Opening Night

This year I thought I’d do my blog differently to last year. Last year I gave you some insight and predictions for the best matchups of the week. This year I’m giving you my season as a baseball fan. I plan to do a weekly blog summarising the full games that I watch live and as-live (full-game highlights). I plan to do an overall count of the number of full games, live games and as-live games a season and just for fun, I may include an hour count. This opening blog covers the 4 games I watched over Monday and Tuesday, the Opening Night of the baseball season.

As most of you know, I’m a huge White Sox fan, but as well as being a White Sox fan, I’m a huge baseball fan. My plan is to watch every full White Sox game supplemented by some live games showing in the evening in the UK and to watch every ESPN Sunday Night and Wednesday Night Baseball game as Jonny and Josh used to show us on Channel 5.

I’ve started with the 1st game of the season so let me present to you:-

Game 1 – St Louis Cardinals @ Chicago Cubs – ESPN Sunday Night Baseball

Starting Pitchers Adam Wainwright and Jon Lester.

Just to give you an idea of my life, this game was shown starting at 1am UK time (too late for me) on Easter Sunday. I’ve avoided the score and watched this off record from BT Sport. I did watch the Baseball Tonight preview show (just for the record I’m not a Buster Olney or Pedro Alvarez fan but I do like Baseball Tonight)

As a White Sox fan, I have a natural disdain for the Cubs and I go into this game cheering on the Cardinals and hoping that the Cubs lose. The Cubs had a good off-season this season and the pick-up of Jon Lester and the development of their prospects will be a major factor for them to succeed this season.

The Cardinals on the other hand are favourites for the division and are strong favourites to defeat the Cubs. Their rotation is as good as any team in baseball not called the Washington Nationals and they supplement that with good situational hitting and outstanding defence.

The first thing I noted on this is that both Ernie Banks and Oscar Taveras are remembered by the Cubs which is a nice touch by the North-Siders. The ESPN Sunday Night crew is Dan Shulman, a grumpy looking John Kruk who is sporting a sling and Curt Schilling.

The Cardinals scored early off of John Lester with RBI’s from Holliday and Carpenter. The Cards were running off of Lester and causing havoc on the bases with La Stella, Heyward and Wong all getting stolen bases off of Lester.

The Cubs struggled offensively and it was the same story as last season as they left the lead off runner in scoring position and failed to bring him home 4 times in the opening 5 innings.

There has been some flaky fielding by the Cubs with Lester, Soler, La Stella and Castro all having Brain Freezes in the field.

Lester exited in the Top of the 5th, giving up 3 runs and not looking at all comfortable, whereas Wainwright pitched well and was able to get out of a number of jams. Both bullpens looked good as they closed out the game with the Cardinals finishing out as 3-0 winners.

Spiggle’s Stats:- Full Games watched 1, As Live games watched 1.  Hours watched 3 hours.

Crew rating:- Not a huge fan of the ESPN crew, they were very biased to the Cubs. Kruk was very grumpy for most of the game, he looked to be still suffering with his shoulder injury.  3/10.

Game 2:- Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees – 6pm UK Time. LIVE GAME.

Starting Pitchers:- Drew Hutchinson and Masahiro Tanaka

This is cool, it’s Easter Monday, the White Sox game starts at 9:10pm and I get to watch another live game before it. I’ve went for the Yankees game and the power hitting Blue Jays against the Yankees and PED King A-Rod.

I went out earlier and picked up some grub for the games tonight. I have hot dogs for my dinner, with Irn Bru and Doritos and dip for the White Sox game. I also plan to drink my Bru out of my White Sox drinks Cup.

One thing about the ESPN coverage is that its so focussed on the Yankees and very little had been said about the Blue Jays. ESPN pull out its Yankee biased crew with Sean McDonough, Aaron Boone and Mark Mulder on the mic.

Early doors, Tanaka looked solid but a third inning walk and some dodgy defence from Chase Headley gave the Blue Jays the lead. Russell Martin then took advantage by driving in a couple of runs. The Blue Jays then continued to feast off Tanaka with a 2 run homer from Ed Encarnacion.

Meanwhile Drew Hutchinson quietly got on with the job of ripping through the Yankees line up.

Tanaka ended up only pitching 4 innings, giving up 5 runs, not a good outing for the Japanese Ace who struggled to find his location of his fastball.

