posted on April 01, 2014 07:10
Opening Day Creates An Opening
My mindset on Opening Day goes from ceremonial to Baseball Nerd Mode by about the 7th inning.
In other words, at the start of the game, I’m just enjoying seeing a game that counts for the first time in six months. But, as the game progresses, I start dorking out about the potential for winning and going 1-0 on the season…or losing and dropping to 0-1.
Fortunately, the greatness of Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright was enough to overcome the fundamental grabassery that went on with the Cardinal defense…and the also outstanding work of Johnny Cueto.
Understandably, most fans aren’t really thinking about the Central Division race on or around the first game of the season. But, yesterday’s win counts as much in the standings as a win in September, and so the Cardinals have a real opportunity over the next nine days to do some damage.
What do I mean?
Well, if you were to go to ESPN.com and look at all of their analysts/hosts/reporters’ preseason predictions, you’d see that 90% of them have the Cardinals winning the division. But, the handful who don’t list the Cardinals as the winner have the Pirates or the Reds as the National League Central Division Champions.
Well, after April 9th, the Cardinals will have played 33% of their games against the Reds for the 2014 season. They’ll see Cincinnati in six of their first nine games…and if the Cardinals can rattle off a 4-2, 5-1, or 6-0 run against the Reds, that’s a monster advantage to collect in the early going.
As far as good fortune vs. bad fortune, the fact that the Cardinals get the Reds while eight of their planned Opening Day players are out on the DL is of great fortune for the Redbirds…whereas Cincinnati’s runbad with health is already unfortunate…it’s even more brutal when you consider they have to deal with the Cardinals for six of their first nine games while missing eight players.
Bottom line: with the exception of Molina, Wainwright, and Matt Adams, yesterday wasn’t particularly pretty for the boys in the starting lineup…both offensively and defensively. I’m not sure we’re going to see too much more of that caliber of play in the same game at the same time from the same culprits.
Yet they were still able to win.
That has to be a boost for the Cardinals…and a real kick in the balls for the Reds.
Now Cincinnati has to deal with Michael Wacha twice in the next six days. And if they can’t beat him at least once, the best case scenario for the Reds after facing the Cardinals for their first six of nine games is a 3-3 record against their division rival.
It’s early. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t get much earlier. But, the Reds’ bad fortune could become a great opportunity for the Cardinals.
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