Not the real Opening Day, but it was the first game for [our] Astros--and what a game it was. I'll make my introductions short. Introductions, nay, this will be more of a disclaimer, necessary information. I'm from Syracuse, NY and I'm an Astros fan. Many ask me why, it's simple, I grew up while the Astros had two of the most compelling and charismatic players in baseball. Biggio and Bagwell made me love baseball. Anyone who wants to make fun of me for being an a fan of this team can, in my lifetime, they've earned my fan-hood. The point is, in Syracuse it is rare I get to enjoy Astros games live on tv... I'm left with gameday, recaps and boxscores. However, this year I have MLB extra innings. So, I'll be able to watch many games this season, which I'm giddy for. It also allows me to journal my observations on a regular basis. So, as promised, my thoughts on the first game of the season...
- The movement on Halladay's stuff--is filthy! Just reiterating. His 2-seamer, cutter and curveball were all on point today. He was dealing. And yet... the Astros beat him. Houston's lineup did enough to win that game; they faced the best in the NL and ended on top. They just couldn't finish it. Consider me: encouraged.
- Brandon Lyon was... well, bad from the moment he got in there. He never seemed comfortable and I knew from his first batter that this game wouldn't end pretty. It was ultimately heart-breaking, but I wasn't surprised. I'd love to see someone like Melancon or Lopez grow into the ninth inning spot, but I know this transition will be slow, unless Lyon does this several more times in the next couple weeks. In Lyon's defense, it was a very high pressure situation on opening day and it is only one blown save--so far--but it's his job to deal with the pressure. I just think he's more suited in the seventh or eighth.
- Brett Myers is a great starting pitcher. Maybe too obvious of a statement, but he's making last year not look like a fluke and that's necessary. He pitched great through five innings or so. Then started to struggle, despite a low pitch count. He didn't have many swing-and-misses and [consequently] no strikeouts. However, in his defense, he didn't have his curveball, his best pitch, all night. So, I have to be satisfied with his ability to get so many guys out despite this--pitch-to-contact, it’s always worked for the Cardinals. So, despite Myer's great start, he could be better when his curveball is on... awesome! Props to the defense as well.
- I am less worried about Brett Wallace... and more about Chris Johnson. What a reversal from last year, right? Wallace looked like a professional out there today. Patient at the plate, in control, slapped a ball to the opposite field, looked good on defense--I couldn't ask for more. I like his game, especially his poise. On the other hand, I didn't see any big negatives from Johnson, but he worries me a little. His discipline is the cause and I feel like his average could take a big slip as well. These two were being touted as potential difference makes during the ESPN telecast and it’s absolutely true. Hopefully both will take steps further forward.
- Hunter looks hungry. I know he always plays at full speed and is always going to take great hacks. So, this is always true. But, I believe it’s even more the truth this season. He wants to put this team on his back. I expect huge numbers from him and an MVP run--am I sounding like a homer yet? I just hope his eagerness doesn't to a drop in on-base percentage and rise in K's.
- Quintero looks adequate. He did a lot in this game to convince me that he'll be just fine as the catcher three-five games a week. He did some really good things out there both behind the plate and at it. I'm a big Towles advocate, I think he deserves another shot, but Quintero was very good.
- The Phillies' lineup doesn't look elite. There's not a player on that team I truly fear. Howard will have his moments this season, but he's no longer the animal he used to be. The rest of this lineup is just meh though. The pitching better shutdown every offense, I don't think this team will score runs... at least till Utley gets healthy and/or Howard and Rollins recapture their past forms.
Those are my quick notes on the first game of the season. I'm excited for more baseball. I look forward to seeing the Astros more than ever before and being a more active member of this community.