Best opening day (team): 2013
While the Diamondbacks have a winning record on Opening Day (10-7), only twice in those ten victories have they prevailed by more than two runs. The year before last saw a positive blowout, as Arizona beat St. Louis by a whole four runs, taking the lead in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run double by A.J. Pollock. Our outfield was unstoppable that day, as he, Gerardo Parra and Jason Kubel combined to go 9-for-13, including three doubles by Parra out of the lead-off spot. Ian Kennedy struck out eight over seven strong innings, with David Hernandez and Brad Ziegler taking things the rest of the way, as the Diamondbacks prevailed 6-2.
Worst opening day (team): 2003
While not quite the biggest margin of defeat - we'll get to that one later - the 8-0 drubbing inflicted here was likely worse. It came at the hands of the division rival Dodgers, and with our undisputed ace and unanimous Cy Young winner Randy Johnson on the mound. Coming off a 24-win, 2.32 ERA season, great things were expected, but after keeping things close through the front five, he hit the wall and left having allowed five runs in 6.2 innings. Meanwhile, the offense could do nothing against Hideo Nomo, managing four hits and having just one at-bat with a runner in scoring position. It's the only time we've been held to less than two runs on Opening Day in Phoenix.
Best opening day (hitter): Bernard Gilkey, 1999
And we're literally still paying for this, Gilkey being on the team books through 2017, thanks to salary deferrals. Bernard's nine total bases is the best by a Diamondback on Opening Day, as he homered twice and singled, scoring two runs and driving in a pair. His Win Probability of +32.3% is the fourth-best in our first game: the leader is Justin Upton's +39.4% against the Rockies in 2011. However, it wasn't enough for the Diamondbacks, as they went down, Gregg Olson allowing a three-run game-tying homer to Raul Mondesi with two outs in the ninth, and the Dodgers then prevailing 8-6 in 11 innings.
Worst opening day (hitter): Melvin Mora, 2011
It's harder to measure a "worst" performance by a hitter, but Win Probability sucked away seems a pretty good measure. And there's an undisputed champion here, Mora's -45.0% more than twice the second-worst mark, all the way back at -20.7%. The Diamondbacks were somehow able to overcome that, beating the Rockies 7-6, but it was not thanks to Melvin, who marked his debut for Arizona by going 0-for-5, hitting into a pair of double-plays and also failing to produce in a 2nd-and-3rd, one out situation, with the game tied in the top of the 10th. That single play was worth -22%, so was worse than any other Opening Day performance by a Diamondback hitter.
Best opening day (pitcher): Randy Johnson, 2002
Another reason why 2003 was so awful, was how great the Big Unit had been the previous Opening Day, throwing a complete-game shutout of the Padres. He gave up six hits, one walk and struck out eight, in a pitchers' duel against Kevin Jarvis, as the sides combined to go 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Arizona won 2-0, but perhaps the most remarkable thing is Johnson throwing 130 pitches on Opening Day. Only one pitcher since the start of 2003 has reached even 115 (Curt Schilling for Boston in 2006 threw 117). Indeed, there have only been two Opening Day CGSO's since RJ's effort: Nomo against us the following year, and Clayton Kershaw in 2013.
Worst opening day (pitcher): Javier Vazquez, 2005
Ah, Opening Day. So much hope, so much potential. And, in 2005, so quickly ground into a bloody pulp. After 2004, D-backs fans were thinking things couldn't possibly get any worse, but it took just five outs for this fond notion to be disproved. For that is all Vazquez lasted against the Cubs, facing 15 batters and allowing ten hits. By the time he was lifted, with two outs in the top of the second inning. Chicago were 7-0 up and our Win Probability was down to 5.7%. And while the offense did their best, scoring six run on 12 hits, the Cubs were merciless, continuing to pillage our pitching, knocking out 23 hits on their way to a 16-6 massacre.
Here's to more of the "best" performances, and none of the "worst" in tonight's game.