What a fabulous day for baseball. I can’t think of one game that had poor weather. Bright, Sunny and Clear from Coast to Coast. The Star Spangled Banner was waving proudly and there were plenty of Bombs in the air. Little, White, round ones landing with a thud among the happy masses that gathered for baseball’s greeting of Spring. A lovely day. And speaking of Lovely and The Star Spangled Banner… did you happen to catch that little beauty that sang the National Anthem in the Twins vs. Angels game? Wow. Just one more wonderful thing on our favorite day.
There were familiar names that had worthy games for Yesterday’s Hitter honors, including an old face in a new place – Hideki Matsui. Godzilla mashed a Home Run and added an RBI single in his 2 for 4 day with 2 RBIs.
Another old face in a new place, Hideki’s former Yankee teammate Johnny Damon had a
similar day (sans the HR) with the Tigers. His 2 RBIs helped sink the Royals when Detroit put up a Big 6 in the 7th after being fooled by Greinke for 6 innings.
Pittsburgh’s Ryan Doumit rocked into 2010 with a vengeance. He also put up a 2×4 to start the season. His two hits included a double and 3 run bomb. He also walked once as the Pirates pounded Padilla and the punchless Dodgers 11-5. Ouch.
The defending NL Champ Phillies had no problems providing a little punch to the Opening Day party. Not wanting Obama to be the only one to “dis” the Nats, the Phils ripped Washington pitching for 11 runs. Ryan Howard got his first long ball of the year, but Placido Polanco one-upped the big guy when he belted out a Grand Slam and got himself 6 massive RBIs to kick off his season. Nice job Placido…
In Arlington there was a Texas size cheer for the Rangers as they walked off against the Blue Jays. What a roller coaster for the Jays, Shawn Marcum no-hit Texas into the 7th before they circled the wagons and then circled the bases to come up with a 5-4 thriller. Nelson Cruz saved the day when he smacked a 3 Run jack in the 7th inning to tie the game at 3. Then, just to be sure there was no doubt about who the hero was, he tied the game again in the 9th with an RBI single. Saltalamacchia finished off the Jays with the Game Winner. But, it was Nelson Cruz that tasted the sweetness of victory.
Did I mention the Pirates? Yea, kinda left this guy out for a reason. We’re getting down to the best of the best and it’s hard not to add in a fellow who has really never been given the chance to shine. A career Minor Leaguer, Garret Jones could never seem to crack the lineup for either the Braves or the Twins in 12 years, yet he raked 21 HRs last year after being called up in July. He’s only the second MLB player to hold that distinction. Just to prove he really, really belongs… Garret blasted a Home Run in each of his first two at bats in 2010. I think it’s safe to say he’ll easily eclipse that 20 HR mark in 2010. I’m just guessin’ he’ll be around for awhile. Nice start Jonesy.
Hmm.. well, if a 28yr old Rookie can make a splash… how about the NL MVP? Duh. King Albert looked as magnificent as ever. The polished swing. The slugger’s swagger. Pujols is the real deal and if you doubt it, just look back in history and start comparing his numbers to the greats of the past. He added to those impeccable stats with a tremendous 4 hit performance that included 2 Long Balls, 4 Runs and 3 RBIs. Simply stated, he is King.
And while we expect such fabulous results from the reigning MVP, we are sometimes
provided a glimpse of greatness to come. Opening Day was one of those days. Highly touted and fabulously gifted, Jason Heyward made his Major League debut something to remember. The Atlanta hometown prodigy not only caught the opening pitch from Braves Hall of Famer Henry Aaron, but basked in the chants and cheers from an exuberant Atlanta crowd as he rounded the bases in his very first Major League at bat. What a day for Jason Heyward. He added an RBI single to his 3 Run 1st inning smash and walked off the field into the gratifying hug of another Atlanta icon, Chipper Jones. If Jason fulfills his lofty expectations in this game, he’ll do more than keeping up with the Jones’.
Number 9…. Number 9…. Number 9….
