April 16, 2009 –
Indians Spoil Opening of New Yankee Stadium
Pomp and circumstance were the order of the day at the opening of New Yankee Stadium in 2009. Yogi Berra threw out the first pitch, Hall of Famers patrolled the pre-game warmups in letterman jackets, and Babe Ruth’s bat was laid across the plate as Derek Jeter approached the batter’s box to lead off the bottom of the first.
After being traded by the Indians to the Brewers in July 2008, CC Sabathia signed with the Yankees in the off-season and became their Opening Day starter for 2009. CC came into this game already 1-1 on the season and delivered the first pitch in the new ballpark to former teammate Grady Sizemore.
In the top of the 3rd, Mark DeRosa was thrown out at first on an egregious baserunning blunder that ended an Indians threat early.
Ben Francisco scored the first run of the game, driven in by a Kelley Shoppach double off the wall in the top of the 4th.
Cliff Lee struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the 5th, but gave up the historic first home run in the stadium to Jorge Posada.
The top of the 7th would see reliever Joe Veres take the mound for New York. Veres would walk DeRosa, and give up consecutive doubles to Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta. Damaso Marte replaced Veres, but fared even worse.
He hit Shin-Soo Choo with his second pitch, and then Ben Francisco moved Peralta to third and Choo to second with a sacrifice bunt. Kelly Shoppach knocked a single into right field, scoring Peralta and loading the bases. Tony Graffanino popped out weakly to first, but the bases remained loaded. Demaso walked Trevor Crowe on five pitches to force in a run.
On the third pitch of the at-bat, Grady Sizemore sent a home run over the iconic W.B. Mason sign in right-field, putting the game entirely out of reach and recording the first grand-slam in the new ballpark. Victor Martinez would homer two batters later to put the icing on this 9-run inning.
The Yankees were a frightful 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position, resulting in audible boos from the Opening Day crowd by the later innings.
Although they played the spoiler on Opening Day, the Indians have had a fairly dismal record at New Yankee Stadium, going 13 and 21 in the regular season over the ten years since the Yankees moved across the street. Factoring in the playoffs–especially the ALCS collapse of 2017–maybe all of that superstition did work for the pinstripes after all.
Honorable Mention: April 30, 1946 – Bob Feller throws No-Hitter after returning from service in WWII.