I was home in NJ for the weekend, which, with the help of MLB.tv, allowed me to get my fill of baseball. Of primary concern were three series: Mets at Atlanta, A’s at Tampa Bay, and the Twins hosting Chicago.
- It was a run famine on Friday. The Mets revamped offense managed a single run (Piazza HR), spoiling a solid start by enigmatic Victor Zambrano.
- The A’s banged out 13 hits and reached three more times by walks yet managed only 2 runs. The bullpen held Tampa scoreless for four innings, but finally cracked in the 10th. The folks at Athletics Nation thought that the heckler got to Swisher. It says something about your team when there are so few people at the game that you can hear one guy heckling on television.
- The Twins only put one run on the board against the Chisox, a fact exacerbated by the horrific Chicago play-by-play team of Ken Harrelson and Darrin Jackson.
- Pretty much nothing went right on Saturday. Aaron Heilman (ND 2001) was shaky in an emergency start for the Mets. It’s incredibly aggravating watching the former first-rounder struggle year after year, despite the acquisition of pitching guru Rick Peterson. I fear that if Heilman doesn’t put it together in the next few starts, he’s going to find his way out of New York.
- Barry Zito’s line: 3.1 IP, 11 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 2 HR. I understand the economic considerations, but I’d feel much better about the A’s chances this year if we had Hudson at the front of the rotation instead of our current “ace,” Zito.
- The Twins went down early but tied it up on a Shannon Stewart 3-run HR. Brad Radke promptly gave the Sox back the lead, and they didn’t look back.
- The weekend turned around in the 8th inning of the Mets game. Braves starter John Smoltz had put 15 K’s on the board against the Metropolitans, with no sign of slowing down. A base-hit by Jose Reyes followed by a 2-run blast by Carlos Beltran gave the Mets a lead for the first time since Monday’s 9th inning meltdown. Pedro Martinez held the Braves to 3 baserunners in a dominating complete game performance. First win of the season for New York.
- We had to wait a week for Rich Harden’s 2005 debut, but once on the mound, he delivered a much needed solid performance (5.1 IP, 1 R). More importantly, the Athletics managed a few hits with runners in scoring position. Strange play of the weekend: With two outs and runners on second and third, Erubiel Durazo hit a pop-up down the third base line. It drifted foul and came down over the first row of seats. Tampa third baseman Nick Green went to the wall, reached into the stands, and had an over-anxious Devil Rays fan knock the ball out of his glove. Durazo took advantage of his second chance, stroking a single to centerfield, driving in two. I loved it.
- The Twins turned to reigning AL Cy Young winner Johan Santana to salvage a game against arch-rival White Sox, and Supernatural came through (7 IP, 2 R, 11 K). Torii Hunter provided the offense with 4 RBI, and Minnesota got the victory. Matthew LeCroy is not Doug Mientkiewicz, nor is he Justin Morneau, as several plays on the right side of the infield turned into adventures this weekend, including two in this game.
It wasn’t the best weekend for my teams, but they picked it up on Sunday and got me pumped to see baseball in person again. I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tomorrow as I fly back to the Bay Area for the A’s home opener.