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Worst of Opening Day: Zambrano makes water coolers quiver

Big League Stew

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We begin with all the usual qualifiers. It was only one game. There are 161 more. They all count the same.

Still, there were some opening day situations that caused some consternation among the involved fanbases. Here are a few of them:

Carlos Zambrano's early exit: Hey, is a 6.99 ERA record over six opening day starts good? It's not? Well then maybe the Cubs need to give someone else a chance in 2011 because Zambrano isn't much for openers. The eight runs he surrendered to Atlanta over 1 1/3 innings rank as the worst debut of his career and I'm sure he can still hear the chalkboard scratching echoes from Chip Caray's "welcome to the show!" homer call after Jason Heyward's big shot.

Frasor's blown save spoils Marcum's comeback: After coming back from Tommy John surgery, Shaun Marcum's(notes) great opening day start looked like it was going to be one of the day's best stories. The Toronto righthander took a no-hitter against the Rangers into the seventh inning and then left his first game since late 2008 as the winning pitcher of record. Closer Jason Frasor(notes), however, had different ideas, blowing the save and losing the game by giving up four hits and two runs to Texas in the ninth inning. Frasor owes Marcum something nice. Maybe he'll pick up Tuesday's trip to Starbucks.

The Zack Greinke-Justin Verlander pitching duel: It would appear that only Greinke got the memo that this was considered the day's premiere pitching matchup. The reigning Cy Young wasn't his sharpest self, but managed to get through six innings of one-run ball. Verlander, meanwhile, gave up four runs over five innings — including a home run to Yuniesky Betancourt(notes) — and was only saved from a loss when the Royals bullpen came in for its usual implosion. Blame Roman Colon(notes), Robinson Tejeda(notes) and Juan Cruz(notes) for giving up six runs in the seventh.

Vicente Padilla's unappreciative start: You'd think Padilla would give Joe Torre a little love after the Dodgers manager went out and made the somewhat unpopular decision to start him on opening day in Pittsburgh. Nope. Padilla gave up seven earned runs over 4 1/3 innings in what turned out to be an 11-5 loss to the Pirates.

Jake Westbrook's four wild pitches: We can cut Westbrook some slack, seeing as how he hadn't pitched a game since May 2008. The history books, though, won't care — his four wild pitches tied an Indians team record in a 6-0 loss to the White Sox.

The Washington Nationals: Guess the good vibes from all those presidential handshakes didn't last long. When is it affordable for Stephen Strasburg(notes) to be called up again?

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