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Play Ball: A Look Back at the Philadelphia Phillies' Last 10 Season Openers

Matt GoldbergCorrespondent IMarch 28, 2011

Play Ball: A Look Back at the Philadelphia Phillies' Last 10 Season Openers

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    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    Four more days!

    Four more days!

    Yes, the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Atlanta Braves 6-1 on Sunday to run their Grapefruit League record to 19-13. And yes, those three more scoreless innings from ace of aces Roy Halladay (to up his exhibition games record to a silly 4-0 with an 0.42 ERA) looked quite encouraging to Phils fans.

    Homers by Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez, both having good springs, also engendered a smile or two from Phillies Nation.

    But as they say in local TV, the big story is that the real season is starting on Friday, April 1—I'm not April Fool-ing you.

    While there have been some good developments this spring, the Phillies have endured a few too many injuries and must be looking forward to getting it going for real.

    Doc Halladay will take the ball versus the visiting Houston Astros at roughly 1:05 PM on Friday. Did I mention that this is only four days away?

    In anticipation of the April Fools' Day opener, let us embark on a journey through the last 10 Phillies season openers.

    Not all seasons brought the same type of anticipation and passion as this one. But to a true baseball fan all season openers are great events, by definition, whether played in 80 degrees or 40, home or away.

    Pack your virtual bags and take a slightly nostalgic journey through the last decade of Phillies baseball.

April 2, 2001: Phillies 6, Marlins 5

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Centerfielder Doug Glanville and third baseman Scott Rolen both launched homers in the 13-inning victory over the host Marlins.

    Winning pitcher:  Amaury Telemaco, who yielded only one hit in four innings of work, after Jose Mesa blew the save in the ninth.

     

    Starting Lineup:

    1. Doug Glanville, CF

    2. Jimmy Rollins, SS

    3. Bobby Abreu, RF

    4. Scott Rolen, 3B

    5. Pat Burrell, LF

    6. Travis Lee, 1B

    7. Mike Lieberthal, C

    8, Marlon Anderson, 2B

    9. Omar Daal, P

     

    One more thing:  The Phillies used seven pitchers that day: Daal, Vicente Padilla, Ricky Botallico, Eddie Oropesa, Wayne Gomes, Mesa and Telemaco.

    And another: I recall a postgame interview (I'm 90-percent sure it was after this game) in which the TV reporter asked Rolen about the team playing Bowa Ball.

    You could not print what Rolen—not exactly a big fan of Larry Bowa, or of being interviewed—was thinking, but I can still picture his angst-ridden expression.

April 1, 2002: Braves 7. Phillies 2

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Gary Sheffield and Vinny Castilla both homered to back Tom Glavine's solid pitching as the Braves defeated the Phillies 7-2 at Turner Field.

    Travis (wake me when this ordeal's over) Lee stayed alert long enough to homer in a losing cause.

     

    Starting Lineup:

    1. Jimmy Rollins, SS

    2. Doug Glanville, CF

    3. Bobby Abreu, RF

    4. Scott Rolen, 3B

    5. Mike Lieberthal, C

    6. Travis Lee, 1B

    7. Pat Burrell, LF

    8, Marlon Anderson, 2B

    9. Robert Person, P

     

    One more thing: Scott Rolen and Jimmy Rollins, a Gold Glove left side of the infield, both committed errors.

March 31, 2003: Phillies 8, Marlins 5

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    The visiting Phillies took advantage of the host Marlins' generosity (eight walks and three errors) and chased Josh Beckett in the third inning to highlight the 8-5 victory.

    Jim Thome had three hits and David Bell scored three runs to help starter Kevin Millwood earn his first victory. Jose Mesa threw a clean, nine-pitch ninth to earn the save.

     

    Starting Lineup:

    1. Jimmy Rollins, SS

    2. Placido Polanco, 2B

    3. Bobby Abreu, RF

    4. Jim Thome, 1B

    5. Pat Burrell, LF

    6. David Bell, 3B

    7. Mike Lieberthal, C

    8, Marlon Byrd, CF

    9. Kevin Millwood, P

     

    One more thing: In only 2.2 innings, Josh Beckett yielded five hits, four walks and seven runs (only two earned) in a shaky first outing.

April 5, 2004: Pirates 2, Phillies 1

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Kip Wells hurled six innings of seven strikeout, shutout baseball, leading the host Pirates past Kevin Millwood and the Phillies.

    The Phils were not able to get anything going offensively, combining for only six hits (none of them of the extra-base variety), three of them by Pat Burrell.

     

    Starting Lineup:

    1. Marlon Byrd, CF

    2. Placido Polanco, 2B

    3. Jim Thome, 1B

    4. Pat Burrell, LF

    5. Bobby Abreu, RF

    6. Mike Lieberthal, C

    7. Jimmy Rollins, SS

    8. David Bell, 3B

    9. Kevin Millwood, P

     

    One more thing: Over 35,000 fans turned out in chilly, windy PNC Park to support their Pirates.  There's no truth to the rumor that this was half of their season attendance.

April 4, 2005: Phillies 8, Nationals 4

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    Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

    Pat Burrell contributed three hits and Kenny Lofton had a homer and three RBI, pacing the Philies 14-hit attack in an 8-4 rout of the visiting Nationals.

    The Phils survived a homer and three RBI from legendary leftfielder Terrmel Sledge to hold onto the victory at Citizens Bank Park. Hey, any time you can hold Sledge to three runs batted in, you should win.

