Game Three: The Return of CC Sabathia

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

For the first time since May 10th of last season, CC Sabathia will be on the mound in a regular season game for the Yankees tonight. He missed most of last year due to knee surgery and had an ugly spring in which he emphasized health over results. For a veteran guy who’s been doing this as long as Sabathia, that makes sense.

This is the regular season though, and results matter. The Yankees and Blue Jays have split the first two games of this three-game series, and New York is trying to win their first season-opening series since 2011. Yeah, it’s been a while. How about a strong start from Sabathia and some offensive rallies that involve more than one ball being hit out of the infield? Modest goals for tonight. Here is the starting lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. DH Alex Rodriguez
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. LF Chris Young
  7. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. 2B Gregorio Petit
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    LHP CC Sabathia

Joe Girardi said the regulars who aren’t starting (Brett Gardner, Brian McCann, Stephen Drew) are all healthy, they’re just sitting against the lefty Daniel Norris. Here is Toronto’s starting lineup.

The weather is the same as last night, basically. Cold with some very slight rain, though it isn’t as windy. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and will be broadcast on YES. Enjoy the game.

RAB on CBS: Nathan Eovaldi’s secretly elite skill

When the Yankees acquired Nathan Eovaldi this past offseason, they acquired a 25-year-old with a big arm and some things to iron out. Eovaldi’s strikeout rate doesn’t match his stuff and he led the NL in hits allowed last season. He’s not a finished product.

In Eovaldi, the Yankees also acquired the best right-handed pitcher in baseball at shutting down the running game. Eovaldi has allowed only two stolen bases and six stolen base attempts over the last two seasons, which is roughly one steal attempt every 51 innings. Adam Wainwright is a distant second among righties at 33 innings between steal attempts, and Wainwright has the advantage of throwing to Yadier Molina.

Thanks to the magic of BBWAA membership, I spoke to Eovaldi about his ability to shut down the opposing team’s running game yesterday, and he made it clear it was no fluke. He takes pride in keeping runners close to first base and has worked hard to learn how to keep runners on their heels, specifically with a quick slide step and by varying his times to the plate.

You can read about Eovaldi’s slide step skills at CBS’s Eye on Baseball. He’ll make his first start of the season on Friday night, against a Red Sox team without many stolen base threats.

Yanks have 18th best farm system in Baseball America’s organizational rankings

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Early last week, Baseball America released their annual farm system rankings, which are predictably topped by the Kris Bryant-led Cubs. The Red Sox and Dodgers round out the top three while the Angels, Orioles, and Tigers claim the bottom three spots. The farm rankings and write-ups are free. You don’t need a subscription.

The Yankees are ranked 18th overall, which, believe it or not, is actually down from 13th last year, when the Yankees had that miserable 2013 season. That’s because Baseball America considered Masahiro Tanaka a prospect last year — he was fourth on their 2014 top 100 prospects list — and he’s graduated to the big leagues. I guess the massive international spending spree doesn’t make up to Tanaka’s graduation. Anyway, here’s the blurb on New York’s farm system:

How They Got Here: The Yankees got breakout seasons from Luis Severino and Aaron Judge, who are opposites physically. However, the Yankees have failed to develop in-house young replacements for an aging roster that has missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. New York’s unprecedented July 2 international spending ($17.3 million) brought in impressive depth, obviously with risk that is ameliorated by the depth.

High-Ceiling Sleeper: The system is full of them, but a spring candidate who was emerging was 21-year-old Domingo Acevedo, a big-bodied Dominican signee who is starting to coordinate the long levers in his 6-foot-7, (listed) 190-pound frame. His fastball was sitting in the 94-96 mph range during the spring and reaching higher, and it was still just March. He’s headed for his full-season debut.

2015 Rookies: A concussion this spring interrupted 2B Jose Pirela’s chase for a utility role or to compete with Rob Refsnyder for the second-base job. LHP Chasen Shreve and RHP Bryan Mitchell competed for staff roles in spring training, with Mitchell headed back to the minors to start the year in a rotation role.

