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Ranking the best home openers in AT&T Park history

Some of them are good. Some of them are great. One of them had Kevin Elster.


The Giants are 11-3 in their home openers since AT&T Park opened. They've won their last five. There have been extra-inning walkoffs, memorable pitching performances, and Barry Bonds dingers. By pointing this out, I've guaranteed an 8-2 loss to the Diamondbacks. You're welcome. I also took your mail and threw it down a storm drain. There were bills in there.

However, if you think I have that kind of jinxing power, then my powers were the reason 2010 and 2012 happened. You can't have it both ways. I'll take the chance and point it out: The Giants have been disproportionately awesome in their home openers. Here are the openers since the new park opened, ranked in order of how good the game was:

14. 2000 - Dodgers 6, Giants 5

Well, yeah. I was tempted to rank this as the best opener because it didn't happen at Candlestick, but when it comes to the game, it's an easy worst opener. The thing I forgot about the game, though, is that the Giants made it close. J.T. Snow hit a homer in the ninth -- because the right-field porch made the place a homer-happy park for lefties, you know -- and Doug Mirabelli juuuuust missed tying the game with a solo homer shortly after.

Random player you forgot about: Geronimo Berroa

13. 2007 - Padres 7, Giants 0

You know the scene from Eddie Murphy's Raw where he talks about the other kids dancing around with McDonald's burgers? That was us.

♫We got Ziiiiiiito! ♫We got Ziiiiiiito! ♪We got Ziiiiiiiiiiiiito!♪

And, like McDonalds, eventually your stomach hurt, and you were reminded of your own mortality.

Random player you forgot about: Vinnie Chulk

12. 2008 - Padres 8, Giants 4

Matt Cain walked five, and the Giants lost big. It was just a garden variety stinker, though. No Zito deflation, and no Kevin Elster. Just Greg Maddux lulling the lineup to sleep and a bad start from a good pitcher.

Random player you forgot about: Callix Crabbe

11. 2009 - Giants 10, Brewers 6

Now we get to the wins, and one of them has to be the "worst", even though all of them are special little gems of delight and wonder. This one takes the spot because it had Joe Martinez getting hit in the head with a line drive, which muted the post-game fun substantially. He was fine, but we didn't find that out right away, if I remember correctly. The game was pretty sweet up to that point, though. Every starting position player scored at least one run, and Travis Ishikawa and Aaron Rowand each had three RBI.

Tim Lincecum stunk. Then he won the Cy Young.

Random player you forgot about: Brandon Medders

10. 2006 - Giants 6, Braves 4

This falls under the same category as the previous one, as the win was cool, but all I could think about on the way home was Noah Lowry grimacing as he left the field. It was a freak oblique tweak, so he came back fairly quickly, but it looked worse. That reads like a happy ending until you remember that it eventually was worse, much worse. Lowry used to be the Giants' best hope for an effective pitching staff. If he wasn't going to lead the way, the Giants were doomed. Doooooomed.

Random player you forgot about: Mark Sweeney

9. 2003 - Giants 7, Padres 4

In your face, Bruce Bochy. Way to bring in Mike Bynum to hold the tie, you silly man. Where did you learn how to manage, at the … clown … managing … university? Yeah.

Jason Schmidt pitched well, and the Giants hit five homers -- two from Rich Aurilia, two from Jose Cruz, Jr., and one from Edgardo Alfonzo. The Giants would eventually win 100 games, which is somehow good for just the 20th-best winning percentage in Giants history, though lots of 1800s teams get to sneak into the picture with that stat. The 1885 Giants were 85-27 … and they finished in second. Mickey Welch had a 1.66 ERA in 492 innings, which is coincidentally what I'm predicting for Tim Hudson this year, give or take.

Random player you forgot about: Lou Merloni

8. 2004 - Giants 7, Brewers 5

What separates an opener like 2004 from the previous one? Both games were fairly similar. What's the tiebreaker?

