The Arizona Diamondbacks start their 18th season in Major League Baseball Monday night when they host the world champion San Francisco Giants at Chase Field.
Here’s a look back at some of the more memorable Opening Day performances from the franchise’s first 17 years.
5. Mr. Lincecum, meet Mr. Goldschmidt
April 6, 2012 – San Francisco Giants starter Tim Lincecum had won two National League Cy Young Awards and was a four-time All-Star by the time he toed the Chase Field rubber to start the 2012 season.
D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt wasn’t impressed. Goldschmidt followed Chris Young’s two-run first-inning home run with a solo shot of his own, helping the D-backs to a 5-4 win.
It was the beginning of Goldy’s ownership of Lincecum. In his career, Goldschmidt is hitting .500 (10-for-20) against the San Francisco right-hander with five home runs and 11 RBI.
4. Gonzo goes deep in D-backs’ win
April 3, 2001 – Luis Gonzalez’s two-run homer off of Dodgers reliever Jose Nunez in the top of the seventh inning proved to be the difference in the Diamondbacks’ 3-2 win in Los Angeles.
It was only fitting that Gonzo would homer on Opening Day — the first of 57 long balls he’d hit during a magical season that ended with the team’s one and only World Series championship.
3. The game that started it all
March 31, 1998 – The very first game in D-backs’ history wasn’t a win, but the first face of the franchise had a nice debut in a 9-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
Travis Lee was the second overall pick in the 1996 Major League Baseball Draft of the Minnesota Twins, who failed to offer him a contract. Lee instead signed a $10 million deal with the Diamondbacks, two years before their first game.
He started at first base in the team’s inaugural game, and quickly made history. His first inning single off of Colorado starter Darryl Kile was the first ever for the Diamondbacks. He would also hit the franchise’s first-ever home run — a solo shot off of Kile in the sixth inning.
Not a bad start.
2. Picking up where he left off
April 1, 2002 – Randy Johnson won the 2001 National League Cy Young Award and was the World Series Co-MVP, along with Curt Schilling.
On a day where Phoenix’s first Major League pro championship was celebrated, Johnson once again showed his dominance.
The fireballing lefty threw a six-hit shutout while striking out eight in a 2-0 win over the San Diego Padres at Chase Field. He ended the game with a punchout of San Diego shortstop Deivi Cruz, much to the delight of the 47,025 fans in attendance.
1. Switch-hitters paradise
April 6, 2009 – Switch-hitting lead-off man Felipe Lopez set the tone for what was to come in his first at-bat as a Diamondback. Batting from the left side, Lopez took Colorado starter Aaron Cook deep to left field to give Arizona a 1-0 lead.
In the third inning, switch-hitter Tony Clark connected on a two-run shot off Cook. Leading off the fourth, Lopez turned around to the right side and jacked a solo shot to right-center off of Rockies’ reliever Glendon Rusch. In the seventh, Clark did the same thing, giving the D-backs an 8-7 lead. They would go on to win 9-8.
Lopez and Clark became the first switch-hitting teammates to each homer from both sides of the plate in a game since Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams did it in 2000, and the first duo to accomplish the feat on Opening Day.
The win was a bittersweet one, however. Starting pitcher Brandon Webb left the game after four innings with discomfort in his shoulder. It would be the last time he’d ever pitch in a big league game.