LADY AT THE BAT: Stanton, Yankees Impressive On Opening Day In Toronto

Friday, March 30, 2018

Stanton, Yankees Impressive On Opening Day In Toronto

One down and 99 to go.

Assuming the Yankees are on track for a 100-win season, we have the next 161 games to win 99. The Yankees opened their season north of the border in the great indoors of Rogers Centre, taking down the host Blue Jays 6-1. Giancarlo Stanton hit the season's first Yankee home run, an opposite filed bomb, that might be the first of many in a record-breaking home run season by the Bronx Bombers. Stanton homered for a second time in the 9th inning off former Yankee Tyler Clippard, finishing the day with 3 hits and 4RBI. Brett Gardner also went deep for his first home run.

So, some are saying this could be a record home run season.  For me, I will stick to counting wins rather than home runs. Wins translate into division titles, which translate into pennants which translate into championships. That's where I'm at and if record dingers are hit, so be it.

The Yankees got great pitching from Luis Severino (1-0), Chad Green and Aroldis Chapman. Dellin Betances allowed a solo home run in his inning of work.   Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks added two hits apiece, as part of an eleven  hit attack. They chased Peru, IL native and nemesis JA Happ in the fifth inning.

Good work, guys.


I'm not crazy about carrying 13 pitchers and only 12 position players, though several of these players play multiple positions. Third baseman Brandon Drury can play second as he did a lot when in Arizona. Neil Walker appears ready to play both 2B and 1B, and expects to get starts at both positions. Ronald Torreyes is the backup at second, shortstop and third, and is the team's emergency backup catcher, which is a scary thought. Tyler Wade will likely start at 2B against right handed pitching, but can play all over the infield and outfield. Tyler Austin can play either corner outfield spot in addition to 1B against left handed pitching. Despite a short bench, the Yankees appear to have all their bases covered. Plus the arrangement may be short lived as the Yankees wait for reserve outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to be ready to play following an injury early in camp. 

Too bad about Greg Bird. I am not in the "bye-bye Birdie" group. I still have images of his epic playoff home run off former Yankee Andrew Miller stuck in my head. Beyond that I think Bird has one of the sweetest left handed swings built for Yankee Stadium. Don't give up on him yet.

Don't look now but the Yankees have a 1-0 record on the road in their division. I bring this up because in 2016 they had a horrible 11-27 record in the other four AL East cities and last year with 91 wins total, managed only a  17-20 record in the same cities. A little progress is better than no progress. To win 100 you probably need to be on the right side of .500 on the road within the division.

Masahiro Tanaka gets the game two start at Rogers Centre tonight. The struggle was real much of last season for Tanaka, and there still is the issue of the elbow injury from a few years back. Hopefully Tanaka finds his final performance versus Toronto last September 29th as something he would like to duplicate tonight. In that game, which was at Yankee Stadium, Tanaka pitched seven shutout innings with 15 strikeouts, no walks, allowing only three hits. Of course, just six days earlier in Toronto, Tanaka was the losing pitcher allowing 8 runs, seven earned in 5 2/3 innings. Tanaka's 2017 splits are even more telling with thirty starts last season split evenly, 15  at home and 15 on the road. Tanaka was 9-5 with a 3.22 ERA at Yankee Stadium and 4-7 6.48 away from the Bronx.   

With all of  Stanton's  offense, the biggest takeaway of the day may well be the pitching of ace Luis Severino. Getting to the 6th inning without allowing a run and the bullpen's nearly unblemished 3 1/3 innings (minus the solo home run) gave the Yankees all they needed to win. Three opening day home runs and four doubles and the Yankees flexed their muscles as they might all season. But 100 wins, or close to it will require pitching as demonstrated on Opening Day in Toronto. 

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