Monday, April 13, 2015

Rockies get just enough to spoil Giants' home opener

The Colorado Rockies' offense was unusually quiet Monday, but it didn't matter because their pitching took over in a 2-0 defeat of the San Francisco Giants.
Rockies starter Eddie Butler lasted only 5 1/3 innings but stranded 10 runners in the first four innings. The Giants, playing their home opener at AT&T Park, went 0-for-5 off Butler with runners in scoring position.
The defending World Series champion Giants, who dropped their fourth consecutive game, received an admirable effort from right-hander Chris Heston. The rookie worked seven innings, matching Madison Bumgarner's season high for a Giants starter, and allowed seven hits as well as both Rockies runs.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
No trouble with the curve … that time: Troy Tulowitzki, like most of the Rockies, had trouble timing up Heston's pitches -- especially the curve. But in the fourth, after Charlie Blackmon's second single, Tulowitzki stayed with an 86 mph bender and lined an RBI single into left field for a 1-0 lead.
Lots of LOBs: The Giants teased their home fans, stranding 10 baserunners in the first four innings. That included leaving the bases loaded in each of the first two innings. However, three of the threats crested with two outs.
Rolling along: Nick Hundley's slide for the Rockies' second run will not appear on the next Tom Emanski fundamentals video. Dashing in from third on Heston's wild pitch, Hundley hit well short, bounced into a roll and landed on the plate. Heston received the throw from catcher Buster Posey in time, but Hundley's odd arrival dislodged the ball.
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Rockies manager Walt Weiss went to righty Brooks Brown to replace Butler and face Giants table-setting lefty hitters Nori Aoki and Joe Panik with one out in the sixth. Brown retired both without the ball leaving the infield. Why the right-on-left? Lefty hitters are 10-for-50 (.200) against Brown since he was promoted to the Majors in 2014.
REPLAY REVIEW
A seventh-inning review requested by Giants manager Bruce Bochy on the tag play at home plate confirmed the umpires' safe call. Replays showed that Heston, covering home after throwing a pitch that short-hopped Posey and bounded away, indeed tagged out Hundley but lost control of the ball.
WHAT'S NEXT
Rockies: Righty Christian Bergman faced the Giants twice last season, and the Rockies won both games. Bergman will start Tuesday because lefty Jorge De La Rosa has yet to return from a left groin strain. The game will be carried on Root Sports Rocky Mountain and 850 KOA at 8:15 p.m. MT.
Giants: Tim Hudson, San Francisco's scheduled starter for Tuesday's contest starting at 7:15 p.m. PT, had mixed success against the Rockies last year, posting a 4.24 ERA and no record in four starts against them. He's coming off an effort of 6 1/3 scoreless innings at San Diego last Thursday.

