Before you even think it, no it’s not just like last October. The team is different. The lineup is different. The year is different. Okay?
Today’s game was not fun to watch. There was once instance when it was fun, Kevin Youkilis hit a home run to pull the Yankees ahead in the top of the fifth but then it all fell apart quickly.
The Tigers scored three in the bottom of that fifth inning, one in the bottom of the sixth and two more in the bottom of the seventh. And how did they do it? Home runs. Two by Prince Fielder and one by Alex Avila. Fielder had five runs batted in this afternoon.
Ivan Nova didn’t look good. He’s has been on a bit of a slide since the 2012 All-Star break and at one point in today’s game, six straight batters were able to work a 3-2 count against him. Unfortunately for Nova, the bullpen didn’t help his cause. In fact, the only one in the bullpen who did well was David Robertson who pitched a four-pitch, 1-2-3 eighth inning.
Nova allowed two men on in the fifth which forced Joe Girardi to go to the bullpen and he called upon Boone Logan to try and get the Yankees out of trouble. That didn’t happen. What did happen was Fielder hitting the first of his two home runs. This one, a three-run shot to put the Tigers up 5-3.
Then in the sixth, Shawn Kelley replaced Logan and gave up a homer of his own, a solo shot to Alex Avila. But Kelley wasn’t done and neither was Prince Fielder. After walking Miguel Cabrera to lead off the seventh, Kelley gave up a two-run shot to Fielder that put the Tigers up 8-3.
And to add injury to insult, Eduardo Nunez was removed from the game after being hit by a pitch. They’re saying it’s a bruised right biceps. Let’s hope that’s all it is.
Is anyone else as excited as I am right now? The excitement I’m feeling is not just because the Yankees won. It’s also not just because they beat Boston – I mean, who doesn’t love that? And it’s not just because we, meaning the people who live in the New York metro area, won’t have to hear about more doom and gloom tomorrow. The excitement I’m feeling is because two of the guys people like to make fun of the most, the ones fans of other teams like to say ” are as old as dirt,” Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, were a big part of tonight’s victory.
Pettitte was the stopper the Yankees desperately needed. Well, fine, desperately is a little exaggerated and over the top but to save everyone’s sanity, at least in terms of what I mentioned above, the doom and gloom, this start was definitely needed.
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The Yankees are still looking for their first win, and in an effort to get some more offense, Girardi has shuffled up the lineup again.
The game starts at 7:05 PM and you can catch it on YES or The MLB Network, depending on where you live. Go Yankees!
Hiroki Kuroda was supposed to save us, but we got even more injury news tonight. He didn’t start today’s game particularly strong, but after taking a line drive to the throwing hand in the second inning, he completely lost his control. Kuroda gave up a walk and two hit by pitches almost immediately, and gave the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead before Joe Girardi gave him the hook. At the moment, he’s being diagnosed with a contusion to his middle finger, but X-Rays are being taken.
Cody Eppley came into relieve Kuroda, and immediately earned an inning ending double play to get out of the BB/HBP mess. Girardi left Eppley in for the third inning, but a number of well placed groundballs made it through the infield. Eppley gave up 4 earned runs in his 1.1 inning of work, but he didn’t look that terrible. The right-hander drew 5 ground balls, 1 strikeout, and 1 line drive, but the ground balls just couldn’t find fielders.
Adam Warren came in to relieve Eppley and was brilliant. He allowed two of Eppley’s base runners to score, but he only allowed one of his own runs to score over his 5.1 innings of work. He saved the bullpen and showed his capability at the major league level. Last year, Warren was given a start, and looked completely helpless. This Spring Training, he was equally awful. Tonight’s relief work was a big step in the right direction for a starter who’s already had two successful seasons at the Triple-A level.
The offense wasn’t as bad as we saw on Monday. The Yankees had 9 hits and 2 walks, 11 total base runners, but left 18(!) men on base. Fortunately Travis Hafner hit the team’s first home run of the year to make things not so terrible. Kevin Youkilis had 2 hits of his own, and Nunez earned himself two singles and a walk. The star of the game was… Vernon Wells?! Wells looked good this Spring, but went hitless on Monday (although he technically hit a double that was called a foul mistakenly). Tonight, he went 3 for 4 with two singles and a big three run home run in the 8th inning. The left fielder is someone to keep a close eye on this April, as he’s made several adjustments, and could be an important piece if he ever gets back to the hitter he was before joining the Angels.
