Years ago, I attended a Giants opener at Candlestick Park (it was still called that back then), and a buddy of mine was sitting in another part of the stadium. A half-hour before the first pitch, he was leanding forward, elbows on knees, rubbing his hands together, breathing heavy.
“Opening day,” he said, “sets the tone for the rest of the season.”
In the case of Dan Haren, the A’s can only hope so. Haren has pitched five shutout innings at Safeco Field to match Seattle ace Felix Hernandez zero for zero. Haren set down the first 11 before allowing a hit, and the only Mariners runner to get as far as second base came courtesy an error by shortstop Bobby Crosby.
(On the other hand, Crosby hasn’t gotten hurt like the past two Opening Days, so I suppose you can say he’s having a good day).
Haren has to be huge for the A’s to get where they want to go this year. He’ll be matching up against the aces of other teams more times than he has in previous years, and he and Rich Harden will be the guys the A’s look to when they need to stop a losing streak.
So far, he appears up to the challenge.
By the way, in a postscript to the story. Dan Quisenberry blew a save for the Giants that night many years ago, and the Giants suffered a year of bullpen meltdowns. So in some ways, yeah, Opening Day can set the tone for the whole year.