1st inning: Who's Alex Thornton, FSN Detroit?
Gil Meche has his stuff going. Two biting, nasty curveballs to Gary Sheffield for called strikes. A sorta tense moment when Miguel "One Error and Counting" Cabrera came up with two on, but I didn't feel very threatened, for some reason. You just knew, somehow, Meche was going to get the out.
12:28 p.m. Central: I hope it rains all day in New York.
Pithy summary: First run of season
12:31 p.m.: The Royals just had a two-minute inning. Justin Verlander might throw a perfect game if not for Cabrera's first-inning error. I don't think he'll throw a no-hitter though.
12:37 p.m.: Jacque Jones, the easiest out in this Tigers lineup, is down two strikes.
12:37 p.m.: And a strikeout, Jones chasing a bouncing fastball.
12:41 p.m.: Meche just hit 96 on the gun. That's a very good sign.
12:42 p.m.: He came back with a curve ball in the zone, but Edgar Renteria had the good sense to stay with it and take it back up the middle for an RBI-single. A flyout on the first pitch to the next batter followed, so the damage was contained.
Pithy summary: Jose Guillen will kill you at home with his bare arm
12:49 p.m.: Tony Pena Jr.'s not on pace for two triples this Opening Day, like last year. Three strikeouts, yes.
12:54 p.m.: Bottom of the 3rd, and Sheffield just led off with a check-swing strikeout. I kind of wish these announcers would resume their previous conversation about the Royals looking "much improved" on paper. They left that subject with something about one winning season since 1994...
12:56 p.m.: Cabrera will start hitting sometime this season. A torrid stretch where he bats .620 over two and a half weeks or something. And when he does, I want the Royals to be far, far away.
12:57 p.m.: A curveball at Carlos Guillen's knees was just called a ball. Meche needs that pitch from the umps.
12:58 p.m.: JOSE GUILLEN! First highlight of the season! WOW what a throw! That one's going to be on SportsCenter.
"You don't want to run on him," the announcer said. Magglio Ordonez, dead at home.
Pithy summary: Billy Butler is awesome
1:04 p.m.: Mark Grudzielanek's reaction after he got hit on his left hand by a Verlander fastball was something straight out of an action movie, where a guy gets shot in the back and goes down in a heap.
1:08 p.m.: Billy Butler, first base hit of the year.
1:09 p.m.: Apparently David DeJesus re-aggravated a twisted ankle suffered during spring training, which was why he got replaced by Joey Gathright.
1:13 p.m.: Mark Teahen grounds out to end the small rally.
Pithy summary: A nation's eyes looks upon Royals-Tigers
1:10 p.m.: Meche's fifth strikeout.
1:19 p.m.: Brandon Inge drove a ball into left-center, where Gathright cut it off to prevent a run from scoring. Still, second and third with one out...
1:20 p.m.: There are rain delays in New York, Cincinnati and Chicago, which means ESPN has no option but to show Royals-Tigers, and baseball fans everywhere get a chance to watch Meche do his thing on this deadly Tigers lineup. Last year, you'll remember, an entire nation watched as Meche beat the Curt Schilling and the Red Sox. This is good.
1:22 p.m.: Bases loaded: not as good. But double play possibility.
1:23 p.m.: A sinking, slicing drive by Placido Polanco went straight to Guillen. "The majority of outfielders in the Major Leagues, you challenge him in this situation with the game so close," said the announcer. "But Jose Guillen's reputation precedes him..."
1:24 p.m.: Pass him the dunce cap! Sheffield just whiffed on an off-speed pitch and looked awful doing it.
1:26 p.m.: For the second time today, Sheffield draws a walk after going down 0-2, though on a very, very questionable call. The ball was apparently a skin below his knees.
1:29 p.m.: Five Ks against this Tigers lineup isn't bad. Should've been six though. We go to the 5th...
Pithy summary: Who's looking good? Hillman's looking good
1:32 p.m.: Our first good shot of Trey Hillman, chewing gum, glaring out at the ump, who made a point to admonish him for something or other.
