Friday proved to be a big day for Padres fans. Among other things Friar faithful now know who will take the mound on Opening Day against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. The man with the task will be Tyson Ross, who totally deserves it after proving to be the Padres best pitcher in 2015.
The California Bear will be the 29th different pitcher to start an Opening Day in the Padres 47 year history. The list is quite an interesting one which includes a Hall of Fame member, a few Cy Young Award winners, and many fan favorites. Here’s a look back at Padres Opening Day starting pitchers.
We start of course with the first game ever in franchise history back on April 8th 1969. The man on the mound is Dick Selma, Selma would go on to have an amazing game. Pitching a complete game with 12 punch outs, leading the way to a 2-1 Friars victory over the Houston Astros. Selma would not even last a month in a Padres uniform and would be traded in a three for one player deal to the cubs on April 25th.
Out of the three players the Padres received would be a man who would be prominent in Astros history, long time knuckle baller Joe Niekro. Next after five straight Opening Day’s in San Diego came the first Opening day away from home in 1974. The game would be one to forget for Friar faithful at Dodger Stadium as Bill Grief could not get the job done and the Padres would fall eight to nothing against the dreaded Dodgers.
1975 would be one Padres fans would want to remember, despite losing 2-0 against the Giants, 1975 would be the first of four Opening Day starts for beloved left hander Randy Jones. The lefty would pitch nine innings that year, but sadly not get enough run support and would be let down by Rich Folkers in the 10th inning. The Padres would fall 2-0 against the Giants.
After a 1975 opener with no run support 1976 would be much nicer to Randy Jones as he would lead the Friars to an 8-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves in his Cy Young Campaign. 1977 was not the year for Randy Jones and he started the year with a left foot out of the door going five innings and allowing four runs in the Padres 5-3 lost to the Cincinnati Reds.
Before Randy’s fourth and final Opening Day start for the Pads in 1980, he shared the spotlight with the lone Hall of Famer on the list Gaylord Perry. The right handed veteran Perry would lead the charge in the 1978 and 79 campaigns. He would do quite well in both starts leading the Padres past the Giants in 1978 and past the Dodgers in 1979.
We now jump to 1983 to one of the best performances by a pitcher ever on Opening Day. Wait.. but the score was 16-13… yeah Tim Lollar had one heck of a day at the plate against Mike Krukow and the Giants. While Lollar did not do the job on the mound giving up six runs in five innings of work, he had a great day at the plate going 2-3 with three RBI’s a walk and a run. Lollar’s teammates would help him out on the way to a 16-13 victory over the Giants.
Many fan favorites would go on to pitch on Opening Day for the Padres such as the late great Eric Show who would start four Opening Day’s in his career but would only be victorious in the memorable year of 1984 leading the charge past the Pirates 5-1.
Other Fan Favorites would follow such as the likes of Ed Whitson on two occasions and Andy Benes from 1993- 1995. After Benes came members of the memorable 1998 pitching staff for five seasons. We start with Andy Ashby in 1996 who would lose an extra innings thriller to the Cubs 5-4, Next came Joey Hamilton in 1997 after him fan favorite…or not Kevin Brown in 1998, Ashby again started in 1999 and finally 1998 NLCS MVP Sterling Hitchcock in the first year of the 21st century.
After the 98 crew came a real rough patch for the next five seasons. Starting with Woody Williams in 2001 and ending with Woody Williams in 2005. The other two pitchers in that very unmemorable era would be Kevin Jarvis and Brian Lawrence. Yuck.
After that duo came one of the most loved Padres ever for four seasons, fan favorite and 2007 NL CY Young Award winner Jake Peavy. The Alabama native would come away with three of four Opening Day Victories. Peavy’s win back in 2008 against the Houston Astros is the last time a Padres Pitcher actually got a W on Opening day, just losses and no decisions from 2009 to now.
After Peavy’s four-year run came another pretty unmemorable run with Jon Garland in 2010, First round draft bust Tim Stauffer in 2011, and Kansas City Royals World Champ Edinson Volquez in 2012 and 2013. 2014 was not a year to remember for Padres fans but it was quite the Opening day start. The game was live on ESPN and Andrew Cashner would have a masterful performance against the Dodgers in front of a sold out crowd at Petco Park.
Unfortunately for Cashner the offense would not show up until late against Brian Wilson, giving Cashner a no decision and giving the Padres a 3-1 victory. Now we are in 2015 the hype is in the air fans are buying season tickets like they are pancakes, everyone’s exited for that first game of the season. James Shields pitched quite a good game only giving up two runs in six innings but the bullpen would let him down massively and the Friars would fall 6-3 against the dreaded Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
Now in 2016 a lot of fans have little to no expectations but we just want the season to start already. San Diegans are hungry for baseball. Will Tyson Ross be the first Padres pitcher since Jake Peavy in 2008 to get a W? Will this be Tyson’s only Opening Day start? Or his first of many? Who knows really, but I do know Tyson Ross is a great pitcher, and he is up to the task, and he will put up a fight against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers on April 4th.
So come on Tyson BEAT LA! BEAT LA! BEAT LA!
Francisco, 26, Chula Vista/Tijuana. I have been a Padres fan all my life, did most of the series previews and recaps in the Padres’ 2016 season for EVT. Now I focus more on the local soccer scene. Tijuana Xolos, San Diego Loyal, San Diego Wave.