Quite possibly the best 2-word phrase in the English language, right up there with "Free Booze
." The sun was shining a little brighter (at least I think it was, it's pouring here - Oakland is about 180 miles from here, so I'm not sure if or how it'll affect the game), the grass was a little greener and the pretty California girls were a little prettier this morning walking to school, all because the 5+ month wait for meaningful baseball is finally over.
For those that missed it, I already put my 2 cents in as far as predictions
, and also explained why I want Moose starting tonight
As far as tonight's game goes (as well as the series), here's a couple of things I noticed about the A's from watching their last couple of spring games:
- Nick Swisher is en fuego; fastball, breaking ball, change - he's tattooing everything right now. Swish went .342-.402-.548-.950 this spring, including a line drive HR and a frozen rope double in his final spring start Saturday off a certain 21-yr old Giants pitcher who shall remain nameless. Even though he's a much better hitter from the left side than the right, if he's in the lineup against the Unit tonight, you now know why.
- Justin Duchscherer picked up right where he left off last year, quietly serving as one of the AL's top 5 set-up guys. He's been lights out this spring, hurling 8 innings while yielding 7 hits to go along with 11 K. His curve has it's usual vicious bite, and it's dropping so far the ball needs a parachute.
- Huston Street has been so-so since returning from the WBC, throwing 8.1 IP and giving up 13 H, 6 R (all earned) while only K'ing 6. His pitches are still moving like they did last year and the velocity is certainly there, but his location has been somewhat erratic. In 2 of his final 3 spring starts he gave up a run and multiple hits.
- Something's wrong with Kiko Calero, his control has all but deserted him and four times this spring he reached his pitch limit before recording 3 outs. I may be an after-effect of the WBC, where he was used as a starter for Puerto Rico rather than his usual bullpen duties.
- Frank Thomas isn't standing so upright in his stance anymore, he's bent down a bit which is allowing him to get to the ball quicker - as result, he's pulling everything. Plus, he just looks mean.
So what do I think is going to happen tonight? I'm thinking it'll be a tight game with Barry Zito and Randy Johnson locked up in a semi-pitchers duel for 6+ innings. I think both Huston Street and Mo Rivera will make appearances tonight, although only Mo's will come in a save opportunity. Damon will continue to struggle on Opening Day (career .081 BA on Opening Day), but Derek Jeter (2 for 3 with 2 runs and a walk) and the Yanks overcome a 3-run bomb by the Big Hurt to win 4-3.
The only thing that bites about the game tonight is that with it starting at 7 pm Pacific time, I'm gonna miss 24. Oh well, it's not like the uber-hot Elisha Cuthbert
is a regular anymore.
Finally, let the games begin!Weekly Poll
: More than 60% of you would like to see Nick Johnson back in pinstripes (edging out Dioner Navarro by about 15%), and I firmly agree, although his lack of durability is worthy of significant concern. But no love for Juan Rivera was somewhat surprising to me, he'd be pretty useful off the bench right now. Anyway, the new question is up, and thanks for voting.FYI
: This has nothing to do with the Yankees, but now that the Bensons' split up, Scott Podsednik's old lady Lisa Dergan
gets my vote as baseball's hottest housewife (hat tip goes out to DA Humber
, whose Baseball Central
blog is one of the best keep secrets on the web).