Acevedo continues to get a lot of love this spring. A strong year with Low-A Charleston should shoot him up prospects lists. Also, I’m surprised Jacob Lindgren was not mentioned as a top 2015 rookie in the write-up, but whatever. We know he’ll be up at some point and that’s all that matters.

Baseball America is the high man on the Yankees’ farm system this spring, though not really. Keith Law had them 20th and Baseball Prospectus had them 21st, and there’s not really much of a difference between 18th and 21st. It’s a matter of personal preference at that level, not quality or quantity of talent. As I’ve been saying all winter, the farm system figures to take a big step forward this summer thanks to the international talent haul. That’s a lot of talent added at once.

Flashback: 2005 Opening Day

(NY Times)
(NY Times)

If you have been a Yankee fan since the early-2000’s, there wasn’t any offseason longer than the winter of 2004. Because, well, you know why. The fans didn’t spend the offseason in bitterness and shame though – the Boss made sure to try to upgrade the rotation and boy, it was some circus. The Yankees signed Carl Pavano to a 4-year, $40-million deal and Jaret Wright to a 3-year, $21-million deal. I’ve always remembered that Red Sox actually made aggressive push to acquire Pavano, a New England native, involving Curt Schilling in the process. To this day, I still wonder how the recent Yankee history might have been different if the injury prone righty donned a Red Sox jersey rather than pinstripes.

But more importantly, the front office flipped Javier Vazquez, Brad Halsey and Dioner Navarro to the Diamondbacks for Randy Johnson. If you somehow forgot, the Big Unit destroyed the National League in 2004 – recording a 2.60 ERA with 2.30 FIP in 245.2 IP, good for a Trout-esque 9.5 fWAR. His perfect game was just the icing on cake. Basically, the Yankees were getting the best pitcher on planet for a solid starter that had a questionable season in the Bronx, a young lefty with limited ceiling and a 20-year old catcher that hit for a .723 OPS in Double-A. It made a lot of people happy. The only major question for the Big Unit then was the age.

As the Yankee rotation shaped to be Johnson – Pavano – Mike Mussina – Wright – Kevin Brown, people started to speculate about a Randy Johnson – Curt Schilling matchup for the 2005 Opening Night game. Four seasons after sharing the World Series MVP award with Arizona, the two aces were going to go face-to-face pitching in the midst of the biggest rivalry in baseball. One side had just shown the biggest comeback in playoff baseball, and another was biding their time for revenge and waiting for another season started. There’s a picture of Johnson and Schilling lifting the 2001 World Series trophy together and looking at each other and I remember various publications running it to death in dire anticipation.

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

But problems arose. In Spring Training, Schilling hit a bump in the road coming back from the ankle procedure in November. According to this Chicago Tribune article, they speculated Schilling would miss the “first two weeks.” That somehow became a “few months” and the righty would not pitch in the majors until mid-July – as a reliever, nonetheless. So much for the dream matchup the media was cooking up. Instead, there was another narrative in the works thanks to a Red Sox offseason signing.

Earlier in the offseason, former Yankee David Wells had just gotten out of his contract with the Padres. Wells, a well-documented Yankee homer, called Brian Cashman about wearing the pinstripes again but was flat-out rejected. “Brian told me: ‘We’d like to have you, but the boss is looking in another direction. We’re going to go with youth this year.’ And then they turned around and signed Randy.”” Ouch. The Red Sox, in need of rotation help with Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe signing big contracts elsewhere, signed the hefty lefty. Business is business.

As it became apparent that Schilling’s ankle would keep the righty out of action for awhile, manager Terry Francona turned to David Wells – once a beloved yet controversial Yankee who loved the team so much – to represent the Red Sox on Opening Day. The team that had just given the biggest burn in the history of baseball to New York. How about that?

The Yankees, by the way, was not just dealing with structuring the roster – they were also looking at Jason Giambi being connected to BALCO as the entire baseball world shook from the steroids scandal. Giambi, who suffered a 2004 season marred by injury and slumps, did come out and apologize but he did not make it clear what he was sorry for.

