Unforgettable moments and legendary players have given Yankee Stadium 75 years of unrivaled baseball history. Until Friday, though, it had never seen a game quite like this one.
The Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees opened the famed ballpark's 75th anniversary season with the highest-scoring game ever played here, a 17-13 Yankees victory that was anything but major league caliber.
Tino Martinez hit a three-run homer, drove in five runs and scored four to lead New York. The 30 combined runs eclipsed the previous high, a 17-11 win by the Yankees over the Philadelphia Athletics on June 3, 1933.
How ugly was it?
Consider these numbers: 30 runs, 32 hits and four errors. Add to those, 10 pitchers, 18 walks, a 12-run, 23-batter fifth inning in 4 hours and 6 minutes. It's no wonder the seventh-inning stretch received one of the day's loudest ovations.
"It was not a pretty thing to watch from either side," Oakland manager Art Howe said.
"It felt like a normal four-hour game," Martinez deadpanned. "I wasn't watching the clock throughout the game, but I knew it was long."
Long and sloppy.
"Yeah, but you got a lot for your money," said New York catcher Joe Girardi.
Martinez's two-run double off Jim Dougherty (0-1) came in New York's four-run fifth as the Yankees, who overcame a 5-0 deficit and batted around in three straight innings, took a 16-13 lead.
Scott Brosius, acquired in an off-season trade from Oakland, added four RBIs. Girardi went 4-for-4 and Bernie Williams scored four runs for New York, which has won three straight to reach .500 for the first time this season.
Matt Stairs had three RBIs and every regular in Oakland's lineup had scored one run and driven one in by the end of the fifth inning.
Brosius, playing in Yankee pinstripes for the first time, was stunned when informed the two teams had made history with their combined run total.
"That's amazing," he said. "It was one of those games that you just can't explain."
After starting the season on the West Coast, the Yankees were anxious to get back in front of their fans, and 56,717 the largest regular-season crowd in the stadium's history welcomed them home with a thunderous pregame ovation.
With bunting hanging from the upper decks, Yankee great Joe DiMaggio trotted out and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Sadly, the 83-year-old's offering was closer to the strike zone than many of those thrown by Oakland's pitchers in the first four innings.
Staked to a 5-2 lead after two innings against David Cone, Oakland starter Jimmy Haynes and reliever Aaron Small combined for nine walks through 3 1-3 innings as Yankees batted around in the third and fourth innings to take a 12-5 lead.
b>"We had a rough day out there," Haynes said. "Everybody is going to have bad days. Obviously, the walks really hurt us. They're going to score runs if you walk 12 guys."
Martinez, who had only one RBI coming into the game, hit his three-run shot in the third to tie it 5-5. After Small walked the bases loaded in the fourth, Darryl Strawberry hit a two-run double, Brosius had a two-run single and the Yankees' fifth run of the inning scored on Chuck Knoblauch's fielder's choice.
But Cone, who lost on opening day in Oakland, couldn't get through the fifth. He was chased after giving up two more runs in the fifth, and Oakland scored eight times in the inning, highlighted by Jason Giambi's two-run single to take a brief 13-12 lead.
Cone, who underwent off-season shoulder surgery and originally wasn't expected to be ready until May, was charged with nine runs and 11 hits in 4 1-3 innings.
"There's no excuses," said Cone. "I've been just awful the last two starts. The team has given me leads, and I've got out there and given it right back up. ... I can't explain it, physically I'm way ahead of schedule. I just get into trouble and kind of go into a panic mode and allow big innings to happen."
Mike Buddie, recalled earlier this week from Triple-A when Mariano Rivera went on the disabled list, got his first major league win with 1 1-3 innings of relief.
Notes: The 17 runs were the most by New York in a home opener since a 19-1 win over the Washington Senators in 1955. ... Williams, Martinez, Strawberry and Chad Curtis, the Yankees' 4-7 hitters, scored 16 of New York's 17 runs. ... The fifth inning took 50 minutes to complete. ... Both the Yankees' clubhouse and players lounge were remodeled during the offseason. The top of the players' lockers are neatly trimmed with a replica of the stadium's signature facade. ... U.S. Olympic medal winners from the Nagano Games, including the women's gold-medal hockey team, were honored during pregame ceremonies. ... Oakland DH Kevin Mitchell was a late scratch with the flu.
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