Opening Day 2
The Toronto Blue Jays, considered perhaps the weakest team in the American League East this season, stomped on the Detroit Tigers on Opening Night 2009, by the score of 12-5. While it might be exciting to have such a powerful start to the year, it really doesn't change anything; it's still going to be a rough year for the Jays. The club was just lucky to match up with another struggling team during the first series of the year.
Ace - and perhaps the most consistent starter in the American League - Roy Halladay was on the mound for the Jays last night and he was dominant. He did not allow a hit until Detroit center-fielder Curtis Granderson led off the fourth inning with a solo home run. Halladay did not allow another run until the wheels fell off in the seventh inning and the Toronto right-handed hurler allowed another four runs. The most frustrating part was that I asked myself at the beginning of the half inning why Toronto was sending Halladay out for the seventh inning with the club already ahead 9-1.
It was the first game of the year, but for whatever reason Toronto managers (and they've all been guilty) leave Halladay in games when things are well-in-hand. Now, he was at just about 75 pitches at the beginning of the inning, but why not keep him fresh early in the year - on the outside chance that you might need him to throw a lot of key innings in the second half of the season? As it was, he ended up throwing 99 pitches, he allowed five earned runs, and he lost his quality start, when in fact he dominated for six innings. The club also still ended up using four relievers (Jesse Carlson, Brandon League, Scott Downs and Brian Tallet) over the final two innings.
Other Thoughts on the Blue Jays:Young hitter Adam Lind batted fifth for Toronto and looked great. He put on 20 pounds of muscle in the off-season and it showed. Lind went 4-for-6 with six RBI and had two singles to right, a single to center, and a home run to left-center off of a curveball.
21-year-old rookie Travis Snider looked great in his first two at-bats, hitting a line-drive double to center and then pulling a solo homer to right. His last two at-bats, though, were less impressive as he gave away an at-bat by swinging at and grounding out on the first pitch. He then struck out on a questionable check swing that went against the rookie batter.
It's the first game of the year for umpires too. Crew chief Ed Montague called a strike on a curveball that brushed the dirt.
Brandon League's fastball has incredible movement. He struck out a batter and then allowed two groundball hits, both of which looked catch-able but had so much backspin on them that they were difficult to snag.
Third baseman Scott Rolen, utilizing a new swing to ease the strain on his surgically-repaired shoulder, looked good at the plate for the first time in more than a year. Lyle Overbay, though, not so much. He had off-season hernia surgery... and I think they missed one.
Thoughts on the Tigers:The Detroit Tigers began the year with another disappointing start. The club's No. 1 starter, Justin Verlander, allowed eight runs in 3.2 innings of work. He walked two and struck out four batters. One thing I noticed about him on opening night was that his fastball, which can touch the high 90s, is quite straight. When he has difficulty locating the curveball, opposing batters can sit on the fastball.
Another problem with the Detroit Tigers is that the club lacks energy. It was opening night and not one player looked energized or excited. I am a big Granderson fan, but he needs to show more spark and energy at the top of the order. The most 'electric' player on the team last night was the No. 9 hitter and speedster Josh Anderson, who looked like the was being overpowered by big league pitchers.
The move to the bullpen might just be what Nate Robertson needed. The displaced starter, who finished the 2008 season with a 6.35 ERA in 32 games (28 starts) was not happy about the move to the pen, but he made two left-handed hitters look foolish. Robertson, a southpaw, struck out both lefties that he faced and sent Overbay (who swung feebly at three pitches) back to the dugout shaking his head.