Opening Day action:
Kyle Lohse: Did anyone see that start coming? The opening of new Marlins Ballpark was spoiled by the dominant Lohse and the rest of the Cardinals line-up as they pounded out 13 hits and came away with a 4-1 victory. The dominate Lohse went 7.1 innings of two hit ball giving up one run and striking out three without allowing a walk. The first game in the post-LaRussa era went about as well as it could have for new manager Mike Matheny. David Freese picked up right where he left off in last years World Series with a 3-for-5 day at the plate while driving in two runs. So far, so good for the Pujols-less Cards.
On Thursday the Cincinnati Reds continued the NL Central domination of the Miami Marlins, shutting them out 4-0 in their home opener at Great American Ballpark. Reds' starter Johnny Cueto pitched 7.0 scoreless innings allowing only three hits while striking out four Marlins batters. Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall each recorded two K's in their respective perfect innings of relief. Jay Bruce homered and drove in two. Newly minted extremely rich man Joey Votto went 1-for-3 with a walk.
The Pittsburgh Pirates had the misfortune of facing Roy Hallady and the Phillies for their season opening contest and continued the theme of dominate pitching performances. In just about any other situation the six hits and one run over 7.0 innings by Pirates starter Erik Bedard would put him in line for a victory. That, however, proved to not be good enough as Halladay went 8.0 innings allowing only two hits and striking out five. Carlos Ruiz led the Phillies offense with a 3-for-3 day at the plate, as well as driving in the only run of the game with a sac fly in the top of the 7th inning.
As has been the norm for these early games, the Cubs home opener against the Nationals also featured two great pitching performances. Nationals starter, Steven Strausburg, gave up five hits and one run over 7.0 strong innings. Ryan Dempster countered with 7.2 innings of two hit one run ball. Dempster dominated the Nats with 10 K's while walking three. The Cubs took a 1-0 lead, thanks to an RBI single by Marlon Byrd in bottom of the 4th, into the 8th inning. That's when the wheels fell off the Cubs. Kerry Wood replaced Dempster with a runner on 1st and promptly walked Ryan Zimmerman, threw a wild pitch, then walked Andy LaRoche. Wood then walked Jayson Werth allowing the tying run to cross the plate. Carlos Marmol came in to pitch the 9th and gave up a double to Chad Tracy and a single to Ian Desmond, which drove in what turned out to be the winning run. The bottom of the 9th wasn't without it's own fireworks. Ian Stewart hit a one-out triple only to have pinch runner Joe Mather thrown out at home on a ground ball to third by Jeff Baker. Marlon Byrd then struck out to end the game giving new Cubs manager Dale Sveum a loss in his managerial debut.
So here is how the NL Central currently stands:
On tap for today:
The Brewers open their 2012 campaign at Miller Park at 3:10 p.m. CDT against the St. Louis Cardinals. Yovani Gallardo toes the rubber against the Cards and is opposed by Jaime Garcia in the first of a three game series.
The Houston Astros also get their 2012 regular season underway at home today in a game against the Colorado Rockies at 6:05 p.m. CDT. Wandy Rodriguez will take the hill against Rockies newcomer Jeremy Guthrie.
The Reds, Cubs and Pirates all have an off day before resuming play on Saturday.