Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Opening Day Preview

Baseball fans have been waiting for Thursday ever since the Giants finished off the Rangers in the World Series.  Here is a look at the six games being played tomorrow.

Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals, 1:05 PM (ET)
Pitching match-up: Derek Lowe v. Livan Hernandez
Players to watch: For the Nationals, will outfielder Michael Morse continue hitting the way he did during spring training?  The 6'5", 230 pounder hit .364 with 9 homers in 66 at-bats this spring.  For the Braves, will phenom and new starting first baseman Freddie Freeman (age 21) start out with a bang just like Jason Heyward did last season?

Detroit at New York Yankees, 1:05 PM (ET) on ESPN 
Pitching match-up: Justin Verlander v. CC Sabathia
Players to watch:  This should be a great pitching matchup, as two of the best starters in the American League face off.  Last season, Verlander went 18-9 with a 3.37 ERA, while Sabathia went 21-7 with a 3.18 ERA.

Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds, 2:10 PM (ET)
Pitching match-up: Yovani Gallardo v. Edinson Volquez
Players to watch:  Newcomer Zack Greinke has gotten the most press in Milwaukee, but Opening Day starter Yovani Gallardo may be just as good.  Last season, he went 14-7 with a 3.84 ERA and 200 strikeouts.  For Cincinnati, when will flamethrower Aroldis Chapman be used out of the bullpen, and just how hard will he throw when it is only supposed to 46 degrees at Great American Ballpark?

Los Angeles Angels at Kansas City Royals, 4:10 PM (ET)
Pitching match-up: Jered Weaver v. Luke Hochevar
Players to watch:  For the Angels, will young centerfielder Peter Bourjos continue his hot hitting on his 24th birthday, and begin to make himself a fan favorite in Anaheim?  For the Royals, will Alex Gordon, now 27 and the second overall pick in the 2005 draft, ever live up to the hype?

San Diego Padres at St. Louis Cardinals, 4:15 PM (ET) on ESPN
Pitching match-up: Tim Stauffer v. Chris Carpenter
Players to watch: Can Padres' centerfielder Cameron Maybin, who has been on everyone's radar for a long time but is still only turning 24 on Monday, finally become 5-tool star that he was predicted to be?  For St. Louis, attention will, of course, be on Albert Pujols.  Just how long will it take Prince Albert to hit his first dinger of the season.

San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers, 8:00 PM (ET) on ESPN
Pitching match-up: Tim Lincecum vs. Clayton Kershaw
Players to watch: This should be the best pitching match-up of the day (yes, better than Verlander v. Sabathia).  Lincecum already has two Cy Young awards, and Kershaw showed last season that it wouldn't really be surprise if he took home the Cy Young award at the end of this season.

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