When plans fo awry …
THAT DIDN’T GO AS PLANNED
Strange, isn’t it, the way baseball toys with your expectations. CC Sabathia pitched quite well in Spring Training, while Jeremy Guthrie was messed up worse than the Elephant House on bran peanut day. The bell rings and it’s Sabathia that required the cleanup on aisle pachyderm and Guthrie who put in the solid performance. It’s a heck of an omen for the Orioles, given that the rotation goes rapidly downhill after Guthrie — a solid season from him and that might not lose 100 games.
As for the Yankees, getting a wild, no-strikeout start from your ace is always frightening, but Sabathia has been there before and recovered, so there’s no use getting to exercised about today’s performance. Ditto that of Mark Teixeira, who went 0-for-4 and stranded five runners — no doubt some in Yankeeland are already fitting him for the “not a true Yankee” pants. This too shall pass, though in truth Teixeira does deserve to wear the horns for this one, Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon having combined to go 5-for-8 with a walk in front of him. The bullpen didn’t help, but Cesar Izturis’s home run was a matter of inches, as all Izturis home runs are likely to be. He’s hit just 13 of the things, and if you give one up to him, well, you’re a member of a very select club that includes a strangely large number of former Yankees or Yankees-associated pitchers, including Tony Armas, Brandon Claussen, David Cone and Eric Milton. Welcome, Phil Coke. Your commemorative pin is in the mail.
At least Nick Swisher didn’t leave anyone on base.
THE AROUND (AND ABOUT)
Life is a changeup pitcher. Hence, several candidates for their league basements won on Opening Day … I said in an earlier installment that I was looking forward to seeing what Jason Motte could do as Cardinals closer. Today I got my answer: four runs on four hits and a blown save against the Pirates. I haven’t seen the highlights yet, but I wonder how many were line drives and how many were just the Cardinals being weak on balls in play … Headline on MLB.com regarding former Yankees first baseman Nick the Greenstick: “Johnson excited to be healthy in ’09.” Missing from that headline: “For now.” That fellow had Hall-of-Fame hitting ability at one time. Now, who knows? … Leadoff man Emilio Bonifacio of the Marlins is probably a fantasy baseball darling after a 4-for-5 with an inside-the-park home run and three stolen bases, but this was the last such day of his career … After not watching “ER” for the last five years, I tuned in for the finale last week and was intrigued enough by the part where the entire cast was imprisoned in the stockyards and slowly minced by the ghosts of 19th century meatpackers to go to Hulu and watch the rest of the season for clues, but that whole abattoir scene remained an inexplicable non-sequitur … Why isn’t Brad Hawpe’s nickname “Hee?”… Back in October 2004, when Tony Clark was on the verge of leaving the Yankees, if you had offered to bet on his still playing five years in the future, few would have taken the pro Tony position, likeable guy or not. Well, he’s still here, and he socked two home runs today. Clark and his ballpark were apparently built for each other; through last season, he’s a career .281/.350/.620 hitter at Arizona with 39 home runs in 405 at-bats (make it 41 in 409) … If you’re the Indians you have to worry about Cliff Lee, abused during Spring Training and by the Rangers on Opening Day (no Andruw Jones sighting despite the lefty opposing starter) … The offseason formula worked better for the Mets on Opening Day than for the Yankees, as their reconstructed bullpen delivered 3 1/3 scoreless innings, something that seemed impossible as of last September.