Stimuli readings are through the roof this morning. The opening round of the Masters and Phillies Opening Day? Is this heaven? Perhaps you remember last year the Opening Day Live Blog almost became a certified jinx, but then the Phillies strung about six singles together in the ninth and walked-off with a win. The live blog escapes. I’m going to give it another shot this time around, and if things go badly, we just flip over to the Masters at 3 pm. So far at Augusta, Tiger’s 1-under through 4 holes. That’s all you need to know.
Phillies Opening Day Lineup:
All right, we’ll be continuously updating through the afternoon, starting sometime before that first pitch from Eric Bedard. Come by to check on the Phils, the Masters, or to leave your thoughts. See everyone in a few…
12:30 Masters Update: Numbers finally creeping into the red thanks to a run of eagles. Paul Lawrie, the erstwhile Open Champion, eagled 13 and 15 and appears headed toward the early clubhouse year. Henrik Stenson, who has about a year ago couldn’t hit the club face has eagled 2 and 8 to get to 5-under. He’s by far got the round of the day going. I have a feeling though, we won’t be talking about these guys this weekend. My pick for low amateur, Hideki Matsuyama, has made the turn in 35. Very respectable. T-minus 60 minutes until the Halladay glare. “Can’t Wait”–Bart Scott.
1:00 Masters Update: Stenson is now 6-under through 10 holes. I’m officially uncomfortable. No one else on the course really do much of anything. Craig Stadler in with 81. You know, just for reference. I flipped over to the Phillies pre-game. Looking into the rumor that Chris Wheeler unpacks a new hairpiece on Opening Day every year. This year’s model looks like a Lego hair helmet.
Ok, here we go. I kind of wish I had a little Hibachi going so I could house 3 to 11 hot dogs this afternoon. Jimmy Rollins ends the opening TV promo with, “Let’s Get It.” Before we get Shane Victorino leading off the season, we’ve got Tiger Woods and UCLA’s Patrick Cantlay at 2-under. Still waiting for Stenson to make some bogeys…
Announcers remind us that A.J. Burnett was supposed to start this game for the Pirates. Oh yeah, forgot about him already. Bedard gets Victorino to pop-out to left field and then Polanco to fly to center in about 45 seconds. Rollins bunt base-hit to break up the no-hitter. Guess he should have led off. Bedard’s got the especially sloppy left-handed curve ball, AKA the Phillies’ worst nightmare. It’s going to be interesting to see how Hunter Pence handles the 4-hole. He seems like he could be the kind of guy who would press. Pence rips a line drive right at McCutchen. That’ll do it for the 1st, here comes Doc.
Halladay is coming off a no-decision on Opening Day last year (Danys Baez snagged the win) and a less than stellar spring. He doesn’t look concerned. Bloop single to start things for Pittsburgh on a sloppy curve ball from Roy, swinging bunt base-bit and the Pirates have themselves a rally. Roy coaxes a 6-4-3 DP out of McCutchen and gets out of the inning. Only great pitchers can “coax” double-play balls. I was never worried.
Here’s Wigginton. Someone out of the stockpile of Wiggy, Nix, Thome, Pierre and Mayberry is going to have to do some hitting. Wigginton rolls one up the middle and is called out on a questionable play at 1st base. Mayberry squirts one through the right side, might have been a DP ball if Wigginton had been on 1st. Carlos Ruiz in the 7-hole is interesting because of his monster Spring. If Chooch gets it going, you wonder if he’d climb even higher in the order. Ruiz rips a 112 ft. flare into right for a base-hit. Freddy Galvis (It’s now Gal-viss again) with an early RBI opportunity. Or, a 6-4-3 opportunity. At least Halladay gets to lead off the 3rd.
Three games being played right now, nobody has scored a run. In more exciting news, Sandy Lyle has turned in 46. That’s tip-top. Here’s Pedro Alvarez, former Pirates phenom, who hit .190 last year. If the Royals drafted this guy, he would have hit 11 HRs this spring, but he seems burdened by those Pirate colors. Alvarez flies out to center. One, two, three inning for Roy.
With all aces going Opening Day is scoring usually down? Hanson, Verlander, Santana and Lester all cruising right along. Halladay strikes out, ugly, as is his custom. It must burn him up that Cliff Lee rips bombs and runs like a deer. Bedard is a nibbler, he rings up Victorino on a close pitch and gets Polanco to ground out. Not much happening, over at Augusta, Phil bogeys the 1st hole…already 7 shots behind Stenson. Keegan Bradley has battled his way back after doubling the 1st hole to get it to 2-under through 13. Bradley trying to make it back-to-back Majors.
Bedard at the plate makes Halladay look like Ty Cobb. He strikes out, Hallday’s 1st punch out of the game. Except for that one flippy curve ball, Roy looks a little sharper than he did when I watched him this spring. Another 1-2-3 for Roy. He’s retired 8 straight. In MLB we’ve logged 11 innings so far today and have 0 runs. Year of the Pitcher Part III!
