Friday, April 1, 2011

Stat Line of the Day: April 1st

Ramon Hernandez (CIN): 4-for-5, 3 RBIs, HR vs. MIL

Hernandez and the Reds walked off on Opening Day
Is Cincinnati headed for the playoffs this season? Probably not--but that's the beauty of the beginning of baseball season. Every game has equal weight, every team's got a shot, like San Diego last year, and getting off to a hot start can do wonders for a team's confidence and continued ability level. Edinson Volquez needs to pitch better than he did yesterday (six innings, seven hits, five earned runs), and rookie Aroldis Chapman would need to make an impact (along with a few other young-ish players who still need to improve) but it's about getting off to that good start and trying to maintain some sort of momentum. Ramon Hernandez was the hero on Day One of the season, taking an 0-1 fastball over the right field fence with two on and two out to deliver a 7-6 victory to the home crowd. It capped a solid day for Hernandez, who singled in the second, sixth, and eighth innings. Hernandez actually took advantage of his second big plate opportunity of the day--in the third inning, he flew out to center with the bases loaded and two outs. Milwaukee had taken a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth, helped by back-to-back homers leading off the season by Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez, and it took a nearly-35-year-old catcher with 149 career home runs in 5122 plate appearances over 12 seasons to send Reds fans home happy on day one--not to mention in first place.

Honorable Mentions

Chris Mason (ATL): 0 GA, 43 Saves, 1.000 SV% vs. PHI
Our second shutout in as many days, Mason's first of the year comes against a much more impressive Flyers attack than the Rangers, who got shut out last night. Mason stopped 43 Flyers shots--amazingly, that's the third time this season the Flyers have been shutout when taking 40+ shots (Carey Price stopped 41 shots for the Canadiens back in November and Tim Thomas stopped that many a month later for Boston). This was Mason's first shutout of the year, though he does have 21 career shutouts in 283 games in net, so this was a performance overdue by quite a few games this season--he's had at least two in every season since 2005. The Flyers, as balanced an offense as they have, with seven players at 19 or more goals, have been shut out seven times this season--seven more times than they've managed to do to opposing teams. Atlanta needs to win their remaining games and have quite a few things go right to make the playoffs, but this was a good way to start off with a huge win on the road.

Rajon Rondo (BOS): 22 points, 14 assists, 5 rebounds vs. SA
Talk about a player picking it up when his team needs him the most. Clinging to a second place in the Eastern Conference, just a half-game up on the Heat, the Celtics were playing in San Antonio against a Spurs team who'd already dropped four games in a row. To be fair, the Spurs had been battling some injury problems, but Tim Duncan and Tony Parker both started and played 30+ minutes for the Spurs. Rondo was on when the Celtics needed it, the leading scorer on a team with three who got 20+ (Garnett and Pierce had 20 and 21), and his 14 assists are obviously huge--especially when you add in the fact that Rondo didn't turn it over once. If the Celtics are gonna hold off the Heat for the second place slot (and a likely matchup with the struggling Knicks), they'll need Rondo to put up those kind of numbers over their last eight games.

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