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And That Happened: Opening Day’s scores and highlights

Apr 1, 2011, 5:30 AM EDT

San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers Getty Images

For those of you new to in-season HardballTalk, know this: each weekday morning — and maybe some weekend mornings; I’m thinkin’ about it — I recap the previous day and/or night’s action in a little feature called “And That Happened.”  This is ATH’s fourth year, as I began it over at my old haunt, ShysterBall, where people seemed to like it well enough. If you care, it was named in honor of this video.

I’m told that was recording artist John Mayer, giving some impromptu play-by-play of  the A’s-Red Sox game which opened the 2008 season in Japan, but I’m not a big John Mayer fan so I don’t mind ripping off his bit.

The point, though, is like Mr. Mayer’s commentary, ATH is not meant to provide comprehensive or even necessarily lucid breakdowns of the previous night’s action. Oh, that happens sometimes, but mostly I’m just riffing here. Providing a little flavor of what went down in the game. Maybe an observation or an opinion or something kinda neat from the box score. Maybe an obscure movie line or two which, as long as Aubrey or David Huff remain in the majors, will likely include a few too many Groucho Marx bits.  If you want actual information, click the linked box score before every entry.  Any information I provide is, I assure you, completely by accident.

With that out of the way, let us begin our long journey through the major league season:

Dodgers 2, Giants 1: Buster Posey may be the great test case for whether people only accuse minority ballplayers of lackadaisical, addle-minded play. The run which broke the 0-0 tie was the result of Posey’s poor decision and poor throw trying to pick Matt Kemp off third. Yet, when it happened, the ESPN crew actually blamed the bad play on Pablo Sandoval, saying that he asked for the throw and didn’t do a great job trying to catch it. Maybe he did ask for it, but Posey is the catcher and he’s in charge out there. He should have thought better of it. And sorry, there was no way Sandoval could have gotten to that throw.  Then, in the ninth, Posey hit a little roller to first base that James Loney at first misplayed but then recovered and shoveled to Jonathan Broxton for the out. The ESPN crew lauded Loney for the play — which they should have, because it was a good recovery — but they made no mention of the fact that Posey was shuffling down the line with all the urgency of a condemned prisoner walking the green mile.

The booth walked back their comments regarding the pickoff throw after the commercial break, but both there and in the ninth the impulse to absolve Posey of his baseball sins seemed irresistible. All I could think was how different the reaction may have been had it been B.J. Upton or Hanley Ramirez making those decisions and not running out that roller.

Reds 7, Brewers 6: I would like it to be known that, in my little preview of yesterday’s action, I called Edinson Volquez out as being shaky.  To whom do I report to receive my laurels?  Fine, but that’s a laurel you owe me. Anyway, the Ramon Hernandez walkoff homer saved Volquez’s bacon. Too bad that so many Reds fans had already left the park and thus didn’t see it.  Cincy was a baseball town once. People here in Ohio swear to me that this is true.

Padres 5, Cardinals 3: Pujols goes 0 for 5 and grounds into three double plays. It’s tempting to say something more about that, but given that this brings the score to 1,404,492 times that Pujols did something good to, like, 8 times he did something bad over the past 11 years, I think he’s entitled to a pass here. If Ryan Franklin doesn’t give up a homer with two out in the ninth it doesn’t matter. If Ryan Theriot doesn’t make that error in the 11th, it probably doesn’t matter.  And while we’re on the subject, I expected letting Brendan Ryan go would cost the Cards on defense at some point, but who’d a thunk it would happen on Day One?

Angels 4, Royals 2: Jeff Francoeur had a homer and Melky Cabrera reached base four times.  When those guys are providing your offensive heroics you know you’re in trouble. Oh, and Francoeur came to bat with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth. He struck out swinging on a pitch that was above his neck, so it’s good to see him in midseason form.

Braves 2, Nationals 0: All Jason Heyward does is hit home runs in his first Opening Day day at-bat. Year-after-year! And Mac Thomason had a sharp observation over at Braves Journal:

Last year, Bobby often let Lowe work an inning too long, or a batter too long. Fredi didn’t do that this time. When Lowe’s 105th pitch walked Zimmerman with two out in the sixth, Fredi got the hook and brought in O’Flaherty, who allowed a flare single to LaRoche then got out of it.

And how. It’s almost certain that Bobby Cox leaves Lowe in there. Nice to see Fredi bring out the hook.  All of the reasons Fredi Gonzalez is like Bobby Cox are why he got the job. Because following a legend is so tough, however, and because the new guy doesn’t get the same kind of free pass the legend got for the same behavior, it will be the ways in which he differs from Cox and does things better than Cox did which will help him keep the job.

