MLB Week in Review (March 31-April 5)

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The MLB Season began this week as teams began the long trek towards the World Series with their first games that meant something. The opening week of the MLB season is always a strange one as the truth finally comes out about teams around the league. It is not a whole truth though as teams can fool a lot of people at the beginning of the season. The regular season means the first chance for many teams to put their full team on the field for the first time. Throughout spring training teams use many players that will spend the season in the minor leagues as they get a chance for some experience on the big club. The first week of the season is a chance for teams to put the best players they have on the field and see how they matchup when the games matter. For many this is a chance to see what they actually have and if they truly have the team they thought they had in the offseason. This year the offseason was a busy one as numerous teams began loading up on talent in an attempt to get to the World Series. After a spending spree by teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, and Los Angeles Angels this week would represent their chance to get the payoff from their investment. For these teams though the payoff has not been immediate with all three teams struggling to get on a roll. The Los Angeles Angels would get the top free agent in the market for the second year in a row in Josh Hamilton giving him a 5-year $125 million contract. This would add to the 10-year $250 million contract of Albert Pujols that was signed in 2012. The Angels would begin the season well enough earning a win in their opening game against the Reds but it would not last. They have since lost three games in a row including Hamilton’s first game back in Texas. The Toronto Blue Jays were one of the most active teams in the offseason with the mega-deal with Miami that brought Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck to Toronto. The trade for Cy Young Award Winner RA Dickey and signing of Melky Cabrera would add to their offseason making them an offseason contender. The start of the season has not been great for the Blue Jays either though as the pitching has struggled and the offence has gone silent some nights leading to a 1-3 start to the season. The Dodgers have not fared much better as they would go into the offseason with the biggest payroll in the MLB, eclipsed on opening day by the New York Yankees. They were expecting to be a dominant team but would be thwarted by their division rivals losing two games in their opening series to the Giants. At 2-2 the Dodgers are not what they expected to be so far even with the new injection of money. The one good thing for these teams and their fans is that the MLB season is 162 games and 6 months long and a slow start essentially means nothing. Panic has crept in to many of these markets as things have not worked out as they had originally hoped but when adding new players it can take some time for the team to figure things out and get into a groove. All three of these teams are only a win streak away from being considered a top team in the league and judging a season on the first week is not the way that these teams need to go. The concern is there for these teams but after one week there is very little that anyone can tell about how these teams will fair in the long run.

Extra Innings:
(Thoughts on the past week in the MLB)

Flirting With History
Yu Darvish would begin his second MLB season in style this week as he would pitch a perfect game into the bottom of the 9th inning and would get two outs until he allowed his first hit coming within one out of a perfect game

Great Start for the ROY
There were a lot of questions surrounding Bryce Harper in his sophomore season as many wondered if he could match his Rookie of the Year performance a year ago but he would put the questions away quickly when he hit two HRs in his first two at bats this year

Another Chance for Valverde
The Detroit Tigers went into the postseason with almost no closer in 2012 as Jose Valverde had lost his magic and because of that he would be released at the end of the season but the Tigers would give him another shot this week signing him to a minor league deal

Keeping it in NY
Robinson Cano would make some news in New York as the Yankees struggled to start the season as he would become the first client of Jay-Z in the new Roc-Nation Sports Agency run by the New York superstar

MLB Standings

American League
AL East:
1. Baltimore Orioles (.750)
2. Boston Red Sox (.750)
3. Tampa Bay Rays (.500)
4. New York Yankees (.250)
5. Toronto Blue Jays (.250)
AL Central:
1. Chicago White Sox (.500)
2. Cleveland Indians (.500)
3. Detroit Tigers (.500)
4. Kansas City Royals (.500)
5. Minnesota Twins (.500)
AL West:
1. Texas Rangers (.750)
2. Oakland Athletics (.600)
3. Seattle Mariners (.600)
4. Houston Astros (.250)
5. Los Angeles Angels (.250)

National League
NL East:
1. Atlanta Braves (.750)
2. Washington Nationals (.750)
3. New York Mets (.500)
4. Miami Marlins (.250)
5. Philadelphia Phillies (.250)
NL Central:
1. Cincinnati Reds (.750)
2. Chicago Cubs (.500)
3. Milwaukee Brewers (.250)
4. Pittsburgh Pirates (.250)
5. St. Louis Cardinals (.250)
NL West:
1. Arizona Diamondbacks (.750)
2. Colorado Rockies (.750)
3. San Francisco Giants (.750)
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (.500)
5. San Diego Padres (.250)

Scores:
Houston Astros 8 – 2 Texas Rangers
– The Astros would get their first introduction into their new division against their in-state rivals in the Texas Ranger in a game that many expected the Rangers to win but the Astros would surprise everyone in the opening game of the MLB season beating Texas for their first win

Washington Nationals 2 – 0 Miami Marlins
– It was all about the young stars for the Nationals in their opener as Stephen Strasburg would get the win and the shutout while Bryce Harper would provide the offence hitting two HRs in his first two at bats and earning the only two runs the Nats would need

San Francisco Giants 3 – 0 Los Angeles Dodgers
– The Giants would continue where they left off as they would lose the first game of the season but would win the next two as their pitching was once again strong and would shut out the new-look Dodgers in the series finale

Boston Red Sox 6 – 4 Toronto Blue Jays
– The new look Blue Jays have not been as dominant as many expected but they were starting to get in a groove and would look to continue that as John Farrell would return to Toronto for the first time since leaving in the offseason and among the boos would get the win

Next Week:
St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants (Saturday April 6th; 4:05 pm ET)
– The last two World Series Champions face off as the Giants look to their pitching once again to shut down the Cardinals who have found it hard to find wins this year in their first week and are looking for revenge for the opening series loss

Chicago White Sox vs. Washington Nationals (Tuesday April 9th; 7:05 pm ET)
– The MLB will no longer see interleague play at certain times as the new schedule will include interleague play throughout the season including this game between the White Sox and the team many consider to be World Series favorites

Cincinnati Reds vs. St. Louis Cardinals (Wednesday April 10th; 1:45 pm ET)
– The Cards and Reds have built a very good rivalry in the last few years as they continue to fight for the NL Central title as one of them will win while the other will fight for the wild card and they continue that battle this season in their first series against each other

Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Yankees (Friday April 12th; 7:05 pm ET)
– The Orioles and Yankees would fight it out in a great battle last year to determine the AL East champion and in the postseason as they get back to it this year as the Yankees look to get back on track and the Orioles try to continue their good start

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