On Thursday, Major League Baseball presented “Opening Day at Home” -- a full slate of 30 games broadcast nationally across various platforms including networks, digital streaming and social media, creating a full-day event on what would have been Opening Day.
The experience was intended to invite fans to feel a sense of community and unity on a day many were looking forward to while underscoring the importance of staying home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Using the hashtag #OpeningDayAtHome, fans connected with each other while watching their team’s selected game at a set time. The selected Rangers game is the obvious choice: Game 6 of the 2010 American League Championship Series against the Yankees.
“Opening Day at Home” also will be an opportunity for MLB to raise awareness for several worthy charities that are helping provide relief to the most vulnerable communities impacted by the pandemic. Last week, MLB and the MLBPA made a $1 million joint donation to Feeding America and Meals on Wheels, in addition to a $30 million commitment made by MLB clubs to emergency relief for ballpark employees. If so willing and able, fans can contribute toward these charities, MLB official charity Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and additional causes at MLB.com/give.
MLB showed the Rangers' 6-1 victory over the Yanks at the Ballpark in Arlington, clinching the franchise’s first trip ever to the World Series.
The Rangers' win over the Yankees finished with possibly the most iconic moment in franchise history. Closer Neftalí Feliz struck out Alex Rodriguez looking with a slider for the final out in the ninth, sending the crowd into a frenzied celebration that lasted well into the October night.
“I remember Neftalí locking up A-Rod, and the Rangers had taken down the mighty Yankees,” then-Rangers manager Ron Washington said this week.
The Rangers entered the game with a 3-2 lead in the series. But the Yankees had won Game 5 in New York and were still the defending champions. The Rangers had reason to be worried.
“No, no, no,” Washington said. “That group of guys I had faith in. They could beat anybody on any given day. We never thought about having to play the defending champions. We just needed to play the game we had all year. That was our attitude. We weren’t worried about anything. They felt they could beat anybody.”
The Rangers had right-hander Colby Lewis on the mound. He had already pitched the Rangers to a 7-2 win in Game 2. That was another big victory for the Rangers, because the Yankees had shocked them in Game 1 with five runs in the eighth for a 6-5 victory. Lewis was beginning to establish a reputation for being a big-game pitcher.
“We were coming home, and everybody was pumped,” Lewis said. “We felt it was our time and we were the better team. I had pitched good in Game 2 and just stuck to the same approach and kept making pitches.”
Lewis was matched against Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes, who was an 18-game winner. The score was 1-1 going into the bottom of the fifth. Mitch Moreland led off with a single, then advanced to third on weak ground balls by Elvis Andrus and Michael Young.
With two outs and first base open, Yankees manager Joe Girardi elected to intentionally walk Josh Hamilton and have Hughes face Vladimir Guerrero.
“I wasn’t concerned,” Washington said. “We got Vladimir just for that purpose. We got Vladimir to be big-time when it was time to be big-time. When you had the kind of lineup we had, you have to pick your poison. It just happened to Vlad.”
Guerrero, signed in the offseason to be the Rangers' designated hitter, put Texas ahead with a line-drive double to left-center to score two runs. Nelson Cruz followed with a two-run home run to give the Rangers a 5-1 lead.
“I remember when Vlad hit that ball, I was sitting in the dugout thinking, 'Oh my gosh,'” Lewis said. “That’s all I needed.”
Lewis did not let the Yankees back in the game, holding them to one run on three hits through eight innings. He walked three and struck out seven.
“I remember in the seventh or the eighth inning, the fans started chanting, 'Colby Lewis!'” Lewis said. “I was like, ‘Holy…’ I had to step off the mound. I was like, ‘Man, this is unreal.’”
Washington turned it over in the ninth inning to Feliz, who had saved 40 games that season to win AL Rookie of the Year honors. This was not a save situation. Something bigger was on the line.
“We got what we needed from Colby,” Washington said. “He kept getting guys out. We were going batter to batter. He kept telling us he felt great, he had plenty left. Neftali was sitting down there and he had been our guy all year. I felt he needed to have the ball in that situation.”
Curtis Granderson struck out. Robinson Canó grounded out to first. Then came Rodriguez for the at-bat that will be remembered for a long time in North Texas.
“It was magical,” Washington said. “I remember going home and my wife was asleep. I sat up and watched the game all over again.”
This week, MLB unlocked its expansive vault and is offering fans special access to the most unforgettable moments. MLB has made the entire 2018 and 2019 game archives free to all fans through MLB.TV. Fans can also access more than 200 full classic MLB games on YouTube including timeless World Series games, memorable postseason matchups, no-hitters and perfect games.