The Yankees scored two in the top of the first against Sidney Ponson yesterday afternoon, and Andy Pettitte made those runs hold up with seven stellar innings in which he allowed just one run on three hits and a walk as the Yankees beat the Royals 4-1 in Kansas City’s home opener.
Pettitte’s was the best performance by a Yankee starting pitcher this season and underlined the strength of this year’s team: starting pitching depth. There’s not a man in the Yankees’ rotation that you wouldn’t want to have on the mound on any given day (yes, even A.J. Burnett, my complaints about him stem largely from his injury history and his contract, in other words the possibility of having him not on the mound but still on the books). The Yankees opened the season by having their top two starters, CC Sabathia and Chien-Ming Wang, get lit up, but Burnett and Pettitte brought them right back to even in the blink of an eye. Sabathia takes his second turn tomorrow, then Joba Chamberlain gets his first on Sunday, then back around again. If those five starters can stay healthy (admittedly a huge “if”), the Yankees will have a very realistic expectation of winning every game they play. They’ll still lose about 60 of them, but it won’t be because they were outmatched on the mound. That’s a tremendous advantage for a ballclub, in terms of strength and strategy as well as confidence.