After what seemed like a long offseason, baseball was finally back yesterday. Not only was yesterday Opening Day, but it was also what I like to call National Overreaction Day. On this day fans across the country overreact to their respective team's performance on Opening Day, whether it be good or bad. I can still remember how excited Phillies fans were after their 14-run Opening Day performance last season.
Yesterday, the Marlins fell to the Braves 2-1, in what will be remembered as the game that ruined Miami's shot at a perfect season. The Fish are now 0-1 with 161 games to go. Fans like to rush to assumptions after the first game in all of sports, but you can't do that in baseball like you might be able to in football because the sample size is too small. But regardless, after one game here are my positive and negative overreactions:
1. Faith in Henderson Alvarez
Coming off a surprising All-Star season in 2014, there is a lot of pressure on Henderson Alvarez to have a repeat performance in 2015. With Jose Fernandez scheduled to be out until around the All-Star break, the Marlins need Alvarez to step up as their ace every fifth day. In his first start of the season, Alvarez played the part of an ace very well. Alvarez threw 81 pitches in seven solid innings, while giving up two runs on six hits and no walks. Alvarez only recorded two strikeouts, but he forced 15 ground-ball outs.
Alvarez was actually a couple of small mistakes away from not surrendering any runs. His balk in the first inning led to the first Braves run and Jarrod Saltalamacchia's double-clutch that allowed Nick Markakis to steal second in the sixth inning led to the second run. Although it was against a weakened Braves lineup, yesterday was a promising start for Henderson Alvarez.
2. Salty picks up where he left off
After being the Marlins 'big' free-agent signing two off seasons ago, Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a season to forget at and behind the plate last year. He posted a batting line of .220/.320/.362 and he only had a caught stealing percentage of 19%. Salty was probably the biggest disappointment for the Fish in 2014. Entering this season, it seemed as if Saltalamacchia's production could only go up after his rock-bottom performance last season.
But in the first game of the 2015, Saltalamacchia picked up right where he left off in 2014. Yesterday he was 0-3 with two strikeouts and a critical 5-2-3 double-play with the bases loaded and no outs. Post-game a reporter even asked Mike Redmond if he thought about pinch-hitting for him in that situation. Salty is going to be an interesting player to follow this season. If he continues to struggle as he did last season and be the weak spot in the order, there might some calls for J.T. Realmuto to be called up and given some playing time.
3. Lineup Stability Is Nice
For the past couple of seasons first, second, and third base have been a revolving door for the Marlins. From game-to-game it was a question mark as to who would play as the positions were handled by committee. The additions of Michael Morse, Dee Gordon, and Martin Prado have solidified those three positions and the lineup as a whole. It's nice to be able to examine the same eight guys each game, and see how they each do in different spots.
Yesterday, each one of them chipped in as Dee Gordon had an RBI single, Martin Prado recorded two hits, and Michael Morse added a hit. It was nice to see the new additions contribute and they are going to be key players for the Marlins going forward.
4. Please, No More Rain Delays
To Marlins fans rain delays are a touchy subject. When the Fish moved into a new ballpark with a retractable roof in 2012, Marlins fans figured that rain delays were finally behind them. But in the second inning of yesterday's game, rain came pouring down and a 16-minute delay ensued. Yes, a rain delay in a stadium with a retractable roof. After an offseason of trying to rid the title of the league's punchline, the Marlins lived up to that title yesterday. So please, no more rain delays.