Opening Day is closing in, and we can't wait. And now that all the Opening Day starters are clear -- at leat until the next strained forearm or sore groin -- we decided to dope out all the matchups for the 15 season openers, trying to differentiate the must-watches from the take-a-breathers.
The schedule calls for one opener Sunday, 13 more on Monday and the last one on Tuesday (fans in San Francisco and Milwaukee will just have to wait a little longer.)
By our count, there are two five-star match-ups and four four-star games. A couple matchups from the NL East and AL West bring up the rear ...
(worth setting the DVR)
o. Rays (James Shields) at Red Sox (Josh Beckett), Monday -- ALCS rematch, two legit aces, Fenway Park in the daytime. What more can we ask for?
o. Cubs (Carlos Zambrano) at Astros (Roy Oswalt), Monday -- Two great pitchers, and we get to see Big Z hit off Oswalt (1-for-12, seven whiffs, by the way).
Connecting you to your favorite North Texas sports teams as well as sports news around the globe.
(watch if you can)
o. Braves (Derek Lowe) at Phillies (Brett Myers), Sunday -- Not a bad matchup, but it gets the high rating mostly because it's the first real game of the year (sorry WBC).
o. Royals (Gil Meche) at White Sox (Mark Buehrle), Monday -- Meche is 7-3 in his career against the White Sox; Buehrle is 19-8 against the Royals.
o. Yankees (CC Sabathia) at Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie), Monday -- Compelling mostly to see how Sabathia performs in his first Yankees start.
o. Tigers (Justin Verlander) at Blue Jays (Roy Halladay), Monday -- Halladay is always worth watching, and this game could finish in under 2 1/2 hours.
o. Mets (Johan Santana) at Reds (Aaron Harang), Monday -- In his only career start at Great American Ballpark, last July, Santana allowed five runs in four innings.
o. Rockies (Aaron Cook) at D-Backs (Brandon Webb), Monday -- Only matchup of pitchers who won 16 or more last year.
o. Dodgers (Hiroki Kuroda) at Padres (Jake Peavy), Monday -- San Diego will be favored in this game and about 12 others this year -- every Peavy start until he's traded.
o. Mariners (Felix Hernandez) at Twins (Scott Baker), Monday -- Seattle's Jose Lopez is 9-for-18 in his career against Baker; Minnesota's Michael Cuddyer is 0-for-12 against Hernandez.
(changing the channel is allowed)
o. Indians (Cliff Lee) at Rangers (Kevin Millwood), Monday -- Four straight Opening Day starts for Millwood, a team record. Any other questions about that franchise?
o. Pirates (Paul Maholm) at Cardinals (Adam Wainwright), Monday -- Here are the Pittsburgh Opening Day starters this millennium, going backward: Ian Snell, Zach Duke, Oliver Perez (2), Kip Wells, Kris Benson, Ron Villone, Todd Ritchie.
o. Brewers (Jeff Suppan) at Giants (Tim Lincecum), Tuesday -- Where have you gone, CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets?
(just another game)
o. Athletics (Dallas Braden) at Angels (Joe Saunders), Monday -- Was supposed to be Justin Duchscherer vs. John Lackey, but injuries interfered.
o. Nationals (John Lannan) at Marlins (Ricky Nolasco), Monday -- 38 combined career wins for the two pitches, 27 of those from Nolasco.