Before this game even started, the cynical "19 straight losing seasons" voice in my head said something: "What if the Pirates get no-hit today?" It was a scary thought; Roy Halladay is an all-time great and he would only be the second pitcher in history to throw a no-hitter on Opening Day. It'd be something that would go down in history forever. We know he's got no-hit stuff, we know the Pirates aren't the best offensive lineup in the league. What if it happened. And then Alex Presley singled and Jose Tabata singled to start the game and I sighed to myself and laughed that I'd been so concerned. Maybe Halladay wasn't quite in mid-season form yet, I said to myself.
As it turns out, he was and if not for Presley and Tabata's hits, the Pirates might very well be a historical footnote this afternoon. Halladay cruised on through eight innings without giving up another hit, only allowing Andrew McCutchen and Clint Barmes to reach base after being hit by pitches. Really, aside from the two leadoff hits, McCutchen's sharply hit DP right at Jimmy Rollins, and two deep flyouts to left field by Neil Walker and Barmes, the Pirates didn't even seem to make solid contact the rest of the afternoon. Roy Halladay is Roy Halladay and he did what Roy Halladay does. It's tempting to feel discouraged after a shutout like this, but Halladay can have a game like this against virtually anyone. It's just not fair to say anything else.
What I do feel comfortable saying is that Erik Bedard was excellent today. For a guy that occasionally struggles with control, he hit his spots very, very well and he did a great job changing speeds. His fastball was maybe a touch slow (it looked like it sat at 89 instead, as opposed to 91 last year), but he used it very effectively, especially when he was ahead in the count. He scattered six hits and a walk across seven innings and even though the Phillies' lineup is a bit depleted right now and would've been good enough to beat most pitchers not named Halladay. So it goes sometimes.
- ROOT's new centerfield camera angle at PNC is spectacular. Their previous off-set camera was incredibly bad and while it's occasionally distracting to see the pitcher block home plate, this is a huge, huge upgrade over what they had before. There's a lot of ROOT-bashing that goes on online, but give them credit where it's due.
- Neil Walker looked pretty good at second base today. See, I can say nice things about his defense.
- Juan Cruz had an impressive inning and Chris Resop at least looked decent despite allowing two base runners in his one inning of work.
- I think if the Pirates had one more hard hit ball to John Mayberry in left, he would've misplayed it into a double and maybe the Bucs could've gotten something going. He took awful routes to both of the hard hit balls from Walker and Barmes.
- Barmes's flyout went to the warning track in deep left center. It's too early to say I told you so, but ...
When we lose on Opening Day, it's like going to your Aunt's on Christmas Day to get a bad sweater... It's still Christmas, but blech
Glanicing at their dimensions, it looks like Barmes's fly ball would've been out of any other park in the NL Central. Yes, I am shamelessly looking for a silver lining.
The majority of Barmes' homers last year were on the road, not in Houston. It wouldn't surprise me if Barmes only hits 2 or 3 home runs at PNC this year but he could still reach double digits which isn't bad for a glove first SS.
The one thing I took from this game was how good the pitching looked. Bedard's pitched a hell of a game, and the three pitchers combined for eight strikeouts. Hopefully their bats will show up on Saturday, won't face a perennial Cy Young candidate every night.