Caught up in the joie de vivre that marks the commencement of each season was George Argyros, the new owner of the Mariners. During a four-game series against the Angels, Argyros meandered through the Kingdome, shook hands with fans, led "Go Mariner" cheers and even climbed atop the Seattle dugout to join Bill the Beer Man in a chorus of Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Argyros found particular satisfaction in three former Rangers who contributed to Friday's 10-2 victory. One was Jerry Don Gleaton, a left-handed starter who allowed only four hits in 6⅖ innings. The others: DH Richie Zisk, who had a homer, and Shortstop Rick Auerbach, who had a single, double and two RBIs.
California took the opener of that series 6-2 as Brian Downing walloped a grand-slam home run in the first inning. Downing's blast came on a 3-2 pitch, as did a pair of two-run shots two days later by Tom Brunansky, a 6'4", 205-pound rookie outfielder who triggered the Angels' 7-4 triumph. Two others who made impressive Halo hellos were transplanted Bostonians, Fred Lynn, who poked a two-run homer in the second game, and Rick Burleson, who contributed three hits. Rod Carew's steal of home with two out in the ninth then gave the Angels a 7-6 lead in a Sunday game they went on to win 8-6.
Another ex-Red Sox, Carlton Fisk of Chicago, had one of the week's most dramatic hits. With the White Sox trailing the Red Sox 2-0 in the eighth inning of their opener at Fenway Park, Fisk recreated memories of his historic home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series by hitting a three-run round-tripper that shot Chicago to a 5-3 triumph.
April 20, 1981
When Don Zimmer was managing Boston in 1978, the Red Sox lost a playoff to the Yankees after Bucky Dent hit a three-run homer. Last week Dent continued to haunt Zimmer, now the skipper of the Rangers, by connecting for a three-run drive that helped knock off Texas 10-3. Before the next game Dent was given a carryall bag for appearing on a radio show. Dent promptly sent the gift to Zimmer with a note that said, "Nothing personal. I still love you." Nice gesture. But, once again, poor Zimmer was left holding the bag. Until Sunday, that is, when Texas beat New York 6-4.
Oakland Second Baseman Brian Doyle wound up holding something more important—the ball. This occurred in the sixth inning when the Twins had Glenn Adams on second and Gary Ward on first following an error by Third Baseman Wayne Gross. After getting the ball from Gross, Doyle tucked it in his glove and acted as if he had returned it to the pitcher. Adams took a short lead off second as Rick Langford prepared to pitch. Then Doyle consummated the hidden-ball trick by tagging out the chagrined Adams. That play helped the A's win 6-3 behind Langford's five-hitter. Mike Norris and Matt Keough also went the distance and beat the Twins 5-1 and 3-0, respectively. And Steve McCatty yielded only three hits while subduing Minnesota 1-0. Much of the Oakland punch was supplied by Tony Armas, who had two home runs among his seven hits.
Amos Otis, who made only four errors last season, and Larry Gura, who walked an average of barely two men per game in 1980, both flubbed up as Kansas City lost its opener at Baltimore 5-3. Otis, shifted to left field after 11 years in center, dropped a fly in the fifth inning. Apparently unnerved by that miscue, Gura, who had already issued one walk in that inning, walked the next three batters, two with the bases full. Clint Hurdle, who didn't hit a homer off a lefty in 1980, tagged portsider Mike Flanagan for one Sunday as Dennis Leonard stopped the Orioles 4-2.
OAK 4-0 CAL 3-1 CHI 1-1 KC 1-1 TEX 1-2 SEA 1-3 MINN 0-4
Changes in attitude, repertoire and signals enabled Detroit pitchers to take two 6-2 decisions over Toronto. Jack Morris, hitherto known for acting like Mount St. Helens when his fielders erred, didn't erupt once after his defense messed up on several plays. Morris allowed only five hits and won as Richie Hebner broke a 2-2 deadlock with a three-run homer in the seventh. Milt Wilcox of the Tigers then put his new forkball to use against the Blue Jays and won with relief help from Aurelio Lopez. To "take the pressure off the catcher," Pitching Coach Roger Craig now calls the pitches for the Tigers; he sits in a corner of the dugout and flashes signals to the catcher, who relays them to the mound. Toronto took the finale by another 6-2 score as John Mayberry hit a three-run homer.
A Yankee on the way in, Dave Winfield (page 42), and a Yankee who seemed to be on the way out, Bobby Murcer, drew special attention on Opening Day in New York. Murcer, who is 34 and narrowly survived being cut, ran the count to 3-2 and then slugged a pinch-hit grand-slam homer in the seventh inning to help make Tommy John a 10-3 victor. Three more New York home runs polished off Texas 5-1 in their next encounter.
Joe DiMaggio, who used to hit many a homer for the Yanks, is now a member of the Oriole board of directors. After Joe D. tossed out the ceremonial first ball on Opening Day, Baltimore beat Kansas City 5-3.
