1. Opening Day 1980 – vs. New York Yankees (W 1-0)
Some of us like offense and some of use like defense, but all of us can get behind a scoreless pitcher’s duel that is not decided until the game’s first run in the 12th inning.
Entering 1980, the Texas Rangers were looking to build off a solid 1979 and sent Jon Matlack to start on the mound.
The Yankees, meanwhile, were coming off a poor 1979 that far underachieved their back-to-back World Series championships in 1977 and 1978.
Hitting came sporadically throughout the game. The Yankees got their first hits in the first inning but could do nothing with them.
Texas reached base for the first time off an error in the second inning, but could only move the baserunner to second before the inning ended.
New York’s best chance to score came in the fourth inning when Bob Watson’s single eventually moved over to third. He would get trapped there without a chance to gain the lead for the Yankees.
Texas would only have one chance in the sixth inning when Jim Sundberg came back with his second single. However, he would be trapped on first base the whole inning.
The final three innings of regulation would be hitless. After nine innings, neither pitcher was willing to budge and the game was knotted up 0-0.
Both teams replaced their pitchers for the first time in the tenth inning. The Texas Rangers relieved Matlock with Jim Kern after Matlock’s performance of 5 strikeouts and only three hits through his nine innings of work. New York put Tom Underwood in for Ron Guidry after his nine innings of only giving up two hits and hurling four strikeouts.
The eleventh inning went on by without much to say. The twelfth inning would feature the game’s biggest action.
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After a quiet top of the twelfth from the Yankees, the Rangers sent the top of the order to the plate.
Mickey Rivers hit a single to begin the inning and reached second on an error. Bump Wills bunted to get Rivers to reach third. The Rangers were 90 feet away from victory.
Gossage had a tough task at hand. The bases were loaded behind him and he only had one out in his pocket.
Richie Zisk sat at the plate looking for his first hit of the game that would win the game for Texas.
Unfortunately for Zisk, he did not get the chance at it. The first pitch from Gossage went wild and Rivers scampered home to win the game for the Rangers.
After almost twelve full innings of play, the game was over and Texas was on top with a triumphant 1-0 victory.
The Texas Rangers would draw even with New York in the four-game series and eventually finish a poor 76-85.
What did we learn here? Do big opening day victories spawn deep playoff runs? That does not seem the case with the Rangers. An opening day win is, however, a way for the team to get good momentum beginning the season.
The Texas Rangers lost their first game of this season, so only time will tell if it makes a difference or not.