The anticipated duel between multiple Cy Young Award winners went off the rails early, as Tim Lincecum yielded 4 runs on 4 hits and a walk before getting the second out. He settled down, but finished by allowing 5 runs in 6 IP, the third straight time this year that he’s allowed 5+ runs (and fourth straight dating to 2011). He has not otherwise been touched for 5+ runs more than two straight starts at any point in his career.

  • Does anyone answer the Opening Day bell better than Roy Halladay? Since 2007, his record in his first three starts is 15-1 with a 1.97 ERA and 0.96 WHIP.
  • It was  Halladay’s first win (and first quality start) in three games in San Francisco; he now has a win in 32 different MLB parks, including Estadio Hiram Bithorn in Puerto Rico. The only parks where he’s started and never won are Wrigley Field (0-3 in 3 starts), the defunct Shea Stadium (0-2 in 2 starts), the new Busch Stadium (no decision in his only start), and some confection known as Disney’s Wide World of Sports (0-1 in his lone start).

There’s old school, and then there’s Jim Leyland. In Kansas City Monday, Justin Verlander carried a 3-1 lead into the 9th in search of his first win. But with two out, he allowed a run-scoring single on a 3-1 pitch, then loaded the bases by walking Mitch Maier with four straight balls and hitting Alcides Escobar with his next offering. That was also his 126th pitch, and brought up leadoff man Alex Gordon. Closer Jose Valverde was ready in the bullpen.

Who could have guessed that Verlander would not only stay in the game, but strike out Gordon with a 100-MPH fastball on pitch #131 for the AL’s first complete game win of 2012?

  • The last 130-pitch outing within a team’s first 10 games was in 2002 by Randy Johnson.
  • In both of his prior starts, Verlander saw wins slip away in the 9th, and many had written off his chance of matching or topping last year’s 24 wins. And the odds on that are still very slim, but keep in mind: After seven starts last year, Verlander was 2-3 with a 3.75 ERA. He tossed a no-hitter in start #8, and from that point on, he went 22-2, 2.08.
  • In fact, April has always been his cruelest month; even with this win, Verlander’s career line for the opening month is 10-15, 4.45. His record in all other months is 98-43 (.695), 3.33.
  • In 20 career starts vs. KC, Verlander is 14-2, 2.37. He has beaten them 5 starts in a row.
  • He took the loss, but young lefty Danny Duffy had his second strong start of the year. In 12.2 IP, he has allowed 3 runs on 8 hits, with 5 walks and 15 strikeouts. He has half of KC’s four Quality Starts through 10 games. Duffy’s minor-league stats suggest a bright future.

Steve Lombardozzi hit a go-ahead 2-run double in the 6th as Washington improved to 8-3. Lombo collected 4 hits in his 19th career game; it took his dad 387 tries to notch the only 4-hit game of his career.

  • Was it a rainy night, or has Strasburg-mania run its course? The crowd of 16,245 was Washington’s first of under 25,000 this year, and the first of less than 21,000 ever to watch Strasburg in any MLB park.
  • Houston’s J.D. Martinez had his season-opening 9-game hitting streak stopped, registering the first golden sombrero of his career.

Carl Pavano got his first win over the Yankees in five career games. He’s now beaten 28 teams, all but the Reds & Cardinals (three starts each).

  • OF Clete Thomas, who went from Detroit’s bench to the waiver wire to the Twins’ starting lineup, is a career .254/.338/93 hitter (that’s BA/OBP/OPS+) in the majors, about the same as his career AAA numbers. But it’s always good to have a Clete in the majors, whatever his actual merits.
  • Freddy Garcia‘s first two starts of 2011: 12 IP, no runs. Of 2012: 10.1 IP, 9 runs.
  • Minnesota’s 7 RBI were distributed among 7 different players, as were their 7 Runs.
  • Joe Mauer had 2 doubles, raising his total of extra-base hits to 3.
  • Win Probability Added so far by Minnesota’s former MVPs: Mauer -0.195; Justin Morneau -0.152 (0 for 8 with RISP).

For the third straight start, Erik Bedard took a loss while allowing 2 runs or less, matching the longest such streak of this century (done five other times). Pittsburgh has scored a total of 2 runs in Bedard’s outings and 19 runs for the season’s first 10 games.

  • As usual this year, Chris Young was the offensive engine for Arizona. Young is tied for 2nd in NL OPS (1.392), and leads the majors with 1.258 Win Probability Added (Matt Kemp is 6th at 0.956). Young is batting .405, the rest of the D-backs .219. He has struck out just 5 times in the first 10 games, half his career rate, and has more walks than Ks. (More from Buster Olney.)

The A’s were shut out for the third time this year. They’re averaging 2.5 R/G and batting .198 over all and .130 with RISP (9 for 69).

Hector Santiago, recently anointed closer for the White Sox, blew a 2-run lead in the 9th on a leadoff HR by Nolan Reimold and a 2-out blast by Adam Jones. Matt Wieters had his second career 2-HR game, including a grand slam that capped Baltimore’s 6-run 10th.

  • The last Orioles extra-inning outburst of at least 6 runs was way back in 1970, a 14th-inning rally that started off Jose Santiago.
  • The win went to Pedro Strop, who pitched the last 2 innings perfectly. Since being dealt from Texas to Baltimore last September, Strop has allowed just 2 runs in 19.1 IP.
  • Robin Ventura’s choice of closer has raised some eyebrows. Although Santiago was used in relief for his first 4 pro seasons, he never got above Class A. Last year they made him a starter and he did pretty well, with a 3.60 ERA in 23 starts split between high-A and AA.  He made his big-league debut last July with 2 relief outings.

Dillon Gee and the Mets bullpen held Atlanta to 5 singles and a walk, and Tommy Hanson learned the folly of throwing five straight curveballs to a lefty slugger — especially with a runner on 3rd in a tie game (so you don’t want to bounce ‘em).

  • The laser shot by Ike Davis was the Mets’ first 3-run HR this year. In 15 ABs with RISP this year, it was just his second hit and his first RBIs.
  • The Mets have beaten the Braves 4 straight this year and 5 in row over all, both matching their longest win streaks against Atlanta since 1989.

With a season-high 14 hits, the Padres raised their team BA from .191 to .210.

  • Runs per team-game in Coors Field so far: 5.79. In all other NL parks: 3.89.
  • Out of 59 pitchers with at least 500 IP over the past 3 years, Jeremy Guthrie has the 3rd-highest HR rate. So, naturally, the Rockies had to have him.

Whatever his investment, Kevin Youkilis is off to a very poor start. Besides the surface numbers, he’s 0 for 7 with a GIDP in high-leverage situations, contributing to a WPA of -0.655 that’s next-to-last in MLB.

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