Batista opens new millenium with a bang

The Blue Jays may be off this April 3, but that wasn’t the case seven years ago today. It was around this time (7:30 pm), in fact, that leadoff man Shannon Stewart delivered a home run off Kansas City’s Jeff Suppan in the Blue Jays’ first at-bat of the 2000 season. But even though Stewart added a second solo homer in the fifth, it was Tony Batista who became the hero on that Opening night at SkyDome.

With the score knotted at four in the bottom of the ninth, Batista — with his trademark back pocket hanging out and bizarre batting stance — belted a Jerry Spradlin offering for a walk off home run to send the fans home happy, and give the Blue Jays the season-opening victory.

That Opening night offered a glimpse of things to come for Batista, who alsoTony_batista_1 homered in the fourth inning of the 5-4 Toronto victory. The third baseman ended up enjoying a career year in 2000, compiling 41 home runs and 114 RBIs in his second season with the Blue Jays.

Though Carlos Delgado went 0-for-4 on Opening night in 2000, that April 3 contest marked the beginning of a consecutive games played streak of 432, which still stands as the Blue Jays franchise record. If you attended a game between April 3, 2000 and August 4, 2002, you would have seen Delgado in the Toronto lineup. Overall, only Tony Fernandez (1450) has played more games than Delgado (1423) in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform.

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The ’07 Blue Jay ball club is back in action tomorrow, as A.J. Burnett will take the mound to face Nate Robertson and the Detroit Tigers … It’s hard to argue against Burnett being the ‘X’ factor on this Blue Jays squad. No question, he will have to pitch better than his 59-58 career mark if the Jays are to battle the Red Sox and Yankees for the division title come September/October … His first test begins at 1:05 pm at Comerica Park …

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