There’s no tying in baseball. Heck, there’s no tying in hockey either. Yet, the New York Yankees went to Canada and split their first season series with the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-2. As with the beginning of any season, there are overreactions (just hop onto Twitter during any given game) and a fair share of learning how the new pieces will mesh together.
Opening Day hype lived up to expectations, as the Bronx Bombers rolled to a 6-1 victory.
OK, so my Italian isn’t as polished as John Sterling’s, the Yankees’ star acquisition from the Miami Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton, paid off with immediate dividends. Stanton delivered in the first frame with a two-run home run off J.A. Happ. It was all part of a day which saw the new designated hitter collect three hits, including two home runs and three runs scored.
Wow, what a debut indeed!
SEVY SETTLES IN
Unlike his first postseason start in 2017, the specter of earning an Opening Day start did not rattle Luis Severino. The Yankees ace, who finished third last season in Cy Young voting, worked a cool 5.2 frames, fanning seven, allowing one hit and zero runs.
Assuming he even hears the whispers, every season it seems like some want to write Brett Gardner’s obituary. Yet, as New York outfielders drop like flies, “Gardy” remains intact. Gardner is seeing close to five pitches per plate appearance and wore out Happ. Gardner also went yard off Danny Barnes in the seventh.
Aside from a home run yielded by Dellin Betances, the rest of the Yankees bullpen picked up right where it left off. Chad Green and Aroldis Chapman combined to fan five over 2.1 scoreless frames.
The second game was more of the same, as New York used its power pitching and deep lineup to secure a 4-2 victory.
Despite the glitch of a Randal Grichuk home run in the second, Masahiro Tanaka resembled the postseason version of his 2017 persona. Tanaka fanned eight over six stanzas.
PICKING UP THE SLACK
Did we mention how much Didi Gregorius love batting clean up? It was Gregorius and his fellow infielders contributing to the offense. Brandon Drury got the Yankees on the board with a single in the second and helped them regain the lead with a double off Aaron Sanchez in the fourth. A key two-run double by Tyler Wade, who flashed the leather in the first game, gave the offense all they needed in the sixth.
There was no Joe Girardi binder left for Aaron Boone in this 5-3 loss. CC Sabathia gave the Yankees a representative start and the club once again received contributions from different sources but the game slipped away late.
WHO PUT THAT SCOREBOARD IN THE OUTFIELD?
With Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier on the disabled list before the season started and Aaron Hicks going down after the first game, the New York outfielder underwent a reorganization. Billy McKinney was summoned from Triple-A. Aaron Judge was placed in center. Stanton in right. Yet, like Dustin Fowler crashing into an electrical box in Chicago last year, McKinney slammed into the electronic scoreboard in left-center and had to make his own trip to the disabled list.
If I were the players’ association, I’d be looking into some of the safety standards at these ballparks.
Tyler Austin made the most of his playing time by blasting a pair of home runs. Austin’s two-run homer tied the game in the fifth and his solo bomb squared the game at three in the seventh.
WHEELS FALL OFF
Granted Betances was not sharp but there was no reason for him to be throwing 40 pitches in the third game of the season. In the eighth, Betances yielded a home run to Yangervis Solarte. Then the Blue Jays ran wild on Betances, culminating with a Kevin Pillar steal of home.
On the YES postgame show, there was a discussion of how the Yankees and Betances would need to “work on” holding runners on base. To which I say, aren’t they supposed to work these issues out in spring training?
In their 7-4 loss to the Blue Jays, the Yankees did not play to the percentages and it came back to burn them late.
FIRE AND DRURY
This may not be going out on a limb as an overreaction but Brandon Drury looks legit at third base in the early going. Drury’s tw0-run homer off Marcus Stroman capped off a four-run fourth for the Bronx Bombers.
Sometimes I feel like Sonny Gray’s repertoire is almost too vast. Gray emptied the tank, working into and out of jams, throwing 89 pitches in striking out eight in four frames.
It’s easy to see how one can fall in love with the vaunted Yankees bullpen. Yet, a lack of length from starters also means Green enters in the fifth than say the seventh or eighth. After a rocky outing by Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson was asked to carry the load.
In the eighth, Boone went against the percentages and decided to intentionally walk Josh Donaldson, who’d been dismal all series. This loaded the bases for the lefty Justin Smoak, who’d already homered off Kahnle in the seventh. The result was a go-ahead grand slam, leaving prognosticators and fans scratching their heads.
At 2-2, the Yankees head home for a two-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays, starting Monday afternoon.
Pitching probables include Jordan Montgomery vs. Austin Pruitt, Luis Severino vs. Chris Archer.