SF 3-0 HOUS 2-0 LA 2-1 SD 1-2 ATL 0-2 CIN 0-3
Opening Day is always a gala occasion in civic-minded Baltimore, accompanied as it is by rallies, poetry and front-page stories and editorials in the local papers. The opener was all the more noteworthy in 1979, because Earl Weaver was one game shy of his 1,000th win as Oriole manager, and Third Baseman Doug DeCinces was two games away from tying the major league record for consecutive games in which he had an RBI. Those were personal concerns. Of import to everybody was the memory of 1978, when the Orioles lost their first five games and never caught the contenders.
This remembrance was quickly erased as the Birds beat the White Sox 5-3. DeCinces hit in his 22nd game in a row—dating back to Sept. 8, 1978—and drove in a run in his 11th straight. Hospitable Baltimore even provided some Chicago-style weather to make the Sox feel at home. Alas, the Chicagoans were blown out. In 40� temperature and 40-mph gusts that transformed the leftfield corner into an eddy of cups and hot-dog wrappers, the Sox made three errors and misplayed two pop-ups, while the Orioles were flawless behind Jim Palmer, who threw fastballs on 117 of 123 pitches and allowed only three hits. The next afternoon DeCinces was shut down, but the Orioles won again, 6-3.
Wind, cold and snow twice canceled the opener in Detroit. When the game was played two days late, Texas canceled the Tigers 8-2. In other discomfiting news, Tiger fans threw bottles at hobbling Centerfielder Ron LeFlore, and contract talks between the front office and Rusty Staub, unsigned and non-playing, remained at an impasse. Toronto wasn't foolish enough to open in frigid Canada, but the Blue Jays were scarcely warmed by 11-2 and 7-4 losses in Kansas City. Milwaukee traveled to New York and replayed an old tape. The Brewers, who have owned the Yankees in early-season games in recent years, broke up Ron Guidry's 5?-inning perfect game with a four-run sixth. Mike Caldwell, who finished second to Guidry in the 1978 Cy Young Award balloting and beat the Yanks three out of four times last season, coasted to a 5-1 victory. The next day the Brewers won 4-3 after Bob McClure struck out Reggie Jackson with the bases loaded.
All the Red Sox injury problems of spring were forgotten—temporarily—as Boston beat Cleveland 7-1. Dennis Eckersley, fresh from signing a five-year, $2.8 million contract, pitched seven strong innings, and Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans homered. But two days later the Sox, who will play indefinitely without injured regulars Carlton Fisk and Butch Hobson, were one-hit by Rick Waits 3-0.
BALT 2-0 MIL 2-0 BOST 1-1 CLEV 1-1 DET 0-1 NY 0-2 TOR 0-2
While Seattle (2-1) and California (1-2) traded wins, Minnesota was delighted with trades of its own. Ron Jackson, who came in a deal with the Angels, went 2 for 4 in a 5-3 win over Oakland, and another tradee, Ken Landreaux, made a diving catch to save a 3-1, 12-inning victory over the A's the following day. They helped Dave Goltz to his first victory ever in April and Mike Marshall to a win and a save. Oakland had no promotion, advertising or radio contract going into its opener. It wasn't until the next day that owner Charlie Finley made a deal with a 5,000-watt San Jose station to broadcast A's games. Oaklanders and San Franciscans can pick up the station at night—sometimes.
Despite winning its only game, Texas had cause for concern. Jon Matlack, the Rangers" best pitcher last year, felt a "crinkle" in his arm when he threw down a rosin bag several days before the season began, apparently stirring up some bone chips that made his elbow ache. "I'm scared bleepless," he said after being unable to start the opener. White Sox Pitcher Lerrin LaGrow was so scared after hitting Oriole Gary Roenicke in the face with a fastball that he threw a down-the-middle pitch to Rick Dempsey, who smashed a two-run double to win the game.