Stats & Info: Ben Grieve

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: A Star is born

May, 8, 2010
Hitter of the Night

Starlin Castro, CHC: 2-5, 3B, HR, 6 RBI

Starlin Castro burst onto the national scene Friday with a six RBI performance that Cubs fans won't soon forget. The six RBI are the most in a debut in MLB history. Ben Grieve of the A's was the last to get 5, back in 1997 vs the Giants. RBI became an official stat in 1920.

Why Jered Weaver won:

- Weaver's slider was untouchable; hitters were 0-7 against slider. Entering Friday batters were hitting .368 against his slider.

- Stayed ahead of hitters; never went 2-0 in a count, went 3-1 only once

- Zero balls were put in play while he was behind in the count

Why David Price won:

- Hitters were 1-8 against curve ball (.125). Entering Friday batters were hitting .400 (6-15) against his curve ball

- According to Inside Edge, hitters had zero well-hit balls in 24 at-bats.

- Including Friday's 0-4, hitters are now 2 for 29 (.069) on the season when AHEAD in the count versus Price

Why Jamie Moyer won:

- Moyer was efficient, throwing an average of 11.7 pitches per inning with his highest inning being 19 pitches in the 8th. It is Moyer's first complete game shutout since June 2, 2006 - Off-speed pitches were working as Braves hitters were 0-16 against the change-up, slider and curve. In his last 2 starts, Moyer gave up 12 non-fastball hits.

- The off-speed was good because the Braves chased 47 percent of pitches (MLB Avg. 31 percent). Moyer also threw a strike on 70 percent of off-speed pitches thrown.

- When Moyer got behind, he still got outs. Braves hitters were 0-8 when ahead in the count. Opposing hitters were hitting .458 coming into Friday against Moyer when ahead.