Despite the amount of ground ball singles, the defense had little to do with it. Balls just found holes, and even Kuroda saw his fair share of bloops in the first inning. Chris Stewart wasn’t too impressive behind the plate, although he did catch a popup over the visiting dugout in the 7th. Nunez again made a handful of great plays, showing off his range and a much improved arm. He did boot a ball in the 9th inning, but it was on one crazy hop. I used to cringe when the ball was hit to him, but now I’m thankful that it’s Nunez over Derek Jeter, though he’s no replacement with the bat.
For those of you who don’t know, I live and work out in Wisconsin, where a combination of geographic location, available regional TV selections, and lack of money/motivation to pay for an MLB.tv subscription leaves me without access to the YES Network and the bulk of the televised Yankee games. For those of you who do know from reading AB4AR, you’re probably tired of hearing that excuse but whatever. A nationally televised Yankee game is always like an early birthday present for me, and yesterday’s broadcast on ESPN gave me my first chance to actually SEE this year’s version of the Yankees play. It’s one thing to analyze and comment on the goings on of the club based on secondhand information like scouting reports and FanGraphs stats; it’s another to actually watch players in action and evaluate their performance based on what you see. I jotted more than a few notes down while watching yesterday’s home opener. Here are some of my observations.
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When Joe Girardi‘s lineup card hit Twitter, I though it may have been an April Fool’s joke, but I was wrong.
After months of asking what the Yankees were going to do to remedy their problems, the opening day roster was about as awe-inspiring as we all expected. Eduardo Nunez batted second, Vernon Wells fifth, Ben Francisco was your DH, and Jayson Nix was at third base instead of a glue factory. But with Brett Gardner, Robinson Cano, Ichiro Suzuki, and the rest of the gang on the field for CC Sabathia, the Yankees might not need much offense. There’s no doubt that this was Girardi’s plan, defense-first and start all your scrappy right-handed hitters against Jon Lester.
The Yankees may have lost a considerable amount of home runs since 2012, but at least they still have pitching and defense. At least that’s what we’ve been telling ourselves. On paper, the Yankees have one of the strongest rotations and bullpens in baseball, but you wouldn’t think that if you watched today’s game. Sabathia struggled to locate his pitches, while the defense looked like the latest editions of Volkswagen commercials.
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The Yankees beat the Cardinals 4-0 today thanks to strong starting pitching by Hiroki Kuroda and a two-run home run by Kevin Youkilis – his first of Spring Training. Kuroda pitched four innings, gave up three hits, struck out six and did not walk a batter. Youkilis finished 1-2 with two RBI.
And in exciting news, the Yankees did not commit an error and as far as we know, everyone made it out pain free.
The rivalry was renewed and the Yankees won the first battle…
Okay, even I can’t pretend that this was anything more than a Spring Training game with scrubs – and Brett Gardner – making the trip to Fort Myers. I probably should also admit to not watching the game. Although I did catch a glimpse of Andrew Miller of the Red Sox sporting a mountain man beard. Hey Andrew, 2004 called, it wants Johnny Damon back.
The Red Sox struck first with a run in the second inning on a home run by Mike Napoli which came off of Adam Warren. Warren pitched three innings and only gave up that one run on that one hit. He struck out two and walked one batter.
The Yankees scored their runs during a three-run sixth inning in which Eduardo Nunez hit an RBI single, Jayson Nix grounded into a force out with the bases loaded and that scored Austin Romine who was on third and Ronnier Mustelier who moved to third on that force out scored on a fielding error by Drew Sutton which also allowed the batter, Juan Rivera to reach first.
Some news that came out after the game ended: Joe Girardi basically put the kibosh on the Curtis Granderson/Gardner outfield switch. I guess it makes sense with Granderson not scheduled to come back until May, you wouldn’t want him trying to navigate left field in Yankee Stadium without much practice.
The seven-game losing streak is over. Everyone can stop panicking about the New York Yankees.
Of course, I’m kidding, no one was really panicking at all. As I’ve been saying for the past few weeks, it’s only Spring Training.
The good stuff:
- Ivan Nova‘s performance – 2 IP, one hit and one strike out. He was also hitting 94 m.p.h. (according to some tweets I saw)
- Brett Gardner‘s two hits and two stolen bases
- Tyler Austin and Corban Joseph each had two RBI – not that those even count but it was still nice to see.
- Chris Stewart who is one of the candidates for the starting catcher job hit a home run.
- The Yankees had finished with 10 runs on 13 hits.
- They only made one error.
The ‘bad’ stuff: