It’s finally that time of year! Despite the thirty degree temperatures, baseball has finally graced us with it’s presence. On Thursday the MLB season opened with six games and today the Orioles take the field in Tampa to kick off the first of 162 games. It’s all baseball here on Free Kicks. Let’s line up the kick!

A Duel in the West

If you didn’t stay up to watch the world champion San Francisco Giants duel with the Los Angeles Dodgers, you really missed out. This one started at 8 PM on the east (we’ve got an east coast bias here at BSR and we aren’t afraid to hide it) and turned into a great pitching duel between Tim Linecum and Clayton Kershaw.

The Freak, Lincecum, looked solid in his debut, going 7 innings allowing just five hits, an unearned run, three walks and five strikeouts, but earned the loss to a masterful Kershaw. The champs couldn’t keep up with Kershaw’s stuff all night, he fanned nine batters in seven innings of work, which turned out to be the third most strikeouts for a Dodger starting pitcher on Opening Day since 1900.

Wonder boy Buster Posey’s throwing error in the sixth inning gave LA the 2-1 lead and that was all she wrote.

Pujols Slumps, Maybin Delivers.

Another NL West team, the San Deigo Padres, got their season started on the road this season in an eleven inning day game against the St. Louis Cardinals. While many are down on San Diego this season after they traded Adrian Gonzalez to Boston, I think this game is a preview of what’s to come from their team. The Padres are a team with solid pitching who have to do the little things right on offense to get wins against good teams. They did just that in St. Louis.

Cameron Maybin was the hero for San Deigo in this one. He tied the game in the ninth inning with a solo homer and drove in the go ahead run in the top of the 11th. Down 3-2 with two outs in the 9th Maybin hit a 425 foot bomb to centerfield to tie it up, then drove in Chase Headley with a single in the 11th.

Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols grounded into a career high three double plays, was the first player in MLB history with three GIDP’s on Opening Day and didn’t reach base for the first time in his career on Opening Day. Not a great start for a guy that wants $300 million.

Ramon Hernandez? Really?

I couldn’t wrap up Free Kicks without talking about former Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez delivering for the Cincinnati Reds in an NL Central Opening Day showdown against the Brewers.

Things were looking good for Milwaukee, they became the first team in 42 years to hit back to back homers when Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez went yard in the first inning off Edinson Volquez. But Mr. Clutch Ramon Hernandez rallied for the Reds with a two out three run homer in the bottom of the ninth that secured a 7-6 victory for the Reds.

That’s not the Ramon Hernandez I know.