Monday, April 6, 2009

Mets-Reds, Santana-mania

The baseball season opened last night, but Opening Day is today and it's one of the best days of the year. 11 hours of baseball, if one can stay up for all of it.

Starting things off we have Johan Santana and the Mets facing Aaron Harang and the Reds at Great American Ball Park (which is a fitting place to start Opening Day). Harang should lead a pretty good young rotation, but the Reds' offense will hold them back. Santana is on the downslide portion of his career, but he's still one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Top 1:
  • Fastball off the outside corner for strike one to Jose Reyes. A similarly wide zone for Santana will make things even harder for the Reds' offense. Reyes grounds one up the middle - Brandon Phillips gets a glove on it but doesn't even bother with a throw.
  • Second pitch to Daniel Murphy and Reyes is off to the races. Ramon Hernandez's throw is to the shortstop side of the bag and Jose has number one on the year. Murphy grounds to short, but Reyes gets a good jump on the play and makes it to third with one out.
  • Harang is able to get the strike-out when he needs it, with David Wright swinging through a 93 mph fastball on the outside corner.
  • Maybe the strike-zone won't be as wide as I thought - a two-strike heater just off the outside corner was called a ball to Carlos Delgado, to the slight boo's off the crowd. A 3-2 curveball misses inside and Delgado trots off to first on the free pass.
  • Carlos Beltran with a long flyball to center, but he got it off the end of the bat a little and Darnell McDonald (really? he's still in baseball?) is able to run it down just short of the warning track. The Mets threaten but cannot score, and now it'll be the Reds' turn against the two-time Cy Young winner.
Bottom 1:
  • Former Oriole Jerry Hairston Jr. is leading off for Cincinnati. I think the O's made the right call on which of their two second-basemen to keep. Change-up right down the middle fools Hairston and sends him back to the dugout for Santana's first K.
  • Former Orioles failed prospect Darnell McDonald up next. Johan makes quick work of McDonald, getting him to chase a change off the plate for strike three.
  • Joey Votto up, and Steve Phillips discusses OPS. Then he ruins it by saying that there's no statistic to measure leadership. Baby steps. Votto works the count full and then Santana misses outside with a 94 mph fastball. Hopefully Dusty Baker won't bench him for clogging up the bases with a walk instead of swinging away.
  • Brandon Phillips follows suit with another full-count walk.
  • Santana gets Jay Bruce to fly to short center to get out of the jam. His control wasn't great, but that change-up was as advertised.
Top 2:
  • Ryan Church with a lead-off single, and a subsequent steal of second base.
  • Brian Schneider flies out deep to left-field.
  • Harang throws a nice fastball on the outside corner to get Luis Castillo looking.
  • Santana grounds to short, with Alex Gonzalez making a diving stop and throwing Johan out by a step. Credit to the pitcher for hustling down the line.
Bottom 2:
  • Third walk of the day by Santana - this time to Edwin Encarnacion.
  • Ramon hits a fliner (flyball/line-drive) to right, but Ryan Church robs him with a nice sliding catch. Encarnacion did react quickly enough and Church was able to double him off of first.
  • Gonzalez goes down swinging to end the inning.
Top 3:
  • 1-2-3 go the Mets in the third; all on flyouts.
Bottom 3:
  • Now the Reds go in order.
Top 4:
  • Delgado gets his bat broken on a groundout to first.
  • Beltran draws a walk, and given the two steals the Mets already have he may be running.
  • Church bloops one into short center - it falls just in-front of McDonald for a single, though Beltran has to stop at second.
  • Steve Phillips thinks Seattle will be worse than they were last year. Given just how wrong he was about them last year (predicted 92 wins), I think Seattle is OK with him discounting them. He was really in charge of a team?
  • Schneider flies out to center, but the runs are able to advance as McDonald drops the ball after recording the out.
  • Castillo gets the intentional walk to load the bases with two outs for Santana.
  • Johan flies out to leave them stranded.
