To paraphrase my fellow owner cantarski, today, Feb. 14, is a very important day... because we open Season 5 of The Bigs.
Two NL division winners from last season have opened already, and they've gone 0-2. The defending NL West champion Salt Lake City Shakers lost an 11-inning game to the retooled Cheyenne Nation in what was possibly the game of the day. Bud Klein paid immediate dividends, erasing a Shaker 3-2 lead in the 8th with his first homer as a member of the Nation. The game winner in the 11th was a pinch-hit single by Diego Rivera.
In a great game in Atlanta, the defending NL champion Bandits fell to division rival Norfolk 3-2. Fred Carter was outdone by Norfolk Destroyers ace Babe Broadhurst, who threw a 1-hitter over 8 innings. Norfolk closer Ariel Lee made it interesting by giving up 2 in the 9th, but got reigning NL MVP Matty Matos to fly out to close the game.
In Toronto, Toros starter Hipolito Santana was sharp over 6 innings and the offense pounded out 15 hits as they beat the Philadelphia Phantoms 7-0. 1B Bob Owens, a Rule 5 pick this season, launched 2 home runs against the Phantoms bullpen.
In New Orleans, the offensive star for San Juan wasn't one of the superstars but SS Earl Hall, who drove in 3 as the Dead Bunnies knocked off the Voodoo 7-5. His 2-run homer in the 8th helped to put the game out of reach.
The American League saw the renewal of the Monterrey-Nashville rivalry, as Monterrey again gets the better of the Sounds. Sultans starter Luther Brush was a little shaky, allowing 5 runs in 6 2/3 innings, but DH Tony Escuela drove in 5 to lift Monterrey to an 8-5 win. For Nashville, King Winn drove in 182 last season, and is looking to put up similar numbers- he drove in 3 today.
Seattle opens their Season 5 campaign with a 3-2 win over Anaheim. The Chiles led 2-1 in the 7th, but SS James Dixon made errors in consecutive innings, each leading to a Killer Whales run. Quilvio Sanchez pitched a 1-2-3 9th inning for the save.
It took New York and Scranton 12 innings to put up a run, but New York finally did and won a
1-0 decision at the Stadium. R.J. Figureoa's 2-out RBI double in the 12th was the only run. The stars in this game were the pitchers- Scranton starter J.R. Guerrero was oustanding, allowing only 1 hit and 1 walk in 7 innings, and New York long reliever Jerome Graham pitched 6 scoreless innings, striking out 10.
Buffalo had a disappointing season 4 campaign, but opened season 5 in a big way. 1B Julio Diaz's first inning 3-run home run set the tone for the game, as the Blue Cheese easily handled the St. Louis Silly Nannies 9-1. Chris Lowry pitched 6 innings, allowing only 1 run in his major league debut after being taken in the Rule 5 draft this offseason.