Opening Day Home Run Leader plays for the … huh? White Sox?

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Friday, March 30.

Maybe it’s because I live just a long fly ball from both New York and Philly. All I’ve heard all winter was how the Yankees would dominate the home run race in the major leagues.  They may do so eventually, considering Giancarlo Stanton launched two in their opening 6-1 win over the Blue Jays.

Digression alert: when Stanton launched his two shots, Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling lapsed into Italian.  God only knows what he said.  End of digression.

Of all places, the balls were flying out of Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City-and that’s nobody’s hitter’s ball park.  The home team in fact built up a 4-0 lead in the first inning off James Shields, who looked like he was past his “sell by” date in the first inning but made a gallant recovery to pick up the win.  Former Met Lucas Duda jolted a 3-run dinger off Shields to make it 4-0. But the White Sox rallied like gangbusters, ultimately winning 14-7.  Third baseman Matt Davidson hit 3 home runs for the PaleHose. No modern player had hit 3 home runs on Opening Day until 1988, when George Bell did it for Toronto, also against Kansas City. Davidson is now the 4th man to do the deed since 1988, joining Bell, Dmitri Young and Tuffy Rhodes. Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes by the way launched 3 while playing for the Cubs on Opening Day, 1994.)   The White Sox tied a record for Opening Day home runs as a team, hitting 6 which the Mets did 30 years ago. Shortstop Tim Anderson hit a pair of bombs for the Sox.  Davidson had never hit 3 in a game, not even in Little League, he told the Chicago Tribune. In his first full season a year ago he hit 26 long balls while striking out 165 times on a dreadful 67-95 team. He turned 27 this past Monday and gave himself the daddy of all gifts yesterday. He got drafted in round 1 in 2009 by Arizona, causing him not to play college ball at USC which he had planned to do. After a “cuppa coffee” with the Diamondbacks in 2013 they shipped him to Chicago, for whom he played more than 2 seasons in AAA. After an injury marred his 2016 season he established himself last year and has gotten off to as good a start as a player can now.

Today’s earliest game is a make-up game following a washout yesterday in Detroit.  at 1:10 PM the Pirates will trot out Ivan Nova at Comerica Park to face the Tigers’ Jordan Zimmerman.  Nova has never started on Opening Day, but it seems like there’s nothing he can’t do since leaving the Yankees for Pittsburgh. The Nationals and Reds meet at 4:10 to make up for yesterday’s other washout. 2-time defending Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer makes his third Opening Day start for the Nationals. The Reds go with Homer Bailey.  Though he has thrown 2 no-hitters, he has never started on Opening Day. While David DeWitt “Homer” Bailey is just shy of turning 32, his arm must feel over a hundred years old, as Jim Bouton described his own pitching arm. Bailey had Tommy John surgery in May, 2015. He missed all of 2016, then had another elbow surgery early in 2017, keeping him out until June. When he returned, he gave up 8 runs and didn’t survive the second inning. But the Reds’ options are limited.  Brandon Finnegan and Amir Garrett are the only two on their roster who could start on Opening Day if Bailey wasn’t available.

The rest of the slate will be played at night, starting with the Yankees and Blue Jays meeting in Toronto. Masahiro Tanaka is the Yankees’ choice for game 2 of the season.  I firmly believed Tanaka would opt out of his contract at the end of 2016, which would have been his right.  He didn’t, and the Yankees have to hope he no longer carries a time bomb in his elbow.  The Jays send Aaron Sanchez to face a Yankee team that beat the Jays 6-1 yesterday. The Red Sox have David Price carrying the mail tonight against the Rays’ Blake Snell. The Cubs and Marlins meet at 7:10 in Miami.  The Cubs go with Kyle Hendricks, whose highlight was stopping the Nationals cold in game 1 of the NLDS. The Marlins’ choice is former Yankee Caleb Smith.  Dan Straley was who they originally had in mind for game 2 but he’s on the shelf. The Phillies and Braves take the field in Atlanta at 7:35. The Astros send Dallas Keuchel against the Rangers in Arlington.  Keuchel has won double digit games for the past 3 seasons.  Doug Fister will be his mound opponent for Texas. The rest of the games are out west.  The Rockies face the D-Backs in Phoenix, the Angels visit Oakland, the Brews face the Padres and the Giants and Dodgers meet following their extra-inning tilt yesterday. As the season opened, I missed the fact that Madison Bumgarner is on the DL again and will be lucky to pitch in May.  He had surgery on his pitching hand on the 24th, almost a week ago.

I was surprised the Yankees could trade Dustin Fowler, the outfielder who wiped out his knee in  Chicago last summer, whom I christened the modern Moonlight Graham. I didn’t know anybody with a major injury could be traded.  But he was sent to Oakland.  He won’t start in the bigs in 2018.  Boog Powell will be the A’s center fielder while Dustin Fowler sings the blues in AAA Nashville. A’s starter Jharel Cotton became the first pitcher to have Tommy John surgery this season.


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