eaton would be the only hit he would allow through five innings. Cueto and May both only go four innings. Both guys pitched well, but Dave Roberts played it right, pulling May after giving up seven hits. Starting opening day is a lot of pressure for a young kid like May, and leaving him in too long to start getting knocked potentially isn’t going to do anything for his confidence. The Dodger pen came in and completely shut the Giants down for the remainder of the game. Good managing by Dave Roberts.
Now, I won’t run wild in this post about my feelings for Gabe Kapler, but as a quick overview, I think that was one of the most poorly managed games I’ve ever seen. Pulled Cueto too soon, Pulling Crawford, the leader of the infield, out for the bat of Donovan Solano?? really? Leaving Dubon, Solano, and Flores to protect up the middle? Really? And if you’re going to be so quick to pull Cueto, as I had mentioned, then why leave Tyler Rogers out there so long to take all of that punishment?
The following morning, sitting at my desk, thinking about all of the baseball we have coming to us today, I can’t help but smile. Baseball is the game that I love, and after all of this time, it’s finally back.
Today crack yourself a cold one, grab some sunflower seeds, and throw some dogs on the grill. We’ve got a lot more to see! We get our first look and the newly retooled Cincinnati Reds, Joe Girardi leading Bryce Harper and his Phillies into battle against Jeter’s Marlins. Do the Seattle Mariners of all teams feel the need to go hunting for some Astros?? All of this and more will be answered today. We’re talking opening day now, but don’t blink. This 60 game sprint will be over before you know it. Hold on tight and enjoy the game.