One of the few places where the new season was not greeted with complete joy was Boston. Gone from last year's starting lineup were stalwarts Fred Lynn, Rick Burleson, Butch Hobson and Carlton Fisk, all of whom are with other teams, and Carl Yastrzemski missed his first Opening Day in 21 seasons because of back spasms. Fortunately for the Red Sox, Jim Rice was still on hand and his grand slam sank the White Sox 5-4.
Back-to-back home runs by Larry Hisle and Gorman Thomas enabled Milwaukee to take a 5-3 opener in Cleveland, disappointing a crowd of 71,067. Mike Caldwell got the victory and Rollie Fingers nailed down the final five outs to earn a save. In between, Jamie Easterly fired two perfect innings of relief, giving rise to the hope that he will be able to lend Fingers a hand throughout the season.
MIL 2-0 DET 2-1 NY 2-1 BALT 1-1 BOS 1-1 TOR 1-2 CLEV 0-2
It didn't take former Brave Gary Matthews long to learn how exciting it is to be a Phillie. In his second game for Philadelphia, Matthews lined a shot at St. Louis Shortstop Garry Templeton with the bases full and nobody out in the eighth. Seemingly unsure whether he had trapped the ball or caught it on the fly, Templeton pegged the ball home for an apparent forceout, and the Cardinal fielders then tagged every Phillie and base in sight. Third Base Umpire Ed Vargo, however, had signaled that Templeton caught the liner, so what the Cardinals ostensibly pulled was a quadruple play. Undeterred, Philadelphia beat St. Louis 5-2. Bruce Sutter made his first appearance for the Cardinals the next day and sealed a 7-3 triumph over the Phillies with three innings of hitless relief.
Montreal and Pittsburgh split one-run games. The Expos took the opener 6-5 when Andre Dawson singled in the ninth, stole second and came home on Gary Carter's single. Homers by Dave Parker and Jason Thompson led the Pirates to a 3-2 victory on Sunday.
Tight pitching also prevailed in Chicago, where the Mets won two of three games from the Cubs. Neil Allen picked up a save in the first game when he protected a 2-0 verdict for Pat Zachry and then won the finale 2-1 when Hubic Brooks tripled in the ninth and came home on Mike Cubbage's sacrifice fly. Former Met Steve Henderson gave Chicago a 3-1 victory in the middle game when he tripled in two runs in the eighth.
NY 2-1 ST.L 1-1 MONT 1-1 PITT 1-1 CHI 1-2 PHIL 1-2
"When I go to the mound, I don't know what it is to be afraid," said Dodger rookie Fernando Valenzuela, 20, after blanking the Astros 2-0. Valenzuela, the youngest player in the National League, had thrown 20 minutes of batting practice the day before. After that stint, he learned he would start Opening Day because Jerry Reuss, the scheduled pitcher, had pulled a calf muscle. Valenzuela has not allowed an earned run in 26⅖ innings since joining Los Angeles last September. In the second contest of a three-game sweep by L.A., former Dodger Don Sutton allowed six runs in four innings as Houston lost 7-4.
The Reds stranded 14 men during their traditional season opener. Nonetheless, Cincinnati beat Philadelphia 3-2.
Atlanta fans have reason to hope their team might be entering a Brave New World. The Braves downed the Reds 5-3 with a four-run eighth in which Chris Chambliss slammed a two-run double and Dale Murphy a two-run homer. The victory was encouraging because it ended a string of nine Opening Day losses for Atlanta and came against Cincinnati, a club that beat the Braves 16 of 18 tries last season. Murphy's RBI single in the eighth on Sunday knocked off the Reds again, 3-2.
Two new managers—Frank Howard of the Padres and Frank Robinson of the Giants—also had reason to be optimistic. Rebuilt San Diego, with only eight players left from last year's Opening Day roster, took the first game from San Francisco 4-1 by scoring three times in the 12th on hits by newcomer Juan Bonilla and Gene Richards. The Padres then won 4-2 as former Twin Dave Edwards had a tie-breaking pinch single in the eighth. San Diego's restocked bullpen did not give up a run in 8‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings during the first three games.
Robinson was encouraged by the pitching of ex-Brave Doyle Alexander and Reliever Greg Minton during a 2-0 win over the Padres. Further hope was provided by Johnny LeMaster and Mike Ivie, favorites of Candlestick boobirds. LeMaster, who once came to bat with the word BOO pasted across his name on his uniform, had three hits in the 2-0 win. And Ivie, who quit the team midway through last season, had 30,311 Giant fans chanting his name after his fourth hit on Sunday, a single in the 14th, beat the Padres 7-6.
LA 3-0 ATL 2-1 SF 2-2 SD 2-2 CIN 2-2 HOUS 0-3
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
FERNANDO VALENZUELA: The 20-year-old rookie Dodger lefthander became the youngest Opening Day starting pitcher since Catfish Hunter in 1966, and went the route to defeat the Astros 2-0 with a nifty five-hitter.