Cesar Izturis’ eighth inning home run pretty much summed up the Yankees’ Opening Day 10-5 loss. Izturis signed a two-year, $5 million contract with the Orioles this off-season for his glove. After he has a career OPS+ of 67 and blasted just two home runs over this last three seasons.
So of course, with the Yanks knocking at the Orioles’ door in the 8th inning, he turns on a Phil Coke offering and deposits it just out of the reach of Johnny Damon in the left field seats. I wouldn’t be surprised if Izturis’ blast is the only one he hits all season.
For the Yankees, Opening Day was an entire game of “just out of reach.” For CC Sabathia, the $23 Million Man, the strike out zone was just out of reach. He lasted just 4.1 innings, giving up 6 earned runs on 8 hits and an alarming 5 walks. He recorded no strike outs in a start — a feat he has accomplished four times in his career — for the first time since July 25, 2005.
One at-bat, in particular, sticks out for me. With the bases loaded in the fifth inning, Luke Scott was up. Sabathia got ahead 0-2 on two sliders Scott fouled away. Instead of attacking Scott with a fastball, Sabathia threw four more sliders. None of them got the plate, and Scott didn’t bite.
After the game, Sabathia said he just didn’t have it. He couldn’t locate his fastball, and as any pitcher at any level knows, a pitcher who cannot locate his fastball is pitching at a disadvantage. (The heating pack, by the way, was for CC to stay warm and loose. In the post game show, Sabathia and Girardi both said nothing was physically wrong with the lefty. He just “never got in the groove,” as Posada said.)
Offensively, the Yanks were always just out of reach of the Orioles. Down 6-5 in the 8th, Nick Swisher led off the inning with a double. Joe Girardi used the speedy Ramiro Peña to pinch hit, but then he gave away an out as Brett Gardner bunted. I understand the theory behind moving the runner to third. Peña could potentially score on an out. With three contact hitters in Gardner, Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon due up next though, why not let Gardner put the ball in play? As he showed in the third, good things happen when he does that.
Anyway, Derek Jeter tapped out to third, and after a Johnny Damon walk, Mark Teixeira left two runners. His 0-for-4 with 5 LOB left the Yankees just out of reach.
By the time Phil Coke and Brian Bruney combined for four earned runs in two innings, the Yanks had lost their chances. They had left 11 runners on base and couldn’t deliver that blow. The game was just out of reach.
While Sabathia wasn’t great, while the Yankees’ five runs and 11 hits weren’t quite enough, it is also important to keep it all in perspective. Game one is a loss, and what can you do? Jorge Posada showed some signs of power. Hideki blasted a homer. Damon and Jeter combined for five hits, and Robinson Cano walked twice. Anyway, we’ve still 161 more of these to go.