Bottom 4:
  • Votto goes down looking as Santana starts the fourth with a three-pitch strike-out.
  • Phillips flys out to left.
  • Jay Bruce with the Reds first hit, as he doubles off the wall in left-center. He didn't even take a good swing at it, and drove it ~400 ft.
  • Encarnacion draws the Reds' fourth walk of the day.
  • Ramon grounds out, and Cincinnati can't take advantage of the scoring opportunity.
Top 5:
  • Reyes lines out to start the fifth.
  • Murphy with a line-drive home run to right breaks the scoreless tie - the Mets now lead 1-0.
  • Wright bloops a single into short center - McDonald dives for it but it's just out of his reach.
  • Another bloop - this time by Delgado - drops into no-man's land in left-center. Maybe the Reds' outfielders are playing too deep.
  • Beltran singles to right and they send Wright home. Even though Bruce bobbles it, he's able to throw the runner out easily at home. Ramon even kind of blocked the plate a little.
  • Steve Phillips talking about quantifying defense and the stats that are being developed now. Because the statistics don't match what his eyes say about Derek Jeter (and some other guys) he doesn't trust any of the stats. I'm flabbergasted (though not really). It's just so very stupid.
  • Brandon Phillips with a sliding catch at second to take a hit away from Church ends the inning.
Bottom 5:
  • Gonzalez chases and high fastball and becomes Santana's sixth strike-out victim of the day.
  • Pitcher Micah Owings up there to pinch-hit. He becomes number seven. Even with his control issues in the games, Santana is dominating.
  • Hairston lines out to Beltran in center.
Top 6:
  • Daniel Herrera in from the Cincinnati pen.
  • Castillo with a one-out double off the glove of a diving McDonald in center. It's been an adventure out there for Darnell today.
  • Santana staying out there for at least another inning, as he's batting for himself here. Johan isn't even bunting - he's able to draw a walk.
  • As does Reyes. The bases are loaded for Murphy.
  • Daniel grounds to Votto at first, but they're only able to get the one out. Castillo scores to make it 2-0.
  • Mike Linclon coming in to face Wright, who he walks to reload the bases.
  • Delgado flies out to center to end the inning. Despite eight hits and six walks, the Mets have only two runs. Good thing Santana is pitching well.
Bottom 6:
  • McDonald with a broken-bat single to left.
  • Votto singles up the middle and McDonald decides to test Beltran's arm by going to third. The ball hits off of the runner and bounces away letting Votto go into second.
  • Phillips flies out to left, with McDonald coming in to score.
  • Bruce pops out to third on a possible mistake pitch - it was a fastball in the middle of the plate.
  • That'll be it for Santana, with Sean Green coming in to face Encarnacion. Johan pitched more than well enough to win.
  • Encarnacion lines out to left, so it's stays 2-1.
Top 7:
  • Another former Oriole, Arthur Rhodes, on the mound for the Reds.
  • He retires the Mets in order (yaye Arthur!).
Bottom 7:
  • Green does his thing and gets three groundball outs.
Top 8:
  • David Weathers in for Rhodes after Lance Nix pinch-hit in the seventh.
  • Castillo drops down a bunt, but Encarnacion is able to barehand the ball and throw him out.
  • Marlon Anderson, hitting for Green, grounds out to second.
  • Reyes bounces back to the mounf to end the inning.
Bottom 8:
  • JJ Putz was brought over from Seattle to pitch at the end of games, and he's out there to face the top of the Reds' line-up in the eighth.
  • Chris Dickerson - hitting for McDonald - draws a one-out walk.
  • Putz throws a hard moving fastball that Votto can't catch up to for his first K as a met.
  • Phillips grounds out to short to end the inning.
Top 9:
  • Wright singled, but got picked off - and Delgado singled - but the Mets can't score again. So many baserunners, and it'll still be just 2-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Bottom 9:
  • K-Rod does his job and retires the Reds in order.
Johan Santana pitched very well and picks up his first win of the year. The Mets got men on all day, but only brought in a couple of runs (though it was enough).

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