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Yankees open floodgates


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OAKLAND -- Let the Murderer's Row comparisons commence.

If the Yankees' lineup is expected to mount a charge at 1,000 runs this season, Monday night was a good start for the Bombers.

 

New York handed Oakland a 15-2 pounding on Opening Day, using a seven-run second inning to chase Barry Zito from the game in the shortest start of the former Cy Young Award winner's career.

 

Alex Rodriguez's grand slam was the big blow of the second inning, while Hideki Matsui added a three-run shot as part of a four-run fourth inning. Matsui finished the night with four hits and four RBIs, reaching base in all six of his plate appearances.

 

Randy Johnson was the beneficiary of the run support, earning his second consecutive Opening Day victory for the Yankees. The Big Unit allowed one run in seven innings, capturing career win No. 264.

 

Zito and Johnson traded zeros in the first, but the Yankees unloaded on the A's lefty in the second. Zito didn't help himself, issuing a pair of leadoff walks to Matsui and Jorge Posada, as the Yankees followed with RBI singles by Bernie Williams, Johnny Damon (3-for-7, two runs in his Yankees debut) and Derek Jeter, taking a 3-0 lead.

 

Zito struck out Gary Sheffield with the bases loaded for the first out, but A-Rod crushed a 1-1 hanging curveball into the left-field seats, boosting the lead to 7-0 and ending Zito's day in the process. The four-out night marked the shortest of Zito's career, as he was charged with all seven earned runs.

 

Frank Thomas put Oakland on the board with a solo homer off Johnson in the second, but the Yankees answered with four more runs in the fourth. Matsui's three-run blast was the highlight of the inning, as he homered on Opening Day for the second time in his four-year career.

 

Johnson allowed just four singles after the second, easing his way through seven innings. He struck out three without issuing a walk.

 

Jeter and A-Rod tacked on RBI singles in the eighth, giving the Yankees a 15-1 lead. The 15 runs scored tied the Yankees' record for the most runs on Opening Day on the road. The overall record remains at 19, which the Yankees reached in 1955 against the Senators.

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