There was another off-field drama involving, surprise surprise, the Red Sox. Trot Nixon spoke out against Alex Rodriguez on “not being genuine like a true Yankee.” The New York Time article then described Rodriguez’s career to have “pristine veneer,” which is funny to think about in 2015. This is the pre-Madonna, pre-steroids, pre-Biogenesis, etc. A-Rod we’re talking about here. Also, of course, there was media having a lot of fun with narrative building off of 2004 ALCS. The baseball season just could not start early enough and, by the time Boston named Wells the Opening Day starter, fans didn’t have to wait for too long. But it was still a long wait.

The 2005 Major League Baseball season began on April 3, 2005. It’s still weird to think that it has been ten years. I remember simulating the hell out of the 2005 season with a brand new copy of MVP Baseball 2005 and ignoring all the outcomes that had the Red Sox over Yankees to win the AL East division title. Like many other 14-year old baseball fans/homers, I was maybe too stoked for the season to start. I predicted a 50-homer season for Hideki Matsui and a Cy Young Award for Randy Johnson. There may have been more I’m sure, but it was ten years ago so my memory is a bit hazy.

On the Opening Day, against the Red Sox, the Yankees had Ruben Sierra hitting cleanup. How about that. The reason? Sierra scorched Boomer throughout his career – prior to that day, he hit for .371 average with two homers in 62 at-bats versus the lefty. But still, in a team that has A-Rod, Sheffield and Matsui… Ruben Sierra. I wasn’t really into the Yankees web community back then but I’d imagine that got a lot of flack.

Anyways, Randy Johnson, in his new uniform, new home field, pitching against the new rivals, prevailed, pitching six solid innings with only a run allowed while recording six strikeouts. After Brown-Vazquez combo totally unraveled in the Game 7 of 2004 ALCS, watching a clean start by the Big Unit was very, very refreshing.

His line might not have looked pretty without a help from the starting left fielder, Matsui. In the second inning, with a runner on base, Red Sox 1B Kevin Millar hit a big fly ball towards the left that appeared to be a home run … and Matsui leapt and took it away from the fans. Matsui, a man not known for his glove prowess and cost the team 22.0 runs per FanGraphs metric, made a huge play that denied a 2-0 Red Sox lead. Boston did end up scoring in the inning, but a big catch like that always helps, doesn’t it? Jeter remarked after the game “They don’t play much basketball in Japan. I didn’t know he could jump that high.”

Matsui also came up big with the bat as well. In the next half-inning, he hit a single off Boomer and scored the first Yankee run of the season with a Bernie Williams sac fly. An inning later, he drove in Gary Sheffield with a single to give Yanks a 2-1 lead. Fast forward to the eighth inning, he drove one out of the park against Matt Mantei. What a day. He was the most valuable positional player by far that game with a 0.183 WPA. That was probably the most memorable Matsui performance after the Game 6 of 2009 World Series. I miss him so much.

David Wells? He had a very rough night. Allowing 10 hits in 4.1 IP and being booed off the mound was bad enough. But in the third inning, with Matsui on third base, Wells appeared to start his delivery, stopped mid-motion, and just turned around. It was an obvious balk, no question about it. It just seemed so clear that the lefty was affected by so many different factors that night and … it just wasn’t a signature Wells night, let’s call it that. I still like Boomer a lot – his autobiography “Perfect I’m Not” is one of my favorite baseball reads and I’m glad that he shows up to the Old Timers’ Day at the Yankee Stadium. But on April 3, 2005, he was a pariah to many Yankee fans’ eyes.