Rollins gets his first pop-up out of the way to start the 4th. Bedard gets Wigginton to fly out to left and he’s retired 7 straight. Not a lot of fireworks in this one. I think Charlie is probably already looking at where he can pinch hit Thome. At this rate, this game might be over by the time Masters coverage comes on ESPN.
Had to skip a half-inning. There are only so many ways you can describe outs, though Mayberry did make a nice catch in left. In Masters news Rory McIlroy doubled the 1st hole, but got one back with a birdie at two. He’s currently t-43 with Phil Mickelson and others. Since I know you’re interested, Fred has parred the first 4 holes. I think Erik Bedard has thrown about 6 fastballs today. I don’t know why the Phillies ever bother looking for one. Another base-hit for Ruiz that didn’t get more than 10 feet into the outfield. Constitutes a rally for the Phils, but with Galvis and Roy coming, not much hope to break the Great Opening Day League-Wide Donut of 2012 (We’re at 16+ innings and counting). Galvis grounds into his 2nd DP, he’s accounted for 4 of the 15 outs. Where’s Orr?
Skipped the Pirates again. Who cares about them? Two more strikeouts and another nice catch by Mayberry. Phils need to score a dang run here, but Halladay’s leading off an inning for the 2nd time today. But some team will eventually score today. Might as well be the Phillies. It’s going to be up to Victorino to start things after Roy strikes out. I gotta admit I’m getting a little anxious to get that Masters flip option going. Over at Augusta, World #1 Luke Donald is a disappointing (embarrassing?) +4 through 13 holes. Victorino draws a walk, and steals 2nd with 2 outs, but Rollins pops up to end the innings. Big exhale. They look pretty awful against Bedard today.
Bottom of the 6th:
We’re now 21 innings into the most boring Opening Day of all-time. I’m openly rooting for anyone except the Pirates to score right now. Sarge says, “If he doesn’t catch that ball, it’s going to drop in.” Thank you, Sarge. Halladay has a six pitch inning. This is getting pretty ridiculous.
Mets score! Mets score! It’s over at long last. Let’s hope the Phils can join in on the party in the 7th. By my count, the Phillies have hit one ball hard today. Pence lines softly to center. Bedard refuses to throw a fastball. 2-0, any count, it’s all trash. Wigginton lines some non-fastball to center for a 1-out hit. Mayberry fights off a ball down the right field line for a double, Wigginton to 3rd. This is officially the Phils 1st rally. Ruiz with a golden RBI chance…and gets the least convincing sac fly to RF I’ve ever seen. 1-0 PHILS! Ok, Roy–all yours.
Masters officially ON THE AIR. Stenson still leading at 5-under. The good news is, it’s not raining…yet. Bunched up leaderboard before Stenson with an almost U.S. Open feel this first day. Not quite that difficult, but scores are still pretty modest. Jason Dufner, Lee Westwood and Hunter Mahan among the late starters playing well early. Halladay breezes through the 7th, 11 straight outs and no hits since the two cheapies in the 1st. So far, he looks comfortable with this level of run support.
Roy Halladay leads off for the 3rd time today. Pirates go to the bullpen. Chris Resop for those of you in NL Central only keeper leagues. Base-hit Halladay, he’s now officially doing it all. It’d be nice to hang about a 4-spot here and get Roy out of the game, but Victorino is trying to bunt Halladay over…hmmm. He eventually strikes out. It’s nice to be able to say this now after 7 innings of not much, but I don’t like Shane leading off or Rollins in the 3rd hole. The lineup is obviously a mess, but I’d keep as many guys in familiar roles as possible and that includes keeping Pence out of the cleanup spot. Pence strikes out to end the 8th. Looks like 1-0 might have to be good enough.
Bottom of the 8th:
Henrik Stenson is doing everyone a favor by not waiting until tomorrow to implode. He’s making an absolute mess of 18 (and had a temper tantrum), where he missed a 4-footer for seven and tapped in for a routine quadrangle. He finishes at 71 and Lee Westwood is your new leader. That’s painful, even on a Thursday. A nice slow burn 76 would have been the more social way to play his way ouf of the tournament. Roy’s through 8 with little trouble, it’ll be interesting to see if they stick with him for the 9th. Just kidding, he might remove a selection of Charlie’s appendages if he tries to take him out.
Well, Charlie is making me look like a fool by pulling Roy and going with Paps to close this one out. Why wait, right? If he can’t close out Roy’s 2-hitter, what’s he good for? He’ll have to deal with the top of Pittsburgh’s order. The Pirates haven’t had a hit since the 1st two hitters of the game. Papelbon strikes out Presley with 95 mph. One down. Tabata grounds out to Polanco. Two down. McCutchen grounds out to third and that’s the game. 1-0 Phils. Combined 2-hitter. There’s the blueprint. Not sure what everyone is so concerned about. That’s going to do it for me, the live Opening Day Blog is 2 for 2. You’re welcome.