Angels Ryan and Tanana weren't the only big-name players cryin'. Among the beaten were Tom Seaver, Burt Hooton, Phil Niekro, Ron Guidry, Ed Figueroa, Mike Torrez, Steve Carlton and Bert Blyleven, and the Yankees, Reds and Phillies all were winless. Of the losers, the Phillies looked the worst. They were twice beaten—and outmaneuvered—by St. Louis. In the first game, an 8-1 Cardinal win, Ken Reitz of St. Louis hit a bases-loaded double to shallow left against an outfield that was playing deep; in the second, a 3-2 Card victory, he drove in the winning run with a ninth-inning single into the left-center gap, slapping the ball over a charging infield that was expecting a bunt. "He isn't hitting where our scouting reports say he usually hits," mumbled Philadelphia Manager Danny Ozark.
There was sloppy play aplenty in Pittsburgh. The Pirates, who admit they must improve their 12th-ranked defense to win the division, made five errors in a 3-2 opening-day loss to Montreal. The next night the Pirates committed four more but won 7-6 when the Expos made two miscues on one play. Montreal's Elias Sosa had been given a 6-5 lead to protect in the ninth, but with two outs and two men on he fielded Willie Stargell's grounder and bounced a throw into rightfield. Matt Alexander scored the tying run from third, and the irrepressible Dave Parker, who had his face crumpled in a similar collision last season and still wears protective headgear, came all the way around from first, knocking the ball out of Catcher Gary Carter's mitt as he scored the winning run. Afterward, Parker claimed Carter had tried to hurt him by pouncing on him, shin guards first. Carter, who said he was merely trying to control the relay throw, injudiciously replied, "Tell Parker to take off his helmet, and I'll ram the ball down his throat."
The Cubs are ballyhooing themselves as "much improved," but that may be just so much hooey. After all, Chicago has been reduced to putting Ken Holtzman, whose last big year was 1975, in the No. 2 spot in the rotation. And to buoy the spirits of Bobby Murcer, who has been booed by the fans and derided by the Chicago press, his teammates elected him the Cubs' captain. Holtzman was a loser, and Murcer, who was 1 for 7 and misplayed a fly, was a goat as the Cubs dropped their first two to New York 10-6 and 9-4. Lee Mazzilli and newly acquired Richie Hebner each went 5 for 9 to pace the Mets' revamped offense.
NY 2-0 ST.L 2-0 MONT 1-1 PITT 1-1 CHI 0-2 PHIL 0-2
Even for a no-hitter, Ken Forsch's 6-0 conquest of Atlanta was something special. Not only was it the earliest in baseball history—Ed Cicotte threw one on April 14, 1917—but it also made Forsch half of the game's only no-hit brother combination. Last year Ken's kid brother, Bob, of the Cardinals, held the Phillies hitless. Moreover, Forsch wasn't even supposed to start, much less pitch effectively. The previous day he had been hospitalized with bursitis in his left elbow, the result of an insect bite in spring training. Indeed the no-hitter was downright hair-raising. "My hair was standing on end in the ninth inning." said Astro Shortstop Craig Reynolds. "My cap was four feet above my head."
The Giants whipped the Reds 11-5, 7-2, 4-2, blasting Tom Seaver for seven runs in 1? innings and making all San Franciscans happy, even those who argue whether Willie McCovey or Mike Ivie should start at first. In the 7-2 win, Ivie tied the score with a homer, and McCovey set up the go-ahead runs with a pinch double. The Reds had nothing but embarrassments. Pete Rose's replacements at third, Rick Auerbach and Ray Knight, played sloppily, and reliever Pedro Borbon was suspended by the team for a regular-season game when he refused to pitch in Cincy's last exhibition.
The Dodgers were happy with Andy Messersmith's first win in almost two years—a 5-2 victory over San Diego—but were also troubled by ace reliever Terry Forster's disabling arm ailment.
Gaylord Perry, the 40-year-old stopper for San Diego, had looked his age in spring training, when he was unable to throw an effective fastball. But came the opener, he retired the first 15 batters he faced, lasted eight innings and beat the Dodgers 4-3. When Perry blew a fastball by Steve Garvey in the second inning. Catcher Gene Tenace called out, "Is that really you?" The Braves, unfortunately, were really themselves. As usual, Phil Niekro threw a splendid opener, allowing just three hits, but lost 2-1 to the Astros. The Braves have lost their last eight openers, and Niekro all five of his. Shortstop Jerry Royster, given a $100,000 bonus for his fine play in 1978, was benched after finishing the spring with a .230 average.