That long stretch from October to April is finally done and it looks like it will be Mark Buehrle throwing out the very first pitch of the season for his defending world champion Chicago White Sox with C. C. Sabathia opposing him for the Cleveland Indians. And that's the only game of the day. Just 2,429 left after that one.
I've traditionally rooted for Chicago in these contests. But this time around I'm actually pulling for both these teams to make the playoffs with the division title and wild card. And they will both have plenty of chances to pad the win column at the expense of the Kansas City Royals over the span of the unbalanced schedule.
Here are some other matchups scheduled this week that look interesting:
Bartolo Colon (LAA) vs. Jamie Moyer (SEA)
This will be opening day for most clubs so all the aces will be taking to the mound. But if I could be anyplace I'd take in the game in Seattle. This is a classic battle of power versus finesse as last year's AL Cy Young Award winner takes on the "crafty lefty" in what may be Moyer's last opening day start (and last season). I'm a big fan of both these pitchers - but Moyer has been a favorite for a long time.
update: final score - LAA 5, SEA 4 - W - Scott Shields L - George Sherrill SV - Francisco Rodriguez
This one sounds like it was a good game. With Vladimir Guerrero hitting a home run on his first swing of the season and Kenji Johjima making a good impression with a home run in his first at-bat in the major league there was something for everyone. I wouldn't have guessed that both starting pitchers would come away with no-decisions. They both seemed a little shaky in this outing:
Bartolo Colon: 5.0 IP, 8H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1BB, 4SO, 1HR - ND
Jamie Moyer: 6.2IP, 9H, 3R, 3ER, 1BB, 2SO, 1HR - ND
Johan Santana (MIN) vs. Roy Halladay (TOR)
The Toronto Blue Jays season opener kicks off with a pair of exceptional pitchers. Hopefully B.J. Ryan will be making his Toronto debut with a save in this one.
update: final score - MIN 3, TOR 6 - W - Roy Halladay L - Johan Santana S - B.J. Ryan
This one played out exactly as I would have hoped it would. Catcher Bengie Molina muscled a two-run homer. I watched him hit a couple last year when he was the Angel's backstop. He really deserves more credit/recognition than he gets now.
Johan Santana : 5.2 IP, 10H, 4R, 4ER, 1BB, 3SO, 1HR - L
Roy Halladay: 7.2 IP, 5H, 3R, 2ER, 0BB, 4SO, 2HR - W
Glendon Rusch (CHC) vs. Bronson Arroyo (CIN)
This will be Arroyo's regular season debut for Cincinnati. He looked incredible in his last spring training start against his former team and I'm curious to see how he does in that small ballpark the Reds play in. Perhaps all that time with the green monster behind his right shoulder will have conditioned him well.
update: final score - CHC 6, CIN 8 - W - Bronson Arroyo L - Glendon Rusch S - David Weathers
This one sounded like a fun game to watch in Cincinnati as Bronson Arroyo certainly endeared himself to his new fans with 7 strikeouts and even managed to hit his first home run of his career at the plate. He didn't get too many chances to do that in the American League.
Glendon Rusch: 4.0 IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 2SO, 2HR - L
Bronson Arroyo: 6.2 IP, 6H, 5R, 3ER, 0BB, 7SO, 2HR - W
Pedro Astacio (WSN) vs. Pedro Martinez (NYM)--Astacio injured & scratched from start.
Ramon Ortiz (WSN) vs. Pedro Martinez (NYM)
This is Martinez's first scheduled start of the season. I like the Mets' chances this year to take their division away from Atlanta and snap the Braves' streak at 14 consecutive titles. If Martinez is sharp then this could be their year.
update: final score - WSN 5, NYM 10 - W - Pedro Martinez, L - Pedro Astacio
This one turned ugly in typical Pedro fashion. Jose Guillen took exception to being hit twice by 95 mile-an-hour fastballs and the usual bench clearing drama soon followed. This wasn't Martinez's sharpest outing. I suspect his breaking balls are starting to flatten out a bit so he's relying on pure intimidation with those inside pitches. Those 5 base on balls seem pretty high to me. If the Mets keep giving him this kind of run support they should do well in the standings. The drama of this game will probably carry over into Washington DC as these two clubs - and starting pitchers - have another go around next week.
Ramon Ortiz: 5.0 IP, 10H, 6R, 6ER, 0BB, 1SO, 1HR - L
Pedro Martinez: 6.0IP, 4H, 5R, 4ER, 5BB, 6SO, 1HR - W