Hahaha, that baseball is in baseball heaven now, unless it was a bad baseball, which it probably was, considering that Bonds punished it in the baseball face. Bonds was 3-3 with a walk and four RBI. That was, like, every other day. Miss that guy so much.

Random player you forgot about: Wes Helms. Though Tony Torcato had a pinch-hit, which seems like a good honorable mention.

7. 2001 - Giants 3, Padres 2

This one also had a Bonds homer, but it was a better game, with Livan Hernandez pitching into the eighth inning, and Robb Nen striking out the side on 12 pitches in a one-run game. Aurilia was 3-for-5 with two errors.

Random player you forgot about: Russ Davis.

6. 2005 - Giants 4, Dodgers 2

Ah, April, 2005. The Giants were not a flaming ball of wreckage just yet. I mean, you had the sense it was coming, considering Pedro Feliz was the starter in left field because of Bonds's injury, but we were so used to good Giants teams, there was still a sense of hope. A stupid, stupid sense of hope.

This ranks higher than some of the others because it came against the Dodgers. There's an argument it should go #1, actually.

Random player you forgot about: Kelly Wunsch

5. 2011 - Giants 5, Cardinals 4 (12)

The Giants tied the game in the bottom of the ninth against Ryan Franklin, who retired shortly after. After two outs, Rowand singled, Posey walked, and Sandoval drove him in. The Giants won after the Cardinals walked Freddy Sanchez to load the bases with two outs.

Tony La Russa's going to the Hall of Fame, you know.

Random player you forgot about: Brian Wilson. In a perfect universe.

4. 2010 - Giants 5, Braves 4 (13)

The Giants tied the game in the bottom of the ninth on a two-run homer from Edgar Renteria, which I'm pretty sure was the last big home run of his career. The game ended on a doink-dribble from Aaron Rowand, who stumbled into a hilarious faceplant slide at first. But the reason the winning run was in scoring position in the first place was that Juan Uribe stole second and drew a throwing error to move him to third. Small ball!

Random player you forgot about: Waldis Joaquin

3. 2012 - Giants 5, Pirates 0

Maybe not the most dramatic game, but almost certainly one of the best pitching performances in park history, with a James McDonald single coming between Cain and a perfect game. Nine innings, zero walks, 11 strikeouts, 106 pitches. It almost made you forget that Emmanuel Burriss was the starting second baseman. Then the Giants won the World Series, but only after Cain actually got his perfect game.

I think 2012 might -- just might -- be one of my favorite seasons, but I'll have to look into it a little. 1982 had the Joe Morgan game, you know.

Random player you forgot about: Evan Meek

2. 2013 - Giants 1, Cardinals 0

The trolliest of troll jobs. The Cardinals had all winter to mutter "dammitbarryzitodammitbarryzitodammitbarryzito" under their breath, and when they get another chance at him, the Giants get to have pre-game flag-raising ceremonies, and Zito humiliated them again. Seven innings, three hits. The rest of the season was a stinker, both for Zito and the Giants, but the home opener was one of the few times where you figured the Giants were going to win championships every year they had a healthy Posey.

Random player you forgot about: Marco Scutaro

1. 2002 - Giants 3, Padres 1 (10)

Barry Bonds walkoffs make for the best home openers. It's almost a tautology. Alan Embree returned to San Francisco for the first time since signing with the Padres, and he was told to get Barry Bonds out instead of watch him from the bullpen. That must have suuuuucked.

Embree, signed by San Diego as a free agent this offseason, had faced Bonds seven previous times, allowing just one hit and no home runs. That was probably Padres manager Bruce Bochy's thinking when he brought in the southpaw to face Bonds after Steve Reed hit Rich Aurilia with a pitch to lead off the inning.


Steve Reed hit Aurilia with a pitch to start the inning, so what do you do? Do you walk Bonds and put the winning run at second with no outs? Or do you pitch to Bonds? You coach football, that's what you do.

Do something like that today, Giants. No pressure.