LADY AT THE BAT: On The First Off-Day, A Red Sox Recap & Lessons From The First 13 Games

Monday, April 14, 2014

On The First Off-Day, A Red Sox Recap & Lessons From The First 13 Games

After thirteen straight games to open the season, the New York Yankees finally get an off-day today, after taking 3 out of 4 in their first series against the Boston Red Sox.  The Sunday night game was the type of nail-biting, fist pumping, scream at your TV game that makes every baseball fan fall in love with the sport all over again.

There were great moments sprinkled throughout each inning, including spectacular strike-outs by David Phelps and Shawn Kelley, clutch home runs by Carlos Beltran and an out at the plate initiated by Brett Gardner.

The play of the game, easily, was the wall scaling catch by Ichiro Suzuki off the bat of David Ortiz. Ichiro was only in the game due to Francisco Cervelli's injury and it's doubtful that Beltran makes the same play.  Considering the way the rest of that inning played out, it was a game saving catch.  Going into the season many wondered if Ichiro would have a role on this team as the fifth outfielder.  Now we're just glad he's still here.  Thanks to him, and some redemptive pitching by Ivan Nova, the Yankees head into the off-day on a good note.

After starting the year 1-2 against the Houston Astros, then spending the next 10 games running through the bruising A.L. East gauntlet the Yankees 7-6 record may not be optimal but it is certainly acceptable.

Here are five things learned in the early going:

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  1. Injuries: The Yankees made it through Spring Training relatively healthy (Brendan Ryan being the exception) and, after the horrific 2013 season, it felt great. Then the injuries began. Mark Teixeira and David Robertson hit the DL before the Yankees played a single home game, Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts both sat out Sunday night’s game with nagging injuries while Francisco Cervelli and Yangervis Solarte both were hurt in Sunday’s games.

  2. Derek Jeter: In his last season, everyone is hoping the Yankees captain has another great season in him. Before being slowed by a quad injury and sitting out the last two games against the Boston Red Sox, Jeter has showed he can still swing the bat with a .286 BA.  A lingering leg injury would mar the Captain's last season.  Not to mention the gifts he is expected to receive.  Do they go up from here or have the Houston Astros set the standard?  Keep an eye on the Derek Jeter Gift Meter.

  3. Starting Rotation: Aside from three bad innings, CC Sabathia has been a decent pitcher. Unfortunately those three innings (One in each of his starts) were enough to saddle him with a 1-2 start and a 6.63 ERA. The Yankees can feel good about Michael Pineda as he looks like one of the best 5th starts in baseball. He has a 1.50 ERA through two games against the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox, two teams that can really swing the bat. Pineda is delivering on his Spring Training promise. Masahiro Tanaka has been about as expected with a 3.21 ERA as he begins his adjustment to the major leagues. 

  4. Infield Depth: One of the big questions from Spring Training was how would the infield play out. With a combination of age, injury and inexperience at each of the four positions, both Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman were holding their breath. So far Kelly Johnson has been passable at third base and Solarte and Dean Anna have done well filling in where needed. Nevertheless, by Sunday night, the Yankees had used both Francisco Cervelli and, when Cervelli was injured, Carlos Beltran at first base. With injuries to Teixeira, Jeter and Roberts this could be a sore (no pun intended) point for the rest of the season. 

  5. The Dreaded Shift: Teixeira has been a victim of the shift for years and now it seems that Brian McCann will suffer the same fate. Prior to Sunday’s game he was barely above the Mendoza line, making solid contact but with little to show for it.  The shift is being deployed against hitters more and more. It will be interesting to see if the hitters can adjust. 
Up next: A new podcast episode and predictions for the Cubs series.

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