A few days ago on Twitter, I started something I hope to keep up all season: one tweet a day that highlights something that happened on this date 10 years ago, in 2001. That season was one of the most interesting and action-filled in recent memory, and it’s hard to believe that it was already a whole decade ago, so I thought it would be fun to kind of re-live the year in real time. Here’s the first tweet:
So that’s the idea. In connection with the Twitter effort, I’ve decided to write a weekly wrap-up, this Friday and hopefully every Friday, of what happened in baseball “this week” a decade ago (and it actually works out pretty well, as Saturday through Friday in our world was Monday through Sunday in 2001). So here’s a look at a couple interesting notes from each day in the opening week:
Monday, April 2: Opening Day for 20 of the 30 teams (Texas and Toronto kicked the season off from San Juan, Puerto Rico the day before). The Brewers-Dodgers matchup in L.A. features a great pitchers’ duel between two pitchers who seem very unlikely to (a) ever have been opening day starters and (b) still be active professional pitchers in 2011: Jamey Wright and Chan Ho Park. Gary Sheffield took Wright deep in the sixth, all the support Park and the Dodgers’ bullpen would need in a 1-0 victory. Elsewhere, Barry Bonds hits his first home run in his third plate appearance of the season, a solo shot that would prove to be the difference in the Giants’ 3-2 win over the Padres.
Tuesday, April 3: Opening Day for the final eight teams. Randy Johnson strikes out ten Dodgers (yes, the Dodgers opened against the Brewers yesterday and then hosted the Diamondbacks’ opener today) in seven innings on the way to a 3-2 D-Back win. Brad Radke holds the Tigers to one run in eight innings in a Twins win, in the fifth of his nine career Twins opening-day starts. Twenty-two year old Barry Zito blanks the Mariners over seven innings, leading the A’s to a 5-1 win over the M’s and unlikely game-two starter John Halama. David Eckstein makes his gritty big-league debut, going 1-for-3 in the Angels’ loss to the Rangers.
Wednesday, April 4: The Rockies overcome two homers apiece by the Cardinals’ Jim Edmonds and Ray Lankford in a classic 13-9 old-school-Coors-Field win, in which Andy Benes gives up ten runs in under three innings. The story of the day, though, belongs to Hideo Nomo, making his Red Sox debut after a few tough years in LA, New York, Milwaukee and Detroit; he hurls his second career no-hitter, walking three and striking out eleven with one more runner reaching on an error, as the Sox beat the Orioles 3-0.
Thursday, April 5: Mike Mussina makes his Yankee debut, throwing seven and two-thirds shutout innings (5 H, 0 BB, 3 K) against the Royals. A Paul O’Neill first-inning home run is the only tally in the Yanks’ win. The Blue Jays’ Chris Carpenter, coming off a 6.26-ERA 2000 season, throws an unnecessary gem, shutting out the Devil Rays over eight innings (4 H, 1 BB, 11 K) as the Jays win 11-0. Budding superstar Richard Hidalgo (coming off a 44-homer 2000) hits already his third homer, helping the Astros top the Brewers.
Friday, April 6: It’s billed as Alex Rodriguez‘s first contest against his old team, but the Mariners’ new star steals the show, as Ichiro Suzuki goes 4-for-6 with his first career MLB home run in the M’s 9-7 win in Texas. Somewhat less noteworthy is the first career homer of an unheralded rookie right fielder named Albert Pujols, helping the Cardinals win in Arizona.
Saturday, April 7: In another old-Coors slugfest, Woody Williams gets credited with a “win” despite giving up nine runs (eight earned) in five innings as the Chargers beat the Broncos 14-10. Mike Hampton outduels Williams, giving up only six runs in his five innings, but gets a no-decision; he does go 2-for-3 with his first home run of the season, though.
Sunday, April 8: Bonds goes 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in the Giants’ 8-3 win at LA. Through six games, he’s hitting .125/.222/.292 with just the one homer and, pushing 37, might be starting to slow down. J.C. Romero starts for the Twins (I’d forgotten he ever did that, but he actually made 22 of them between 2000 and 2001), and gets slapped around for two and two-thirds by the Royals, who win 15-4 with three-hit days from Carlos Beltran and Mark Quinn.
Until next week!