Yankees 6, Tigers 3: Curtis Granderson, like Dante in “Clerks,” wasn’t even supposed to be there yesterday thanks to a wonky oblique muscle.  But he made it, and he had a much better day than Dante did too, what with the go-ahead homer and the nice defense in center. At least I’m assuming he had a better day than Dante. I have no idea how Granderson’s conversations with his girlfriend went after the game. Beyond that, the Yankees script was followed nicely: a strong start from Sabathia and then some shut-down bullpen work from Chamberlain, Soriano and Rivera.  We’ll see that at least 37 times this year. 37!

  1. cktai - Apr 1, 2011 at 5:57 AM

    Whoo! The baseball season does not really start until ATH :D

  2. kiwicricket - Apr 1, 2011 at 6:56 AM

    Round of applause please ladies and gentlemen…..‘And That Happened’

    • Utley's Hair - Apr 1, 2011 at 11:50 AM

      Welcome back Kiwi. Hope all is improving for you. :)

  3. oldpaddy - Apr 1, 2011 at 6:56 AM

    Howard Sterns penis!!!!
    Play ball!

  4. bcopus - Apr 1, 2011 at 7:17 AM

    I only got to see the Dodgers-Giants game. It was way sloppy. Hope both teams can get it together quickly defensively. It was good to see the Dodgers ready and looking to capitalize on lazy Giants players or bad choices they made. It worked for the most part, but for Uribe sliding past 2nd.

  5. rbabaseball - Apr 1, 2011 at 7:56 AM

    Try not to save any baseball games on your way through the parking lot!

    • Ari Collins - Apr 1, 2011 at 8:50 AM

      Nicely done.

  6. twentyofive - Apr 1, 2011 at 7:56 AM

    I know it’s early in the season but Bobby Valentine is completely unwatchable. I wonder if Espn went out of its way to find the baseball equivalent of Jon Gruden?

    • mharenza - Apr 1, 2011 at 8:33 AM

      I feel the same way. I have to mute the television when he is the announcer.

    • easports82 - Apr 1, 2011 at 8:58 AM

      I was annoyed with him after his pregame comments. Kudos to ESPN for finding a suitable replacement for Morgan so quickly.

    • bobwsc - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:05 AM

      his permasmile is a bit much too; it’s like his ben wa balls are constantly shifting or something.

      • easports82 - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:09 AM

        With that kind of insider info, you may be called to testify in Bonds’ case

  7. Paul White - Apr 1, 2011 at 7:59 AM

    I made the same comment in your wrapup post from last night, but it still applies so I’m doing the ol’ cut and paste job…

    You’re giving really, really short shrift to the Royals. They don’t deserve a ton of shrift, certainly, but mentioning only Melky and Frenchy to the exclusion of three rookie relievers each making their major league debuts and combining for a line of 3.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K seems a bit short-sighted to me. With KC, it’s all about rookies this year, and in that regard they got precisely what they were hoping for. That deserves a mention, no?

    • Ari Collins - Apr 1, 2011 at 8:46 AM

      And in case you didn’t see my morning comment there : )

      Rob Neyer’s article is quite shriftful, focusing on those three rookie relievers: http://mlb.sbnation.com/2011/3/31/2083995/embracing-the-beauty-of-the-unlikely

  8. Old Gator - Apr 1, 2011 at 8:03 AM

    Craig, you gonna work weekends? I know, kids. But still, you’re missing out on a complete life.

    Opening day at Joeprodolsharklife Stadium, and the Mutts have brought their rotten karma with them in meteorological form. Looks like a good chance of a rainout. And tomorrow I go to Houston for a couple of days so if it washes out today I’m Scrooged. Josh Johnson has a habit of starting the season wobbly so we shall see….

    • kiwicricket - Apr 1, 2011 at 8:38 AM

      With the Macondonian climate, and the waitress in the deli around the corner (a few lines from last year if I remember correctly) I wouldn’t think you would need hot showers Gator

      • Old Gator - Apr 1, 2011 at 2:37 PM

        The waitress to whom you refer is the lissome Brie at the Luna Star Cafe, which is not around the corner – there’s nothing around the corner but Dodgers fans disguised as homeboys – but is indeed on the way home. One stops there en route to the game to eat so one won’t be tempted to buy those superfund sites on a bun they serve at Joeprodolsharklife Stadium, and on the way home to drink superlative iced cappucinos and kibbitz.

    • easports82 - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:00 AM

      Paul and Young Ron’s April Fools prank this year is promoting a Jeff Conine comeback. Least I think it’s a prank…..

  9. 4d3fect - Apr 1, 2011 at 8:37 AM

    Looking like bringing in Davy Lopes is paying immediate dividends to the Doyers’ running game (normally a phrase I consider an oxymoron).

