SLAM-SUI: GODZILLA'S BLAST LEADS BOMBERS TO WIN IN HOME OPENER
A six-game hitting streak to start the season was sure to make Godzilla Matsui's debut in the Bronx a welcome one, but he exceeded expectations by hitting a grand-slam in the 5th inning of the Yankees 7-3 win over the Twins yesterday at a frigid Yankee Stadium (considering how ugly the weather was on Monday, it's remarkable that the grounds crew had the field in playing condition). Nick Johnson, and Jason Giambi hit 1-out singles, and then Bernie Williams was intentionally walked to load the bases for Matsui, who hit a 3-2 pitch from Twins starter Joe Mays, into the right field bleachers.
According to Bill Madden in today's Daily News:
"I only had two pitches out there," Mays said, "a sinker and a changeup. I really wasn't able to throw my breaking ball. I give Matsui credit. He laid off a couple of changeups down, and then when I had to come in with a pitch on 3-2, it was a changeup that was flat and he got it."
..."With first base open and Bernie coming up, there's no question I'm gonna walk him," the Twins manager said. "JoeMays is a sinkerballer and we're trying to get a double play there to get out of the inning."
..."He's a good hitter, and any time you face a team with a lineup that has (Raul) Mondesi batting eighth it's a formidable task," Gardenhire said. "But as long as we compete with 'em like we did today, I'm satisfied. We got a lot of good swings today, a lot of balls hit right at people, and even after the (Matsui slam) I never felt we were out of the game."
Matsui looked perfectly at home sitting on the bench between veterans Todd Zeile and Robin Ventura. The humble Japanese star tipped his cap and gave a small wave to the crowd as he walked off the field at the end of the game. Godzilla, who looks like Shemp from "The 3 Stooges," has a body like an ape. He could be a bouncer or a goon. He's bigger than Yogi Berra, but has the same kind of goofy build. Matsui's parents were at the Stadium yesterday, in what turned out to be a happy day for the Yankee fans who braved the 35 degree weather.
Andy Pettitte pitched well enough to earn the win, and Robin Ventura added a home run of his own. Alfonso Soriano was limited to just one hit, after collecting 2 or more in his first 6 games. Send him down, already.