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Guillen to return to Florida for Castro apology

Guillen to return to Florida for Castro apology | Baseball Central |
Miami Marlins manger Ozzie Guillen will apologize again for telling a magazine he loves Fidel Castro.
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Yankees, Red Sox both open season 0-3

Yankees, Red Sox both open season 0-3 | Baseball Central |
It may be only three losses, but for just the second time in Major League history both the Yankees and Red Sox are 0-3 after each team was swept in its season-opening series.
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Yanks, Red Sox would like to forget first 2 percent

Yanks, Red Sox would like to forget first 2 percent | Baseball Central |
An eventful opening weekend produced matching 0-3 starts for New York and Boston for the first time since 1966.
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Padres avoid sweep by Los Angeles

Padres avoid sweep by Los Angeles | Baseball Central |

The San Diego Padres opened the season with a four game series against one of their division rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers. San Diego started off slowly and dropped the first three games before finally getting in the win column with a 8-4 win on April 8.
One thing that should concern fans is that San Diego gave up four or more runs in all four games. Los Angeles has talented offensive players but is far from a dominant offensive team. This would be concerning if it weren't so early in the season. The team will need to get strong performances out of their pitching staff if they hope to remain competitive and win games this year. The relief pitching of Andrew Cashner, Huston Street, Luke Gregorson, and Joe Thatcher have yet to allow a run. Most of the damage against the pitching staff was done against the starting pitchers. This will only improve with the eventual return of Tim Stauffer and call up of several quality pitching prospects later in the year.
Fans saw and now understand the importance of offense to the success of this team. The one game where the offense was clicking and firing away, San Diego won. A grand slam by Chase Headley led to the eight runs scored in the only victory the team had. It's slightly concerning that through four games, Cameron Maybin is the only regular player on the team to be batting over .250. This figures to average out but is a cause for concern for Padre fans. This team will have to hit the ball well at key times to win baseball games.
Despite opening 1-3 against the Dodgers, San Diego fans shouldn't be overly concerned. This team is shaping out to be what many expected them to be. There is certainly talent on the roster but they will need everything to break right for success to come. I think the team will improve throughout the season but has plenty to work on at this point.

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Floyd loses battle with Rangers' boppers

Floyd loses battle with Rangers' boppers | Baseball Central |

ARLINGTON -- On paper, the two-time defending American League champion Rangers are a better team than the 2012 White Sox, who are playing through a modified rebuilding process.

Texas also looked to be a better team on the field this past weekend at Rangers Ballpark, completing a series win with Sunday night's 5-0 whitewash of Gavin Floyd and his teammates. But that gap was not as great as some might have imagined.

Sure, it was just one three-game set over the course of a 162-game schedule. But with a little bit of hitting in the clutch, as the White Sox finished 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position, Robin Ventura could have emerged with two wins in his first three games as manager.

The White Sox effort certainly seemed to impress their highly-touted opponent.

"They have some good arms in the bullpen and top to bottom, their starters are good," said Texas second baseman Michael Young. "Nowadays, if you take two out of three in the American League, you're doing good because it seems like every team is tough."

"Pitching and defense keeps you in games and they've got pitching. They've got some serious arms in their bullpen," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They've got pitching and defense and they don't make mistakes."

Floyd looked to make a couple of mistakes over his 5 2/3 innings of work against the Rangers. Texas launched three homers off the White Sox starter, coming from David Murphy leading off the second, Adrian Beltre with one on in the fourth and Josh Hamilton leading off the sixth.

Murphy's shot was the runt of the bunch at 396 feet. Beltre's opposite-field shot carried 410 feet, while Hamilton won the distance contest with his 441-foot prodigious clout into the upper home run porch in right field.

For the night, Floyd allowed four earned runs on just five hits while striking out three and walking two over his 85 pitches.

"I felt like things were going all right, even after giving up the solo home run to Murphy," Floyd said. "With Beltre, that was a nice piece of hitting, not a terrible pitch. He caught the good part of the bat and put it into right-center. He's a strong guy. You just kind of move on from it and try to learn from it."

"Every once in a while they are going to run into one. They are lethal that way," said Ventura of the Rangers' offense, held to three runs in each of the first two games. "Gavin pitched fine. It's just a very good lineup. They can do that any time."

Matt Harrison held the White Sox scoreless over six innings, limiting the South Siders to four hits. They had their chances, putting two runners on base in each of the fourth and sixth innings, but were unable to score.

In the fourth, Gordon Beckham doubled to start the frame and moved to third on Adam Dunn's grounder to first. But on Paul Konerko's grounder back to the mound snared by Harrison, Beckham was caught off third and nailed in a rundown. Alex Rios walked, but A.J. Pierzynski grounded out to Young at second to end the rally.

Pierzynski struck out against Harrison with runners on first and second and two outs in the sixth. The White Sox catcher had a great 11-pitch at-bat in the second against Harrison, which resulted in Hamilton making a diving catch on Pierzynski's line drive in right-center, and credited the Rangers' southpaw for his changed repertoire in this dominant effort.

"We talked about it on the bench. He had more pitches than normal," said Pierzynski of Harrison, who fanned three and held White Sox left-handers hitless in nine at-bats. "In the past he had been mostly fastball, slider, especially to lefties.

"He threw some changeups to lefties. He pitched. For everything we had seen, somewhere he learned that. He deserves a ton of credit because he made a lot of good pitches when he had to."

Two White Sox highlights of the setback were Eduardo Escobar's first career triple coming with two outs in the fifth, and Nate Jones' Major League debut in the seventh. Jones walked the first two hitters he faced before inducing an Elvis Andrus double-play grounder and striking out Hamilton on a changeup to end the frame.