Brewers hold off Cardinals in sloppy opener at Busch

The game was hardly as pristine as the pregame ceremonies that marked the Cardinals' home opener on Monday, but it would be the Brewers who made the most of extra chances to grab a 5-4 series-opening win.
A crowd of 47,875, the largest in Busch Stadium III history, was on hand to watch the two National League Central clubs combine for four errors, four unearned runs and several other sloppy plays in the first of 19 head-to-head games this season. Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong and Brewers shortstop Jean Segura, both typically steady fielders, each committed a pair of miscues that led to run-scoring innings.
The first five runs of the game were scored on balls that didn't leave the infield. Milwaukee's Carlos Gomez delivered the first RBI hit of the afternoon with a seventh-inning double that pushed the Brewers ahead 4-2. Wong's second error led to another Milwaukee run before Cardinals starter Adam Wainwrightclosed the inning, his final one of the day.
St. Louis answered with a pair of runs on Jhonny Peralta's RBI double in the bottom half of the inning -- which opened with a Segura error -- but Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress retired pinch-hitter Randal Grichuk to strand the potential tying run at third. Jonathan Broxton and Francisco Rodrigueznavigated through the final two innings uneventfully to seal a win for starterMatt Garza, who covered the first 5 2/3 innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Damage control: Amid a charged atmosphere on St. Louis' Opening Day, Garza kept his cool. In the first inning, he worked around a dreaded two-out walk. In each inning from the second through the fifth, he allowed a leadoff baserunner but no multi-run scoring strikes. In the fourth and fifth, he shut down the Cardinals after Segura cost an out with a wild throw. In all, Garza limited the Cardinals to 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position in his 5 2/3 innings.
A forgettable first: Jason Heyward would probably like a do-over in his first St. Louis home opener. His first gaffe started before the first pitch was thrown, as Heyward accidently bypassed the line of Cardinals Hall of Famers as he was introduced. Manager Mike Matheny had to nudge him back over to shake hands. Heyward then went hitless in his first four at-bats, twice stranding a runner with an inning-ending strikeout. He also made an awkward play on a second-inning fly ball by Segura that eventually dropped for a double and helped the Brewers take an early 2-0 lead. He singled in his final at-bat of the day.
Crew miscues: Aside from a slick play to start the eighth inning, Segura had a forgettable day in the field, twice throwing away double-play relays -- one of which saddled him with an error-- and committing another throwing error in the seventh that helped the Cardinals shave two runs off their deficit. Right-fielderRyan Braun also bobbled a ball in the seventh as St. Louis rallied to make it 5-4 against Jeffress.
QUOTABLE
"This is a celebration that baseball in St. Louis has begun. It's nice to get the guys back in a friendly environment. There's something about these days at home. You always say you're going to be the exact same team every day and that consistent stuff is the right thing, but the atmosphere when this place is alive and hot, you just can't help but get sucked into it." -- Matheny, on the team's home opener. More >
WHAT'S NEXT
Brewers: Wily Peralta's bid to build on his breakthrough 2014 season got off to a good start last week at Miller Park, where he pitched seven innings against a red-hot Rockies club and surrendered only two runs. Peralta will aim for a repeat performance on Wednesday night against the Cardinals, against whom he went 3-1 last season with a 2.18 ERA.
Cardinals: After an off-day on Tuesday, the Cardinals will resume their series against Milwaukee with a 7:15 p.m. CT game at Busch Stadium on Wednesday. Lance Lynn took the loss in his season debut despite allowing just two hits over six innings. Lynn's next win will be the 50th of his career. Twenty-seven of those victories have come at home.

