Opening Day Thursday, What to Look For

Opening Night turned into the Kyle Lohse show as the Cardinals pitcher baffled the Marlins in the debut of their new stadium, even no-hitting them for the first 6 innings.  The Cardinals won 4-1 to spoil the Marlins Park festivities.  It’s on to Opening Day now for 13 more teams on Thursday.  Here’s something to look for in each game.

Red Sox at Tigers 1:05 EST

The obvious is the debut of Prince Fielder.  Even better though, is the best pitching matchup of the day between reigning AL MVP Justin Verlander and Jon Lester.  Lester has struggled against Detroit in his career, so look for the Motor City to be in a jovial mood.

Braves at Mets 1:10 PM EST

The return of Johan Santana to the Mets rotation after missing all of the 2011 season.  Santana pitches well against Atlanta carrying a 2.28 ERA in 12 career starts, despite a 3-6 record.  What you won’t see or hear are the LARRRRRRRRRYYYYYYYY chants at Citi Field, as Chipper Jones will be on the DL to start the season for the Braves.

Phillies at Pirates 1:35 EST

The Battle of Pennsylvania kicks off the season.  How will the Phillies lineup fare without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley?  Erik Bedard takes the hill for the Pirates, which might cure some of the offensive problems.

Nationals at Cubs 2:20 EST

Stephen Strasburg settled down late in spring training and looks ready for his first Opening Day start.  Ryan Dempster looks for redemption after a disastrous 2011 Opening Day start giving up 6 runs, but Dempster has a 9-1 career record against Washington.

Blue Jays at Indians 3:05 EST

Possibly the most underrated pitching matchup with Ricky Romero vs. Justin Masterson.  However, all eyes will be on the Blue Jays budding superstar Brett Lawrie who comes in with a lot of hype after delivering in his 2011 Major League stint.

Marlins at Reds 4:10 EST

Despite the loss, the pressure is off the Marlins on the road.  It’s all on the new 200+ million dollar man, Joey Votto, Cincinnati fans are excited for this season with great reason as they are among the favorites for the NL Central crown.

Dodgers at Padres 7:05 EST

The night cap of opening day Thursday (or late afternoon cap for fans of these teams) features NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw.  With the weak-hitting Padres lineup and Petco Park in effect,  you’re on alert for the 1st Opening Day no-hitter since Bob Feller in 1940.

It’s time for one of the best days on the sports calendar, enjoy all the games!

-Bryan Mapes

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