SALT LAKE CITY — As far as Salt Lake Bees general manager Marc Amicone is concerned, every opening day is special. He also considers each start to a season to be great.
“There’s no better day, period, than opening day,” Amicone said. “Whether it’s cold, or you get rained on, or whatever may happen, it’s still opening day.”
On Thursday, the Bees opened their 21st season in Salt Lake with an 8-3 victory over Sacramento before a crowd of 4,244 at Smith’s Ballpark.
The game was free of inclement weather, although temperatures were in the low 50s when Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker joined other dignitaries in throwing out ceremonial first pitches.
“You always hope for a full house and big crowds and stuff — and you know that this time of year the weather is a hurdle to deal with — but so far things are working, players are playing, and we’ve got everybody in the right uniform,” said Amicone, who noted that it was nice to have all the little things covered.
On the bigger end of things, he added, was making the field playable following a couple of days of wet weather.
“It’s been a little dicey, but getting to play tonight and getting the guys acclimated to Salt Lake is a great thing,” Amicone said. " ... Now you take a breath and say, 'Tomorrow is day two, here we go.'”
The Bees take the next step with good momentum. They overcame an early 2-1 deficit and overpowered the River Cats in the season opener.
Salt Lake evened the score on a solo homer by Luis Jimenez in the bottom of the second inning and took the lead for good on a three-run homer by J.B. Shuck in the fourth.
Leading 5-2, the Bees increased their advantage with two outs in the sixth. That’s when Efren Navarro and C.J. Cron drove in runs with back-to-back doubles. Navarro opened the outburst by knocking in a pair. He then scored on a hit to right field by Cron.
The River Cats’ lone response was an RBI groundout by Jose Martinez in the seventh.
“Our guys, they came out today and did a good job,” said Bees manager Keith Johnson, who was concerned that his team wasn’t able to hit on the field the last couple of days because of the weather and field conditions. “They came out and did a good job.”
The Bees wound up with 15 hits, including seven for extra bases. Salt Lake’s pitchers also performed well. Starter Jarrett Grube and relievers Jeremy Berg, Rob Carson and Cory Rasmus surrendered just five hits.
“A lot of guys did a lot of good things,” Johnson said. “It was just a good team win for us.”
Earlier in the game, the Bees jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Grant Green drove in Taylor Lindsey, who singled, with a double in the first. Sacramento countered in the second with a sacrifice fly from Martinez and an RBI double by Jake Goebbert.
The series continues Friday night at 6:35. Sacramento RHP Sean Murphy and Salt Lake LHP Jose Alvarez are the scheduled starters.
GAME NOTES: Grube earned the win. The right-hander had three strikeouts and gave up just two hits in six complete innings. ... Navarro finished with three hits. He’s now the Bees' franchise record-holder with 144 career multiple-hit games. ... Salt Lake opens the season with eight straight games at home. After the series with Sacramento (Oakland Athletics), the Bees will host Fresno (San Francisco Giants).