PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 08: General view as the Cincinnati Reds and the Arizona Diamondbacks stand attended for the National Anthem before the Major League Baseball home opening game at Chase Field on April 8, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The offense was certainly firing on all cylinders last night, and the thumping margin of victory left many people wondering whether it was the best performance by the team for a home opener in franchise history. There certainly are grounds to believe so. We dug back into the history books and looked at all the opening games at BOB/Chase since the very first game in 1998, to see how this one stacked up...
- 1998: March 31, vs. Rockies: Lost 2-9. Attendance: 47.484. First game ever: obviously, memorable for being the debut of Diamondbacks baseball. But the actual contest? Not so much. Plenty of milestones, and it was actually pretty close after six, with Arizona only down 3-1. But Colorado scored five in the seventh, and that was it.
- 1999. April 12, vs. Dodgers. Won 12-6. Attendance: 46,929. After a 1-5 road-trip, the Diamondbacks responded well to coming back home, putting up five runs in both the third and seventh innings. A grand-slam by Travis Lee off Chan-Ho Park highlighted the latter. Both sets of pitchers were pretty wild, combining to issue 16 walks.
- 2000. April 4, vs. Phillies. Won 6-4. Attendance: 44.298. Randy Johnson came within an out of a complete game, allowing two earned runs in 8.2 innings; Damian Miller's three-run shot in the third led the offense. Got a bit tense in the ninth: Philadelphia went from four down, to put the tying run on base before Darren Holmes got the final out, after two other relievers failed to do so.
- 2001. April 6, vs Cardinals. Lost 9-12. Attendance: 46,079. The hitters tried hard, putting up a crooked number in four frames, but an eight-run fifth for St. Louis did Arizona in. The opposition sent 13 to the plate against Armando Reynoso and Mike Morgan there. Some guy called Albert Pujols hit the first HR of his career off Reynoso. Whatever happened to him?
- 2002. April 1, vs. Padres. Won 2-0. Attendance: 47,025. Randy Johnson threw a complete-game shutout, scattering six hits and a walk, striking out eight. Will we ever see a starter throw 130 pitches on Opening Day like that again? It was the last of three times RJ did (2000-02); the pitcher before him was Jack Morris of the Twins, in 1992.
- 2003. March 31, vs. Dodgers. Lost 0-8. Attendance: 47,356. The baseball gods retaliated the next year, putting Arizona on the other end. Hideo Nomo threw a complete game shutout, with only four hits and a walk for the Diamondbacks (and on only 102 pitches). He faced the minimum into the seventh, and we got one man past first all night.
- 2004. April 6, vs. Rockies. Lost 2-6. Attendance: 46,949. Another night when the hitters failed to show up. We managed three hits off Shaun Estes and two Colorado relievers. Two of those were by Luis Gonzalez, both solo home-runs. Johnson took the loss, but the margin was padded by three runs in the ninth, off Jose Valverde.
- 2005. April 4, vs. Cubs. Lost 6-16. Attendance: 45,539. Most would agree, this was the worst home opener ever for us. Javier Vazquez didn't make it through the second inning, coughing up 10 hits and seven earned runs, and Chicago tagged the bullpen for nine more tallies. Chad Tracy had three hits for Arizona, on a day best forgotten.
2006. April 11, vs. Rockies. Lost 5-6. Attendance: 37,355. The Diamondbacks almost pulled off a comeback, battling from 5-0 down to put the tying run on second with one out in the ninth. Craig Counsell drove in three runs with a bases-loaded triple, while Orlando Hernandez pitched 4.2 innings for us, and took the L.
- 2007. April 8, vs. Reds. Won 3-2. Attendance: 41,803. Our first victory in a home opener for five years required a comeback too, as we tied the game in the seventh and won it in the eighth. Stephen Drew is the only survivor of the game still on our roster; he hit lead-off and went 0-for-4. Doug Davis delivered a quality start, with two runs in six innings.
- 2008. April 7, vs. Dodgers. Won 9-3. Attendance: 49,057. Part of an eight-game winning streak for Arizona, we scored four in the first to take the lead for good. Orlando Hudson and Mark Reynolds each had two hits and drove in three runs; Dan Haren gave us six solid innings, and Chad Qualls, Tony Peña and Doug Slaten shut out LA from there.
- 2009. April 6, vs. Rockies. Won 9-8. Attendance: 48,799. Possibly the most exciting opener for us, as the Diamondbacks blew four leads in this one, before hanging on to the fifth. We showed remarkable resilience: each time the Rockies scored in the top of the frame, we immediately struck back in the bottom half. Tony Clark and Felipe Lopez each homered from both sides of the plate for Arizona.
- 2010. April 5, vs. Padres. Won 6-3. Attendance: 49,192. We were 6-0 up by the end of the fourth, with two-run shots from Drew and Reynolds a large part of that. Dan Haren allowed only three hits and one run in seven innings, while Miguel Montero drove in the Arizona's other two runs with a pair of knocks, as we beat former D-back Jon Garland.
I think it's clear that, yes - this was the best performance, overall, by the team in its home opener. It's only the third time we've held the opposition to less than three runs, and as the scores in the other games was 2-0 and 3-2, the offense wasn't on fire in the way it was last night. Conversely, while it was the fifth time we've scored nine or more, it's the first time in such a contest we've also held the opposition to fewer than three.
Of course, it's only a single game - we had similar crushing victories last year, like the 13-1 win over the (future) World Series champion Giants. But in front of a packed, raucous Chase Field, it was certainly one hell of a statement, and perhaps provides a spark of hope that things might - just, might - finally be on the upturn for the Diamondbacks.