Some highlights from Opening Day in the Bigs:
All four division champions from last season begin tonight, but the two wild card teams took the field on Opening Day.
Chicago was a legitimate title contender last season, but on this day it was Toronto's Davey Pena who was the story. Pena, who was nearly demoted to AAA in spring training, hit 2 HRs and drove in 5 as the Toros won in Chicago 12-3.
Trenton, the other wild card team from last season, fared better. Carlton MacDougal set the tone with a first-inning grand slam off Fred Carter to spark a 11-6 win over the Atlanta Bandits.
San Juan was excited about the recent addition of superstar LF Osvaldo Johnson, and the fans were not disappointed. He led off the 8th inning with a solo home run to provide the final margin of a 4-1 Dead Bunnies victory over the Austin City Limits.
Out west, the Golden Otters made their first game north of the border a successful one. Kerry Barber pitched 6 strong innings, yielding 1 run on 4 hits in a 3-1 victory over the Salt Lake City Shakers.
3 out of the 6 playoff teams from a season ago have already opened their seasons. Neither defending division titlist won.
Perennial contender Monterrey couldn't beat up-and-coming Jackson on Opening Day. Marty James, Jackson's 2nd year shortstop, had a monster game. He went 5 for 5 with 2 HRs and 7 RBIs as the Vipers slugged their way past the Sultans 14-7. Del Lopez, Ryan Snyder, and Felipe Ortiz all homered in a losing cause.
In Las Vegas, Seattle Killer Whales pitcher Miguel Benitez threw a 7-hit shutout and Zeke Sellers hit a 3-run home run to propel thte Whales to a 5-0 win over the Gamblers.
St. Louis follows up their wild-card berth from last season with an opening day win over the Syracuse Simpletons. Benito Martin and 2 relievers held Syracuse to 8 hits and no runs in a 4-0 victory. Louie Bolivar was the hard-luck loser, going 6 innings and giving up 10 hits but only 1 run.
In the east, our own version of the New York-Boston rivalry begins, with game 1 going to the boys from Gotham by a 2-1 margin. It was a pitcher's duel, with Boston's Daryl Cashman almost matching New York's Max Jacquez pitch for pitch, but Jacquez was just a little better. Marvin Bailey and Bob Koplove traded solo shots, but it was Cashman's first inning wild pitch that gave New York the extra run.