Opening Day!!! Ahhhhh!!!! Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! Alright, I’m calm. I like baseball. Coming into the day, we had a shot at the Cardinals starting off the season right and the Thunder picking up a big win to help their playoff chances. Boy we sure got something different.
OKC’s loss was bad. I mean it was just bad. The Cardinals, on the other hand, had a lot more positives to take than what the scoreboard read. So let’s dive into it. I’ll start with the Cardinals and then get to the (eye roll) Thunder.
St Louis Cardinals – 4
New York Mets – 9
First off I will say that it does help that this was Opening Day. I probably won’t be nearly as positive after 9-4 losses in the future. Most of the bullpen was stellar and the lineup performance should be a rarity.
The team struck out. A lot. Dexter, DeJong, and Wong each had two (C-Mart also, but pitchers don’t count) and Pham and Ozuna had three. I’m not a betting man, but I’m going to safely assume that’s not going to happen often. Another reason I’m not concerned about the strikeouts is if you didn’t know, this Noah Syndergaard guy is pretty good.
It’s always a running joke before Opening Day of how long it will take Mike Matheny to make a boneheaded mistake. Well it didn’t take long. His first call to the bullpen of the season, in fact. In the bottom of the 5th, a one run game at the time, he brings in Matt Bowman. Matt. Bowman. Who in the hell thinks bringing in Matt Bowman in this situation is a good idea? Mike Matheny does, because he overthrew him last year and will do the same this year. The dude is straight garbage. When Greg Holland gets to the team, this should be the leading candidate to be sent down. But that’s not going to happen.
Other bullpen guys
Aside from Matt Bowman, everybody else did well. I didn’t expect to see Jordan Hicks so early in the season but I fear it’s because that’s who’s going down when Holland gets to the team. Hicks was incredible. Initially he struggled with command but settled in and had a good inning. The kid is 21 and can throw a 100+ mph pitch WITH SINK. It shouldn’t even be legal.
How about Jose? Knowing that he’s probably going to be fighting to stay on the field every day, I was very impressed with his performance. Most guys, in his situation, would’ve fell under pressure after that god awful overthrow of second base early in the game. But he kept his head up and got three hits, one of them being a home run. I can only hope he keeps it up since he’s also just a really good dude.
Unfortunately for the bats, it doesn’t get any easier. Jacob deGrom takes the mound for the Mets. He won 15 games last year and had about 10.68 K/9 over 201.1 innings. We’ll get our first look at Wacha for the season. He got back into double digit wins last season and pitched four scoreless innings in his last spring start. He’s a Jekyll and Hyde type starter, so we’ll see how it goes.
OKC Thunder – 99
San Antonio Spurs – 103
I’m not nearly as positive about this game. OKC let another one slip away late. These are games that make a difference in a playoff race. Instead of winning and being 1.5 games behind Portland for the 3 seed, they are now the 5 seed and only 2.5 games up on the 9 seed.
Hero ball is normally a pretty bad thing. When it works, it’s because it happens. It doesn’t happen when it’s forced. Russell Westbrook tries to force hero ball. And it fails. And it looks really, really bad. Just take a look at this tweet. Not only does Russ take an awful shot with 14 seconds still on the clock, PG is wide open. PG made a 27 footer six seconds later, but it was too late. Russ had already shot them out of the game.
How vital has this acquisition been? Before OKC, Corey Brewer had two games this season scoring in double figures. Since joining, he’s scored in double figures 8 out of 12 games. He scored 14 in this game.
Lack of cashing in
OKC played bad, but so did San Antonio. They just couldn’t cash in. They only shot 43.5% from the field, San Antonio shot 42%. OKC committed 15 turnovers, San Antonio committed 18. They were only outrebounded by 5, had the same amount of fast break points, and owned points in the paint at 42-26. You’ve got to win that game. Professional basketball teams should never should less than 70% from the free throw stripe. At 14-21 (66.7%), that’s a problem.
Thankfully (thankfully?) for OKC, they don’t have to dwell on this one for too long. They also don’t have an option. It’s the second game of a back-to-back against Denver, a team currently seeded 10th and only 2 games back of a playoff spot. They are on a two game losing streak so they will be hungry and they haven’t played since Tuesday so they will be fresh. They’re currently ranked 7th in points per game and Steven Adams and Nikola Jokic will be going at it all night.