Today was a good day. With Major League Baseball getting into full-swing, it was a day I could enjoy being unemployed and home for the day. From 1 p.m. to past midnight games were all over ESPN and we were treated to some pretty intense performances. It was a rare thing to be treated to when you don't have MLB Network.
Here is a list of 5 things that stood out to me on Opening Day:
Albert Pujols is still amazing. He jacks up Aaron Harang in his first at bat and then he hit a bullet over the right field wall in the seventh off of Mike Lincoln. He slipped in a couple of singles around his homers to compile a 4 for 5 day. It's scary how good he is and how consistent he is. I'll have to lower my standards and by a Mets ticket to see him this year, but it will be worth every penny.
Mark Buehrle is a funny pitcher to watch. Really he just seems like a young version of Jamie Moyer. Yet it seems like every time I look to see what he is up to he does something amazing. First the no-hitter in 2007, then the perfect game in 2009 and now this crazy defensive play to help him pitch seven innings of three-hit baseball to earn a 6-0 win over the Indians. Early on in the day I thought Colby Rasmus robbing Scott Rolen at the wall would be the play of the day and then Buerhle whipped the circus act. Sure the play had an element of luck to it, but I still think it is a very early contender for Play of the Year.
Carlos Zambrano is done. He was smoked by the Braves and after he was spotted a 3-0 lead in the top of the first he was barely able to escape the first inning. I was never that high on Zambrano. There was a time when he had good stuff and got good results. Still, I always thought his lack of command, both in terms of pitching and his emotions, would end him. It appears his lack of pitching command is the first thing to go. Also, Alfonso Soriano looked terrible too. Soriano has been downhill for a while now, but every at bat looks the same now. The pitcher just throws junk low and away and Soriano always hacks at it. If he hits the ball hard its only because the pitcher made a mistake.
That leads me to Jason Heyward. I managed to see him a couple of times during spring training and was impressed by his approach. It was a really nice moment to see him jack a three-run home run off of Zambrano in his first major league at bat with his parents in the stands. The kid can hit and I'm sure we'll see a lot more of him. His day was slightly overshadowed by Yunel Escobar's five-RBI day. This could be the breakout season for Escobar as the young Cuban has made positive strides each year of his career.
Tim Lincecum really is a freak and I love it. Watching him tool the Astros (I know it isn't that hard to tool the Astros especially without Berkman) was a thing of beauty. Unlike last year when he struggled through his first two starts, Lincecum was on point from the first pitch. I would like to see him keep it up because it would be fun to see him make a run at 300 strikeouts, something a righthander hasn't done since Curt Schilling in 2002.