Opening Day lineups and links

Quiet for now, but not for long

Welcome to the 44th season of Brewers baseball, their 43rd in Milwaukee and 15th in the National League. Apparently, the fans are excited; I heard that the first tailgaters arrived at 6 a.m. CT  for a game that begins with Yovani Gallardo’s 3:10 p.m. first pitch.

The Brewers are 23-19-1 all-time on Opening Day, including 8-5 at home. They are 7-6-1 on Opening Day since moving to the NL in 1998 and are facing the Cardinals in a season opener for the fourth time. The Brewers won two of the three previous Opening Day engagements, and they were all high-scoring affairs — a 10-8 win in 1999, an 11-9 loss in 2003 and an 8-6 win in ’04.

Here are your starting lineups:

CARDINALS
Rafael Furcal SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Matt Holliday LF
Lance Berkman 1B
David Freese 3B
Yadier Molina C
John Jay CF
Daniel Descalso 2B
Jaime Garcia LHP

BREWERS
Rickie Weeks 2B
Carlos Gomez CF
Ryan Braun LF
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Corey Hart RF
Alex Gonzalez SS
Mat Gamel 1B
Jonathan Lucroy C
Yovani Gallardo RHP

Quite a different look for both teams, no? Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are swinging for the fences in the American League, and Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa has traded his uniform for a suit and a job in the Commissioner’s Office. It will be very interesting to see whether some of last season’s hard feelings are tempered by the changes in personnel. Hart is among the Brewers curious to find out.

On the mound for Milwaukee is Gallardo, who is quickly becoming an Opening Day fixture. He’ll start against Garcia in a matchup of Mexican-born pitchers and a rematch of last year’s NL Championship Series competitors. MLB.com’s Matthew Leach covered that series as the Cards’ beat writer, and he has our preview of the opening game.

It marks the first opportunity for Braun to move on from his tumultuous winter. The reigning NL MVP is entering a crucial season for the Brewers, who need another big season from him to help cover Fielder’s departure. All eyes will be on No. 8 beginning this afternoon.

The big picture goal for the Brewers is straightforward: Repeat as champs of the NL Central. They have the pitching to do it, with Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in contract years and set-up man Francisco Rodriguez in place for the full season. The questions this time are about an offense that will surely miss Fielder. Brewers officials concede that a drop in runs could occur, but believe they can cover it with the pitching and an improved defense. We’ll see.

I hope you’ll tune in again this year to Brewers.com and MLB.com, and follow along on Twitter. Baseball is back.

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Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy

1 Comment

Gomez batting 2nd? RR needs to be fired. The guy is so clueless.

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