All that Kazz

Baseball Tonight Extra

Originally Published: April 6, 2004
By Mark Simon | ESPN Research

Out of the box
Kazuo Matsui's performance (3-for-3, three RBI, homer on the first MLB pitch faced) impressed everyone on the panel, as the Mets erased a lot of bad memories from last season, especially for Tom Glavine, who allowed five runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 IP in a 15-2 loss to the Cubs last March 31.

That even upstaged Alex Rodriguez's first homer with the Yankees, which was partly rendered moot by an ineffective performance from Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina, who failed in his fourth bid for 200 wins.

Touch 'em all

  • Mike Piazza -- 348th homer as catcher; needs three to tie Carlton Fisk's record for home runs by a catcher.

  • Kaz Matsui -- Third Mets player to hit a homer in his first at-bat.

  • Luis A. Gonzalez and Luis E. Gonzalez -- Homers in the same game for different teams.

    Stat of the night
    Matsui became the second player in baseball history to hit a homer in his first career at-bat, which came while leading off on Opening Day. Emmett Mueller (Philadelphia) vs. Brooklyn, April 19, 1938.

    (Source: Elias Sports Bureau)

    Most Important Thing

  • Peter Gammons: Josh Beckett displayed World Series-type form.

  • Harold Reynolds: Kaz Matsui's performance made a believer out of me.

  • John Kruk: The Tigers win again, are 2-0 for the first time since 1986.

    Beyond 'Tonight'
    Opening Day History Lesson Part II: Continuing the discussion from the past two nights on whether Opening Day matters. We went back through the archives a little bit and checked out some history. Two recent examples where Opening Day foreshadowed success:

    Kansas City Royals, 2003: The Royals hadn't won on Opening Day since 1998 and there was no reason to believe in them until Tony Pena came along, convincing them they were a legitimate squad. Runelvys Hernandez and two relievers combined on a gem, three-hitting the White Sox. The Royals started 9-0 and stayed in contention until the season's waning days.

    Colorado Rockies, 1995: In the debut of Coors Field, the Rockies rallied to tie the Mets in the ninth and 13th innings, then came back again to win on Dante Bichette's three-run homer off Mike Remlinger (you've probably seen the highlight of Bichette pumping his fist after the swing). This win set up a 7-1 start and got the Rockies believing they could contend. Colorado improved from 53-64 to 77-67 and earns its first postseason berth as a wild-card team.

    And three examples where Opening Day didn't foreshadow anything:

    Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 2003: Were you among those saying it would be the Devil Rays year after Carl Crawford's homer capped a dramatic five-run ninth-inning rally in a win over the Red Sox? Perhaps you got a better indication of what the season would be like the next night, when the Sox beat the Rays, 9-8 in 16 innings.

    Mike Parrott, 1980: The Mariners' pitcher, who won 14 games the previous season, looked all right on Opening Day, allowing just two runs in 6 1/3 innings in an 8-6 win over the Blue Jays. A promising start for a young pitcher on the verge of greatness? Not exactly. Parrott did not win a game the rest of the season, finishing at 1-16 with a 7.28 ERA and was done after one more season in the big leagues.

    New York Mets, 1969: The Mets were beaten 11-10 by the hapless expansion squad Montreal Expos and it looked like the start of another long season, particularly when a four-run ninth-inning rally came up short. It would take a little while for this squad to prove Amazin', but eventually the pieces fell into place for one of the sport's great "miracle" stories.

    Mark Simon is the researcher for ESPN's Baseball Tonight. He can be contacted at Mark.A.Simon@espn.com.

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