Friday, April 1, 2011

Tex & Granderson Lead Yanks Over Tigers in Opener

Baseball is back.

The Yankees kicked off the 2011 season yesterday afternoon in the Bronx with a nice 6-3 win over the Tigers. It's just one game so I don't want to overstate the significance of anything that went on, but as a fan you have to be pretty pleased with what you saw from the Yanks yesterday.

I'll get to the offense eventually, but first let's talk about the pitching, and at least for one day, everything went as planned. CC Sabathia was solid over six innings, allowing three runs--two earned--on six hits, while walking two and striking out seven. He wasn't dominating, but for the first start of the year he was good enough.

Following Sabathia came the bullpen and with the signings of Rafael Soriano and the now injured Pedro Feliciano, the pen looks like one of the best in the majors. Yesterday, they lived up to that billing. Joba Chamberlain, Soriano, and Mariano Rivera (with his new high socks) each threw a perfect inning while striking out a batter each. 9-up, 9-down, game over.
"It was as scripted," Derek Jeter said after the game. "CC pitched a great game for us, Joba did a good job, and Soriano and Mo, we like our chances late in the game and close games when we have the lead. Those guys are capable of shutting people down."
With the exception of CC Sabathia, the entire starting rotation is one big question mark so for the Yankees to be successful they're going to need to stick to that script.

You saw a lot of good thing from the offense today, and it started in the first. They started the season off in typical Yankees fashion, grinding out at-bat after at-bat and leading to three walks and a 31 pitch count for Justin Verlander after the inning.

Verlander, like Sabathia, was solid. He allowed three runs on three hits while walking four and striking out eight over six.

One of those first inning at-bats was a six-pitch walk by Mark Teixeira. Two innings later, he followed up that at-bat with a three-run homer off Verlander to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead. Hopefully this relaxes Tex at the plate and he can get over his history of bad Aprils. If that happens it would obviously be a huge boost for this team.

Curtis Granderson's oblique strain didn't look like it was bothering him because he looked great on both ends of the diamond. The Grandy Man went 1-for-3 with a solo homer in the seventh to break a 3-3 tie and give the Yankees the lead for good. The homer came off left-hander, and former Yankee, Phil Coke.

To go along with his nice day at the plate Granderson had a great day in the field including two spectacular plays. He was also playing much more shallow than he did last year and it seemed to pay off as he was able to take away several hits that would have fallen in had he been playing deeper. Maybe having Andruw Jones on his team--a guy who played a very shallow center while racking up gold glove awards--has rubbed off on him.

Alex Rodriguez looked like he's still as locked in as he was all spring. He went 1-for-2 with a double and a walk. Sadly, the day was tainted for the 3rd baseman because the double should have been a triple, but he thought it was gone and was too busy looking in the dugout to actually run hard. Like Michael Kay said during the game, this is something than cannot happen.

Nick Swisher and Russell Martin were the only other Yanks to pick up hits on the day. Martin had a very nice Yankees debut going 1-for-3, with 2 runs scored and a stolen base. Swisher went 1-for-4, with an RBI.

Like I said at the start, it was a nice win for the Yanks to start the year.

One down, only 161 to go.

B Gardner LF20000213.000.000.000
D Jeter SS21011015.000.250.000
M Teixeira 1B31131021.333.5001.333
A Rodriguez 3B21102020.500.7501.000
R Cano 2B30001221.000.250.000
N Swisher RF40110214.250.250.250
J Posada DH40000114.000.000.000
C Granderson CF31110115.333.3331.333
R Martin C32100016.333.333.333
2B: A Rodriguez (1, J Verlander)
HR: M Teixeira (1, 3rd inning off J Verlander 2 on, 1 Out); C Granderson (1, 7th inning off P Coke 0 on, 0 Out)
RBI: M Teixeira 3 (3), C Granderson (1), D Jeter (1), N Swisher (1)
S: B Gardner 2
SF: D Jeter
Yankees RISP: 2-6 (M Teixeira 1-1, J Posada 0-1, R Cano 0-2, N Swisher 1-2)
Team LOB: 4
SB: R Martin (1, 3rd base off J Verlander/A Avila)
E: R Cano (1, catch)

CC Sabathia6.0632270106-703.00
J Chamberlain
(W, 1-0)
R Soriano
(H, 1)
M Rivera
(S, 1)
First-pitch strikes/Batters faced: C Sabathia 17/27; J Chamberlain 1/3; R Soriano 1/3; M Rivera 2/3 
Called strikes-Swinging strikes-Foul balls-In Play strikes: C Sabathia 17-14-21-18; J Chamberlain 3-2-1-2; R Soriano 4-2-0-2; M Rivera 2-1-4-2 
Ground Balls-Fly Balls: C Sabathia 4-8; J Chamberlain 0-2; R Soriano 1-1; M Rivera 0-2
Game Scores: C Sabathia 55
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Curtis Granderson

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