We're going to try to kick the in-game commentary up a notch this season, and this will be the blog post where we kick it. Check back throughout the the game for notes, observations and statistics. The newer stuff will be on top. Also, I'll participate in the comments section as often as possible.
PHILLIES 1, PIRATES 0 (FINAL)
Well, the Phillies are undefeated, and we're guessing that Charlie Manuel will take it. Hard to read too much into anything that happens on Opening Day. Personally, I'll take a 2 hour, 14 minute game any time. Jonathan Papelbon picked up his first save as a Phillie, getting Andrew McCutchen to ground out to third on a close play to cap off a perfect ninth inning. Beyond Roy Halladay, who pitched eight scoreless innings before ceding the mound to Papelbon after 92 pitches, the player of the game was undoubtedly John Mayberry Jr. Last year, Mayberry had a pinch-hit walk-off RBI in the season opener. This year, he moved the game's only run to third base with a double in the seventh inning. He also made two good defensive plays on a deep fly balls to left field. It is going to be hard to take his defense out of left field, regardless of the situation at first base.
Much more later.
Top 9th - It looks like Roy Halladay will be done for the day after 92 pitches, eight scoreless innings, two hits and two hit batsmen. Makes sense. Last year, Halladay threw 101 pitches on Opening Day, and the year before, he threw 88. Now, Jonathan Papelbon gets his first opportunity as a Phillie, in a 1-0 game.
Top 7th - John Mayberry Jr. is having a hell of a game, with two solid defensive plays, a single, and now a double to the right field corner that set up a sacrifice fly by Carlos Ruiz to score Ty Wigginton. One thing that is clear, though, is that Wigginton is not a threat to set any land-speed records during his time with the Phillies. Mayberry's double looked like it could have scored a lot of big league players, but Juan Samuel wisely held Wigginton up at third base with one out, setting up Ruiz's SAC fly, which snapped a 16-inning scoreless streak that dated back to Game 4 of last year's NLCS.
Top 6th - I picked the wrong game to live blog. Can't even keep up. Good news is we'll get 16 innings in well before rush hour. John Mayberry Jr. is the reason the Phillies aren't trailing 1-0 right now as his stretching, on-the-run grab at the warning track of a deep Neil Walker fly ball with Andrew McCutchen nearing second likely prevented a run. That was in the bottom of the 4th. In the bottom of the 5th, he made another stretching grab, although this one was likely caused by a circuitous route in whcih he over-ran to the right then had to back pedal left to catch the ball. Still, not a routine play. Haven't seen Laynce Nix play left much, so it's tough to compare. But everybody regards Mayberry as the team's best defensive left fielder.
Top 4th - Well, through four scoreless innings we've had five baserunners, all of them reaching on singles, none of them advancing past second base. Bedard's fastball has been sitting 87-89, but he's pitching off a curveball that he is locating with precision. 14 of his 48 pitches have been curveballs, and 10 of those have gone for strikes. He is throwing them in fastball counts, and vice versa. He's keeping his fastball down. Everything is at the knees. The one mistake he made was either a slider or a change-up that got away from him and ran in on Ty Wigginton, who made solid contact, but could only manage a fly ball to left field.
Top 3rd - I was asked this on Twitter by @chrisdanj: "@HighCheese which lineup 1-8 do you think is better today pirates top lineup or this phillies depleated opening day lineup." I still take the Phillies...going position by position, Hunter Pence has solid edge over Tabata, in center McCutchen has smaller edge over Victorino, in LF, Jones edge over Mayberry, at 3B, Polanco big edge over Alvarez, at SS, Rollins big edge over Barmes, at 2B, Walker big edge over Galvis, at first, Jones solid edge over Wigginton, at catcher, Ruiz solid edge over Barajas. It's split 4 and 4, but I think Pence/Victorino are better than any duo Pirates can come up with.
Top 2nd - Let the record reflect that at 1:50 p.m. on April 5, Charlie Manuel confronted an umpire for the first time. Wigginton looked like he was probably there first on a nice play by Neil Walker up the middle. I'm not a lip reader, but I'm pretty sure Manuel was saying, "Look! I don't give a crap about the call! I just need to yell at somebody about this line-up! I've been waiting all spring, signing all this happy horse crap! So just LET. ME. YELL!! OK. I feel better. Nice day, eh?"
Bot 1st - Neglected to mention this earlier, but keep an eye on the Pirates when they do get on base. They have some speed, and teams like to be aggressive on Halladay whenever they do get opportunities. Alex Pressley was going on Jose Tabata's swinging bunt. Usual good glovework by Rollins to grab a sharp groundball, and Freddy Galvis passes his first step, making a seamless transition from catching to pivoting to throwing to complete the 6-4-3 doubleplay and get Andrew McCutchen by a half step.
Top 1st - Small ball! Jimmy Rollins drops a perfect two-out bunt that dies in the grass in front of third base. Rollins attempted to bunt for a base hit six times last year and was successful on five of them. He managed just one bunt base hit apiece in 2009 and 2010. Otherwise, three fly-outs for the Phillies as Bedard throws strike one to all four batters he faces.
1:37 p.m. - Long-time Pirates scribe John Perrotto passes along this note on his Twitter feed (@jperrotto)...Roy Halladay is making his 10th consecutive opening day start. Only Jack Morris (14), Robin Roberts (12) and Tom Seaver (12) had longer streaks.
PRE-GAME - 1:13 p.m.
A quick run-down of the Pirates' line-up:
1. LF Alex Presley (LHB) - 26-year-old entering his first season as a regular. Hit .298/.339/.465 with 4 HRs and 9/12 SBs in 231 PAs last season.
2. RF Jose Tabata (RHB) - A Top 100 prospect from 2007-09, hit .266/.349/.362 with 4 HRs, 16/23 SBs in 382 PAs last season. Only 23 years old.
3. CF Andrew McCutchen (RHB) - A budding superstar, you likely know him well.
4. 2B Neil Walker (SHB) - He's a stronger hitter from the left side of the plate (.283/.343/.439, 20 HRs in 857 career PAs. So you'd rather have a lefty reliever turn him around to the right side, where he has 4 HRs in 304 PAs.
5. 1B Garrett Jones (LHB) - .753 OPS and 16 HRs last season.
6. C Rod Barajas (RHB) - In 2007, Barajas hit 4 HRs in 147 PAs for the Phillies. Since then, he has hit 8 home runs in 62 PAs against them.
7. 3B Pedro Alvarez (LHB) - One-time top prospect is coming off a dreadful sophomore season in which he hit just .191/.272/.289 in 262 PAs. At 25 years old, can he finally break out?
8. SS Clint Barmes (RHB) - He has some pop, but not much else.