That's what I'm talking about!
Rays 6 (1-0), Orioles 2 (0-1)
The combination of MLB Extra Innings and a DVR is perhaps the greatest thing in the world for baseball fans outside of their favorite team's home city. Not only do you get the games, you can record them if you have to work (make sure not look at the score all day whereas this will ruin the viewing) and come home and watch them while fast forwarding through all of the commercials. What a great experience. Modern technology how I love you.
MVP: James Shields (see flattering picture below)
- Hinske crushed a homer to right in the 4th extending the lead to 4-2.
- Jason Bartlett. He looked very good in the field and got on base 2 out of 4 times. Had a nice slide to take out Roberts in the 6th preventing a double play.
- Navi. He threw out Brian Roberts once. He had a nice RBI single in 6th to extend the lead to 5-2. And he was safe at home on that double steal. But when you are beat by that much they tend to call you out. Then he ripped a double down the left field line to lead off the ninth. Awesome.
- Shields’ 2nd through 7th innings. He didn’t pitch spectacularly but he went seven and didn’t give up any runs other than in the first. He labored through a couple innings but worked more and more efficiently as the game went on. Excellent opening day start.
- Willy Aybar. He didn’t do anything spectacularly but he was solid at third and looked good with the bat. I especially appreciated his ability to move the runner over when he had to.
- The bullpen was excellent and efficient. Reyes struck out the only hitter he faced and Wheeler looked very solid and efficient in the 9th.
- Crawford’s Fielding. He definitely should have come down with that fly ball on the warning track in the first. That cost the team one run. I also thought he got a bad break on the shorter fly that Markakis hit in the first inning. In the third, he didn’t call Bartlett off on a short fly ball and almost caused a collision. He looked much better later in the game tracking down a long fly ball to the wall and also making a great play on a line shot hit by Markakis. Overall though it was a rather uneven performance.
- Shields’ first inning. He labored and his control did not look good at all. He can’t be throwing that many pitches per inning. That will lead to shorter outing and kill the bullpen.
- Baserunning. Bartlett was forced out going from first to second on a Iwamura liner to right that he did not get a good read on. In the third, Navi took off for home on Crawford’s weak grounder to Mora at third base. If Mora would have fielded it cleanly he would have had Navi at home. Luckily he bobbled it and allowed both Navi and Crawford to be safe. Finally, Iwamura had a very poor read on Pena’s fly ball single to right in the third and failed to make it home from second. Luckily, this didn’t cost the rays a run. I did like aggression that Maddon showed putting the double steal on. He knew that even if it didn't work he would still have CC leading off next inning so all was not lost.
The newcomers were excellent in their debut. I have a feeling that Bartlett’s defense is going to pay dividends this season. Navi appears to be in “second-half 2007” form. Shields came out and did what an opening day starter is supposed to do. Awesome first game. I don’t think Rays fans could be any more pleased with the opening. Next game is Wednesday night at Baltimore.
Extra News and Notes from the Game
- According to the O’s announcer Gary Thorne Maddon said before the game that Longoria will be up in about a month. This runs entirely contrary to what Friedman said about the likelihood of Longoria being down for the whole season.
- Brian Roberts is a good baseball player. He could help a lot of teams out.
- According to the O’s announcer Gary Thorne oak bats are now more expensive so most players are using maple bats that shatter more easily. Infielders don’t like this.