As Mariano Rivera fanned Lyle Overbay and a Yankee win grew closer, I thought to myself, “This game was a perfect textbook example of a Yankee win.” Their starter threw seven strong innings; the offense came through at the right time; and the Joba-Mo tandem shut down the Jays to record the final six outs of the 3-2 Opening Day win.
As Rivera got the second out, Paul O’Neill read my mind. “That’s just textbook Yankee baseball,” he said, while Michael Kay yammered on incessantly sitting next to him. Of course, textbook baseball here isn’t much of a stretch. The Yanks won, and they won efficiently.
So let’s enjoy the moment in first place and wrap up the game.
The Good: Yankee pitching. While Wang had a few problems locating his pitches, he needed today’s outing. As much as those two disastrous postseason starts were last year, he needed to have it tonight. He needed to come out and remind everyone how he’s won 38 games over the last two years. When he missed tonight, he missed down, and he managed to go 7 innings on 92 pitches. He got six outs in the air and 13 on the ground.
Joba came in and did what Joba does best. After a bumpy Spring Training, Joba proved why LaTroy Hawkins — “Spring Training don’t mean shit” — was right. With a stellar fastball and some great off-speed pitches, Joba ended his appearance with an impressive K of future Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. The first pump returned; baseball is back.
And, oh yeah, that Mariano Rivera fellow is pretty good too.
The Bad: If we’re going to nitpick and find bad in this game, it’s probably Jason Giambi at bat. He was downright cat-like in the field, but the bat seemed a little slow at the plate. He’ll come around.
The Ugly: Opposing pitchers’ numbers against A-Rod. The reigning MVP was 2 for 3 with a first-inning double and the Yanks’ first RBI of the season. After crushing the ball during Spring Training and dominating the league last year, A-Rod and his $27.5 million a year are still on fire.
Player of the Game: While YES gave their Player of the Game Award to Chien-Ming Wang, I’m going with RAB whipping boy Melky Cabrera. He made two outstanding catches in the fourth inning and brought the Yanks even with the Blue Jays by homering just over the right field wall. That’s a good start to the season for the soon-to-be-suspended center fielder.
Big Three K Craniosynostosis Challenge: With 2 Joba strike outs, we’ve raised a pledged $6.67 for the Jorge Posada Foundation. That’s a good start.
Thanks to everyone who chimed in on the game thread. We’ve cleared 200 comments on a post for the first time in RAB history. Welcome to 2008. How’s 162-0 sound?