The red-letter day:
2001: On Opening Day, Roger Clemens becomes the all-time American League career strike out leader, passing Walter Johnson. Kansas City Royals infielder Joe Randa is his 3,509 Junior circuit victim. In overtaking Johnson, Clemens now moves into the seventh spot on the all-time major league list.
2008: Two top-flight pitchers embarking on excellent seasons do battle at the Stadium. The tourist will get the best of it, as Toronto’s A.J. Burnett bests Mike Mussina and the Yanks 5-2. The key blow for the Jays is a 2nd inning, two-run blast by centerfielder Vernon Wells, while Burnett is driven from the mound when Alex Rodriguez follows up Bobby Abreu’s 7th-inning leadoff walk with a homer of his own. Two Alex Rios RBI provide the difference. Ahmad Bradshaw of the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants advances the games left counter from 80 to 79 games.
2007: Carl ‘American Idle’ Pavano gets the start in Opening Day in the Bronx. He allows but two hits and an unearned run through four as the Yanks take the lead. The embattled hurler leaves on the short end after a four-run 5th, however. A Derek Jeter two-run single draws the home team even, and Alex Rodriguez caps the 9-5 comeback win with a two-run eighth-inning homer, as Brian Bruney, Sean Henn, Luis Vizcaino and Mariano Rivera blank the Royals on three singles over the last 4.7 frames. The multiple innings out of the pen, however, combined with injuries in the rotation, augur a trend that will prompt early-season struggles.
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