|Wins for Torre and Santana, washouts in the Bronx and St. Louis|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 31 March 2008 19:26|
Yankee Stadium's 84th and final home opener was rained out Monday, as was the Cardinals' opener in St. Louis.
There were a pair of delays at Wrigley Field as the Chicago Cubs began their 100th season since winning the World Series the same way so many of their seasons have ended - with a loss.
But there was plenty of baseball, too, with Joe Torre winning his first game as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Johan Santana getting the victory in his debut with the New York Mets.
``I called several of my players - my former players, I should say - to wish them luck,'' Torre said before the game, adding he heard back from Yankees manager Joe Girardi, catcher Jorge Posada and shortstop Derek Jeter.
``The guys I've been with, I basically called and wished them luck,'' Torre said. ``They meant a lot to me. We had a great relationship.''
Detroit's $138 million Tigers opened with a thud, losing 5-4 to visiting Kansas City in 11 innings, while Tampa Bay won 6-2 at Baltimore, Seattle defeated visiting Texas 5-2 and Minnesota beat Torii Hunter and the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 at the Metrodome.
In the NL, Milwaukee beat the Cubs 4-3 in 11 innings, Los Angeles defeated visiting San Francisco 5-0, the Mets won 7-2 at Florida, Arizona won 4-2 at Cincinnati, Washington won 11-6 at Philadelphia, Pittsburgh outlasted Atlanta 12-11 in 12 innings at Turner Field, and San Diego blanked Houston 4-0.
The World Series champion Boston Red Sox and Oakland officially began the season last week when they split a two-game series in Tokyo. And in the first game at Nationals Park, Washington defeated Atlanta on Sunday night.
But the other 26 teams were scheduled to get under way Monday. With baseball now starting in March some years and the World Series threatening to stretch in November, weather increasingly factors into the start and finish.
In the Bronx, the tarp was still on the field when New York's game against Toronto was called after a wait of approximately 85 minutes. Players never got introduced, and Girardi's debut as Yankees manager was postponed.
``You want to get the first one in,'' Alex Rodriguez said. ``Just have to wait.''
St. Louis led NL champion Colorado 5-1 in the third inning behind an Albert Pujols homer when its game was stopped, then called after a 1:39 wait. The Blue Jays and Yankees, and Rockies and Cardinals will play makeups Tuesday night.
At Wrigley Field, Tony Gwynn hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning for Milwaukee. Kosuke Fukudome went 3-for-3, hitting a tying, three-run homer in the ninth off winner Eric Gagne, but it wasn't enough for the Cubs, who haven't even reached the World Series since 1945.
Because of the 100th anniversary, even more attention has been focused on the Cubs' travails.
``How do I view it? ... It's not something I came up with, believe me,'' manager Lou Piniella said before the game. ``It seems rather improbable. I mean a long time.''
Santana struck out eight and allowed three hits in seven dominant innings, David Wright hit a three-run double and New York opened its season with a 7-2 win.
``It's always good to get the first one out of the way,'' Santana said. ``I wasn't trying to put anything in my head or anything. Just another game, another opening day, different uniform, lot of expectations. But I felt good.''
If only the Mets had Santana last September, when they blew a seven-game lead in the NL East with 17 games left. The collapse became complete when the Marlins scored seven times off Tom Glavine in the first inning on the season's final day.
Santana was traded to the Mets from Minnesota this winter and wound up signing a $137.5 million, six-year contract with New York.
Arizona's Brandon Webb allowed three hits and a pair of runs in six innings. He hadn't gotten a victory in his two previous opening-day starts.
Pitching against the team he followed as a youth, the northern Kentucky native finally won an opener with a six-strikeout performance. More than two dozen relatives and friends found a way to get tickets for the sold-out game in Cincinnati.
``We had a lot of people, but I think half of them were from Webb's hometown,'' Dusty Baker said after his debut as Cincinnati's manager. ``He pitched an outstanding game against us. That's not the outcome you want to have.''
At Philadelphia, Nick Johnson's tiebreaking RBI double off Tom Gordon highlighted a five-run ninth inning. Gordon has a 135.00 ERA.
``It wasn't my day,'' Gordon said. ``You definitely don't want to start that way.''