That’s all I can say. Wow. Hollywood couldn’t script the Braves season opener any better than the reality of Monday at Turner Field. 53,081 fans, the largest opening day crown in Braves’ history and the fourth largest ever, watched the Braves make history; in more ways than one.
After falling behind 3-0 in the top of the first inning on a Marlon Byrd home run, the Braves came back and scored 6 runs in the bottom of the inning to take a three run lead. Oh yeah, and Jason Heyward hit a HOME RUN! In his first MLB at-bat—on a 2-0 count, Jason Heyward got fastball on the inner-third, knee high and SMOKED it. Heyward joins the likes of Jeff Francoeur and Bob Horner by homering in his first MLB game, and Jermaine Dye and last year’s phenom Jordan Schafer by homering in his first plate appearance. Heyward then added an RBI single to make it 4 RBI for the day. To top it off, Heyward received his first shaving cream pie during a post-game interview courtesy of Peter Moylan.
Living in New York and seeing big-time games I have heard crowds make a lot of noise, I mean a lot! I’m not sure if you have heard this before, but New Yorkers can be loud. I know, shocker—but this rivals the loudest crowd I have heard in a long time and it’s definitely the loudest I have heard an Atlanta Crowd; including the McCann homer off Clemens in the 2005 playoffs and Jeff Francoeur’s debut home run.
Overshadowed by J-Hey was the rest of the Braves lineup. Martin Prado had 2 hits and 2 runs, Troy Glaus had 2 RBI, Chipper had 1 hit, walk and 2 runs, Brian McCann had a home run and 2RBI and Yunel Escobar led the team with 2 hits and 5 RBI (which helps 6 of my 8 fantasy teams). Nate McLouth showed us all his hamstring is healthy as he made a terrific running catch to save a big inning, and another diving “catch” that led to a double play. The Braves got a break on that call folks— it wasn’t even close.
The Braves bolstered offense definitely delivered. By the end of the game, they put a 16-spot on the board, the most runs the Braves have scored on Opening Day since 1900 when they were known as the Boston Beaneaters—led by Kid Nichols, Hugh Duffy and who could forget Nig Cuppy? But there’s something that is more surprising to me than any of this…Eric Hinske hit a triple. Yes, a legit triple. I knew the Brave got an OF from the Yankees that had some wheels, I just thought it was Melky Cabrera—who knew?
Derek Lowe did not have the outing he had hoped, but he did pick up his first win of the season. Lowe started his second consecutive Braves opener and was inconsistent to say the least. He had bad first and third innings, but looked like his old self in the second and fourth. The bullpen however was a different story. Peter Moylan and the newcomers Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner looked great.
Obviously the Braves are not going to score 16 runs a game and even though it is just one game; anything can happen over a 162 game season and you can never get too high or too low. I can spout-off a list of clichés until I’m blue in the face, but I’ll just say this…if the Braves can hit like they have shown they are capable of, pitch they way we all know they can, and keep those seats filled, they are going to have one hell of a season. Oh, and just a hunch, Heyward is not going to be in the 7th sport very long.
One down, one hundred sixty one to go!
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Until Next Time…Go Braves!