Via George King, right-hander Michael Pineda will remain in Tampa and not travel with the team to Baltimore as he works his way back from shoulder tendinitis. He will throw long-toss today, tomorrow, and Tuesday after playing catch on Thursday and Friday. If that goes well, there’s a chance he could get back on the mound and throw a bullpen session reasonable soon. He’ll need a few of those before throwing in a minor league game, I imagine.
I suppose the good news is that the last two times the Yankees dropped their first two games of the season, it was 1998 and 2009. Those years were pretty cool. This is also the first time both the Yankees and Red Sox have both been 0-2 since 1980. Anyway, here’s a quick recap…
- Eduardo Scissorhands: Sheesh, it really didn’t take long for Eduardo Nunez to make his presence felt, eh? That ball was as routine as it gets, the play has to be made no questions asked.
- Hi-rocked: Not a good Yankees debut for Hiroki Kuroda, who was up in the zone all night and gave up a lot of hard-hit balls. The error didn’t help in the first, but at some point the pitcher has to pick his fielder up. Just forget about it and get ready for the home opener.
- Shift Happens: You really have to hand it to the Rays, they employ the shift better than anyone. It’s one thing to align the fielders in certain spots, but the pitchers also have to get in on the act. How many times have to you seen the Yankees shift on David Ortiz only to pitch him away, away, away? Too many to count.
- LNOGY: Clay Rapada was fantastic in camp and earned his roster spot. Someone should now tell him he has to continue to pitching well to keep that roster spot. Not going to blame him for the Evan Longoria double or the Ben Zobrist walk, but he can’t walk Carlos Pena and/or give up a hit to Matt Joyce (even if it was a bloop). The Pena walk was inexcusable.
- The O’Neill Theory: The Yankees did put together a late rally — thanks to Nick Swisher‘s monster three-run homer — but they didn’t complete the comeback. According to Paul O’Neill, they’ll carry that momentum into tomorrow’s game and put some runs on the board early. I sure hope so.
- Leftovers: I totally thought Andruw Jones‘ fly ball in the sixth was long gone … Cory Wade had a terrible spring, so naturally he retired all five batters he faced in his season debut, including three strikeouts … Derek Jeter is wearing out the middle of the diamond; everything’s been hit back up the box these last two days, and that’s good … three walks by Russell Martin and two by Swisher, giving the Yankees 14 walks and just 12 strikeouts as a team in these two games … Curtis Granderson is still awesome, two knocks tonight including a triple.
MLB.com has the box score and video, FanGraphs the nerdy stuff, and ESPN the standings. The Yankees will try to salvage the series behind Phil Hughes tomorrow. He gets the ball against reigning Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson at 1:40pm ET.
Make sure you check out Mike Ashmore’s feature on Brett Marshall, it’s a must read.
Triple-A Empire State (4-0 loss to Syracuse)
CF Chris Dickerson & LF Cole Garner: both 1-3 — Dickerson walked and whiffed … Garner struck out twice
C Frankie Cervelli, DH Jack Cust & 3B Brandon Laird: all 0-4 — Cervelli & Laird each struck out once, Cust twice
1B Steve Pearce & RF Colin Curtis: both 1-4
SS Ramiro Pena: 0-3, 1 K
2B Doug Bernier: 2-3
LHP Manny Banuelos: 3.1 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 7/0 GB/FB — 46 of 81 pitches were strikes (56.8%) … right-handed batters went eight hits in 14 at-bats against him (.571) … can’t imagine this is how he wanted to start the season
LHP Mike O’Connor: 2.2, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 3/2 GB/FB – 23 of 36 pitches were strikes (63.9%)
RHP Cody Eppley: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — a dozen of his 16 pitches were strikes
LHP Juan Cedeno: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1/0 GB/FB — only four his ten pitches were strikes
Opening Day didn’t go according to plan, but the best thing about baseball is that they play everyday. The Yankees will get their first regular season look at Hiroki Kuroda this evening, their brand new veteran number two starter. Kuroda looked sharp all throughout Spring Training and was probably the club’s most effective starter in March, but it was March and no one cares. Now he’s gotta go it against a lineup of big leaguers multiple times. I expect him to be more than fine. Here’s the starting nine…
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
Tonight’s game starts at 7:10pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.
