Friday, April 1, 2011

The Home Opener

Yankees and Tigers line up for Opening Day ceremonies
So the first game has been played and the Yankees have secured their first win of the season, defeating the Detroit Tigers 6-3. On a cold, stark and misty day in the Bronx, the Yankees were able to pull out the ol' magic and give fanatics another great opening day for the record books. You had to love the way the Yankees stayed in that game yesterday, pretty much justifying their opposition to being called underdogs. There was much to muse at and some things to scoff at, but overall, the Yankees played THEIR game: getting the big hit when they needed it, showing patience at the plate, having their ace grind out 6 innings to keep them in the game and securing the win by bringing in "The Sandman." Here are the highlights:


Grandy's defense - The oblique strain that threatened to sideline Curtis Granderson for a few days was obviously fine yesterday, as Granderson made 2 fantastic body-stretching catches against Will Rhymes and Brandon Inge, both avoiding extra-base hits. Grandy's second catch against Inge was one for the highlights as it was an over-the-shoulder catch of a ball that was far in front of him.

Grandy's offense - With the game tied at 3-3 in the 7th, Granderson clocked a homer off former Yankee Phil Coke, who seemingly appears to be sporting a new "attitude" looking slimmer and sporting a longer "do." Nonetheless, the homer was the game winner that pretty much secured Grandy as Player of the Game.

Tex's homer - Mark Teixeira knows that he is the one guy besides Jeter that fans will be keeping a close eye on offensively. His problems in April are as analyzed as Jeter's range at shortstop. But Tex got the big, big hit yesterday with a 3-run homer which put the Yanks ahead 3-1 in the third. Yeah, it's only the first game, but we fanatics know that baseball is as much a mental game as a physical one. That homer yesterday could have only done positive things for Tex's psyche, and could possibly have been all he needed to shake his April blues.

Gardy working the bunt - Brett Gardner's legacy as a baseball player at the end of his career will be his speed. Until he really gets his swing in order, bunting will be his second tool to get on and run the bases. He worked hard on perfecting his bunt in Spring Training, and it was nice to see him not shy away from it in yesterday's game. Bunting with his speed, he could easily add about 10 more stolen base opportunities to his season total.

A-Rod - Coming off of the best ST of any other player in the lineup, Alex Rodriguez continued his hitting ways yesterday with a solid double to center. A-Rod's swing is on point and he's locked in. Unfortunately for him, yesterday's windy conditions prevented the double from being a homer and giving him his first RBI of the season.

Moose throwing out the first pitch - Mike Mussina stood on the mound at the new stadium yesterday for the first time to open the season by throwing the first pitch to of all people, Jorge Posada. Remember that drama? But it was all an afterthought to both former teammates and to Yankee fans as they gave Moose a standing ovation.

The relievers - Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera pitched the 7th, 8th and 9th innings, respectively. Nine up, nine down. Enough said. 


A rusty CC - I give him all the credit in the world for grinding out 6 tough innings yesterday, but CC Sabathia's pitch performance was less than admirable. He was perfect in the first inning, striking out the Tigers' 1-2-3 hitters. But he struggled afterward in the second, loading the bases and giving up a sac fly to put Detroit ahead 1-0. Throughout the game, he struggled putting batters away after getting two strikes. He would give up 2 earned runs in 6 innings on 106 pitches. Not a terrible day for the ace, but not a great one either.

First-pitch strikes - Patience at the plate is a Yankee trademark, but sometimes it's also a curse. Again, Derek Jeter and Gardy allowed first-pitch fastballs to come straight down the middle without taking a swing. I don't know the stats on this, but I'm certain enough that these two have to have lead the team in this category last season, perhaps with Nick Swisher close behind.  It drives me crazy, especially with Jeter who's one of the best fastball hitters in baseball. I don't understand it, but hopefully they'll both work on it as the season progresses.

Alex's miscalculation - I'm willing to forgive this one because it is something that you rarely see A-rod do, but yesterday he cost himself an extra base by assuming his double was a homer. As we know, Alex's trademark after a homer is to toss his bat toward the Yankees dugout and look in at his teammates. The 2 seconds it takes to do that, combined with the typical home run "trot" slowed Alex down and when he realized he missed the homer, he could only make it into 2nd with no chance of reaching 3rd. Again, Alex never does this, and I'd assume Joe Girardi probably said something to him afterward.


Russell Martin went 1-3 in his catching debut at the stadium
Jeter earned his first RBI with a sac-fly in the seventh inning, scoring Martin
Swisher went 1-4 with an RBI single in the eighth, scoring A-Rod
Yanks walked five times (Jeter - 1, Teixeira - 1, A-Rod - 2, Cano - 1)

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

No comments:

Post a Comment