More notes from the game? Remember Tanyon Sturtze, the middle reliever? He threw two innings after Johnson. He shut down the potent Sox lineup with two perfect innings and three strikeouts. He actually had a nice season going on up to June 8 with a 2.31 ERA (with 18 strikeouts and only TWO walks in 31.0 IP. How about that). But boy, did Torre love bringing him in that year. Sturtze clearly lost some effectiveness after being overused out of the bullpen and his ERA ballooned up to 4.73 by the end of the season. For shame. On a brighter note, the 2005 Opening Day also marked the Tino Martinez comeback for the Yankees – he subbed in for Giambi on the first base and walked in the sole plate appearance. Everyone in the starting lineup besides Bernie recorded at least a hit. Williams did draw two walks so there’s that.

I remember feeling very ecstatic and hopeful for the 2005 New York Yankees after the game. That Opening Day game, at least for me, meant a start of the redemption after a debilitating playoff loss. I kept watching the game highlight videos from MLB.com and fantasized an MVP season from Matsui and Cy Young one from the Big Unit. While neither really happened, the Yankees did end up putting together a nice season – a 95-67 record and an AL Division title.

That season had a lot of narratives – the Giambi resurgence in July, Aaron Small, Shawn Chacon, the downfall of Kevin Brown, A-Rod’s MVP season, the horrible 11-19 start, etc. – and I could write more and more about it – it was a very fun (and sorta tumultuous) season to watch the Yankees despite their shortcoming in the playoffs as they lost to the Angels in five in ALDS. I wish I could say that the 2015 Yankees has a chance to be as fun as the 2005 one did but who knows? My inner 14-year-old-kid is still very hopeful for this current team to pull off a year to remember.

A trip through the MLBTR archives: April 2008

He can hit! (Jeff Gross/Getty)
He can hit! (Jeff Gross/Getty)

I’m getting better at this! The MLBTR archive posts slipped my mind until the very end of the month the last two or three months, but this month I managed to write it during the first full week of April. Progress! What more do you want? Development takes time.

Anyway, by now you’ve caught the gist of these posts. We’re just looking back at some old trade and free agent rumors with the benefit of hindsight. After all, rumors are no good if you only look at them once then forget about ‘em. Also, this series is not intended to mock Tim and everyone else at MLBTR. They’re great.

This month we will be going back to April 2008, seven years ago. April isn’t the best month for hard rumors, so most of the stuff aggregated by MLBTR was speculation. Off we go.

APRIL 11th:

The Yankees: Minors to Majors looks at the pending free agents for the Yankees and concludes that there is plenty of compensation picks to be had giving the Yankees plenty of flexibility to sign a high-end free agent like C.C. Sabathia…Of course, that is assuming the Yankees would let something like draft pick compensation stand in the way of signing a free agent. Not likely.

Ah yes, those were the good old days with Elias rankings and Type-A and Type-B free agents. It was so much easier to get extra picks back then. During the 2007-08 offseason, guys like Luis Vizcaino, Trever Miller, Pedro Feliz, Livan Hernandez, Doug Brocail, and Ron Mahay were attached to draft pick compensation. Imagine getting a draft pick for letting your 30-something lefty specialist walk. What a world.

Nowadays teams hold onto their draft picks for dear life, partly because extra picks are harder to come by and partly because prospects seem to be overrated in general. (Overrated, but you still need them.) And when teams do give draft picks up, they tend to give them up in bulk, like the Red Sox this offseason (Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval) or the Yankees last offseason (Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann). Once you give up that first rounder, might as will give up your second and third rounder too.

Guys like CC Sabathia are much different though. Sabathia was only 28 years old when he hit free agency. He was a bonafide elite starter right smack in the prime of his career. I don’t think there’s a team on the planet that would have balked at giving up their first rounder to acquire Sabathia circa 2008. The Yankees didn’t gain any extra picks via free agent compensation during the 2008-09 offseason and they went after CC anyway. Forfeiting a pick for a player of that caliber is a non-issue.

APRIL 14th:

Buster Olney wonders whether Jorge Posada will have to spend most of the season DHing, and at the same time his backup Jose Molina may be DL-boundSure, the Yankees could just make do with internal options until Molina returns in a few weeks.  But it’s also possible that Brian Cashman will look for outside help.

Trade possibilities include Bengie Molina, Ramon Hernandez, Humberto Quintero, Brayan Pena, and Gerald Laird.  Laird may be off the table, as the Rangers wait to see if his offensive resurgence lasts and give Jarrod Saltalamacchia more time.  Molina and Hernandez carry commitments through ’09, while Pena and Quintero are backups and could be easily acquired.

Durability was one of Posada’s greatest and most underappreciated traits. He averaged 142.5 games per year from 2000-07, including 127.4 starts behind the plate. That’s a tremendous workload by catcher standards. Posada suffered his first major injury in 2008, as shoulder surgery limited him to only 51 games. He missed all of May and was done for the year in early-July.

Jose Molina was thrust into full-time duty, and while we would later learn his pitch-framing was a valuable skill, he was hardly starting catcher material. Chad Moeller was his backup during Posada’s injury until the trade deadline, when the Yankees flipped Kyle Farnsworth to the Tigers for Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge was pretty close to washed up by then — he had a 92 OPS+ from 2005-07 and put up a 51 OPS+ in pinstripes — and Detroit was riding out the end of his contract.

That said, Rodriguez was probably the best possible outcome that year. Bengie Molina and Ramon Hernandez were equally unproductive and both were signed through 2009. Humberto Quintero, Brayan Pena, and Gerald Laird were blah. So the Yankees got Pudge without giving up anything they’d miss, and they were able to walk away after the season. It was an okay idea that didn’t work out. Considering the state of the team that year, it was a totally inconsequential move.

APRIL 15th:

Some mild drama over whether Curt Schilling would consider pitching for the Yankees next year.  He reiterated that he won’t.  It takes two to tango, anyway.

I had to look up Schillings exact quote in the linked article. Check it out:

“Me wearing pinstripes, regardless of what point of the season or my career it would have been, is not an option … I can’t … think back to having that conversation specifically … it’s not an option. Never has been an option.”

That’s so perfectly Schilling. He was unwilling to grace the Yankees with his employ. Nevermind that he was 41 years old at the time and had a shoulder injury that eventually required season-ending surgery. Schilling threw literally zero pitches in 2008 and there wasn’t a whole lot of interest in him after the season. But dang it, the Yankees couldn’t have signed him even if they wanted. Curt really pulled the rug out from under the Yankees with those comments.

APRIL 21st:

Apparently the Yanks pushed hard to get Micah Owings in the Randy Johnson deal a few years ago.  Ross Ohlendorf still looks interesting, at least.

Micah Owings falls into the realm of players who get overrated because of something that has nothing to do with primary job on the field. I’ve always felt Melky Cabrera got overrated early in his career because he had a cool name, for example. Owings got overrated because he was a pitcher who could hit (career .283/.310/.502, 106 OPS+!). I have little doubt about that.

Unfortunately, when the best thing you can say about a pitcher is “he can hit,” it’s not good. Owings was 24 years old at the time of the Johnson trade (January 2007) and he was coming off a season in which he had a 3.33 ERA (~3.33 FIP) in 162 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A. Baseball America ranked him as the D’Backs’ sixth best prospect prior to the 2007 season.

Ohlendorf was the team’s tenth best prospect that year and he had a 3.29 ERA (3.12 FIP) in 177.2 innings at Double-A in 2006. They were both quick moving college guys with good numbers, though neither went on to do anything all that notable in the big leagues. So this is sort of a lose-lose proposition. But, if Owings had come to New York, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hit regularly, and I think that would have changed how a lot of casual fans thought about him.

APRIL 23rd:

Jon Heyman notes that Pat Burrell only wanted to go to the Yankees or Red Sox when the Phillies tried to trade him a few years ago.  They’re not great fits, but perhaps Burrell will have those two clubs at the top of his list when he hits free agency.

I don’t remember when the Phillies were trying to trade Burrell and I’m not sure what the Yankees would have done with him anyway. He was basically a DH who faked left field in the NL. With Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui in the corner outfield spots and Jason Giambi needing as much DH time as possible, there was no room for Burrell in the Bronx and I guess that’s why the Yankees passed.

That said, Burrell was a pretty good hitter back in the day. Better than he gets credit for. This rumor was in April 2008, and from 2005-07 he hit .266/.392/.503 (126 OPS+) with 91 homers. Burrell went to the Rays in 2009 to serve as their regular DH and he was atrocious, hitting .218/.311/.361 (80 OPS+) in 146 games before being designated for assignment. Then he went to the Giants in 2010 and hit .266/.364/.509 (126 OPS+) with 18 homers in 96 games. Some guys just really don’t like to DH.

APRIL 24th:

Meanwhile Hank Steinbrenner says the Yankees have “never even talked about” signing Thomas.  He’s not a good fit for their team.  The Yanks still owe Jason Giambi more than $23MM this year. 

The Thomas in this case is Frank Thomas, who had just been released by the Blue Jays. He hit .274/.379/.511 (132 OPS+) with 65 homers from 2006-07, though he was 40 years old in 2008 and looking pretty cooked. I loved Thomas, he was one of my favorite players to watch, but again, the Yankees had no room for another DH. Good thing Hank cleared that up for that though.

APRIL 30th:

Good point from Ken Davidoff – the Phil Hughes/Johan Santana question can’t be answered yet.

On the date of that post, Hughes had a 9.00 ERA (5.04 FIP) in 22 innings and was about to be demoted to Triple-A. Johan had a 3.12 ERA (4.12 FIP) in 40.1 innings. The Yankees made a huge mistake! At least that’s what everyone was saying at the time. I remember it vividly. It was easy to second guess the non-trade at the time.

Now we can answer the question though! The non-trade worked out pretty well for the Yankees. It hurt the team in 2008 but it allowed them sign Sabathia, who stayed healthy and a top of the rotation guy several years beyond when Santana started to break down. Hughes was a disappointment overall but useful, especially in 2009 as a reliever and 2010 as a starter. One month into the first season after the trade, it looked like a bad decision. Seven years later, we know it was the smart move.

Offense Rallies Late to Beat the Blue Jays 4-3 In a Rain-Drenched Drama

The Yankees had a less-than-ideal start to 2015 on Monday. After a long 48 hours or so, the team took the field, hoping to have a brighter start than, let’s say, 0-2.  By the top of the eighth, I was ready to end this recap with “Hey, the 2009 Yankees started 0-2!” but the eighth inning rally led to a 4-3 win and a sigh of relief.

(Source: Elsa/Getty Images)
(Getty)

#BIGMIKE

This was not Michael Pineda at his best, but he still did really well – especially considering the cold weather. His fastball hovered around 90~93 mph and he didn’t have the best command to it – but he still stuck to the usual game plan of mixing three pitches. It worked pretty well as he went 6 innings, allowed 6 hits and 2 earned runs but also struck out 6 and walked only one. Imagine when his velocity goes up with warmer weather and the atmosphere will be much easier for the pitchers. Let’s hope he stays healthy.

He got into few (cheap) troubles that led to allowing runs. In the third inning, after a cheap swinging bunt infield single by Kevin Pillar, Justin Smoak hit a screaming line drive double to get the runners on second and third with no out – few feet higher and that ball was a goner. Then, on a Devon Travis grounder, Didi Gregorius overthrew to the first and the run scored, 1-0 Jays. But Pineda minimized the damage since then – using his nasty changeup to strike out Russell Martin and Jose Bautista. That was a thing of a beauty.

In the fifth inning, things got dicey again. With runner on first, Jose Reyes hit a chopper to first base that got away from Mark Teixeira’s glove and Stephen Drew bobbled it. Drew then got the ball and threw to Chase Headley but the runner was safe and Reyes advanced to second. Next batter, the former Yankee Russell Martin, hit a sac fly to make it 2-0. That was not pretty. But again, not too much damage. Let’s hope that the weather is better next time he takes the mound and we’ll get to see a more electric performance from Pineda.