We added a new feature to the site today, the Bullpen Workload page. It’s available at all times via the Resources tab, right under the “AVE BLUES” in the street sign. The idea is simple, we’re going to keep track of the Yankees’ relievers recent workloads – in terms of pitches thrown — to help give us an idea of who’s available on a given night, who’s not available, who’s been overworked, who’s been buried, stuff like that. I added some select Triple-A pitchers who have a reasonable chance of being called up the big leagues to the table as well. Hope you find it useful.
Full Disclosure: The idea came from Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness, a fantastic Dodgers blog that gets RAB’s highest level of recommendation. It’s run by a fellow handsome guy named Mike, so check it out.
The Yankees opened their season sans Michael Pineda yesterday, as the young right-hander started the year on the disabled list with a bout of shoulder tendinitis. Pineda has played catch in each of the last two days, suggesting that the injury isn’t too serious. Joe Girardi said yesterday that it’s “safe to say” we won’t see him in the big leagues this month though, which jives with the ultra-conservative approach they’re reportedly taking.
Reports indicate that Pineda came to camp 10-20 lbs. overweight, and Brian Cashman openly questioned his offseason routine. “I betcha it’s the first time he picked up a ball and started working out, and he’s probably using — it doesn’t make it right, if it’s the case, but I can’t tell you it’s the case — but he’s probably using Spring Training to get himself in shape,” said the GM a few weeks ago. Turns out there’s a little more to the story than that. Courtesy of Marc Carig…
A wrinkle in the Michael Pineda Saga: Turns out that Pineda was slated to arrive at M’s camp Jan. 22 to work out early, just as he did before his great rookie year. Then Pineda got traded, and there was a 10-day lag before it became official. Ultimately, Pineda didn’t arrive in Tampa until Feb. 14, still early, but not as planned. Impossible to know if extra 3 weeks of work would have made difference. But Pineda knows this much: “Next year, I’m coming early. I’m doing my plan.”
The Yankees agreed to acquire Pineda on Friday the 13th, but the trade didn’t become official until ten days later as Carig said. By then he was already a day behind, and by time he actually got to Tampa, he was already 23 days behind schedule. It’s not a surprise he came down with an achy shoulder after ramping up his throwing with three fewer weeks of workouts than originally planned.
Patience is a big part of how the Yankees’ front office has operated in recent years, and it served them well this offseason. They acquired Pineda (and Jose Campos!) for two young players rather than four, which is what it took for other teams to land guys like Doug Fister, Mat Latos, and Gio Gonzalez. That patience also appears to have hurt the club and specifically Pineda due to the timing of the trade and the right-hander’s offseason schedule. It’s unfortunate more than anything; it’s not like the Yankees are keeping tabs on the offseason routine of every other player around the league. Hopefully this unplanned but extended break gets Pineda back to where he was last season, because that guy was really awesome.
I don’t think any of us were hoping to see this after nearly six baseball-less months, but it is what it is. The Yankees dropped their first game of the season to the Rays on Friday afternoon in the yuckiest of ways, a walk-off loss.
The Grand Slam
I shouldn’t get that annoyed one inning into the season. Second and third with two outs in the first inning, and Joe Girardi orders CC Sabathia to intentionally walk Sean Rodriguez? I get that Rodriguez hits lefties well — career .346 wOBA vs. LHP — but my goodness. It’s the first inning of the first game of the season. You have your ace on the mound. Pitch to the man, who cares if he hits a three-run homer? The odds are very much against it since Rodriguez isn’t a power hitter, even against lefties.
Anyway, Carlos Pena comes up with the bases loaded. CC Sabathia was struggling to throw strikes, and sure enough he fell behind in the count and eventually ran if full with nowhere to put him. He had to throw a fastball to a fastball hitter in a fastball count, and Pena hit it out of the park. Predictable grand slam was predictable. If you can’t let your ace pitch to a Sean Rodriguez in the first inning of the season, you’re really over-thinking things.
The Yankees would not be thwarted by Girardi’s overmanaging, however. Jamie Shields was clearly off his game, and the Yankees touched him up for two runs a half-inning after Pena gave them a four-run lead. Alex Rodriguez (double) and Mark Teixeira (hit-by-pitch) scored on Raul Ibanez‘s ground ball and a Shields wild pitch in the top of the second. One inning later they tacked on four runs thanks to a Nick Swisher ground out and an Ibanez three-run homer. He was mashing the ball at the end of camp, and it carried right over into the season. It was no wall-scraper either, that thing was halfway up the stands in right.
I Can Has Tack-On Runs?
