An Opening Day for the Ages

Where do I even begin with what unfolded yesterday.  I mean, what happened yesterday was absolutely brutal.  It was like watching two seperate games.  Given the length of the game it almost literally was two full games.  So I guess let’s start with game 1.

The Indians came out and looked great during he early stages of yesterday’s 16 inning marathon.  Justin Masterson… wow.  The man was straight dealin’.  His stuff was filthy good and officially solidified himself at a top notch major league starter.  He’s a legit ace, not that there was much doubt in that, but yesterday proved it.  Eight innings pitched, 1 walk, 1 run, 10 strike outs… he was amazing.  The fact that he didn’t get the win was a complete shame, more on that later.

Side note: I really like the decision by the Indians to change the color of the accessories for the home alternate.  It never really looked right with blue undershirts, belts, socks, etc, especially last year with the red cap.  By switching to red accessories it officially ties the whole thing together in a nice, clean package.  I think it looks great.  Great move.  I also like the move by Toronto to go back to their original look with their uniforms.  It’s a great uniform and the modern day tweaks making it look really sharp.  Also, the Blue Jays actually wearing blue is a crazy idea.  Wonder how they came up with that?

Jack Hannahan was also great yesterday.  Not only did he turn in another outstanding fielding performance, but he also did it once again with the bat.  Hannahan went 2 for 6 and delivered what looked like it was going to be the biggest blast of the day when he sent a pitch from Ricky Romero into the right field stand in the bottom of the second.  That homer put the Indians up 4-0 and furthered the enfatuation many Cleveland women seem to have with Super Hannahan.

Of course, that home run wouldn’t have been possible if not for the at bat that preceeded it.  Jason Kipnis came to the plate after Casey Kotchman delivered an RBI ground out to first.  He fell behind in the count 0-2 but continued to battle.  Kipnis stayed patient, forced Romero to throw a ton of pitches, and eventually drew a walk to keep the inning alive for Hannahan.

Now for game 2…

After the 8th inning, Manny Acta made the decision to go to his closer Chris Perez.  Normally I would have been in favor of this decision.  In the first week of the year before any of your starters have had a chance to really stretch their arms out, it’s not usually a good idea to keep them in for 9 innings.  Here’s the difference though.  Masterson was rolling.  He had already thrown 99 pitches in 8 innings and not once showed any sign of fatigue.  Why take him out in that situation?  What are you saving him, 15 pitches?  If even?  You at least send him out to start the inning and if he struggles then you bring in Perez.

Speaking of Chris Perez… was his work out regimen this season a steady dose of double cheeseburgers and beer.  That’s not to say Chris Perez was ever a a shining example of physical fitness, but he was looking a little extra doughy.  I don’t want to completely throw him under the bus here because he was injured most of the spring, but man, hop on the bike… say hello to an elliptical machine.  I’m sure the rust from only throwing two or three times didn’t help anything either.

But as easy as it is to place the blame on Manny Acta or Chris Perez for his piss poor performance, you can place equal blame in other places.  Like, oh… I don’t know… the fact that the Indians had a runner on third and less than two outs twice after Perez blew the save and couldn’t score is an abomination.  All you have to do is send a lazy fly ball to the out field and ball game.  But no, the couldn;t even do that.

The first time Casey Kotchman and Jason Kipnis both grounded out to the right side of the infield.  They worked the count a bit, waited for their pitch and it just didn’t happen.  No, it’s not ideal, but it’s at least somewhat forgiveable.

The aggregious mistake occured 3 innings later.  With the bases loaded and one out thanks to the control problems of Luis Perez, Asdrubal Cabrera came to the plate, swung at the first pitch and grounded into an inning ending double play.  Because ultimately when you come up to bat with the bases loaded against a guy who has thrown more near wild pitches than strikes you almost always have to swing at the first pitch… or you know, the complete opposite.  I’m pretty sure I learned when I was 10 that in that situation with a guy that wild pitching you take until you get a strike.  You put pressure on him to make a pitch and you don’t bail him out.

Cabrera didn’t just bail him out.  He broke Luis Perez out of prison.  Unforgivable.

After that it went all down hill.  The Blue Jays threatened here and there, the Indians did nothing, and then Perez tried to take Shin-Soo Choo’s head off.  To everyone’s surprise, Choo half heartedly charged the mound, benches cleared, and twitter blew up.  Order was eventually restored and Choo completed his at bat, but it was ridiculous none the less.  Adding to the ridiculousness were the fans who began chanting USA! USA!.  Now I understand this was an American team against a Canadian team, but chanting USA! when a Dominican and Korean player are about to go at it was kinda stupid.  Hilarious… but stupid none the less.

Ultimately, J.P. Arencibia ended things an inning later when he sent Jairo Asencio’s hanging slider out to the home run porch in left field putting the Blue Jays up 7-4.  What was left of the crowd immediately headed for the exits.  It was one for the ages and we’ll be remembering it for years to come.  Unfortunately, in the short term we’ll be remembering it with disgust.  Let’s just hope the Indians are able to put it behind themselves and find a few positives out of all of this.  Me personally, it’s only game 1 of 162 and already I’m contemplating alcoholism. 

Yup… it’s definitely baseball season.

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