Eighth Inning: The Promised Land

Yankees were one-hit by R.A. Dickey through 4.1 innings and Drew hit a lucky bloop single to get on base. But Didi then grounded out into a double play to kill that rather quickly. Sigh. #The2015Yankees

In the sixth inning, Yankees got a chance. Jacoby Ellsbury got on base with a single and stole a base. Brett Gardner then grounded out and Ells advanced to third. Then Carlos Beltran hit one in the screws but it was right at the CF Dalton Pompey. Ellsbury scored nonetheless. So, yay run! Besides that moment, before the eighth inning, the hitters looked hapless as I remembered they were in the 2014 season.

Then, in the eighth inning, things started to change up. Pinch-hitter Chris Young doubled to start things up, Ellsbury singled to put the runners on first and third, and Aaron Loup hit Gardner with a pitch. Thankfully, Gardy is alright and even better, the Yankees had the bases loaded with no out.

With Beltran up, the Jays manager John Gibbons went with the former All Star reliever Brett Cecil … who uncorked a wild pitch to allow Young to score. After striking Beltran out, Cecil intentionally walked Teixeira. Next batter, Chase Headley, hit a grounder that deflected off of Cecil’s wrist and it somehow escaped into the outfield, giving the Yankees a 4-3 lead. Remember when New York kept hitting home runs to take leads and capitalize the game? This is a far cry from that. But hey, it gave the Yanks a lead so I’ll take it.

Bullpen Notes

Source: (Elsa/Getty Images)
(Getty)

Chris Martin came in after Pineda in the 7th inning and didn’t miss a beat from his solid outing on Monday. You know, I really like the decision to give him a chance. He’s a tall guy with a good fastball and overall stuff that flashes potential. He just hasn’t had much chance to get used to pitching to ML hitters. If his stuff and other intangibles translate well, I think he could be a solid addition. Also, a season of endless Coldplay puns.

Dellin Betances came in the eighth inning and had very mixed results. While a lot of people were focused on his velocity, the command was the real problem. He walked two and allowed an unearned run. This is clearly not the same Dellin we saw last season, when he hit the strike zone to get ahead and threw nasty benders to wipe’em away. Hopefully he figures a thing or two out very soon to go back to how he was. On a more positive note, a YES gun did have one of his fastball to 96 mph, which isn’t bad at all especially considering the weather.

Because Dellin pitched in the eighth, Andrew Miller came in the ninth by the process of elimination. Boy, he looked good. He located his fastball well and the slider was nasty, as advertised. He induced two grounders and a swinging strikeout to earn his first save in Pinstripes. I’ll take that any game of the season.


So this one almost looked like another lethargic Yankee loss but thankfully, with some luck, scrappy hitting and opponent’s mistakes, New York came away with a victory. Hope that positive vibe carries on to tomorrow, as CC Sabathia will take the mound against a much younger lefty Daniel Norris. Hope for a series win and maybe a lack of banter about CC’s velocity.

Game Two: Big Mike and the Blue Jays

BIG MIKE IS HERE

Okay, now the 2015 season is really ready to begin. Opening Day and the annoying yet necessary post-Opening Day off-day is over. Now baseball’s back for real. The Yankees resume their series against the Blue Jays tonight and will play again tomorrow night. And then again the night after that. And then again after that. The day-to-day grind is back.

The Yankees dropped their season-opener Monday is sorta lethargic fashion. Toronto jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third inning and took the wind out of the Yankee Stadium sails. Three measly hits on offense didn’t help either. That’s just one game though. Tonight’s an opportunity to put that in past and get that first win of 2015. The Yankees have the right guy on the mound too, arguably their best pitcher in Michael Pineda. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. DH Alex Rodriguez
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    RHP Big Mike

It has not been a pretty day in New York. It’s cold, cloudy, and rainy. Has been since yesterday. The forecast says there is only a small chance of rain tonight, 10% or so, but temperatures will be in the low-40s and there will be plenty of wind gusts. Not the best baseball weather, but that’s life. This evening’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.