Quick thoughts on Thursday's action ...
One of the fun things about opening week is overreacting to just a few game results. Hey, we all do it. So when the Toronto Blue Jays lost their first two games and then saw the Cleveland Indians score three runs in the sixth Thursday to tie the game 6-6, I could see the panic in the faces of Jays fans all the way out here in Connecticut. Three losses at home to the Indians to begin the season? Not the way the baseball renaissance in Toronto was supposed to begin. Fortunately, they were facing Brett Myers, and Brett Myers wasn't good on this night. J.P. Arencibia homered off Myers (the fourth he allowed on the night) and then Colby Rasmus (maybe this is the year!) blasted a long run off reliever Cody Allen. An error led to a third run in the inning. The Indians did rally in the eighth, but two outstanding plays by second baseman Emilio Bonifacio protected a 9-8 lead. With two runners on, he dove to his right to keep the ball in the infield and prevent the tying run from scoring. Then he robbed Carlos Santana with a great play up the middle. Oh Jose Bautista is back. Look out, American League.
Watched a lot of the Philadelphia Phillies-Atlanta Braves game, initially to check out Kris Medlen to see if we would see 2012 Medlen -- when he made 12 starts after moving to the rotation and allowed just 11 runs. Instead we saw vintage Cliff Lee: 8 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 hits, 8 strikeouts. Lee suffered one of the great hard-luck seasons ever last year, winning just six games in 30 starts despite a 3.16 ERA. He allowed two or fewer runs in 15 starts and won just those six games. He didn't get much run support in this game but didn't need it, throwing 78 of 106 pitches for strikes in Philadelphia's 2-0 victory. Here's Lee talking about his outing, which, considering the lineups each faced, was every bit as impressive as Yu Darvish's near-perfect game.
Chris Davis was one of the surprises for the Baltimore Orioles last year, hitting .270 and slugging 33 home runs. He's had about as good a three-game start as you can have, hitting .636 with three home runs and 11 RBIs. He homered and doubled to drive in four runs in a 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays to give the Orioles the series win. He's going to go through slumps because of his high strikeout rate, and you wish he'd walk a little more, but I think he can be a 30-homer guy again.
Interesting strategy in the ninth inning of the Los Angeles Angels-Cincinnati Reds game. Reds up 5-4, Mike Trout led off the ninth with a single off Aroldis Chapman. Instead of letting Trout run, Erick Aybar sacrificed him to second. So that means your next two guys have to hit .500 off Chapman to tie the game. Baserunners were 5-for-6 stealing against Chapman last year, so he's only so-so at holding guys on; I think you have to try the steal there instead of giving away the out. Trout -- remember he was 49-for-54 stealing in 2012 -- swipes second and then you can bunt him to third. Albert Pujols is a good contact guy (he ended up lining out to right) and then you don't need a hit to tie the game. Here's Chapman making Josh Hamilton look bad to end the game. (Keep an eye on Pujols' sore foot; he might be the designated hitter over the weekend after he was seen hobbling earlier in the game.)