1:34 p.m.: Tony Pena strikes out again.
Bottom of the 5th
1:37 p.m.: Mickey, the FSN auxiliary reporter (or whatever you call him), just accused a fan of being a bandwagon fan, chuckling loudly along the way. What an ass.
1:38 p.m.: Miguel Cabrera home run, 3-0 Detroit.
Pithy summary: 394 feet
1:47 p.m.: Gordon! Alex! Absolutely crushed a Verlander fastball into the right-field seats.
Pithy summary: The end of Justin Verlander
1:58 p.m.: 3-2 Detroit. The tying run, Mark Teahen, gets on base via walk.
2:00 p.m.: Ross Gload smokes a low liner back up the middle, and Teahen, running on the pitch, gets to third base. Guess who's done? Justin Verlander's done.
Pithy summary: Tie game! Wait... Royals lead!
2:04 p.m.: Announcer: "You would like to get the strikeout here to set up a double play possibility, but unfortunately the next two batters can both run, Tony Pena and Joey Gathright."
Uh... how about hope for striking out the side?
2:05 p.m.: John Buck singles cleanly to tie the game at three. Pena will bunt here.
Bunting... hmm... this theme sounds familiar.
2:07 p.m.: Two bunt attempts, two strikes. "I wouldn't be shocked if he tries to bunt again," the announcer says. "I really wouldn't."
2:08 p.m.: Pena chops one up the middle off Jason Grilli's glove. One out, runner on first and third, new pitcher coming in. Seeing as both Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya are hurt, the Tigers' middle relief really is their exposed underbelly. Let's see what Gathright can do (I say single or double).
2:12 p.m.: Line-out to short.
2:14 p.m. Another pitcher, Aquilino Lopez. Grudzielanek up, Gordon on deck!
2:16 p.m.: RBI SINGLE! Just when the commentator said Grudzielanek was the guy he'd least like to see at the plate. Good call, man. 4-3 Royals!
2:16 p.m.: Gordon flies out to end the inning. Mahay, Yabuta, Soria. C'mon, bullpen!
2:17 p.m.: ESPN cuts to a highlight of Jim Thome hitting a home run in Cleveland, and you can hear Hawk screaming in the background, "You can put it on the boarrrrrrrd, yeeeeeessssss!"
God I love baseball.
Pithy summary: Tomko, Tomko, Tomko
2:20 p.m.: Brett Tomko? [Sigh] Okay, let's go, Royals.
2:22 p.m.: Sheffield's a tough out, no doubt. But a third walk of the day off a 3-2 count? "Kiss of death," says the commentator. Man.
2:26 p.m.: There's your kiss of death: double play. Here's Cabrera again.
2:28 p.m.: 94 mph right over the outside edge of the plate for a called strike. Tuned it up to 96 on the next pitch and Cabrera missed a 500-ft home run by inches. Be careful, Brett.
2:29 p.m.: Blew a 95 mph fastball by him. Yes!!! Take a seat, kid!
Pithy summary: Just one mistake
2:34 p.m.: Good thing that wasn't Curtis Granderson in center field. As is, Teahen cruises into third for a two-out triple. Nothing comes of it though. On to the 8th. Who's it going to be, Ron Mahay or Yasuhiko Yabuta? My money's on Mahay, to tell you the truth.
2:39 p.m.: Hmm, it's Tomko still. And hmm, there goes a Carlos Guillen home run. Well.
2:43 p.m.: Strike out of Inge to end the inning. A solo home run followed by a quick 1-2-3 inning: those are the worst. Just one mistake was the difference. Just one mistake.
Luckily for the Royals, Todd Jones is set to come into the game.
Pithy summary: Opening Day is fun
2:48 p.m.: Quickly, around the Majors:
- The final home opener in historic Yankee Stadium has been postponed due to rain.
- Kosuke Fukudome, in front of a packed Wrigley Field crowd, hit a first-pitch double to dead center. That's the way you start a career in Chicago.
- Chris Young of the D-backs went upper-deck on Aaron Harang.