It took until the 6th for the Yankees to get on the board with a solo dinger from Brett Gardner. The Blue Jays responded in the 7th with a debut homer for Devon Travis.

Hutchinson went 6 innings, giving up 1 run.

Things went smoothly for both bullpens until the 9th where the Blue Jays left them loaded with 2 outs.

The Blue Jays looked good and their taking of Tanaka to the cleaners in the 3rd gave them the game.

Final Score Blue Jays 6 Yankees 1.

Spiggle’s Stats:- Full Games watched 2. Live Games 1. Hours watched 6.

Crew Rating – Not impressed by this crew. Too Yankee focussed. Had A-Rod focussed as the player of the game when Martin or Hutchinson were the better players. 1/10

Game 3 – Chicago White Sox @ Kansas City Royals – MLBTV – LIVE

Starters – Jeff Samardzija v Yordano Ventura

I get a couple of minutes break between the end of the Yankees game and the start of the Sox game and I have the crew of the Hawk and Stoney from the Sox. The Hawk is doing his 50th major league opener.

Melky’s first at bat as a White Sox is a single but unfortunately Abreu doesn’t take advantage and grounds into a double play.

The Shark gave up a run in the second to a Salvador Perez double but he kept the inning down to just the one run.

Not the best of 3rd innings for the Shark as Cain bloops in a run and another run scores off of a wild pitch.

Moustakis extends the lead to 4 with a solo home run. The Shark responds by plunking Cain after taking exception to the home run celebration by Moustakis.

Micah Johnson then gets his 1st major league hit in the 6th and promptly gets picked off by Ventura.

Just when it looked like the Royals were going to shut out the White Sox, Abreu goes yard in the 7th to give the White Sox some fight. The next at bat Ventura leaves with what looks like a cramp in his pitching hand.

We gave up another two runs to Moustakis in the 7th who hits a roller in the infield where both Alexei and Micah miss it. Rios follows it with a 3 run bomb off Drabek and this is looking like a massacre.

I’ve not seen so many duck snorts or infield hits since Gardenhire’s 2008 Twins.

The Royals win 10-1

Spiggle’s Stats – Full Games watched 3. Live Games watched 2. Number of hours watched 9.

Crew Rating – The Hawk seemed subdued this game and didn’t have his usual Hawkisms 6/10.

Game 4 – New York Mets @ Washington Nationals – AS Live recorded off BT Sport.

Starters – Bartolo Colon & Max Scherzer

Crew – John Kruk, Karl Ravech & Curt Schilling

The coverage stayed with the Yankees game and it just caught the start of this game after the Yankees game finished. I’ve got a bet on this game for the Mets to win and I’ve not checked to see if they have. I watched this game on Tuesday night.

In the 1st, Colon pitched around a Daniel Murphy Error after a base hit from Michael Taylor. Colon never let the two runners on base phase him and I can see Daniel Murphy buying him dinner after the game for Colon getting him out of the hole that he put the Mets in.

Colon and Scherzer took a grip of the game and pitched well until Bryce Harper went yard in the bottom of the 4th.

A Granderson walk and a Desmond error meant that Duda could drive home both Wright and Granderson to give the Mets the lead in the top of the sixth.

The Nats respond by getting a couple of baserunners in the bottom of the inning but were unable to drive either of the runners in.

Top of the 7th and Lugares gets on base after another Desmond error. D’Arnaud drives home the run with a double off the wall to put the Mets 3-1 up. Not a very good day defensively by Desmond. Its a shame, because, he’s normally a much better short-stop than that.

Colon pitched 6 innings, giving up 1 run and looked very sharp.

Scherzer pitched 7.2 inning, gave up 3 runs, none of them earned also looked sharp but was let down by his infield, Ian Desmond in particular.

The Mets bullpen looked solid, I was particularly impressed with Carlos Torres who had some nice control.

The Mets win 3-1 and win me a few quid. An interesting fact was that with the forwarding of the game past the ad breaks and the speed of Scherzer and Colon pitching, I watched this game in about 2 hours. That’s what I call pace of play Rob Manfred.

Spiggle’s Stats – Full Games Watched 4, As Live Games 2, Total hours watched 11.

Crew Rating:- The Curt Schilling/ John Kruk pairing work better with Karl Ravech. I found out that Kruk was grumpy because Schilling kept poking his broken arm. No kudos to the Mets good play, more focus on the players the Nats were missing. Coverage needs to be more balanced. 5/10.

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