The more I look at it, a lot went just as it probably should have on this, the real Opening Day of the 2010 MLB season:
- Behind the sheer dominance of Roy Halladay and the crushing blows of Ryan Howard, the defending NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies easily disposed of the Washington Nationals, 11-1
- The Kansas City Royals gave up late runs to lose their opener after Zach Grienke out pitched Justin Verlander. Fangraphs was quick to point out just how quickly the Royals 'pen cost the Cy Young winner a victory
Jason Heyward lived up to the hype, smacking a home run off Carlos Zambrano in his first at bat
of the seasonof his career. I know this has happened before, but few players have drawn as much pre season acclaim as Hayward and made that kind of first impression.
- Damn. Just...damn.
Closer to home, Tim Lincecum maintained that trend of things going according to plan, by shutting out the Astros over the course of seven innings. His final line, 7 IP, 4 H, 7 K, 0 BB doesn't begin to tell the tale of how much he thoroughly dominated the Astros offense. He was constantly ahead in the count, staying around the strike zone and getting our hitters to swing meekly at his pitches. Sure, we had our chances: a Carlos Lee near home run that turned out to be a very long single, a sixth inning rally which saw two men reach, only to have Hunter Pence and Lee fail to knock them home. Outside of this, the Astros never really mounted a challenge to The Freak.
Roy Oswalt pitched well enough, but well enough wouldn't do on a night like this, against a pitcher like Tim Lincecum, Outside of a rough second inning, The Wiz was every bit as effective, though less dominant, as was Lincecum. His fastball had zip, his location for the most part was solid, and his pitch total (86 in 6 innings) was right where it should be. Against a lineup which has arguably less firepower than our own (when Lance is in it, that is), Roy allowed Bengie Molina and John Bowker to collect RBI hits. After Juan Uribe's sac fly to right made it 3-0, I couldn't help but feel that the game was over.
Chris Sampson and Tim Byrdak each allowed a run apiece in the seventh and eighth, which would end up being extremely important as the Astros managed to scrape a couple runs across the plate in the ninth inning. While there are no moral victories, it was nice for my psyche for the team to score a couple runs and for J.R. Towles to hit a ball hard in the process. Sammy Gervacio was phenomenal in the ninth, striking out Juan Uribe and Aaron Rowand to cap off a perfect frame.
Opening Day is, as the cliche holds, just one game of 162, but we all know that's a bunch of bologna. It matters, even for just one night, if your team won on the first day of the season, when the grass is greenest and hopes are sometimes their highest. The Astros were unsuccessful in collecting win #1 on this night, but that's the great thing about baseball: we get to try again tomorrow. Wandy Rodriguez takes the hill tomorrow against fellow southpaw Barry Zito. Chris Johnson will make his debut at third with Pedro Feliz manning first. Should be fun.