     

    Starting Lineup:

    1. Jimmy Rollins, SS

    2. Placido Polanco, 2B

    3. Bobby Abreu, RF

    4. Jim Thome, 1B

    5. Pat Burrell, LF

    6. Kenny Lofton, CF

    7. David Bell, 3B

    8. Mike Lieberthal, C

    9. Jon Lieber, P

     

    One more thing:  Jon Lieber was not masterful (10 hits and three earned runs in 5.2 innings) but did just enough to notch his first victory.

April 3, 2006: Cardinals 13, Phillies 5

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The visiting Cardinals, behind Albert Pujols (two homers and four RBI) and Scott Rolen (a homer and four RBI) gave Jon Lieber an early shower in the 13-5 romp.

    Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard homered for the home team.

     

    Starting Lineup:

    1. Jimmy Rollins, SS

    2. Abraham Nunez, 3B

    3. Bobby Abreu, RF

    4. Chase Utley, 2B

    5. Pat Burrell, LF

    6. Ryan Howard, 1B

    7. Aaron Rowand, CF

    8. Mike Lieberthal, C

    9. Jon Lieber, P

     

    One more thing:  After Lieber, Julio Santana, Aaron Fultz, Geoff Geary and Rheal Cormier all got in some work from the hill.

April 2, 2007: Braves 5, Phillies 3

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Phillies-killer Edgar Renteria homered twice, including a two-run homer in the top of the 10th, to once again spoil the home opener for the South Philly crowd.

    Home-squad highlights included 7.2 innings and nine strikeouts from starter Brett Myers, and two hits, including a dinger, from Jimmy Rollins.

     

    Starting Lineup:

    1. Jimmy Rollins, SS

    2. Shane Victorino, RF

    3. Ryan Howard, 1B

    4. Chase Utley, 2B

    5. Pat Burrell, LF

    6. Wes Helms, 3B

    7. Aaron Rowand, CF

    8. Rod Barajas, C

    9. Brett Myers, P

     

    One more thing:  Ryan Madson gave up the game-winning homer.

March 31, 2008: Nationals 11, Phillies 6

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    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    The eventual world champion Phillies, despite homers from Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, opened the season with an 11-6 pounding from the lowly Nats.

    The biggest culprit: Tom "Flash" Gordon surrendered a walk, five hits and five earned runs in one-third of an inning to start the young season with a 135.00 ERA. He would lower it to a still-high 5.16 that year.

     

    Starting Lineup:

    1. Jimmy Rollins, SS

    2. Shane Victorino, CF

    3. Chase Utley, 2B

    4. Ryan Howard, 1B

    5. Pat Burrell, LF

    6. Pedro Feliz, 3B

    7. Jayson Werth, RF

    8. Carlos Ruiz, C

    9. Brett Myers, P

     

    One more thing: The immortal Saul Rivera pitched a spotless eighth to garner the victory.

April 5, 2009: Braves 4, Phillies 1

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Phillies starter Brett Myers pitched OK, but his Braves' counterpart, Derek Lowe, was nearly flawless as the Braves took another season opener at The Bank.

    Lowe yielded just two hits and no walks in his superb, eight-inning 2008 debut..

    Jeff Francouer, Jordan Schafer (whatever happened to him?) and Brian McCann (we know this guy) hit homers to account for all of the Braves' runs.

     

    Starting Lineup:

    1. Jimmy Rollins, SS

    2. Jayson Werth, RF

    3. Chase Utley, 2B

    4. Ryan Howard, 1B

    5. Raul Ibanez, LF

    6. Shane Victorino, CF

    7. Pedro Feliz, 3B

    8. Carlos Ruiz, C

    9. Brett Myers, P

     

    One more thing: Eric Bruntlett had a pinch-hit double and scored the Phils only run, in the ninth.

April 5, 2010: Phillies 11, Nationals 1

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Roy Halladay made his NL debut with seven masterful innings and Placido Polanco celebrated the start of his second act with the club with six RBI to lead the visiting Phillies to an 11-1 rout of the Nationals.

     

    Starting Lineup:

    1. Jimmy Rollins, SS

    2. Placido Polanco, 3B

    3. Chase Utley, 2B

    4. Ryan Howard, 1B

    5. Jayson Werth, RF

    6. Raul Ibanez, LF

    7. Shane Victorino, CF

    8. Carlos Ruiz, C

    9. Roy Halladay, P

     

    One more thing:  After four-straight season-opening losses at home, Nationals Park must have looked pretty inviting to the defending NL champs.

A Review of the Preceding Decade of Season Openers

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    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Here is some data I compiled from the last 10 Phillies season openers.

    Home record: 1-4

    Road record: 3-2

    Total runs for: 51

    Total runs against: 56

    Record versus the Braves: 0-3

    Record versus the Nationals: 2-1

    Record versus the Marlins: 2-0

    The Phillies were 0-1 versus both the Pirates and the Cardinals.

     

    What does all this mean?

    1) Don't attach too much importance to the season opener

    2) I have too much time on my hands, but I hope you enjoyed the show!

    3) Did I mention that the Phillies' season opener is only four days away?

    Thanks for reading, and please enter comments below. 

     

    For more information on Matt Goldberg’s new books, other writings and public appearances, please e-mail: matt@tipofthegoldberg.com or contact him via his Bleacher Report homepage.

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