    • lanflfan - Apr 1, 2011 at 3:11 PM

      Get used to the Dodger running game, it’s back (thank you Philly for giving us Lopes back).

  10. zff4 - Apr 1, 2011 at 8:39 AM

    Like everyone else, I think Posey is as dreamy as a catcher can get, the apotheosis of catcher dreamyness maybe, but I know better than attracting the “you’re ruining this beautiful game” criticism by poking holes at his divinity. When the Poseyites break in your front door Craig, it’s going to be on you alone, it’s only going to be on you. Cuidado son, or you’ll be on your own.

  11. yankeesfanlen - Apr 1, 2011 at 8:49 AM

    As a tribute to team spirit and in the interests of starting the season on a clean slate, I will temporarily suspend applications of certain fond nick-names for the Universe.
    Call it a mild sense of euphoria or unrestrained optimism, my feeling is that if I pretend to perfection, perhaps it will occur.
    So you will not read about TFT or BB around here.
    Until one blows open a game in the sevenh to our detriment, or one hits into a couple of DPs in rally situations.
    Or otherwise pisses me off.

  12. Ari Collins - Apr 1, 2011 at 8:49 AM

    I’d forgotten that original And That Happened video! Hilarious. I don’t really know (nor care to know) Mayer’s music, but it takes an admirable alloy of balls to announce a game you don’t know without in any way trying to cover up that fact. He was just having fun with his own ignorance, something more of us should do.

    Much better than leaving in a Huff. Or a minute and a Huff.

  13. Ari Collins - Apr 1, 2011 at 8:56 AM

    Man but there are a lot of bad “Opening Day Starters” going today.

    I won’t pick on any in partcular. Okay, maybe Ryan Dempster of the NL-Central-Champion-to-be Cubs. (We’re never gonna let you live that down, Craig.)

    • Kevin S. - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:07 AM

      Dempster actually isn’t a terrible pitcher – certainly he’s moved beyond the days of being derisively referred to as Dumpster. I can think of a number of worse Opening Day pitchers (hell, like Atlanta using its #3 starter on Opening Day).

      • Ari Collins - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:19 AM

        Fair enough.

      • Ari Collins - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:41 AM

        Dempster is WAY better than I remembered, but he’s also not quite an ace. And yeah, there are worse opening day starters. But there are better, and I was mostly just using it as a jumping-off point to make fun of Craig’s pick. : )

      • Kevin S. - Apr 2, 2011 at 7:30 AM

        And after my impassioned defense of the man, he coughs up a 6.2 6 6 6 4 7 2 line to the mothereffing Pirates.

        Dumpster.

    • sportsdrenched - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:37 AM

      I would have called out Luke Hochocinco before Dempster.

  14. Joe - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    Yay! ATH!!

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:49 AM

      Yay ATH, indeed.

  15. crankyfrankie - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    Orel was also pretty painful to listen to last night. Interesting side note. in the booth over Vin Scully left shoulder there is an autographed picture of the Honky Tonk Man. I spent a lot of the game trying to figure out weather this means Vin Scully has a great sense of irony or bad taste in wrestlers?

  16. lar @ wezen-ball - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    Wow, 27 comments in and not one note of appreciation for your extended Clerks riff? Consider this that note (though maybe I should’ve waited until 37 comments…).

    Oh, and I had no idea about that video. Pretty funny (though I suspect he know at least some about baseball… there were some phrases in there someone with zero knowledge never would have used).

    • Ari Collins - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:55 AM

      Comment 5 nailed it.

  17. Chris Fiorentino - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    “Because following a legend is so tough, however, and because the new guy doesn’t get the same kind of free pass the legend got for the same behavior, it will be the ways in which he differs from Cox and does things better than Cox did which will help him keep the job.”

    No, it will be three little letters that will help him keep the job…W-I-N. Period. If the Braves stink up the joint, “Fredi” will be gone. If the Braves W-I-N, he will keep his job.

    I guarantee if O’Flaherty gave up the lead yesterday, and the braves had lost, we would have read something like…
    “Well, the first game’s in the books, and “Fredi’s” quick hook cost them a game they probably would have won under Bobby Cox. This could be a long season Braves fans…”

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:49 AM

      I disagree. (I’m just warming up.)

    • Jim Abbott's Right-Hand Man - Apr 1, 2011 at 10:32 AM

      Cox might like to leave Lowe in too long, but I tend to think he yanks Lowe on a day like this when the pitch count matters (as it does in the first start). So I don’t know it happens any different.

