Well, I am way behind on the Opening Day Flashbacks. With Opening Day 2011 just a little over a week away,there's no way I'll be able to post on each Braves opening game since 1966. So instead of wading through the remaining years of the '70s-where the Braves didn't put much out on the field- I'll pick up with the year 1980.
For the first time since 1974, the 1980 Braves finished above .500 (81-80)-thanks in part to the slugging combo of Dale Murphy and Bob Horner. The 1980 season would see the two arrive at star status as each hit over 30 homers and drove in 80+ runs. Newly acquired 1B Chris Chambliss (acquired from the Blue Jays on Dec. 5, 1979) would give the Braves a power hitting lefty and more veteran leadership for Bobby Cox's team.
April 9, 1980 Cincinnati, OH- Riverfront Stadium
The Braves 1980 season got off to a rough start, as the Braves fell to the Cincinnati Reds 9-0. After Reds' leadoff hitter Dave Collins grounded out to start off the bottom of the first, Braves starter Phil Niekro would give up four hits and two walks before another out was recorded. By the time the Reds' half inning was done, and all nine Reds had batted, Niekro and the Braves were already down 4-0. Dave Collins opened the bottom of the second off with a strikeout, but reached first base on the passed ball by Braves backstop Biff Pocoroba. The play would loom large, as the next two hitters would record outs-but instead of being out of the inning, Niekro would have to face clean-up hitter George Foster-who would deposit a Niekro pitch into the bleachers for a 6-0 Reds lead. Braves reliever Rick Camp would struggle in the third inning as well, giving up two runs (including an RBI single by Reds starter Frank Pastore) before settling down. Cincinnati would go on to score one more run (a seventh-inning sac fly by second baseman Junior Kennedy)-but the game was clearly out of reach by then.
Player of the Game-George Foster
Foster, the Reds slugging left-fielder, went 3-5 this night, with the home run, 4 RBI, 2 runs scored, and a double. While known primarily for his home run prowess (he was the only player in the 1970s to slug 50 or more in a season and finished his career with 348 homers), opening day would be the first of nine games during the 1980 season in which Foster had three or more hits (including a 5-5 game on April 21 against the Houston Astros).
Pitcher of the Game-Frank Pastore
Pastore, a second round draft pick by the Reds in the 1975 amateur draft, made his MLB debut just a year before pitching this complete game shutout. On
the evening, he allowed only three hits while striking out five. In fact, the Braves would not have another runner reach first base after Chambliss' forth-inning single. Pastore would have his best career as a pro in 1980, going 13-7 for the Reds, with a 3.27 ERA and 1.099 WHIP in 27 starts.