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April 4, 2014 at 10:33 am ET
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’94 Expos: Opening day as harbinger

Twenty years ago today, the Montreal Expos began the season under the Astrodome in Houston with perhaps the best team in franchise history, and this opener was the very definition of foreshadowing.

Jeff Fassero went six strong frames and left the game knotted at three, striking out five against just one walk along the way. The lefty was replaced by Mel Rojas. Then John Wetteland. And Tim Scott, Jeff Shaw and Denis Boucher.

Why? Because it this was a game that saw the ‘Spos plate those three runs in the second on the strength of a Sean Berry, two-run blast, then come up empty until the top of the 12th. That’s when Mitch Williams entered the fray and picked up right where he’d left off in Game 6 of the previous fall’s World Series.

Williams retired Larry Walker and Tim Spehr on a K and ground out, respectively, but immediately blew a tire. And nearly the Astros chances.

“Wild Thing” gave up back-to-back singles to Wil Cordero and Jeff Gardner, each of whom advanced on a Eddie Taubensee passed ball, then issued a hat trick of walks to Berry, Randy Milligan and Marquis Grissom, which resulted in a two-run cushion for the Expos and Williams’ ouster.

Going into the bottom half, things looked good for an Opening Day, road victory for Montreal, but lest we forget, Rojas and Wetteland had already been exhausted by Expos manager Felipe Alou.

Scott’s second inning of work didn’t last long. James Mouton walked and Steve Finley singled to put the tying run on base, so Alou went to the pen and Shaw. Things began well enough, as Shaw put Craig Biggio down swinging, but Jeff Bagwell immediately followed with an RBI single to make it a one-run game.

It came down to Boucher’s time in the contest, and though he K’d a pre-Diamondbacks Luis Gonzalez, the Exposlefty apparently hadn’t drunk any high quality H2O because Ken Caminiti laced a two-run double to center to walk-off Nos Amours.

Two decades on, Opening Day ’94 was a microcosm of the Expos season. Exciting and promising, but ultimately difficult to swallow.

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