Stats & Info: Andres Galarraga

Friday's First Pitch

April, 1, 2011
Today’s Trivia: For the first time since 2002, Roy Oswalt will not be the Opening Day starter for the Houston Astros. Who was the Opening Day starter for the Astros in 2002?

Quick Hits: A quick look at more Opening Day longevity.

* With Vladimir Guerrero gone, the Texas Rangers will have a different Opening Day designated hitter for the 12th straight season. The last to go back-to-back was Rafael Palmeiro in 1999-2000.

Carl Crawford
* The most storied position in franchise history, the Boston Red Sox may have finally found their man in left. Carl Crawford will be the fourth different Opening Day starter in as many years. That hasn’t happened in Boston since 1973-76 when the team was transitioning from Carl Yastrzemski to Jim Rice.

* The Chicago White Sox appear set to start the same outfield trio that began the 2010 season. In the past 35 years, the White Sox have had the same Opening Day outfield in back-to-back seasons just once. That was in 2003-04 with Carlos Lee, Aaron Rowand and Magglio Ordonez.

* Here's a glimmer of hope for New York Mets fans: the Mets have won five straight games on Opening Day, the longest active Opening Day win streak. Of course, Friday starter Mike Pelfrey may not evoke memories of Johan Santana or Tom Glavine, the starting pitchers in those five Mets wins.

* Conversely, no team has a worse recent Opening Day history than the Oakland Athletics. The A's have lost six straight times on Opening Day, the longest current streak in baseball. Oakland's most recent win was 2004, which was the last Opening Day start that Tim Hudson made in an A's uniform.

* Apart from first base, the entire Minnesota Twins infield falls into this category. In its Opening Day lineup, Minnesota will have its fifth second baseman in five years and eighth shortstop in eight years. It also will be the ninth straight year that the starting third baseman is different from the year before.

* Evan Longoria will be the only player in the Tampa Bay Rays lineup who started each of the last two opening days.

* Yunel Escobar will be the Toronto Blue Jays sixth different Opening Day shortstop in six years. Russ Adams was the last to start back-to-back openers in 2005-06.

* Similarly, Josh Willingham will be the A’s 12th Opening Day leftfielder in 12 years. Ben Grieve was the last to go back-to-back.

* Carlos Beltran is expected to be the 13th different person to man right field on Opening Day for the Mets in the past 15 years. Only Ryan Church and Jeromy Burnitz managed two such starts in that span, which included the likes of Eric Valent and Butch Huskey.

* The Colorado Rockies have only had two Opening Day first basemen: Todd Helton and Andres Galarraga. Jose Lopez will be the 14th to start at second in the opener. The last to do so in back-to-back seasons was Mike Lansing (1998-2000).

* Kevin Correia will be the 15th different Opener Day starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 19 years. That’s the period since Doug Drabek left via free agency.

Trivia Answer: Wade Miller was the last Astros pitcher not named Roy Oswalt to start on Opening Day.

The Closer: Tough luck for Greinke

April, 28, 2010
Tuesday was a great day for pitching. Several hurlers dominated and home runs were more scarce than normal. In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau: the eight homerless games in the majors Tuesday was the most since October 2, 1990 (2nd-to-last day of that season), when eight of 13 games were homerless.

One player who pitched well, but probably wasn't smiling at game's end was Zack Greinke. Greinke threw seven shutout innings only to leave and see the bullpen blow it. Greinke has an excellent 2.56 ERA this season with nearly a 4 to 1 strikeout-walk ratio, but has no wins to show for it. A big reason is the Royals bullpen has blown 3 of his potential wins. Last season Greinke won his first 5 starts with an ERA of 0.50 on his way to the Cy Young Award.

Why Ubaldo Jimenez won:
- Dominant fastball: Jimenez's heater averaged 97.1 MPH, a season-high. He didn't command it particularly well with only 48.9 percent of the pitch in the strike zone (MLB avg 55.6 pct), but hitters helped him out with a 41.7 chase percentage. It was Jimenez's best on his fastball since May 16, 2008. The Diamondbacks were 1-11 against Jimenez's heater with three of his six strikeouts coming on the pitch. Jimenez didn't fall behind to many hitters going to only one 2-0 count and one 3-1 count. Jimenez also retired every leadoff batter (MLB avg 68 pct). With his league-leading fifth victory Tuesday, Ubaldo Jimenez is now 13-3 with a 2.24 ERA since August 1, 2009. No pitcher in baseball has more wins in that span. Jimenez also extended his scoreless streak to 22.1 innings - the second longest streak in baseball this year behind Mike Pelfrey's active streak of 24. Jimenez also pitched at least six innings for the 33rd time in his last 34 starts.

Why Francisco Liriano won:
- His slider is back: Liriano threw his slider 40 times, the most since coming off Tommy John surgery in 2008. Tigers hitters were 1-11 off the pitch and chased it out of the zone 63.2 percent of the time - also a best since coming off surgery. Six of his 10 strikeouts were on sliders.

Can Papi keep going?
David Ortiz (.549 OPS this season) reportedly wants to play "2 or 3" more seasons in the big leagues. While the issue of whether or not he's fit to play in the big leagues RIGHT NOW is a relevant question, it's extremely unlikely he'll be a contributor at age 36 or older. Since 1990, only 4 different 1B/DH that weighed 230 or more pounds at age 36 or older have had a season with a .850+ OPS: Frank Thomas (four times), Andres Galarraga (three times), Jim Thome (three times) and Jason Giambi (once).