      What felt weird was the Braves not getting cute with the bullpen matchups. Brought in O’Flaherty and let him stay in after he got the lefty out. Cox probably works the matchups instead. And possibly even starts out with Sherrill instead of O’Flaherty (since he knows he’s gonna sit whoever the guy is after only facing 1 lefty, I see him burning Sherrill there instead of O’Flaherty).

    • Alex K - Apr 1, 2011 at 12:06 PM

      Why do you have his name in quotes?

  18. lawdogusc - Apr 1, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    So, Craig, you’re saying that the relief appearances by JobaRafMo equals the age of Dennis in Holy Grail? Where can I get action on the over?

  19. levistahl - Apr 1, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    I’ve been looking forward to the return of this feature all winter.

    A friend commented on the defense in the Dodgers/Giants game: “If they played this backwards, it would look like guys were doing great, fielding really tough hops, rather than bobbling everything.”

  20. gvots - Apr 1, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    Welcome back ATH!

  21. phukyouk - Apr 1, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    “We’ll see that at least 37 times this year. 37!”

    IN A ROW????

  22. spudchukar - Apr 1, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    Nomar Garciaparra might be a nice guy and all, but his patronizing analysis is noggin numbing. I endured all three games aired yesterday, and between Sutcliffe, Boone, Valentine, and Hersheiser the only color added to the broadcasts was opaque gray. For additional torture I tuned into MLB on DirecTV, to view the Braves and Nats and was blessed to hear the play-by-play of the toady Chip. How could so much be lost in two generations. The baseball airways are rife with a cacophony of bullshit.

  23. APBA Guy - Apr 1, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    Ok Craig, no slack after 4 years of ATH. Kershaw was very, very good for the Dodgers (7 IP, 4H, 9k, 1BB) and no mention from you. Also no specific mention of Miggy’s first error of the year, in what could be a record setting year for most errors by a shortstop. Fortunately I listened to the game on Giants radio, so I was spared the booth buffoonery you detailed. I’m sure it was annoying, but we knew that it would be the second the booth crews were announced last year. So preventive measures should have been taken by all.

    Importantly, the beloved A’s begin the “Year of the Empty Stadium” by pricing opening day tickets at roughly double their already too-high regular season prices, a tactic common throughout the league but suicidal in depression ravaged Oakland, where the snooze inducing combination of King Felix, the Seattle offense, and unseasonably warm weather will no doubt produce early season TV shots of individual spectators, alone in a vast sea of empty green seats, snoring and drooling, oblivious to the rites of Spring unfolding before them on the beautifully manicured mausoleum turf. The LA/SF game ended 2-1. That’s probably close to what the SEA/OAK game will end up today.

    • lanflfan - Apr 1, 2011 at 3:07 PM

      I muted espn and listened to a real announcer, Vin Scully.

      As for the game, Kershaw was dominant for most of his 7 innings, and the pitching matchup definitely lived up to the billing.

  24. gogigantos - Apr 1, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    Living in Taiwan, not loving to feed Selig’s kitty but doing so cuz it lets me wake up and catch every game I can, I am treated season long to Kruk and Kuip with the broadcast, just seeing the Valentine ham it up in silence was enough for me,, the potted palm at short obviously has no range, really hoping he can make the throws better than your average topiary, damn 6 million Sabes, why was he batting 6th? I do hope he isn’t the sinkhole offensively I fear,,,

    For all you FJM fans, and I am one,,,, years ago had 15 alone with the well dressed short man in the booth while Boomer was away pregame,, the star from Oakland replied point blank that he didn’t like the Valentine one bit when I commented that I really wasn’t rooting for the Metros,, I was blown away when I was just trying to make conversation before I got run off after saying that he was the author of my favorite Giant hilight, the game winning tater against the Fodgers in game 162, whatever early 80’s year that was,, as the best Giant second baseman I had ever seen before Robbie Thompson whorfed down my smoked salmon from Alaska he continued to blow my mind with clear honest dirt from the past that I am sure is supposed to remain between us,,, there was a time when JM was good in the booth, I hope we don’t miss him too too much with this cast in the booth, though I am not listening. Confession, I did an inning with Vin, and caught Jon Miller doing a dead on impression of Vin doing (name) the WhiteSox radio guy calling a blooper a ducksnort,, hate feeding Selig’s kitty, but,, catching the right broadcasters with the game makes all the difference, avoid the national cast as best you can and go local, ‘specially out west. 1 down, 161 to go

  25. gogigantos - Apr 1, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    Please someone, maybe getting old or just fried, tell me what year it was I did a transit day night playoff double header and, I am pretty sure, both the Niners and Raiders lost on the same day, when the A’s lost to the Yankees and the Gigantos lost to the Metros(?) ,,, the pain the pain the pain,, those damn New Yorks
    and the glory of so many other A’s years
    oh,,, Go Defending Champion Gigantos

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