The Yankee quest for a perfect ended yesterday (opening day) along with the quests of the Giants and the Cubs (both probably more likely, though all three wildly unlikely).
Things did not go exactly as I predicted. First, Tanaka, lights out all spring, was brutally roughed up by the Rays, departing after 2 2/3 innings and SEVEN earned runs. The Yankee bullpen successfully locked the barn door after the horse had been stolen, the hay burned and the electricity disconnected. Starlin Castro had 3 hits for the Yankees, holding Tampa scoreless over 5.1 IP, with Warren allowing no hits in 2.1 IP. Castro and Headley had 3 hits apiece, accounting for 6 of the Yankees’ 9 hits, and Judge had a booming double in the 7-3 loss.
Meanwhile Madison Bumgarner had TWO HRs, the first giving SF a 2-0 lead in the 5th, and the 2nd breaking a 3-3 tie in the 7th. The Giants took a 4-3 lead into the 8th but their bullpen, which had the most blown saves (30!) of any playoff team last season, began their defense of this dubious title by blowing a save in the 8th, Derek Law facing 3 batters and allowing singles to each of them, tying the game at 4. SF then broke THAT tie in two batters, as the top of the 9th started triple, sac fly (5-4 SF). The inning continued single, wild pitch, walk, wild pitch (way to go, Fernando Rodney!) and then they escaped further damage with a medium fly and a dribbler in front of home plate. In comes high-priced closer Mark Melancon who records two quick outs to all but sew up the game. A funny thing happened on the way to the save, though, as double, single tied the game and gave the Giants their second blown save of the game (you really have to WANT it). Two more singles plated the winning run, giving Melancon a YIKES! and a well-deserved loss.
The Cubs and Cardinals was a pitchers duel between Carlos Martinez and Jon Lester, with the only run coming in the Cards’ third on single, single, sac fly. This score held up until the bottom of the eighth, when Grichuk homered for a 3-0 St. Louis lead. Cardinal Closer Oh came on for the easy (3-run) save, and gave up HBP, Single, Strike out, Homer (by Contreras), blowing the save and tying the game. Here come the Cubs! Not so fast – the Cardinals loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on Fly out, Double, Intentional Walk, Strikeout, Walk to bring up Grichuk (already a hero) who got a walk-off single and a 4-3 Cardinals win.
You could argue (if you think the Yankees are better than the Rays, which I do) that all three games were upsets, though all three also went to the home team, and in 2 of 3 that was clearly relevant. There were NO saves, but THREE blown saves and TWO walk-off hits. Isn’t this fun?
The rest of baseball starts today, weather permitting. No Yankee game, so boring 😉