"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Impressions from the Opening Series

The Yankees lost the first two games of the season because their starting pitchers weren’t sharp. CC Sabathia and Chien-Ming Wang combined for this line in those two games: 8 IP, 17 H, 13 R, 1 HR, 8 BB, 0 K, 3.13 WHIP, 14.63 ERA. End of story. Neither was suffering from anything worse than poor mechanics (Wang) or a simple lack of feel (Sabathia). I’m not concerned about either, and Sabathia will be back on the bump tomorrow.

The bullpen coughed up four insurance runs after the Yankee offense pulled within a run in the opener, but in the last two games, the bullpen contributed eight hitless, scoreless innings. Included among those were perfect frames from Phil Coke and Brian Bruney, who had given up the four runs on Monday. Every man in the pen pitched in the series. The only one who remains a concern moving forward is Damaso Marte, who faced two batters on Monday. He gave up a two-RBI double to the lefty (both runs being charged to Bruney) before getting the righty to ground out.

Robinson Cano, 2008 ToppsAlso encouraging is that the offense scored 21 runs in the first three games, showing resiliency by rallying back to within a run of the O’s in the first two games, then dropping 11 runs on Baltimore in the finale. Perhaps the best news to come out of the opening series is that the hitting star of the series was Robinson Cano, who went 6-for-11 with a double, a home run, and three walks. Last April, it took Cano eight games to get six hits, 12 games to get two extra-base hits, and 19 games to draw three walks; this year each took him just three games.

The other hitting star of the series was Nick Swisher, who only started in yesterday’s finale, but delivered a pinch-hit double in the opener and a pinch-hit walk in the second game. Yesterday, he went 3-for-5 with a double and a tie-breaking home run, collecting a career-high five RBIs. Xavier Nady had two doubles and a walk himself, but Swisher has already given Joe Girardi reason to reconsider how he deploys his two right fielders.

Other positives: Jorge Posada picked up a double, a 425-foot home run, and a walk in eight trips. He also threw out a stealing Brian Roberts by so much that Roberts turned around and headed back to first base (where he was tagged out). Derek Jeter went 5-for-13 with a homer, a walk, and a steal. Ramiro Peña singled in his first (and still only) major league at-bat yesterday. After starting the season 0-for-8 with a walk, Mark Teixeira went 3-for-6 with a double and a game-tying homer to finish the series; the double came in his only right-handed at-bat. Johnny Damon went 3-for-11  with a triple, two walks, and a steal. Even Jose Molina reached base twice in four trips.

The bad: While Hideki Matsui homered in the opener, that was the only time he reached base in ten at-bats. In his pinch-hit appearance yesterday (his only at-bat of the series), Melky Cabrera missed badly on three straight Matt Albers breaking balls.

Less noticeable was the fact that the Yankees won the war on the bases. The Bronx Burners went 4-for-4 in their own steal attempts and threw out (or picked off) four of the seven attempting Oriole base stealers.

Finally, the defensive upgrades at first base and center field, as well as in right field when Nick Swisher was out there yesterday, where instantly noticeable, and Cano’s fielding seems to have rebounded along with his bat.

Of course, it was just three games . . .

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1 RIYank   ~  Apr 10, 2009 11:29 am

It so much better for the fans' psyche to win the last game of the series, if you're only going to win one.

Not to steal your afternoon thunder, but our guys are going to be swinging against Sidney Ponson today! It's up to Pettitte to see that our bullpen gets a little rest.

2 tommyl   ~  Apr 10, 2009 11:38 am

Sidney Ponson, Sidney Ponson...that name sounds vaguely familiar. Was he one of our hot prospects?

I really want to see someone crank a homerun off Farnsworth in this series. It would make me smile.

3 SteveAmerica   ~  Apr 10, 2009 11:41 am

Not to nitpick but didn't they score 21 runs? This series has me feeling very good about the team. The offense averaged 7 runs a game. Given that they did it against the Os maybe they regress to something like 5.5 runs a game on average, remember A-Rod comes back in a month. That's 891 runs. Wang and Sabathia will pitch better, and with the frontline pitching depth, and what i saw from the pen 891 runs should go a long way.

