After a long awaited off-season, the Yankees were back to it again with the Opening Week of 2017.
Staying in Florida after a month of Spring Training, Masahiro Tanaka and the gang headed over to Tampa Bay to start a three game series with the Rays. Despite the air of optimism, the team’s opening day struggle continues, as their streak of starting the season 0-1 would reach 6 consecutive years. In his third straight opening day, Masahiro Tanaka did not look his full form, as he lasted just 2 ⅔ innings giving up 8 hits, and 7 runs. He had trouble hitting his spots all day, giving up 3 RBIs a piece to both Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison. Chris Archer on the other hand, pitched very well giving up just 2 runs, striking out 5, and getting himself out of a bases loaded jam in the 7th. The Yankees lost this one 7-3.
C.C. Sabathia took the mound for game 2 of the series. Though Sabathia, is not the hard thrower that he once was he is beginning to transform into a more finesse style pitcher with his strong sinker and sharp slider. He pitched well this outing, going for 5 innings, giving up no runs and only 3 hits. Ronny Torreyes smacked the first home run of the season for the Yanks, hitting a two run shot into left field to give the team the lead in the third. Holliday followed soon after with a RBI double off the catwalk. Chase Headley also had 2 RBIs including a homer into dead centerfield. The team picked up their first win of the season by a score of 5-0.
Rubber match of the series, it was Michael Pineda’s turn. Talent was never a question for Pineda, rather his ability to put it all together. Inconsistency has been a plague for him the last couple of years and it showed here. On his third pitch of the season, Pineda saw one go right over the wall, a solo shot from Corey Dickerson gave the Rays a quick 1-0 lead. The Yankees came back though, with a home run off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury to tie the game. That wasn’t all for Pineda however, as a two run single from Derek Norris as well as another RBI from Dickerson extended the Rays lead. Alex Cobb on the bump for the Rays, pitched really well giving up only a run on four hits through 5 ⅔. The Rays were victorious in this one, winning 4-1.
The Yankees then headed over to Maryland to take on the Baltimore Orioles. It was an important day for pitcher, Luis Severino. As a starter in 2016, he was 0-8 with a 8.50 ERA, while having just an 0.39 ERA as a reliever. In this start, Sevvy pitched pretty solid for most of it, giving up only a run and striking out 5 through four, but a three run shot from Manny Machado in the fifth took apart his statline. The Yankees were up 5-1 early in this one, including home runs from newly acquired Matt Holliday, as well as Gary Sanchez. Nonetheless, the three run blast from Machado played a huge turning point in this one. With the score 5-4, Seth Smith would take one into right field off of Tyler Clippard, giving the Orioles the lead. After a scoreless 8th inning, the Yankees had to go up against Zach Britton, and you know how that went. The O’s won this one by a score of 6-5.
Game two of the series was a wild one. Everything seemed to be going in the Yankees favor, as command issues from starting pitcher, Kevin Gausman helped led the Bombers to a 4-1 lead. However, like the night before, it all seemed to turn over pretty quickly. A bad swing from star catcher Gary Sanchez, saw him leave the game with a right bicep strain. Then in the bottom half of the inning, the O’s got two more back off of Masahiro Tanaka. Later, after a Chris Davis double in the seventh, the Yankees turned over to Dellin Betances. It was not a good day for him, as Mark Trumbo tied a single. Hyun-soo Kim followed soon after with a bases loaded single, now giving the O’s a 5-4 lead. The Yankees would get two runners on in the eighth, but it ended up as a wasted opportunity. The Orioles eventually completed the comeback, seeing themselves as the only undefeated team in baseball. The Yankees lost 5-4. After the game, Gary Sanchez was sent to the 10 day DL, despite likely being out longer.
After letting two key ones get away from them, the team looked towards not getting swept. After a fielder’s’ choice and a RBI single off of C.C. Sabathia in the second, fans were ready to throw in the towel. But sudden momentum occurred against the Orioles bullpen, as a two RBI triple from Torreyes put the Yankees in striking distance, down 3-2. The Yankees finally tied it up in the 8th, when Aaron Judge showcased what he can do, with a home run just over the left field wall. The team had wasted opportunities this week for far too long, until the ninth. With runners on first and second, Joe Girardi decides to have Starlin Castro swing away rather than lay down a bunt, giving controversy to fans. Nonetheless, he comes through with an RBI single to give the Bombers the lead. Insurance was even added, as three more runs came into score with an Aaron Judge ground out and an Austin Romine sacrifice fly. A big part to this Yankees comeback was bad command by Orioles pitchers. 11 walks including 3 from opposing starter, Wade Miley, helped lead the Yankees to a 7-3 victory.
Batter Of The Week: Matt Holliday
AB – 18
R – 1
H – 6
HR – 1
RBI – 4
BB – 8
AVG – .333
OPS – 1.094
Pitcher Of The Week: C.C. Sabathia
GM – 2
W – 1
IP – 11.0
K – 5
ERA – 1.64
WHIP – 1.36
The Bombers will finally head back to the Bronx, hosting both the Tampa Bay Rays and the St. Louis Cardinals for a three game series.
Matchups vs. Tampa Bay
Alex Cobb (1-0) vs. Michael Pineda (0-1)
Blake Snell (0-1) vs. Luis Severino (0-0)
Matt Andriese (0-0) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (0-1)
Matchups vs. St. Louis
Michael Wacha (1-0) vs. C.C. Sabathia (1-0)
Carlos Martinez (0-1) vs. Michael Pineda (0-1)
Adam Wainwright (0-1) vs. Luis Severino (0-0)
– David Bieber is a contributing columnist to FingerLakes1.com covering the New York Yankees with a weekly report published on Monday throughout the season.