Baseball’s Best Start is on the Beltway

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The best start for an American League team in this young baseball season is the 7-0 start by the Baltimore Orioles. The franchise only had a better start in 1944, when they were the St. Louis Browns and started off 9-0 on their way to the World Series.    Meantime The Orioles’  nearest neighbor, the Washington Nationals are off to a 5-1 start themselves, the best start by a Washington team in either league since 1951. You may recall, Baltimore ownership did all they could to keep baseball from returning to Washington, on the assumption that if the Orioles continued playing as poorly as they did in the early years of this century their fan base would head for DC.  Now, with winning baseball both teams should be able to draw crowds.

The Orioles continued their winning ways with a 9-5 win over Boston.  Continuing the power display they put on Monday at Fenway,  J. J. Hardy hit a pair of 2-run shots and Mark Trumbo tied the game at 5 all with a blast. David Ortiz had given the Red Sox an early lead with his 506th career home run but Clay Buchholz barely survived 5 innings.  Only one Boston pitcher, predictably David Price-has gone beyond 6  innings as the season opens.

Meantime in the nation’s capital, a two-run double by Bryce Harper made a winner out of the Nationals as they beat the Braves 2-1. Their 5-1 opening is the best any DC team has done coming out of the gate since the ’51 Senators, still owned by the Griffith family opened up 7-1 on their usual road to nowhere. In a 0-0 tie in the last of the 8th Harper slammed the double off lefty Eric O’Flaherty to break the tie.

The Dodgers made an event out of Vin Scully’s final home opener. This is hardly the sort of thing the unassuming Brooklynite would want, but when you become an institution in a city, and have broadcast for one franchise since the Truman administration  there’s not a whole lot you can do to prevent ceremony from happening if a team and a town wants it.  So the approach road to Dodger Stadium is now  Vin Scully Drive and he was honored with an on-field ceremony before the contest.    As for the game, D-Backs’ first baseman Paul Goldschmidt spoiled the party, hitting a two-run home run to break a 2-all tie in the visiting 8th. The Dodgers’ high-dollar import Kenta Maeda again tossed 6 scoreless innings, as he had done to the Padres in his first major league outing but Chris Hatcher gave up the home run to Goldschmidt that decided the issue.

If you have the chance to watch day baseball there’s some of it today.

Early on the Marlins look to sweep the Mets at Citi Field. The Mets will go with Logan Verrett, as in all likelihood Jacob DeGrom is bound for the DL with a sore right lat.  The last man I heard of who went on the DL for that was gone for 3 months. DeGrom and his wife have also welcomed their son Jackson to the world yesterday.  As for the Fish, Adam Conley is their starter.    Almost 3 hours later, on the west coast the Angels play in Oakland and Texas faces the Mariners.  The rest of the slate is under the lights.  The Pirates can’t start Francisco Liriano, their opening-day starter due to a sore hamstring so Ryan Vogelsong will step in.  His last start was with the Giants last september and he gave up 7 runs in 3+ innings. The Pirates have to be kicking themselves for letting J. A. Happ jump ship and head to Toronto, where he faces Michael Pineda tonight.

The Royals’ star center fielder Lorenzo cain is 30 today. While he has only come to prominence the last two seasons with the Royals playing in the last two World Series, he’s been in the bigs since 2010 when he broke in with the Brewers. He hails from Valdosta, Georgia, just across the state line from Tallahassee.  He was MVP of the 2014 ALCS and an All-Star last year. The Brewers had taken him out of junior college  in round 17 of the 2004 draft, not a prestigious pick.  It took six years for him to make the Brewers and he had barely managed it before being traded with 3 others for Zack Greinke. The Royals also got Alcides Escobar in that deal.

Hunter Pence is 33 today. The native of Fort Worth has been in the majors since 2007 when he made the Astros. He’s put up a .284 average in nearly a decade in the game. He’s been with the Giants  since mide-2012 when they got him from the Phillies. He was with the Giants when they won the World Series of 2012 and 2014.  He’s been an All-Star selection 3 times, the last in 2014. He was a 2nd-round draft choice by the Astros in 2004 and made the show in less than 3 years. He spent much of 2015 on the DL, an unusual thing for him.



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