Opening Day observations

BY foxsports • April 6, 2012

April 6, 2012



Some final notes

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

- 9-6 all-time on Opening Day (5-4 at home).

- 6-game Opening Day winning streak, tied with Seattle for longest active streak in MLB.

- Attendance: 49,130 (sellout) … 4th largest regular-season crowd in Chase Field history (3rd largest on Opening Day), trailing 49,826 (6/9/07 vs. BOS), 49,548 (4/9/07 vs. CIN - OD) and 49,192 (4/5/10 vs. SD - OD).

- 1st time in team history with 2 first-inning home runs on Opening Day.

- 14 home runs in last 5 Opening Day games.
 
- Chris Young: 2nd career Opening Day home run (also 2008) … tied Steve Finley (6) for most Opening Day starts by a D-backs’ center fielder … hit 2nd in the lineup for the first time since 4/6/11 at Chicago Cubs.

- Miguel Montero: Is 6-for-11 (.545) in 3 Opening Day starts … tied Damian Miller and Chris Snyder  for most Opening Day starts by a D-backs’ catcher.

- Paul Goldschmidt: Is 6 for 11 (.545) with 3 home runs and 5 RBI vs. Tim Lincecum … 3 homers are tied for the most off Lincecum with Ryan Howard (26 AB) and Seth Smith (28 AB).

- J.J. Putz: 18-game scoreless streak ended.
 
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

- Giants: 20-14 on Opening Day on the road since moving to San Francisco.
 
- Tim Lincecum: 1st-ever home runs allowed on Opening Day (4th career OD start today) … had allowed three earned runs total (17.0 IP) in 3 previous Opening Day starts.

- Buster Posey: 14-game hitting streak dating back to 2011.




























Maybe we should have seen Willie Bloomquist’s first spring training home run coming Wednesday.

Abe Speck was at Chase Field, after all.

Speck is the young fan, remember, who called Bloomquist’s shot against San Francisco last June 15.

Bloomquist and Aaron Hill were doing their pregame stretch when Hill noticed a tweet on the Chase Field scoreboard from Abe, 12. Bloomquist waved to Abe and his father in the bleachers, then hit a long home run to left-center field three innings later.

“It was a little eerie,” Bloomquist said.

Abe sent a congratulatory text to Bloomquist after the game, and Bloomquist responded.

“I might have to buy you season tickets if this continues,” Bloomquist wrote.

Speck, 12, attended the June 15 game last year as a guest of Bloomquist’s charitable foundation, which provides game tickets for patients at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. After Bloomquist hit in batting practice, Speck brought up the home run.

“I said ‘If you hit a home run today, will you point to me? ‘I have a feeling you will hit one tonight,’” Abe said last year.

Bloomquist homered in the third inning of a 5-2 loss.

“As I was rounding the bases, I thought no way this is happening,” Bloomquist said.

“That’s the secret – I have to have him come out to more games, I guess.”

A thought reinforced Wednesday.

A photo of Abe Speck (right) with Willie Bloomquist after Speck called Bloomquist's home run last June.

-- Jack Magruder




PHOENIX --
In 59 days as a big leaguer, Paul Goldschmidt has experienced some big moments. The Diamondbacks first baseman got a hit in his first major league at-bat, off Giants starter Matt Cain no less.

The next day, he hit his first career home run off two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, who starts against the D-backs on Opening Day today. Then, of course, there was Goldschmidt's monster grand slam off Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Shaun Marcum in Game 3 of the NLDS that propelled the D-backs to an 8-1 rout.

Undoubtedly, the 24-year-old slugger has seen a lot in a short period of time, but today marks his first Opening Day in the majors.

"It will be exciting for sure," Goldschmidt said. "I've never experienced it, and it's something you always think about."

Goldschmidt gets the start at first base and is batting fifth. His experience in the playoffs, baseball's grandest stage, should help eliminate any nerves a young player might experience on his first Opening Day, but that doesn't mean Goldschmidt won't get a little amped up for the first day of his first full season in the Show.

"The first day of any season is exciting," Goldschmidt said. "Doesn't matter where you are -- high school, little league, college, minors, majors. It will definitely be a good day."

-- Tyler Lockman

New Diamondbacks left fielder Jason Kubel makes his sixth career Opening Day start today, but this one is much different.

In seven major league seasons, Kubel has known only the Minnesota Twins organization. He came to Arizona in free agency this offseason and begins the next chapter of his career today as a Diamondback.

"It feels a lot different," Kubel said before Friday's opener against the Giants. "It's a whole new start, new everything. It's pretty exciting.

"It's going to be a lot different, but it's the same intensity, same excitement. It's going to be a lot of fun."

New park, new teammates, new uniform, new fans -- there's plenty of new about Opening Day 2012 for Kubel. But what might be one of the bigger differences is the climate. Kubel has experienced a few cold Opening Days in the Midwest, but today gets to play with the sun shining and temperatures approaching the 80s.

"The last two years at Target Field, we actually had good weather for Opening Day," Kubel said. "Not so much the rest of the way, but still, this weather is way nicer. All we've got to worry about is Colorado for three games (next weekend). It should be smooth sailing after that."

Kubel's also hoping for smooth sailing at the plate, where he's expected to add some needed left-handed pop to the lineup. He saw mixed results in spring training, driving in nine runs and hitting three home runs but batting just .254. Kubel is batting sixth today, behind first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.

-- Tyler Lockman


Here are today's starting lineups:



Giants

CF Angel Pagan

RF Melky Cabrera

3B Pablo Sandoval

C Buster Posey

LF Aubrey Huff

1B Brandon Belt

2B Ryan Theriot

SS Brandon Crawford

P TIm Lincecum

 

Diamondbacks

SS Willie Bloomquist

CF Chris Young

RF Justin Upton

C Miguel Montero

1B Paul Goldschmidt

LF Jason Kubel

3B Ryan Roberts

2B Aaron Hill

P Ian Kennedy



A bit of a wrinkle from Kirk Gibson with Chris Young in the No. 2 hole.
Be interesting to see if this is more of an experiment, or a trend.
Gibby likes to mix things up.



Chris Young will make his sixth Opening Day start in center field today, the longest streak among major league center fielders with the same team.

It is not just another day.

“In your mind, you try to tell yourself it’s just another game. Until you get out there and you get the flyover and you get the sold out crowd and you get the best national anthem of the year and you get the goose bumps … other than that, yeah, it’s just another day.”

Laughter.

“In reality after the first pitch and you get into the game a little bit, it starts to feel a little more regular to you. Before the game starts, everybody in baseball, whether it is your first one or your 20th one … it is only human to get the goose bumps and get that anxiety going because it is the new season.

“You start fresh, and the sky is the limit.”

-- Jack Magruder


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