KNIGHTS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF RAIN DELAY, LEAKY BLUE JAY BULLPEN FOR OPENING DAY WIN
Eternal Baseball Press
BIRMINGHAM – The Birmingham Knights got a weather-related assist in a 13-4 Opening Day victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Birmingham pitcher Satchel Paige had just left his showdown with Toronto’s Roy Halladay with the score tied 4-4 in the seventh inning when the rain set in. Halladay had only thrown 70 pitches, but the 75-minute interruption spelled the end of the night for the Blue Jays ace. When the rain subsided and the tarp came off the field, it was Toronto reliever Mark Eichhorn on the mound, much to Birmingham’s delight. Eichhorn retired shortstop Willie Wells on a groundout to first before getting into trouble. Buck Leonard’s smash down the line was corralled by third baseman Josh Donaldson, but beat the throw to first for an infield single. Eichhorn’s next pitch was a fastball inside that nicked the forearm of left fielder Turkey Stearnes. With two runners on, second baseman Martin Dihigo crushed the very next pitch high over the centerfield wall for a three-run homer that put the Knights ahead 7-4.
The Birmingham bullpen stood up, behind two and third hitless innings from Bullet Rogan and John Donaldson. Toronto’s bullpen continued to take on water, as Oscar Charleston knocked a three-run homer to center field off Duane Ward, and Aaron Sanches allowed an RBI groundout to Cristobal Torriente, and RBI singles to Dihigo and Louis Santop. The six-run eighth inning onslaught put the game away at 13-4.
Halladay (6.1 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) and Paige (6.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 8 K) didn’t pitch up to their normal standards, but neither factored in the decision. Bullet Rogan (1-0) earned the win for the Knights, while Mark Eichhorn (0-1) took the loss for the Blue Jays. Turkey Stearnes and Ernie Whitt both connected for their first homers earlier in the game.
Toronto will be out for revenge tomorrow night, sending right-hander Dave Stieb to the mound to face Birmingham lefty Dave Brown. First pitch from Rickwood Field is at 7:05 PM CST.
Photo Credit: Library of Congress