This one started out in such promising fashion, too. Despite jumping out to a 5-1 lead behind their ace, CC Sabathia finally gave way in the sixth inning and the Yankee bullpen couldn't hold a lead to save its life in the first game of the year, losing 9-7 to the Red Sox.
This one stung for a number of reasons. First, the Yankee offense looked like it was in midseason form. Any time you're able to knock Josh Beckett out before the end of the 5th inning shows you're doing something right. On most nights, 7 runs is more than enough for a win.
Secondly, Sabathia appeared to have forgotten about his debacle in Baltimore last Opening Day, commanding the strike zone and allowing one hit through the first four innings, albeit laboring a bit in doing do. It's hard to pin the blame on Sabathia here, given that it was the first game of the season and CC's a historically slow starter and all that jazz, but he did blow a four-run lead in a very winnable game for the Yankees.
Of course, the real culprit was Chan Ho Park, who many of us questioned the signing of. Park wasted no time coughing up a brief 7-5 Yankee lead in serving up a two-run bomb to Dustin Pedroia. The Yankees are also going to need to figure out how to retire Kevin Youkilis one of the days, as he has unfortunately metamorphosized into the bastard love child of David Ortiz circa 2003-2007 and Manny Ramirez in his seeming inability to ever make an out against the Yankees. Youk had himself a three-extra-base-hit night and scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh.
The Red Sox newcomers contributed to the party as well, with Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro all picking up a couple of timely base hits. There's been a school of thought that the Sox's offense may have taken a hit or two as the team prioritized shoring up its defense in the offseason, but there are very clearly still zero easy outs in that lineup.
There were a few good spots for the Yanks. No one seemed to have any trouble hitting, and the only starters without a base hit were Nick the Stick (who still managed to pick up two walks, natch) and Mark Teixeira. Jorge Posada for the scoring going with a two-out homer off the Pesky Pole in the second, followed by a Curtis Granderson solo bomb in his very first plate appearance as a Yankee. Nicely done, Curtis.
Robbie Cano and Grit Gardner had two hits apiece, with Gardner also stealing home on a ballsy double-steal in the fifth.
Unfortunately the offensive fireworks were for naught. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the loss was that it played out exactly as one who has watched any number of Yankee-Red Sox games at Fenway over the years would have expected. The Yankees once again jumped out to an early lead but -- surprise, surprise -- a four-run cushion in Fenway Park for the opposition may as well be a four-run deficit because of course the Sox battled back and ended up winning.
Another April loss in Fenway for the Yankees brings their record at that park for this month since 2003 to 3-14. If you were a betting man (or woman) I'm not sure why you would ever pick the Yankees over the Sox at Fenway Park in April.
Hopefully A.J. Burnett can pick up his first win as a Yankee at Fenway Park along with the team's first win of the season (a la last year) on Tuesday night.
Monday, April 5, 2010
by Larry Koestler