Royals improve to 7-0 with rout of Twins

Left-hander Danny Duffy tossed 6 1/3 solid innings, and he was backed by another strong showing from the offense to help keep the Royals undefeated with a 12-3 win over the Twins on Monday at Target Field.
Duffy outpitched Twins right-hander Trevor May, who made the start in Minnesota's home opener in place of Ricky Nolasco, who is out with right elbow inflammation. It helped the Royals to a 7-0 start on the year, which is the second best in franchise history behind only a 9-0 start by the 2003 Royals.
Kendrys Morales connected on a solo homer in the second, while Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez had RBI hits in a three-run sixth inning for Kansas City. The Royals broke it open with a six-run eighth inning that included the Royals scoring on a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded and a run-scoring fielding error from shortstop Danny SantanaAlcides Escobar had a two-run single, while Lorenzo Cain drew a bases-loaded walk and Hosmer added a sacrifice fly.
Brian Dozier paced Minnesota's offense with a pair of doubles off Duffy -- eventually scoring both times -- while Trevor Plouffe hit a solo shot off Duffy in the seventh. The Twins dropped to 1-6 on the year with the loss.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Nice day for the birthday boy: Cain turned 29 years old on Monday and had a solid day in his professional life as well. Cain drove in the go-ahead run in the third inning with a sacrifice fly. And his double in the sixth plated the Royals' third run. He also scored the fourth run. Oh, and he walked with the bases loaded in the eighth.
May saddled with loss in home opener: May pitched better than his line indicated, as he only allowed a few hard-hit balls, including a solo shot from Morales in the second. The Royals scored on a sacrifice fly in the third, keyed by the Twins' inability to get an out on a grounder to second hit by Mike Moustakas. It unraveled in a three-run sixth, but again it was the defense that let May down. The right-hander was charged with five runs on eight hits and a walk over 5 1/3 innings
The new DH is pretty good: Much has been made of whether or not the Royals upgraded at DH with Morales over Billy Butler. Well, Morales is making an early case that they have. Morales hit a home run (his second) and a single, and he is batting .414 on the season.
Defensive miscues haunt Twins: May wasn't helped by his defense, especially during the sixth inning. With Moustakas at first, Cain doubled to right field, but Torii Hunter's throw missed the cutoff man, allowing Moustakas to score on an error. Hosmer followed with a deep line drive to left-center field that hit off Oswaldo Arcia's glove to allow a run to score. Arcia also dropped a pop fly in the fourth on a sliding-catch attempt. Santana capped it with an error with the bases loaded in the eighth on a routine grounder hit by Perez with the infield in.
QUOTABLE
"This kid ain't afraid. Seen him yell at Miguel Cabrera. He may look small or thin, but he's afraid of no man." -- Royals manager Ned Yost on right-handerYordano Ventura
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Morales had just one homer in 39 games with the Twins last year, but he has already surpassed that total in seven games with the Royals this season. Morales' solo shot off May in the second inning was his second homer of the year.
WHAT'S NEXT
Royals: Kansas City will send out right-hander Edinson Volquez against the Twins in a 7:10 p.m. CT start on Wednesday. Volquez is coming off an excellent debut for the Royals, when he went eight innings and gave up just one run in a 4-1 win against the White Sox.
Twins: After an off-day on Tuesday, the Twins return to action on Wednesday with right-hander Kyle Gibson starting against the Royals. Gibson struggled in his first start of the year, giving up six runs on eight hits and five walks over just 3 2/3 innings.

Betts foot forward: Red Sox dominate Nationals

The Red Sox simply couldn't have scripted a better home opener than the one they had on Monday against the Washington Nationals. Playing under bright sun and unseasonably mild temperatures, the home team clicked in just about every way during a 9-4 victory.
Mookie Betts robbed Bryce Harper of a homer, stole two bases in one sequence and clubbed a three-run homer. David Ortiz added two hits, including a homer over the Green Monster in left-center. Catcher Sandy Leon, acquired from the Nationals late in Spring Training, produced three hits against his former team. Pablo Sandoval added two hits and had a nice play at third base in his first home game for Boston.
From the mound, Rick Porcello protected the lead his offense gave him, holding the Nationals to four hits and four runs (three earned) over eight innings. It was Porcello's first win for the Red Sox.
Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann had a tough afternoon, giving up nine hits and eight runs (seven earned) over 2 1/3 innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Marvelous Mookie: Betts seems to have an affinity for openers. In Boston's season opener one week ago, Betts belted a homer. The center fielder put on a clinic in this one, and he created excitement early in the game when he perfectly timed his jump to take a two-run homer away from Harper in the top of the first. The three-run homer that Betts ripped over the Monster in the second made it a 4-0 game.
Porcello goes deep in win: Perhaps the most important thing Porcello did on Monday aside from winning was giving the Red Sox eight innings. Their bullpen still feeling the after-effects of Friday's 19-inning win over the Yankees, the extended performance was just what they needed.
Shoddy defense for Washington: The box score said the Nationals committed one error in the game, but they had a tough time catching the ball throughout the game. In the third inning, Mike Napoli hit a fly ball to left-center field. It looked like Michael Taylor had a bead on the ball, but it dropped in for a single. Napoli would later score on a single by Betts. Later in the inning, Leon hit what looked like a fly ball to right-center field. Harper nor Taylor had an idea on who would make the catch and the ball fell in for an RBI hit.
Zimmermann has rough day: The right-hander had one of the worst games of his career, as his ERA skyrocketed from 1.50 to 8.64.
QUOTABLE
"Hopefully it means a hard, cold winter is once and for all behind everyone. The warm weather is upon us. I spent a majority of the winter here and can empathize to a certain point to what everyone in New England dealt with and the challenges that were presented. Hopefully this is a chance to put all that behind us mentally and, really, tangibly, with a great day on hand." -- Red Sox manager Farrell, on the Red Sox coming home after a long, harsh winter of record-setting snow on Boston
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Not only did Betts steal two bases on one play, but he was almost out both times. Therefore, that left Nationals manager Matt Williams in the rare position to challenge two plays at once. However, after a review of approximately three minutes, both calls stood, as there was no clear and convincing evidence to overturn either one. In the play at second, Betts slid in safely, and he then bolted for third due to the fact the Nationals didn't have anyone covering there because of the shift on Ortiz. As Betts took off, Danny Espinosa still had his glove on him after trying to make the tag at second. Betts dove head-first into third, and just beat the tag of Zimmermann.
CEREMONIAL START
Per usual, the Red Sox provided their fans with an elaborate Opening Day ceremony that seemed to hit all the right notes. Tom Brady, fresh off leading the Patriots to another Super Bowl championship in February, fired the ceremonial first pitch to Ortiz. Big Papi scooped Brady's throw out of the dirt, completing the exchange between two players who have combined to win seven championships. The most emotional moment came when the Red Sox presented former Boston College captain Pete Frates with a one-day contract. Frates, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease in 2012, helped create the Ice Bucket Challenge last summer which raised millions.
WHAT'S NEXT
Red Sox: Justin Masterson makes his first home start for the Red Sox since 2009 in Game 2 of this three-game set on Tuesday, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. ET. Masterson was impressive in his first start of the season last week in Philadelphia, striking out seven over six strong innings to earn the win.
Nationals: Stephen Strasburg will face the Red Sox for the second time in his career.In his only start against them, Strasburg allowed two runs in six innings. He needs to find a way to stop Hanley Ramirez, who is 5-for-16 (.313) with a home run and two RBIs against the right-hander. .