With six runs on the board against Shields in the first three innings, it seemed like the Yankees were good in pretty good shape. However, after Ibanez’s homer with one out in the third, they sent 29 batters to plate and only received three singles. One wasn’t even a single — Brett Gardner‘s line drive to Evan Longoria at third should have been caught and ruled an error, not a single — and another was an infield hit. The Yankees didn’t have a single hit after the fourth inning.
That sounds pretty awful, but the Yankees still had plenty of chances to score because they’re ridiculously patient. They drew seven walks as a team and five after Ibanez’s homer. The bases were left loaded in the second (Curtis Granderson struck out), the fourth (Ibanez ground out), and the seventh (Derek Jeter ground out). I thought Andruw Jones should have pinch-hit for Gardner when the left-handed Jake McGee came in with two on and two outs in seventh, but he didn’t and Gardner instead drew a walk. I wish Girardi was a little more liberal with his pinch-hitting tactics late in the game, Andruw could have done some serious damage right there.
Sabathia Settles Down
There’s no doubt he was off early in the game — four of the first six hitters he faced reached — but Sabathia settled down and allowed just one run from the second through sixth innings. The one came on a Longoria solo homer, and I can’t get upset over that. That guy is ridiculously good. Sabathia gave up a few hits — some bloops, some hard hit — after that but pitched out of every jam. He went to his slider in every big spot and it was effective.
Sabathia struck out seven in his six innings, walked two (one on purpose), and didn’t give up any extra-base hits besides the Pena and Longoria homers. Believe it or not, it was his second best Opening Day performance as a Yankees in terms of Game Score. He had an 18 in 2009, a 38 in 2010, a 55 in 2011, and a 40 on Friday afternoon. To no one’s surprise, he stood at his locker after the game and said putting Rodriguez on base intentionally in the first was the right move even though he was probably fuming inside.
Death By Bullpen
Unsurprisingly, Girardi went to his rigid bullpen formula after Sabathia was out of the game. Rafael Soriano threw a scoreless seventh despite unintentionally intentionally walking Longoria, and David Robertson had to bust out his Houdini act to pitch a scoreless eighth. He walked Rodriguez to start the inning, then gave up a ground ball single to Pena to put men on the corners with no outs. Robertson then struck out Stephen Vogt, Jose Molina, and Matt Joyce in order. Sure, only one of those guys qualifies as a big league caliber hitter, but it was fun nonetheless.
A one-run lead with Mariano Rivera on the mound is a situation I would take any day of the week, but it just wasn’t meant to be on Friday. Ben Zobrist tripled in Desmond Jennings to tie the game before an out was recorded, so Girardi intentionally loaded the bases with the winning run on third to create the force at every base. I don’t like the strategy — it creates zero margin for error, a walk or hit-by-pitch ends it — but it is certainly defensible. On went Longoria and on went Luke Scott before Rodriguez struck out, creating some glimmer of hope. Unfortunately, Pena was able to run the count full and end things on a fly ball to the wall.
Mariano goes through two rough patches every year, one in April and one in August. Hopefully he’s just getting the April rough patch out of the way a little early this year. Everything does get magnified on Opening Day though, so you’ll hear a bit about this one for the next 18 hours or so. Mo will be fine though, he always is.
I already said that I don’t like intentionally loading the bases in the ninth, but I do like that Girardi went with the five-man infield after that. Rivera generates a ton of weak contact, especially on the ground, and that was their best chance to cut the runner down at the plate. A fly ball wins the game for Tampa anyway, so two outfielders is no big deal.
It’s one game, but A-Rod does look pretty damn good. He doubled into the gap, laced a single, and drew two walks for a cool .800 OBP one game into the season. He also made a new nice plays at third, though his defense wasn’t really the question. It’s his health.
Robinson Cano had two singles in his first Opening Day start as a three-hole hitter, and he saw a whopping nine pitches in five plate appearances. Every other starter saw at least 17, and seven of the other eight saw at least 20. That’s Robbie though, he’s a hacker and it works for him.
Granderson was the only Yankee not to reach base. Jeter (single and walk), Cano (two singles), A-Rod(single, double, and two walks), Tex (two walks and the hit-by-pitch), and Gardner (two singles and a walk even though the one single should have been an error) all reached base multiple times. Six runs out of 17 baserunners is what happens when you go 2-11 with runners in scoring position. RISPFAIL right on Opening Day.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Game two of the series and season will be played tomorrow night, a dreaded Saturday night game. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm ET, and it’ll be Hiroki Kuroda against David Price.