Swisher is the Junior G Man.

4 a.O   ~  Apr 10, 2009 11:42 am

Cliff, you forgot to mention ol' Gardy ... I thought he looked pretty good as well, showing he has the bat to play every day. Looked great on the bases, just like last year, and did you see that bunt he almost turned into a single?

5 PJ   ~  Apr 10, 2009 12:01 pm

"I’m not concerned about either, and Sabathia will be back on the bump tomorrow."

Do you know something the rest of us don't about Joba Chamberlain's start on Saturday? Pettitte, Chamberlain, and Sabathia are scheduled to go in Kansas City...


6 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Apr 10, 2009 12:11 pm

Yes. Joba is starting on Sunday so that CC can be on turn for the home opener.

Run total fixed.

And I didn't forget to mention Gardner. He looked great in the field. Less so at the plate, but not so much less that it was worth comment.

7 Diane Firstman   ~  Apr 10, 2009 12:15 pm


Watch it be misty and 42 degrees next Thursday. (Fortunately, April features lots of day games, when the temps *should* be warmer) :-O

8 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Apr 10, 2009 12:22 pm

Hey, it was 32 degrees on the day Matsui hit his Opening Day grand slam. No one was complaining (not after that homer, that is) . . .

9 Raf   ~  Apr 10, 2009 12:24 pm

Watching these games via gamecast, I find it amusing that it appears Gardner hasn't seen a pitch other than a fastball.

10 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Apr 10, 2009 12:27 pm

Good observation, Raf. He also hasn't drawn a walk. Pitchers are going to go right after him until he proves he can hurt them. He did double yesterday, so that's a start, but Gardner's results will vary as he and the league adjust to one another. It should be interesting to watch.

11 Diane Firstman   ~  Apr 10, 2009 12:45 pm


My snarky comment was more related to CC Sabathia's security blanket hot water bottle.

CC historically doesn't like April ...

12 The Hawk   ~  Apr 10, 2009 1:00 pm

I'd just as soon Joba start the home opener. Why does CC need to be on the mound?

13 RIYank   ~  Apr 10, 2009 1:02 pm

Why does CC need to be on the mound?

Well, it's a rule of baseball. If he pitched from off to the side, he'd be balking constantly.

14 ny2ca2dc   ~  Apr 10, 2009 1:04 pm

[9] Interesting and [10] great point. It really will be, and now I'll be looking for it. The O's outfielders were playing him quite shallow as well.

15 Diane Firstman   ~  Apr 10, 2009 1:05 pm


Well-played :-)

16 Mattpat11   ~  Apr 10, 2009 1:06 pm

I'm somewhat dreading this series, because I fear it will lead to Farnsworth and Ponson impressing someone

17 PJ   ~  Apr 10, 2009 1:25 pm

[13] Well Banter'd, RIY! One must really be on one's toes 'round here!


18 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Apr 10, 2009 2:18 pm

[13] Ohhhhhhhhh!

19 Bama Yankee   ~  Apr 10, 2009 2:48 pm

[13] LOL. Nice!

20 Diane Firstman   ~  Apr 10, 2009 3:00 pm

A moment of silence please ... one of the D&D creators has passed away:

21 SteveAmerica   ~  Apr 10, 2009 3:01 pm

I have to disagree with the consensus when it comes to Brett G. I don't believe in his bat, and I think he's not going to be our starting CF come July.

22 sonyahennystutu   ~  Apr 10, 2009 3:02 pm

[13] Logged in just to add my own BOO-YAH!

Hey I sort of miss the non-game threads from the hot stove season. They were long and included much uuhhh....banter. The in game threads take more focus to follow than do the games :)

23 sonyahennystutu   ~  Apr 10, 2009 3:02 pm

[20] Actually Diane, this is the *other* D&D creator to pass. Gary G passed not that long ago...

24 PJ   ~  Apr 10, 2009 7:27 pm

[6] That was very "Sweeney Murti" of you to get that starter switch scoop, Cliff! You even beat Yankees.com with that one! Well done!

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver