Reigning AL Cy Young winner Johan Santana didn't exactly get off to a running start in his first effort towards a repeat performance in 2005, as he gave up four runs in the first inning and just couldn't seem to pitch around Seattle's big bats, as Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson both nailed RBI hits. As expected, Johan settled down after that and starting retiring hitters, but needed some offense that Brad Radke couldn't get yesterday. It came in the form of a 7-run fifth inning. It wasn't exactly a dazzling rally, as it was built mostly out of singles, but it was nice to see nonetheless. Just a few notes regarding the game...
-Santana's stuff wasn't working the first inning clearly, but he threw some very nice pitches in the next 4 innings he pitched, striking out five total and picking up his first win of the season.
-Jacque Jones hit a 2-run homer in the fifth inning and delivered another RBI hit a couple innings later. I'm predicting a big season from Jones, who is in his walk year and seems to have his eyes on a big offseason contract.
-Michael Cuddyer made a very nice defensive play at third base, reaching to his right to stab a hot grounder and then setting his feet and firing a one-hop rocket across the diamond to retire the speedy Randy Winn. Later in the game, however, he showed his bad side, making an extremely ugly overthrow to first on an Ichiro grounder. It would have been a tough out, but he might as well have hung onto it rather than allowing Ichiro to reach second.
-The bullpen tossed 4 innings of shutout ball. JC Romero looked good, with his fastball moving and forcing groundballs. Juan Rincon and Joe Nathan are going be really tough to rally against in the 8th and 9th innings this year.
-Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson are both going to have great years, but Seattle just doesn't have enough pitching to win that division, especially in the bullpen.