"[White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] and A.J. did a great job after the second hitter slowing me down and calming me down, and we went right after them," Jones said. "Luckily, I struck out Hamilton for the last out. It's a nice memory to have for sure."

Next up for the White Sox is a three-game set at Progressive Field against the Indians (1-2), another team figuring to be chasing the Tigers in the AL Central. If this first weekend serves as any indication, the White Sox certainly aren't a powerhouse, but they also aren't anybody's pushover.

"Yeah, they are ready to play," Ventura said. "It's not like they are not working. It's competition and sometimes it's your night, sometimes not."

"Tonight we needed to score some runs, but the first two games were evenly played and we could have won both of them," Pierzynski said. "I liked the energy. I liked the enthusiasm. I thought it was a good series. I'm glad it's over with and now we can get on with the season."

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Infante, Sanchez lead Marlins over Phillies, 6-2

Infante, Sanchez lead Marlins over Phillies, 6-2 | Baseball Central |

PHILADELPHIA (AP) That ailing shoulder is no longer a question for Anibal Sanchez.
The righty took a three-hitter into the seventh, Omar Infante hit a pair of solo homers and the Miami Marlins spoiled the Philadelphia Phillies' home opener with a 6-2 victory on Monday afternoon.
Sanchez (1-0) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings, outpitching two-time All-Star Cole Hamels (0-1).
Sanchez was held back a week at the start of the exhibition season because of a tender pitching shoulder and was limited during spring training. Even manager Ozzie Guillen had concerns until now.
''I was worried because he missed a start in spring training,'' Guillen said. ''He threw the ball well.''
A 13-game winner in 2010, Sanchez rounds out a formidable rotation as the No. 5 starter.
''I don't care if I'm first of fifth, we have a good rotation,'' Sanchez said. ''I'm glad to be in it.''
Gaby Sanchez had two hits and two RBIs, Emilio Bonifacio had three hits and Austin Kearns hit a solo shot off Jonathan Papelbon.
Missing Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the middle of their lineup, the Phillies continued to struggle offensively. They've scored eight runs and are off to a 1-3 start.
''We're not hitting the ball hard enough to score runs,'' manager Charlie Manuel said.
The Phillies didn't score until the seventh when Freddy Galvis hit a two-run double for his first major league hit, snapping an 0-for-12 start.
The new-look Marlins improved to 2-3 and bounced back after Heath Bell blew his first save opportunity for his new team in a 6-5 loss at Cincinnati on Sunday.
Before the game, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said he will return to Florida on Tuesday's off day to apologize at Marlins Park for telling a magazine he loves Fidel Castro.
The Phillies are seeking their sixth straight NL East title, but anything less than a World Series title will be a disappointment in a city that's been spoiled by success.
Injuries to Howard and Utley have dramatically lessened the hype compared to the start of last season when the Phillies were prohibitive favorites to win it all.
They didn't, of course.
After leading the majors with a franchise-record 102 wins, the Phillies were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by eventual champion St. Louis.
When the home crowd last saw their Fightin' Phils play a meaningful game, Roy Halladay was outdueled by Chris Carpenter in a 1-0 loss in Game 5 of the NLDS. Howard made the final out and ruptured his left Achilles in the process, the lasting image of him writhing in pain on the ground lingered throughout the winter.
Hamels allowed four runs - three earned - and eight hits, striking out nine in 5 1-3 innings. The lanky lefty made the first start of an important year for him. He's set to become a free agent after the season and should get a lucrative deal if he goes injury-free and puts up typical numbers.
''It's a long season,'' Hamels said. ''We have to go out and keep on battling. We have to fight through it.''
Jose Reyes, one of Miami's four big-name acquisitions, led off the game with a single and Bonifacio followed with a single. After a double steal, Reyes scored on Hanley Ramirez's groundout to second base. Hamels stranded Bonifacio at third by striking out Gaby Sanchez and Kearns.
Ramirez led off the fourth with a double to left and scored on Sanchez's single to right for a 2-0 lead.
Infante drove one out to left to make it 3-0 in the fifth. He lined one over the left-field wall off Joe Savery leading off the seventh, giving the Marlins a 5-0 lead. Infante fell a single shy of the cycle on Saturday night against Cincinnati.
Shane Victorino and John Mayberry Jr. hit consecutive singles off Sanchez in the seventh. Galvis hit a high drive to left to knock in two and get the Phillies within 5-2.
A crowd of 45,574 was the 205th consecutive regular-season sellout at Citizens Bank Park. The pregame festivities included players coming in from behind the stands in left-center field. They walked through the crowd, mingled with adoring fans, and down a staircase placed on the warning track that led to the field.
Notes: Howard fielded grounders before the game without using a stool like he did toward the end of spring training. It's still unknown when he'll be able to return to the lineup. ... Sanchez improved to 4-8 against Philadelphia. ... The Phillies are 25-12 against the Marlins since 2010. ... Marlins RF Giancarlo Stanton was scratched from the lineup because of pain in his left knee. ... The Phillies are 58-70-2 on opening day. ... Infante has seven career multihomer games. ... Reyes was caught trying to steal third base to end the top of the fifth. ... Halladay (1-0) opposes Josh Johnson (0-1) when the series resumes on Wednesday night. Halladay is 4-3 against the Marlins, including a perfect game in 2010. Johnson is 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA vs. Philadelphia.

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Yu Darvish Opens MLB Career with Game Against Ichiro Suzuki: A Fan's Preview

Yu Darvish Opens MLB Career with Game Against Ichiro Suzuki: A Fan's Preview | Baseball Central |
The Texas Rangers won their first series of the 2012 season by taking two of three from the Chicago White Sox. Now, as the team prepares to start their second series, the biggest game of the early season prepares for opening pitch.
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