I was truly hoping that a player wearing #9 would have a spectacular day at the plate yesterday. That would have been a perfect capper on 09/09/09. But…. no dice. There were, however, a number of fabulous performances worthy of Yesterday’s Hitter.
Let’s start with the early game where a fellow wearing an upside down 9 (6) ; ) made quite a mark at the dish. Esteban German had a perfect 5 for 5 day for the Rangers as they stayed in step with the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card. Normally, this would have done the trick and we could have crowned him. Except for a Certain Fella…. and the fact that the Rangers won 10-0 and German really didn’t participate much in the feasting, scoring but once with an RBI.
Next up… Kansas City’s doubles machine –
Billy Butler. He had a solid day and has been on a tear. His 3-5 day included a pair of Ribs and 3 more doubles to bring his total to 45 on the season! Normally… good enough. Except for this Certain Fella.
Of course, we could always pen in The King.
All Albert did yesterday was pop 2 more Home Runs to bring his league leading total to 47! As my TribeTed friend says.. just write him in.. everyday! I would.. except for this Certain Fella.
We can’t overlook what Seth Smith did in Colorado. It’s another amazing run for the Rockies behind the solid leadership of Jim Tracy, they’ve opened one gap in the NL Wild Card and closed the other… trailing the Blue Crew by a mere 2 1/2 games! Seth had the game winning single to knock in 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th! Magical stuff indeed. Well, there was this Certain Fella that kept Seth from the top.
Victor Martinez … he had a super important hit for the Red Sox in a game they had to win to fend off the Rangers. Martinez roped a Pinch Hit bases clearing double to give the Sox the win. Nope… not him.
This Certain Fella –
He had the hit of the day. Jorge Posada’s hit was so important, so immense, so incredible… so freakin’ fabulous, I literally jumped out of my chair and cheered. His Pinch Hit 3 Run Home Run was a thing of beauty. He battled and battled and battled and man, did he ever drive that fast ball on a line! It was a superb and very professional at bat. Why was it so important?
Because Yesterday’s Hitter can’t be annointed if his team loses. It’s just one of the criteria. It’s a team game with individual statistics. Your team simply has to win in order to receive the title of Yesterday’s Hitter. And so… without further ado… meet Yesterday’s Hitter:
With a classic Derek Jeter bunt in his first at bat followed by a booming double that cleared the Center Field wall and hopped into Monument Park (where he will be someday), Derek paved the way for a Historic moment in baseball. One more hit would tie him with the great Lou Gehrig. Another prototypical at bat from DJ (I call him this because he just keeps crankin out record hits!) produced an inside out shot down the right field line in the 7th and he climbed to the pulpit of Yankee lore. Watch Here!
You are watching one of the greatest hitters, and maybe … someday the all-time hit leader, in baseball history everytime DJ steps to the plate. He is a gracious and incredibly humble, extremely gifted man and I relish every moment I get to watch him play. I think it’s a wonderful thing that he actually did not break Lou’s mark last night. Because, with today being an idle day for the Yankees, Derek will have an opportunity to savor the flavor of his magnificent accomplishment… sitting atop Yankee History with The Iron Horse
Two fellows cut from the same mold. Now we know why DJ wears # 2 : )
Having missed the last two games while his wife gave birth to his second child, Derrek Lee was anxious to get to the ballpark and celebrate. Did he ever! Derrek had a big hit day in New York as the Cubs beat the NY Mets 5-3. Lee smashed two very long, very high bombs into the upper decks in a ballpark that isn’t very Homer Friendly. Speaking of HR’s, Derrek’s 6yr old daughter, Jada, is constantly requesting her big Papa to hit HR’s for her. Says Derrek “Man, now I’ve got to hit a Home Run for you AND Dylan. It’s going to be tough!” Well, he came through with flying colors in his first attempt at keeping his babies happy. What a great memory for him and a heckuva welcome to his new son! Here’s to you Dylan Lee! Watch his bombs Here!
Honorable Mention; Albert Pujols, Chad Pennington, Melvin Mora