The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim play their first road game of 2010 in the same place they played their final match away from Angel Stadium in 2009 – the Bronx.

It was Game Six of the American League Championship Series. While the New York Yankees won the game, 5-2, to advance to the World Series, the Bronx Bombers’ designated hitter – Hideki “Godzilla” Matsui – was hitless in four-at-bats and was batting .238 through that point of the playoffs.

Of course, a few days later, Godzilla tormented the Phillies with six RBIs in the championship clinching game, not only securing an MVP award for Matsui (the first-ever for either a Japanese-born player or a full-time designated hitter), but also delivering championship No. 27 to the Yankees. That was the last time Godzilla – and the Yankees – played a non-exhibition game in Yankee Stadium.

This week, as the Yankees return to their beloved home and host Anaheim in their 2010 home opener, the Angels hope Godzilla picks up exactly where he left off on Nov. 4, 2009. The big difference is Godzilla is not wearing pinstripes this season. So, as the Yankees christen the 2010 campaign at Yankee Stadium and play their first home game since Matsui’s two-home run, six-RBI performance, the Japanese slugger himself will be walking to the on-deck circle from the visitor’s dugout and donning Angel red-and-white. Accordingly, manager Mike Scioscia clearly hopes Godzilla does to the Yankees what he did for them in final at-bats for the pinstriped boys only a few months ago.

Then again, Scioscia (and the rest of the Angels) hope Godzilla does what he did throughout his entire career as a Yankee – hit home runs. Already hitting two homers this season, Matsui connected on 474 long balls in his career – including 332 in his eight-years with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. Hitting an average of 20 home runs in his seven-year stint with the Yankees, Scioscia is rooting for Godzilla to at least equal his 28-home run, 90-RBI performance in 2009, allowing Angel fans and teammates alike to all but forget the power lost when Vladimir Guerrero left the team during the offseason.

So far, Matsui is off to a solid start in 2010 – even though his Angels were a pathetic 2-5 in their season-opening homestand against both the Minnesota Twins and the Oakland Athletics. In seven games, Godzilla has notched a .370 batting average in addition to his two home runs and five RBIs. He is also hitting for power, what with his slugging percentage registering at a crisp .667 average and his OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) a whopping 1.081.

Godzilla has been as advertised in Anaheim. Now, all that is left is for Matsui to consistently provide his team with his ability to perform under pressure with his signature clutch hitting and ability to lead by example on the field. It is Matsui who has to be the clubhouse leader and the difference-maker, what with his on-the-field talents and postseason hardware now permanently attached to his name.

Sure, if the Angels do not improve upon their dismal 2-5 start in the 155 regular season games that follow just prior to facing this season’s first pitch at Yankee Stadium, it will not entirely be Godzilla’s fault. Heck, in their seven-game home-opening series against the Twins and Athletics, Angel pitchers have allowed a whopping 44 runs.

With a team ERA of 5.57 entering this week’s road trip through the Bronx and, later Toronto, the Angels clearly have bigger fish to fry than worrying about what Godzilla will do in the batter’s box. Still, Godzilla is the biggest offensive name on the team’s roster, and his stellar resume has bestowed upon him a responsibility to serve as the veteran leadership the Angels desperately needed to find postseason success.

Perhaps he needs to be as vocal off the field as he is on the field with his bat and demand team management bring in a few steady hands into the bullpen. Perhaps he just needs to calm down the current lot of pitchers with a few words of advice.

Either way, Godzilla has the goods to make his roar heard throughout Southern California. For his sake, Matsui better hope his loud roar shakes things up enough in Anaheim to change the perception that the Angels are merely a strong regular season team who cannot win in the playoffs.