Nine games into the season and the 2010 Yankees sure are doing a bang-up job dispelling my preconceived notions of how this team operates in April.
Apparently winning a series at Fenway Park in April for the first time since 1975 wasn't enough, as last night they picked up an April win in the first game I attended of the year for the first time in the last six seasons.
The Yankees' 6-2 win over the Angels brings their season record to 6-3 and gives them victories in each of their first three series, all coming against three of the best teams in the American League. While the Yankees certainly have the talent to come out of the gate like this, I can't imagine too many would've expected successive series wins against the Red Sox, Rays and Halos to kick the season off. I can't imagine what kind of pain the rest of the league is in for, especially when Tex and A-Rod actually start hitting balls out of the park.
There were dual storylines propelling the Yankees to victory last night: Phil Hughes pitched fairly admirably in his 2010 starting debut, tossing five-plus innings of two-run ball with six strikeouts and five walks. While limiting the opponent to two runs is fantastic, Hughes has to cut down on the walks, which ballooned his pitch count. It seemed like Hughes started out 0-2 on and the hitter would then work the count full on every other batter. Hughes also pitched an exceptionally slow baseball game; somehow the top of the 7th inning didn't even start until almost 10pm, although if he needs to slow things down to be effective then he should do whatever works.
I was actually fairly surprised that Girardi let Hughes start the 6th, given how close he was to 100 pitches. Unfortunately Hughes couldn't retire the first two batters, and was pulled after a career-high 1008 pitches. Still, picking up a win, as meaningless as that statistic is, in his first outing of the year is a great for both Hughes' confidence and an important development for the Yanks out of the fifth starter slot.
The other major story was the continued scalding-hot hitting of Robinson Cano, who hit two bombs and drove in three runs. Cano is batting a ridiculous .395/.400/.816 through the beginning of the season, although perhaps the most ridiculous thing about that line is that his OBP isn't way higher, but then again it is Robinson Cano.
Beloved former Yankee Hideki Matsui actually kicked the scoring off in this game with a solo home run in the top of the second, which was very strange in that it was probably the only time I've ever seen Yankee fans cheer for an opposing player's home run, especially one that put the team in an early hole. I love Matsui and all that he did for the Yankees, but this is baseball, and Matsui hitting a solo jack as an Angel in a regular season game we're trying to win is really not something to be applauding.
Other Stadium oddities last night included a good portion of the Upper Deck attempting to do the wave, which enraged me no end. When it came around to our section I actually stood up and put both hands up in an effort to "stop" the madness while screaming at everyone that they were morons for trying to do the wave at Yankee Stadium, but our section apparently thought they were at a Mets game.
The rest of the Yankee offense was ignited by Curtis Granderson (who also saved a run with a great throw to home nailing Matsui, who Mike Scioscia somehow thought could score from second base), who was the first Yankee to hit two triples in a game since Enrique Wilson in 2002. Derek Jeter also had a big solo bomb and an RBI double. Even Marcus Thames picked up a couple of hits, although he gets docked for styling on his second-inning double that he thought was a home run and just making it into second base.
Mark Teixeira's offensive woes continued, although he actually picked up three more walks, so at least he's finding ways on base. Nick the Walk pinch hit in the seventh and picked up a walk, and Randy Winn continued to do what Randy Winn does best, which is nothing of value. I never thought the Yankees could start a player that would make me pine for Brett Gardner.
All in all it was incredibly refreshing to get to the Stadium in April and finally see a victory. Looking forward to keeping the good early-season feelings going.