PHOENIX, Arizona -- Here's how much of a rout this game was for the Cubs.
In the fifth inning, with the score already 8-1 Cubs, Corey Patterson, who drew zero walks in 73 spring-training at-bats, walked on five pitches.
It was just that kind of day at Bank One Ballpark, a festive Opening Day attended by what Jeff said was even more Cub fans than Diamondback fans (or at least we were louder), and the Cubs broke an Opening Day club record for runs first set in 1899, and tied two years ago, in a big-time 16-6 blowout of the Diamondbacks that seemed even longer than its announced time of three hours and sixteen minutes.
How bad did it get? It was pretty much over when Javier Vazquez left to a loud chorus of boos, losing 7-1 in the second inning.
How bad did it get? Cub reliever Cliff Bartosh was left in the game to bat for himself in the 8th and floated his first major-league hit to right field. Then he was taken out of the game for Todd Wellemeyer.
How bad did it get? Diamondbacks reliever Brad Halsey was forced to pitch four innings and bat twice because the D'backs other relievers couldn't get anyone out.
Best thing about today's offense: the Cubs registered seventeen hits before their first homer, a 440-foot rocket by Derrek Lee to dead center field in the sixth. Lee also had a single and two doubles, five RBI, and since he's typically a slow starter, this is a good sign.
Aramis Ramirez, who earlier today signed a 4-year, $42 million contract extension, celebrated by walking, singling, doubling, scoring four runs, and homering to the opposite field, and then was given the rest of the day off.
Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald stopped by our seats before the game and observed that one of the best things about finally reaching Opening Day is that you no longer see "#97 batting in the sixth inning and you have no idea who it is." True, but Dusty Baker had a good opportunity to both rest his regulars and give some of the subs a few at-bats, and so Jose Macias, Neifi Perez, Jerry Hairston and Jason Dubois all played; Dubois singled and scored in his only at-bat. All eight starters hit, and six of them (all but Michael Barrett and Todd Hollandsworth, one each) had at least three hits.
Whew! When did you think you'd see things like that about the CUB offense? And I didn't even have to drop a tomato or any other food object on my scorecard. All I ate was a bratwurst -- one made by Klement's, the same company that sponsors the sausage races at Miller Park.
Z struggled. And worse, after Dusty yanked him one out short of getting the win, he had words for plate umpire Dale Scott and was ejected.
Z's exuberance and passion for the game are among the qualities that make him a winner. But really, this sort of thing isn't anything that's going to help him or the Cubs. Sure, you'd be upset if you thought an umpire's bad call cost you a "W". The bottom line has to be the team winning, and I hope Dusty impressed this on Z, because he's going to have to be a leader on this club.
The crowd was announced as 48,028, but the boxscore reported it as 45,539, and the latter figure must be the paid crowd. It seemed too many for the BOB employees and Phoenix traffic control to handle, as even though Jeff, Krista and I arrived over 90 minutes before game time, we still had to weave through partly-closed streets to find parking. Luckily, we were able to find a lot for only $5 -- the ones only a couple blocks closer were $20. Meanwhile, Brian and his friends called, as is his tradition, to say "Traffic is terrible!" and he didn't get to his seat till the second inning, telling us then that not only was parking and traffic tough, but there were long lines to get in to the park; we noticed that there were a fair number of empty seats at game time.
As you can see by the photos, they had the roof open for the pre-game ceremonies (I just love the lineups along the baselines that are done for Opening Day and the postseason), then closed it for the game. The supposed reason for this is that if they don't, the shadows will be too tough for hitters, so we were unable to enjoy the 80-degree sunshine. When the roof was opened after BP for the ceremony we learned another reason -- it was VERY windy! Wind howled in through both the roof and the open outfield panels. Typically, retractable domes play as better hitters' parks with their roofs open than closed, but that wasn't the case today, obviously.
Just as obviously, it won't be this easy every day. Many times, right after huge offensive output like this by both teams (and often, teams who score six runs on twelve hits should win), the next game is low-scoring. Tomorrow night, the roof will be open, and the Cubs will try to go to 2-0.
Sleep well, all. It's been a very good day.