Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

Well, OK, not exactly twenty years ago today. But close enough.

Feeling a little nostalgic, and on the prowl for an easy idea to fill a blog post, I wandered over to Retrosheet.org to check out the goings-on for Opening Day 1988. Who were the big stars twenty years ago (ok, twenty years ago April 4)? Let's find out:

The Brewers scored 12 runs on 16 hits against Baltimore's Mike Boddicker and three relievers. Ted Higuera got the win for the Crew. B.J. Surhoff batted third and put up a boxscore line of 4-3-2-1, while Dale Sveum capped off a six-run eighth with the only dinger of the day. The O's would go on to lose twenty more games before breaking into the W column, and another 86 times that year. As my bilingual friends might say, "Donde los yikes!"

In Boston, Jack Morris proved one more time what a big-game pitcher he was, taking the win in a 5-3, ten-inning game. Roger Clemens struck out eleven in nine innings, but the Bosox were done in by a Spike Owen error to lead off the tenth. Two outs later, Alan Trammell homered and hung Lee Smith with the loss.

The White Sox put it on the board in the bottom of the seventh inning -- put it on the board five times, to be exact -- en route to an 8-5 win over the Angels. Current GM Kenny Williams was the offensive star of the game, with a 3-2-2-3 line, while current manager Ozzie Guillen ended that seventh inning trying to score from third on a wild pitch. Ricky Horton got the win, Bobby Thigpen the save. Bobby Witt took the loss.

George Bell predated Tuffy Rhodes by five years with his three-dinger day in Kansas City. All three came off eventual loser Bret Saberhagen. Jimmy Key opened the season with the win, and Tom Henke went two innings for the save. Didn't Jimy Williams know that you don't put your closer in before the ninth?

The A's set a precedent for much of what was to follow the rest of 1988 in their opener. Homers by Jose Canseco and Dave Henderson. 8+ innings of sterling work by Dave Stewart, with Dennis Eckersley picking up the save in the A's 4-1 win over the Mariners. Stewart balked in the M's only run in the first -- one can imagine him getting really, really annoyed by that and deciding then and there that no one else was reach base. And, until the ninth, no one else did.

It was dueling knuckleballs in Arlington, as the Rangers' Charlie Hough battled Cleveland's Tom Candiotti. The boys must've been swining away that day, as there were only six walks between the two. Texas won 4-3 on Pete O'Brien's second dinger of the day (off Chris Codiroli in the eighth). Mitch Williams picked up the save.

Over in the National League, the purists were happy as Cincinnati hosted Opening Day. Even better -- three free innings! Kal Daniels singled home Jeff Treadway in the bottom of the twelfth for a 5-4 win over the Cardinals.

At Chavez Ravine, the Giants' Dave Dravecky picked up the complete game W as San Francisco beat Los Angeles 5-1. According to Retrosheet, the first thirteen batters of the game took the first pitch. Fernando Valenzuela fell behind ten of those hitters, but outside of two shaky innings did OK.

The last game on Opening Day 1998 was the Mets and Expos. Sadly, Dennis Martinez (one of my long-time faves) got lit up by New York to the tune of six earned in six innings. The Mets cracked six homers -- two each by Darryl Strawberry and Kevin McReynolds, with Len Dykstra and Kevin Elster chipping in one apiece. Kevin Elster? Not Denny's best day, indeed. Dwight Gooden was marginally better (4 earned on 11 hits), but managed to last the five innings required to "earn" the 10-6 win. Future Cub hero Randy Myers pitch the last inning and two-thirds for the save.

The rest of the league opened on the 5th:

In the twenty-first-to-last Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, Rick Rhoden threw a three-hit gem against the Twins. Rhoden whiffed four and didn't walk a batter. Mike Pagliarulo and Rickey Henderson both took Frank Viola deep as the Yanks cruised to an 8-0 win.

Perhaps the wildest Opening Day game of the year was the Cubs-Braves tilt in Atlanta. Rick Sutcliffe coughed up seven earned in the fourth inning to stake the Braves to an 8-4 lead. Since the Braves were still lousy twenty years ago, they let the Cubs back in the game, with Bruce Sutter blowing the save by giving up two in the top of the ninth to tie the game. Current Cub hitting coach Gerald Perry could have won the game for Atlanta in the bottom of the ninth, but was called out for interfering with the catcher while trying to score on Albert Hall's single. The exhibition of mediocre baseball came to a merciful end in the thirteenth. Manny Trillo's sacrifice fly scored Vance Law for the Cubs' tenth run, and Mike Bielecki pitched a 1-2-3 inning to wrap it up.

The Astros staged a comeback of their own, putting up five in the bottom of the eighth to gab a 6-3 win over the Padres. Terry Puhl started the mayhem with a single lined off Ed Whitson's arm. Lance McCullers came in and fooled no one, taking the loss and a robust 27.00 ERA at the end of the day. Mike Scott struck out nine in his eight innings of work.

Finally, the Pirates and Phillies offered what I consider the least inspiring match up of the year -- Mike Dunne versus Shane Rawley. The Bucs hung on for a 5-3 win, with most of the damage coming in a four-run third. Barry Bonds (batting leadoff) hit a solo home run, and Darnell Coles followed three batters later with a three-run shot off Rawley. Jeff Robinson took over with one out in the sixth for a Gossage-like save (in terms of innings pitched, if not quality).

Hope you enjoyed this trip down Memory Lane. Thanks to the good folks at Retrosheet for all their hard work. Without them, I'd be way to lazy to look this stuff up...

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