Cole cruises as Pirates hand Anibal, Tigers first loss

 Gerrit Cole pitched one-hit ball into the seventh inning andJosh HarrisonPedro Alvarez and pinch-hitter Corey Hart homered, and the Pirates held on for a 5-4 win over the previously undefeated Tigers in Pittsburgh's home opener Monday afternoon.
Anibal Sanchez made 101 pitches without giving up a run in his first start Wednesday, but his first pitch this time was deposited in the right-center seats by Harrison to jump-start the Bucs in front of 39,933, a record regular-season crowd in PNC Park.
Detroit chased Cole by loading the bases with none out to open the seventh, but Jared Hughes came on to induce Nick Castellanos into a first-pitch double play and got Alex Avila on a popup to retire the side.
Pirates closer Mark Melancon entered a 5-1 game in a non-save situation in the ninth and surrendered three runs, two on a homer by J.D. Martinez, before closing it out.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Harrison raises the curtain with a bang:  Harrison waited little time giving the home crowd a chance to cheer. No time, really -- he belted Sanchez's first pitch into the right-center stands for his third career leadoff home run. That may not sound overly impressive, but Harrison was making only his 97th career start as a leadoff batter.
Big swings, momentum and otherwise: One minute, the Pirates and Cole were in trouble, their 2-0 lead threatened with the bases loaded with Tigers and none out in the seventh. Eight pitches later, the Bucs led, 5-1: Hughes got three outs on three pitches, Alvarez began the bottom of the inning with a first-pitch homer, Francisco Cervelli singled and Jordy Mercer sacrificed on first pitches, and Hart homered on a 1-0 pitch.
Sanchez shines, but long ball haunts him: Sanchez's first and last pitches ended up in the seats at PNC Park, his first multi-homer game since Oakland got him in the 2013 American League Division Series. He looked good in the middle, retiring 12 consecutive hitters from the third through sixth innings. But the seven home runs Sanchez allowed in Spring Training now look more like a sign than an anomaly.
Staying alive, but unrewarded: The Tigers had only a Castellanos single and an Avila walk to show for six innings off Cole before Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez and Yoenis Cespedes loaded the bases in the seventh. All three fell in 0-2 counts but fouled off fastballs at 95-plus mph to stay alive and chase Cole. Just when the Tigers had their chance, Hughes induced a Castellanos double-play grounder on the first pitch, scoring a run but halting the momentum. Five pitches into the bottom of the seventh, Detroit trailed by four runs, and Victor Martinez's window as a pinch-hitter had passed.
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Sanchez gave up almost as many home runs (three) in 6 1/3 innings Monday as he did over 126 innings in 2014 (four).
WHAT'S NEXT
Tigers: A decade after the Tigers tried to woo A.J. Burnett as a budding young free agent, they'll try to hit him as a crafty Pirates veteran on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. He's 6-2 lifetime against Detroit despite a 5.19 ERA in 11 career meetings. Shane Greene will start for the Tigers, trying to follow up on his eight innings with an unearned run last time out.
Pirates: Burnett makes his return PNC Park start in the second game of the Interleague series, squaring off against Greene. The Bucs will be looking for their seventh straight Interleague victory at home.

