Phillies 1, Pirates 0
If only Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies had gotten this 1-0 win last October.
Halladay was nearly flawless for eight innings Thursday and the Phillies showed off their pitching from the start, opening a new season by edging the Pittsburgh Pirates. Missing injured stars Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, the Phillies scored the lone run they needed on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Ruiz in the seventh. New closer Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth for his first National League save.
"It was a good game for us," Halladay said. "It went the way we wanted and Papelbon came in and got his feet wet and got that out of the way. All in all I think it was a good way to do it."
For Halladay and his teammates, it was a familiar score with a different winner. Their season ended last year when Halladay lost a 1-0 decision to Chris Carpenter and the St. Louis Cardinals in the deciding Game Five in the first round of the National League playoffs. The Phillies start this season as the favorites to win their sixth straight NL East title.
Making his tenth opening day start, Halladay didn't argue when manager Charlie Manuel opted to bring in Papelbon. "I understand at this point," Halladay said. "A couple weeks from now I'm going to fight him." The two-time Cy Young winner sparkled, giving up just two first-inning singles while striking out five without issuing a walk. Halladay was pulled three outs before getting a chance at his 21st shutout.
"We just didn't get many pitches to hit," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. The Pirates are hardly the Cardinals, who went on to win the World Series last year, yet starter Erik Bedard nearly matched Halladay pitch for pitch, giving up only one run in seven innings. He struck out four and walked one, though it wasn't enough to keep Pittsburgh from losing its first season opener since 2006.
Ty Wigginton, filling in while Howard continues to rehab his left Achilles, singled with one out in the seventh and John Mayberry followed with a double to right. Ruiz, who had three hits, sent a fading liner to right and Jose Tabata made the catch, but Wigginton slid under catcher Rod Barajas' tag to give Philadelphia the lead. It was just a run, but it was plenty for Halladay.
Baseball's best pitcher over the last decade gave up singles to Alex Presley and Jose Tabata to start the game, eerily similar to the two hits he allowed against St. Louis in that Game Five last fall. The Cardinals, however, turned those hits into the game's only run.
Pittsburgh, which brought in veterans Clint Barmes and Barajas to help kick-start one of baseball's weakest offenses, didn't get that close. Andrew McCutchen, who signed a $51 million deal last month as the linchpin of the Pirates' rebuilding project, grounded into a double-play and Neil Walker flied out to end the first-inning threat. That was the only chance the Pirates got against Halladay. Pittsburgh's only two baserunners over the final eight innings came on hit batters.
NOTES: Halladay's ten opening day starts are tied for the fourth-most in baseball history ... The two teams are off Friday and meet again Saturday. Jeff Karstens will start for the Pirates while Cliff Lee gets the nod for Philadelphia.
Lehigh Valley 3, Scranton Yankees 0
Tyler Cloyd (1-0) was the big news of the night, making his first AAA start of his career. The right-hander threw six perfect innings before exiting after approaching his defined pitch count for the evening.
Cloyd was making an emergency start after being called up from AA late Wednesday night to make the start for veteran Dave Bush who was suspended for five games following an incident during spring training in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates AAA squad on March 31.
"I got the call around nine-o'clock. My wife and I were just sitting around and when I got the call, I was really surprised," said Cloyd.
Lehigh Valley loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the second and Rich Thompson drew a walk from starter Manny Delcarmen (0-1) to push across the first run of the season. Joe Thurston then reached on a throwing error by shortstop Ramiro Pena that allowed two more runs to score and give the IronPigs a 3-0 lead.
Three Lehigh Valley relievers handled the final three innings of the game, allowing just one hit and one walk. The hit was a disputed play that kicked off the glove of center fielder Rich Thompson after he made a long run into left-center field attempting to make a play on a ball hit by Scranton's Ray Kruml. Michael Schwimer pitched a perfect ninth inning to notch the save.
Reading 4, Portland 2
Reading 7, Portland 4
Leandro Castro made his first AA home run a walk-off home run as Reading took the first game of their opening day double-header sweep over the Portland Sea Dogs. Sebastian Valle also hit his first AA home run in the first game to give Reading a 1-0 lead after two innings.
In game two, Cesar Hernandez delivered a bases-loaded double to plate two runs and Steve Susdorf delivered an RBI single as part of a four-run third inning. Two innings later, Castro lined a bases-loaded single to center to drive in two more runs as Reading took a 7-1 lead.
Dunedin 6, Clearwater 3
Jose Contreras (0-1), making a rehab start with Clearwater, was smashed for three runs in 1/3 of an inning against Dunedin. Frank Gailey came on in relief of Contreras and struck out the only two hitters he faced on the night to get the Threshers out of the inning.
Adam Morgan allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings of work for Clearwater.
Greenville 4, Lakewood 2
On a night when most of the action in the South Atlantic League was rained out, the BlueClaws were unfortunate enough to be able to play a rain-shortened eight inning game against Greenville.
Kelly Dugan was 2-for-4 with a solo home run for Lakewood.
Lino Martinez started for Lakewood and allowed one run over 5 2/3 innings before exiting in favor of Gabriel Arias (0-1). Arias allowed three earned runs over 1 2/3 innings of work and suffered the loss.