As Requested – MLB Round-up: Opening Day – 4/17/12

Written by Flint on April 19, 2012 – 10:35 am

Hello again baseball fans. As we look out now, we see it’s been about two full weeks of the 2012 baseball season. There have been many surprises along the first dozen or so games, as well as some early season presumptions that seem to be accurate. The beauty of the early part of the season is that with everything/one still cranking up, no one can really put a finger on what early season success or futility actually means. For example, Albert Pujols has zero home runs in his new Angels uniform. No one expects that trend to last. Conversely, Atlanta’s Jason Heyward, as of the end of the Brewers series, is hitting .345 with two homers and driven in five men. Those are very good numbers but I don’t think he’ll hit .345 all season long, even though that’d be great.

Some other surprising notes are the Dodgers dominance. They are world-beaters right now. At the end of their first 10 games, they only lost one of them. Center fielder Matt Kemp is frozen bounce house playing baseball like he’s in a video game with a slash line of .487/.523/1.026 which is pure insanity. The St. Louis Cardinals are not missing their slugger at all it seems. The loss of Albert Pujols to the Angels has not slowed down this hot team, fresh off the heels of receiving their 2011 World Series rings this week. Most would say they are one of the two best teams in the league.

There are some things we figured going into this season that seem to be on track. The Tigers are going to mash all season long with 1B Price Fielder and 3B Miguel Cabrera in the middle of an already good line up and dominant starting pitching lead by 2011 reigning AL Cy Young and MVP winner, Justin Verlander. Also, the Phillies are going to continue to struggle to score runs a good bit as the season moves on. The loss of second baseman Chase Utley and first baseman Ryan Howard for the first part of the season has confirmed what I thought would be the case. They are an old and relatively shallow ball club. Pitching will have to carry them as they continue to struggle to score runs. With the right side of the Phillies infield return time still up in the air, it’ll be fun to watch them struggle to put crooked numbers on the board.

Most importantly, our Atlanta Braves. The first four games of this season was the single worst start since the 1988 Braves started 0-4 (and were 0-10 before their first win). I, along with a large number or fans, was embarrassed at the sweep of our team by the hated Mets. On top of that, dropping a fourth in a row to the lowly Astros seemed to just be too much to bear. Considering the way we ended last season, losing 20 of 30 to miss the playoffs by one game, it appeared as if nothing had changed. Of course, the old man, Chipper Jones would not allow this to happen. He, in his final season of his career, has already had some great moments. Hitting a two-run shot in his first game back in Houston while playing amazing defense, off of a surgically repaired knee that was worked on three weeks prior, reminds us all how great of a ball player he actually is. The Braves went on to take the final two games from the Astros and complete the sweep against the Brewers at home to open Turner Field for the Braves faithful. Large crowds attended booing Ryan Braun for his involvement in the banned substance scandal and chopping those tomahawks so loud it’s all you could hear. There were so many great signs that we saw in the first series at home, Jason Heyward dominating, Chipper’s comeback homerun Sunday after missing the first two games, starting pitchers Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy going at least 7 innings, and timely hitting. The start of our second series against the Mets proved to be too much for Tommy Hanson as a hanging curve to Ike Davis, Met’s 1B, he deposited into the right field seats in game one undid him in a 6-1 loss. However, in game 2, the Braves brought out the hammer and trounced Johan Santana 9-3. Santana was chased after just recording four outs, his shortest start of his career.

After the evening up the three-game set with the Mets in the fourth series of the year, the Braves ended up with a winning record, 6-5 (as of Wednesday morning). Most fans have backed off the ledge and are now starting to take a deep breath and be reminded that this is a baseball season; you’re going to lose a fair number of games no matter what.

I look forward to watching our boys of summer as the weather gets hotter and the kids get out of school. So as always, dear reader, pray for pitching, be proud of the tomahawk chop, and if you need a smile, just remember when Sid slid.

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