A.L East Is Already On Notice. Snooze On Cruz, and You Lose

Featured, Sports and Bets — April 1, 2014 at 5:29 pm by

O it was glorious yesterday at the Yard.  Sure, it’s always great to take it to the annoying Red Sox, but it’s even sweeter on Opening Day.  A day in which the whole city of Baltimore turns its attention to the Orange and Black and the promise of summer.

And this year that promise of good summer weather also brings with it the promise of a contender here in B-Town.  I know, yesterday was only one game, but didn’t it fit the Buck formula to a tee?  Solid starting pitching, a strong bullpen, great defense and some timely power.  Add that up and it’s a win, Showalter style.  The fact that this Buck formulated win was against the World Champs and that it was powered by new addition, Nelson Cruz, made it even more enjoyable.

Cruz made a statement yesterday.  After going homerless in spring training, Cruz blasted Jon Lester’s first-pitch fastball into the left field seats in the seventh inning. The home run broke a 1-1 tie and sent the Oriole faithful into a frenzy. Over 46,000 strong, the massive crowd howled Cruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuz, Cruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuz into the setting sunshine of a beautiful Baltimore afternoon.  It was just flat-out awesome.  Hell, I got goose bumps just typing this shit up.  Cruz also worked a walk in a prior at bat and made a juggling catch in left field early in the game, to the relief of Chris Tillman and everybody in attendance. (He made the catch look more difficult than it should have been, but an out is an out babes.)   But his home runs and RBIs are the main reason Nelson is here, and Cruz delivered big time yesterday in late innings clutch time.

   from fansided.com

Cruz’s 2-1 lead was here to stay.  After Chris Tillman gave five, not perfect, but effective, innings, the bullpen slammed the door on any Boston comeback.  Zack Britton was particularly effective in middle relief, allowing only one hit over two inning and recording six ground ball outs.  Evan Meek, who hadn’t walked anyone all spring, walked two in the eighth, which gave everyone a case of the yips and the “here we go’s”, but Brian Matusz cleaned that up by getting A.J. Pierzynski to fire a comebacker right back at Matusz, who recorded the out.  Then of course it was 99 MPH time with Tommy Hunter, who drilled the first batter he faced, but then calmed down enough to get the save.

Was it perfect?  Hell no.  Tillman definitely battled for his outs and didn’t have a 1-2-3 inning.  Meek and Hunter scared the crap out of everyone by putting two men on in the late innings, and the Oriole bats weren’t exactly aflame with offense against the always tough Lester.  But it was a solid win against a great team.  Only 161 left to go, and as Tommy Hunter said in is post game interview, “the fans of Baltimore are ready, and so are we.”


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