For 17 seasons, Brett Butler has been so nervous for his first at-bat on the opening day of baseball season that he sets a rather modest goal. Brett, he tells himself, don’t strike out.
Butler was intent on avoiding that embarrassment as the Dodgers’ leadoff hitter Tuesday, so intent that the standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 53,079 in Los Angeles as he entered the batter’s box didn’t register until his concentration was broken by Philadelphia catcher Mike Lieberthal.
“Man,” Lieberthal said, “that’s awesome.”
However, Butler struck out.
On this opening day, that was no embarrassment. Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling was dominating in a 3-0 victory, throwing 83 strikes in 126 pitches and striking out 11 in eight innings.
The Dodgers managed only two hits, none after the third inning.
Padres 12, Mets 5 San Diego
San Diego set a modern-day N.L. record for runs in an inning on opening day by scoring 11 times in the sixth, including consecutive home runs by the first three batters - Chris Gomez, Rickey Henderson and Quilvio Veras.
The Mets’ Pete Harnisch was on the mound for the back-to-back-to-back home runs, marking the second time in his career that he has given up three consecutive home runs.
Astros 2, Braves 1 Houston
Jeff Bagwell hit an RBI groundout and Pat Listach had a sacrifice fly for the Astros and Shane Reynolds’ pitching performance was highlighted by three strikeouts of Kenny Lofton.
Marlins 4, Cubs 2 Miami
Kevin Brown and two relievers combined on a three-hitter and made new Florida manager Jim Leyland’s debut a success.
Expos 2, Cardinals 1 Montreal
Pinch-hitter Sherman Obando drew a bases-loaded walk off Tony Fossas in the ninth inning to give Montreal the winning run.
Reds 11, Rockies 4 Cincinnati
Cincinnati’s Deion Sanders opened a four-run first inning with a double. He later singled, stole a pair of bases and scored on one of the Rockies’ two errors.
The Reds’ Hal Morris had a pair of run-scoring singles and an RBI double, giving him a hit in each of his last 30 games. He ended last season by hitting safely in 29 games, but streaks don’t carry over to a new season.
Pirates 5, Giants 2 San Francisco
Kevin Elster broke a seventh-inning tie with a two-run double, helping Pittsburgh to its eighth consecutive win at San Francisco.
Clearing the bases
One year after umpire John McSherry collapsed on the field and died of heart failure, the Cincinnati Reds dedicated a room in his memory and eulogized him as “an umpire’s umpire.” … The most encouraging note for San Francisco was the debut of J.T. Snow, recovered from the beaning sustained when Seattle’s Randy Johnson hit him with a pitch March 11… . Barry Bonds of the Giants is 0 for 16 against Jon Lieber, the opening day starter for the Pirates.
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