- Mark Buehrle is done after recording just five outs. The Indians hung seven on him in the 2nd, this after Thome gave the White Sox an early 2-0 lead. Victor Martinez goes 2-for-2 in the inning, then leaves after hurting himself on an awkward slide into second.
Pithy summary: Into extra innings
2:57 p.m.: Leo Nunez looked pretty awesome there in that strikeout.
3:00 p.m.: You know, I'm okay with Sheffield walking four times, I really am. I know he's not as dangerous as he once was, but I for one am still petrified of that bat-wag.
3:06 p.m.: Grudzielanek gets on base again, a single through the hole.
3:10 p.m.: What's Hillman going to do with Esteban German (pinch-running) on first and Gordon up with a 3-1 count?
3:10 p.m.: Nothing. 3-2 count.
3:10 p.m.: Gordon takes strike three looking, even though the pitch was outside. German successfully steals second.
3:12 p.m.: Denny Bautista just hit 99 mph on the gun throwing out of the stretch. Guillen's 0 for 5 today.
3:13 p.m.: Butler just hit an absolute rope to left field, but it hooked right into Jacque Jones's glove. Another inning, nothing doing. On we march.
Pithy summary: Soria Time
3:20 p.m.: "This Nunez has looked very good since coming into the game," the commentator says, just as Nunez blows a 96 mph fastball by Pudge Rodriguez for his third strikeout in two innings.
3:25 p.m.: Very nice sacrifice bunt by Ross Gload to advance Teahen to second. Then John Buck singled up the middle, but Teahen was gunned down at home.
Not a bad decision at all to send Teahen, but the throw by Inge was, in a word, perfect.
So it goes.
3:28 p.m.: With Buck in scoring position, Pena's fought off three nasty pitches with the count 1-2. Then, wouldn't you know... he singles. Off a nasty breaking ball.
My reaction: "Yes!" Then, realizing the odds against what just happened happening: "YES! YES!!!"
Royals up 5-4 after Pena's single.
3:31 p.m.: Pena should steal second.
While Bautista is feigning throws over to first, let me reiterate that the odds against Tony Pena, of all people, hitting an RBI single in the situation he did were astronomical. He had struck out three times this game, you know.
3:32 p.m.: Another pitch-out. Pena still not running. He will be now though.
3:33 p.m.: Pudge passed ball. Runner advances to second. Then Gathright walks, so all those pitch-outs and whatever were for naught.
3:33 p.m.: Joakim Soria is warming up. Doesn't knowing that make you warm and fuzzy?
3:34 p.m.: The announcer may be glad that Grudzielanek is out of the game, but for my money, German's a fine substitute.
3:36 p.m.: Strikeout. That's okay. SORIA TIME.
Pithy summary: This is your 2008 Royals, you good people of the world
3:40 p.m.: Earlier I wrote that Clete Thomas was in left. My bad. It was Jacque Jones (correction appended). Clete Thomas is the guy hitting a leadoff double off Soria...
3:41 p.m.: Inge sacrifice bunt.
3:43 p.m.: Strike three not called (possibly a little inside) on Edgar Renteria.
3:44 p.m.: Strike three not called again (okay, it was a little -- but just a little) off the outside corner.
3:44 p.m.: If you can't get the call, get the batter to chase. Hard slider for strike three on Renteria. 11th strikeout for Royals pitchers on the day.
3:45 p.m.: This ump is really squeezing Soria.
3:45 p.m.: Hard-hit ball to the left side, and I think, Damn, tie game. Next thing I know, Gordon's on the dirt, fully extended, and the ball's nowhere to be seen. He pops up, throws perfectly to first, and the Royals are undefeated on the year.
Great, great win. Fantastic game that had a little of everything. This is Royals baseball, and this is what it's going to be like all season. For all those disbelievers out there, I know one game probably won't send you bolting for the bandwagon, but just let me ask this: if not now, when? And no, I don't mean to quote that Coke ad. I'm just saying... if not now, when? This is it, people. Returns to glory always start somewhere, and why not here, why not now?