Strong deGrom spearheads Mets' shutout of Phillies

Coming into this season, the Mets knew pitching would be the key to their success. Jacob deGrom only fortified that belief during Monday's home opener, making two runs stand up in a 2-0 win over the Phillies at Citi Field.
DeGrom held the Phillies in check for 6 1/3 innings, allowing new closerJeurys Familia and a stout Mets bullpen to handle the rest. Though the Phillies mustered seven hits and a walk off deGrom, they could not cash any of them in for runs.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
deGrominant: Retiring the first seven batters he faced, deGrom did not let a runner reach third base until the seventh inning, when Carlos Torres entered to escape a two-on, one-out jam. Though somewhat inefficient, needing 99 pitches to complete 6 1/3 innings, deGrom scattered his seven hits and one walk well enough to keep the Phillies off the board.
Cody and Freddy, not Chase and Ryan: The only two Phillies hitters doing much of anything the first week of the season are third baseman Cody Ascheand shortstop Freddy Galvis. Asche went 2-for-4 and Galvis went 3-for-3 on Monday, but the rest of the Phillies' lineup managed just two hits. Asche and Galvis have combined for 18 of the team's 50 hits this season. Meanwhile,Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are hitting a combined .130 (6-for-46) with no home runs.
Juan early run: After Daniel Murphy doubled off Phillies starter Aaron Harang with one out in the fourth inning, Juan Lagares gave the Mets their first run on a comebacker that Harang touched with his glove, but was unable to corral. By the time Harang had chased down the deflection, Lagares had nearly reached first with an RBI infield hit. The Mets did not score again until the eighth, when Travis d'Arnaud plated Michael Cuddyer on a sacrifice fly.
Harang deals again: Harang signed a one-year, $5 million contract in December, and if he continues to pitch like he has in the past week, he will be worth every penny. The veteran right-hander allowed four hits, one run, two walks and struck out one in six innings Monday. He has a 0.73 ERA in his first two starts.
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Utley has hit more home runs against the Mets (33) than any other team, but he has not homered since he hit one against the Mets on Aug. 10. It is the longest homerless drought of his career, stretching to 174 at-bats following Monday's game.
With a pinch-hit flyout in the seventh inning, Kirk Nieuwenhuis appeared in his sixth game of the season -- despite starting none of them. He is 0-for-4 with a walk as a pinch-hitter thus far, once being subbed out without an at-bat. As the only lefty on New York's four-man bench, Nieuwenhuis could challenge former Met Rusty Staub for the most pinch-hit plate appearances (94) in a season since the league started keeping track in 1974.
WHAT'S NEXT
Phillies: Right-hander David Buchanan hopes to bounce back in a major way Tuesday night against the Mets. He allowed seven hits, six runs, four walks and struck out one in just three innings on Thursday in a loss to the Red Sox.
Mets: For the first time since August 2013, Matt Harvey will take the mound at Citi Field in Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. ET game against the Phillies. Harvey pitched six shutout innings in his season debut last week against the Nationals.