Thursday, March 29, 2018

Yankees Open With Stanton-Powered Win in Toronto

The 2018 Major League Baseball season is underway. If you were hoping that the New York Yankees were going to use the long ball to win games this season, the first of your hopes have been realized. If you were hoping the Yankees were going to get good pitching, that hope also saw some realization.

The Yankees opened by starting a 4-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays, at the Rogers Centre (formerly named the SkyDome). Luis Severino got the start, and walked 2 batters in the 1st inning, but settled down, allowing just 1 hit until the 6th.

With 1 out, he walked Josh Donaldson, and then struck out Justin Smoak. It looked like the walk would be no big deal, and he could continue. He had thrown 91 pitches, but had done very well.

Unfortunately, Aaron Boone, in his 1st game as a major league manager, handled the situation exactly the way that Joe Girardi would have, and took the side of the pitch count, rather than that of the actual performance.

This was, potentially, a very stupid move. If you're concerned that he's thrown too many pitches, why wait until the batter after a walk to take him out? I don't care what the handedness of either the pitcher or the batter is: Unless the pitcher is injured, you never take him out after he's gotten an out!

With his 1st pitching change, Boone brought in Chad Green, and he struck former Yankee Curtis Granderson out to end the inning. Green faced 4 batters and got them all out.

As for the Yankee bats: They did what we had been led to believe they would do. Brett Gardner led off the season by reaching 1st base on an error. Aaron Judge struck out, and up came the big new acquisition, Giancarlo Stanton. In his 1st at-bat as a Yankee -- his 1st at-bat in the American League -- he hit a long drive to right-center field, the opposite field. Home run. 2-0 Yankees.

That would be all the Yankees would need. But, to quote a Bob Dylan song, "Your debutante knows what you need, but I know what you want!" With 2 out in the top of the 5th, Judge drew a walk, and was followed by back-to-back doubles by Stanton and Gary Sanchez. Gardner led off the 7th with a home run. 5-0.

Boone brought Dellin Betances in to pitch the 8th. His 1st pitch was to Kevin Pillar, who hit it out. Until then, the Jays had a grand total of 1 hit. Fortunately, Betances got through the inning with no further damage.

Equally fortunately, Tyler Clippard came into the game -- for the Jays. He got Gardner and Judge out without looking sharp. Then he faced Stanton, who drove a missile to straightaway center field. 434 feet.

So far, the hype seems justified. As they would say in English soccer, Stanton was Man of the Match. The 1st home run was cake; the 2nd, icing -- delicious icing.

Aroldis Chapman needed all of 10 pitches to get through the 9th inning. Ballgame over, Yankees win -- Theeeeeeee Yankees win! First time in a game that counts since October 20, 2017.

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 1. WP: Severino (1-0). No save. LP: J.A. Happ (0-1). For Aaron Boone, his 1st game as a major league manager is a win.

The Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays also started the season with wins. The Boston Red Sox, with a nasty loss against Tampa Bay, in which they blew a 4-0 lead. They didn't blow a lead of 2 or more runs all last season.

Baseball is back. God, did I miss it.

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