If opening weekend is any indication how this season is going to go then we are in store for a great 2012 season.
Last season was the year of the pitcher and this season might be no different. In the last three days, one pitcher took a no-hitter into the eight inning and two others took a no-hitter into the seventh.
In his first start since being traded to the Orioles this offseason, Jason Hammel dominated the Twins on Sunday and brought a no-hitter into the eight inning. The bid was broken up by a Justin Morneau double, and lost the shutout when Josh Willingham followed that up with a double of his own, which scored Morneau. The Orioles salvaged a 3-1 win, which swept the series.
Both Mets’ Jonathan Niese and Indians’ Ubaldo Jimenez took no-hitters into the seventh inning until Niese lost the possible first ever no-hitter in Mets franchise history when Freddie Freeman singled to the right side of the infield, and Blue Jays’ Brett Lawrie hit a two-run single to end Jimenez’s opportunity. Fortunately the Mets bullpen was able to hold onto the 7-5 win after Niese exited in the seventh inning, but two walks, a wild pitch and the single by Lawrie in the seventh, Jimenez headed to the clubhouse with a no-decision and the bullpen lost the game for the Tribe in consecutive games.
We saw some great outing from numerous pitchers, but we also saw sub-par outing from some of your most consistent pitchers in the game. Red Sox’s Josh Beckett had a disappointing first outing, allowing seven runs in four-plus innings. All of his runs came off of home runs, two apiece by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder and another from Alex Avila. This was the first time he allowed five home runs in an outing since 2009, and did not allow seven runs in any outing last season. This led to a 10-0 defeat and propelled the Tigers to a sweep after Alex Avila followed up Saturday’s solo home run with a walk-off in the 11th inning on Sunday. Red Sox started the season in a similar fashion as a year ago. This team could continue down this path if Bobby Valentine does not find an answer for the closer role after losing Andrew Bailey for the first half of the season. At least Boston’s arch-rival Yankees are in the same boat, getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Other crazy news and notes from the last five days: The Mets are atop the NL East after sweeping the Braves. Tigers pitcher Doug Fister pitched only three and two-thirds innings after straining his left rib and was placed on the disabled list. The Cubs starters left the first two games with the lead, but unfortunately Kerry Wood and company lost them both. Reds outfielder Jay Bruce is on a tear, hitting three homers, which two came in Sunday’s come-from-behind defeat of the Marlins.