WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a 60-game season that will probably last 20 games, the New York Yankees took care of what was in front of them. A trip to the nation’s capital resulted in the Yankees taking two-of-three from the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals.
It was like the Yankees were on a distant planet. Gerrit Cole finally on the mound. Giancarlo Stanton (and basically the rest of the team) healthy and in the best shape of his life. No fans in the stands, like a zombie apocalypse.
Half of Yankees political Twitter also quit on the team when players took a knee before and during the national anthem for Black Lives Matter and the other half quit when it was announced that President Donald Trump would throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium at some point this season. I know none of you are reading this because you all quit but goodbye!
Opening Night was pretty much everything you’d want, save from the ESPN broadcast doing their best to not follow the game and the “that’s so 2020 moment” of a thunderstorm and monsoon that ended the game as Commissioner Rob Manfred joined the broadcast. From a baseball standpoint, it was pretty much how one would script it with a 4-1 Yankees victory.
The Yankees cashed in on a lot of opportunities due to this God awful pandemic. No pumped up crowd to celebrate the Nationals banner raising. Anthony Rendon is a Los Angeles Angel. Ryan Zimmerman opted out. Juan Soto tested positive for COVID-19 before the game. A lot of factors in the Yankees’ favor.
YANKEE UNIVERSAL DH
Proving that lineup protection is bulls–t, Stanton, batting in front of Brett Gardner, was comfortable in his DH spot in a National League park. During the first frame, following an equally locked in Aaron Judge, Stanton crushed a 2-1 fastball from Max Scherzer to center for a 2-0 advantage. Stanton would also cap off the scoring with an RBI-single in the fifth inning. As we all witnessed last June during the BP Crew game against Houston, he’s pretty good when he’s healthy.
In 1920 Walter “The Big Train” Johnson only won eight games with the Washington Senators. If Cole wins eight in 2020, it’ll be a spectacular season. Yes, I know, wins are a stupid stat, saved ya an email analytics peeps.
Aside from allowing a first-inning homer to Adam Eaton, Cole really set the tone. Yes, Scherzer racked up 11 K’s compared to the five by Cole but he was much more economical in making quick work of the Nationals. Cole tossed 75 pitches, yielding one run on that one hit through five frames. A rain-shortened complete game. He’s finally OUR ace!
TYLER WADE AKA PAT KELLY 2.0
Tyler Dean Wade got the nod at second base (reference that for your future Sporcle Yankee Opening Day lineup quiz). No. 14 was pesky and plucky. In addition to flashing the leather, Wade drew a walk and laid down a nice bunt hit too. During the third inning, Wade motored around the bases on a Judge single to left. Yes, left. Pretty impressive wheels kid.
Remember what I said about capitalizing? Lower case that. Stephen Strasburg was scratched with a nerve issue but he only lasted one less inning than James Paxton. It was a brutal 9-2 loss that saw a parade of Yankee pitchers not named Jordan Montgomery, march out of the bullpen. Plus, the Yankees somehow couldn’t take advantage of five errors committed by the Nationals. It was “music to a hitters’ eyes” or whatever the hell John Smoltz was talking about in the FOX booth.
PAXTON OR PULLMAN?
Paxton looked flat out awful. He was fortunate to escape the first inning and his velocity dropped about 3-4 mph. The Yankee lefty couldn’t finish anyone and left after yielding three runs on five hits. Michael King helped his line from being about six runs but it got ugly real fast for Paxton.
NOT READY FOR FEDDE
The Yankees had him on the ropes early but couldn’t deliver the knockout blow to spot starter Erick Fedde. DJ LeMahieu notched a hustle hit RBI to plate Gio Urshela (how about his defense, huh?) in the third inning. Yet, Judge and Gleyber Torres couldn’t keep it going.
It was nice to have a game on the YES Network finally, although the audio cutting in and out was annoying. The Yankees added a pair of bullpen arms for a bullpen game, leaving us to ponder the future of one Clint Frazier. Poor kid. On the field, it was all good moves, as Aaron Boone played Chess, while Dave Martinez played Candyland. The Yankees woke up and stepped up for a 3-2 victory.
HERE, TRY THIS PEN INSTEAD
For the record, I despise bullpen games. It’s something you do in the New York – Pennsylvania League, not the bigs. Especially not the third game of the season for crying out loud!
Not bad for a bullpen without Aroldis Chapman and a departed Dellin Betances.
SWING THAT S–T!
Patrick Corbin appeared to be on a mission and it looked personal. Corbin held the first 11 Yankees without a hit until Gleyber Torres notched his first hit during the fourth frame.
In the seventh inning, Torres got the Bronx Bombers on the board with a solo smash to left. As he circled the bases and came around to celebrate, it sounded like a hot mic caught Boone or someone in the dugout saying, “swing that s–t!” Oh, swing it he did!
After Corbin had thrown 75 pitches and retired 19-of-21 or every batter not named Gleyber Torres, Martinez decided to bring Will Harris into the game, much to the delight of those hitters not named Gleyber Torres.
While he did whiff the red hot Stanton, Harris couldn’t contain Voit, who drilled a game-tying homer to left. I was kind of surprised Boone didn’t send up Mike Ford but the Yankees were fine driving around in Luke Voit’s car.
He’s only 23! Torres was back at it in the eighth inning against Sean Doolittle. Aaron Hicks coaxed a pinch-hit walk. After Gary Sanchez struck out, LeMahieu singled to right. Judge would line out sharply to left to follow. With two down, Torres lined an RBI-single to left-center for the 3-2 advantage.
EMILIO! YOU HAD ONE JOB!
The only bugaboo for Torres was his defense. After committing an error in the eighth, Torres couldn’t throw out Asdrubal Cabrera at first base in the ninth inning. Pinch-runner Emilio Bonafacio helped bail out Torres and a lazy passed ball by Sanchez. Bonafacio made a boneheaded play by oversliding third base on an attempted steal. He ran the Nationals out of the inning and probably ran himself back to the Long Island Ducks in the process, as Urshela kept the tag on. Britton would retire the next two batters and it was all smiles and air high fives all around.
At 2-1 or 5.4-2.7, the Yankees travel to Philadelphia and take on the Philadelphia Phillies in a two-game series starting Monday evening. The Phillies stand at 1-2, having lost their first series to the Miami Marlins.
Pitching probables include J.A. Happ vs. Jake Arrieta and Cole vs. Zach Eflin.