Joba Chamberlain’s second start of the season didn’t go quite as well as the first. He gave up a solo home run to the second batter he faced (Mark DeRosa), walked five men including two in the fourth inning leading to a second Cleveland run (on a Ben Francisco two-out RBI single), and coughed up three more runs in the fifth before being pulled with two outs in that inning. Chamberlain still managed to strike out four in his 4 2/3 innings, but he lacked control throughout, throwing fewer than half of his 93 pitches for strikes and mixing in a wild pitch in the top of the fifth.
The Yankee offense, meanwhile, drew six walks, but didn’t get a single hit with a runner on base in the entire game. Instead they took advantage of the jet stream heading out to right field in their new park and peppered the right-field stands with solo home runs. Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira went back-to-back off Tribe starter Anthony Reyes in the third to give the Yankees their first lead at their new ballpark. After Chamberlain allowed the Indians to tie the score in the top of the fourth, Melky Cabrera answered back with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning to make it 3-2 Yanks.
Chamberlain gave that lead right back as well, but the Yankee bullpen locked it down from there with Phil Coke, Jonathan Albaladejo, and the suddenly unhittable Brian Bruney combining to face the minimum over 3 2/3 scoreless innings. In the meantime, Robinson Cano brought the Yankees to within one with a solo shot of lefty Zach Jackson leading off the sixth, and Cleveland reliever Vinnie Chulk handed the Yankees the tying run in the seventh by walking Damon to start the inning, then throwing away a comebacker from Mark Teixeira for a two-base error that let Damon come all the way around to score.
After Bruney’s dominant eighth inning (11 pitches, 8 strikes, two Ks), pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui and Brett Gardner struck out against Jensen Lewis to start the bottom of the ninth, but Derek Jeter connected for a two-out solo shot (a Captain Solo, if you will) that proved to be the game winner as Mariano Rivera pitched around a pair of singles and struck out DeRosa to earn his first save and seal the Yankees’ first win in the new stadium. Final score: 6-5 Yankees.
- With regard to that jet stream to right field, here’s what I wrote after watching batting practice back on April 2:
I suspect that the open concourses will create something of a jet stream that helps the ball carry more than it did in the old Stadium. The Yankees seemed to have little trouble peppering the outfield stands with home runs, several of which came very close to my seat in the right-field bleachers. Johnny Damon should make good use out of the 200-level seats in right field, and Mark Teixeira seemed to hit every ball he swung at from the left side deep into the stands. Nick Swisher also went deep a number of times.
- David Robertson was optioned back to Triple-A before the game and replaced on the roster by Juan Miranda. The Yankees need the extra bat because Hideki Matsui’s knees filled with fluid after he ran the bases on Thursday. That’s why Melky started in right field and Nick Swisher DHed yesterday. With Xavier Nady already on the DL, any lingering issues with Matsui’s knees just might force the Yankees to make a move after all (*cough* Jim Edmonds *cough*). That is, of course, unless Melky responds well to the opportunity. I have little remaining faith in Cabrera, but he did come on strong at the end of spring training, finishing camp with a .349/.408/.508 line, and is 4-for-14 with a homer and a walk in very limited playing time thus far.
- The Yankees need to adjust how they use the ribbon board that wraps around the front of the upper deck. As you can see in the photograph at the top of this post, they stash the game status information behind the foul poles and use the entire rest of the board for advertising throughout the the game. They need to put the count and score somewhere closer to home plate for the fans in the bleachers and wings of the seating bowl.
- The second game at the new stadium drew just 45,101 people (compared to a capacity of 52,325) and many of the expensive seats ringing the field were empty, as was plainly visible throughout the YES broadcast. In fact, the last sections of “Legends Suite” seats on both the first and third base side were completely empty, and it appeared several luxury boxes were as well. Here are some shots of the rattle-your-jewelry seats that I took from my $12 bleacher seat around the third inning (as always, click to enlarge).
There’s no excuse for having that many empty seats up close with 45,101 fans in the building. The Yankees need to fix this and fast.
All photos © Clifford J. Corcoran, 2009.