(Courtesy of the Yankees' PR team)
Welp, here goes nothing. If nothing else, today's Opening Day game should be interesting. The Yankees' recent roster moves and decision making when it comes to them can be questioned at a later date. All that matters right now is the return of Yankee baseball to our everyday lives! And what better way to commemorate the start of the 2013 season than with a good old-fashioned AB4AR live blog?
It doesn't come with quite the sizzle as it usually does, but Yankees-Fraud Sawx is still the premiere rivalry in MLB and a perfect way to really kick off the start of the season. The lines are painted, the house should be packed, Sweet Lou is throwing out the first pitch, and the beer is cold. Here's today's starting lineup for the Yankees:
1) Brett Gardner- CF
2) Eduardo Nunez- SS
3) Robinson Cano- 2B
4) Kevin Youkilis- 3B
5) Vernon Wells- LF
6) Ben Francisco- DH
7) Ichiro Suzuki- RF
8) Jayson Nix- 3B
9) Francisco Cervelli- C
And on the mound, making his fifth consecutive Opening Day start, CC Sabathia. He'll square off against fellow lefty Jon Lester, with first pitch scheduled for 1:08 PM Eastern/12:08 PM Central. Live blog will start sometime before then, likely around 11:30-11:45 my time when I get home from the office and get settled in. If you're unlucky enough to not be at The Stadium and stuck at work, keep the "refresh" button handy and join in the fun.
- 11:36 AM- So good to see Pedro Gomez and Jayson Stark back on my TV screen. Schilling? Not so much.
- 11:42 AM- Cool little bit on CC and his fastball grips on his 2-seamer and 4-seamer. Maybe I'm just an idiot, but I didn't realize CC only started throwing the 2-seamer until 2008. I'd expect to see him use that pitch more this season to try to get early-count GB outs and keep his pitch count down.
- 11:47 AM- This'll probably be the only positive thing I say about the Fraud Sawx today, but props to Jonny Gomes for that beard. Thing is killer.
- 11:53 AM- The Jobastache is looking fresh today as well. Giving Gomes' beard a run for its money.
- 12:03 PM- Dave O'Brien, Rick Sutcliffe, Aaron F*cking Boone, and Tim Kurkjian for the ESPN broadcast. I'll take that.
- 12:09 PM- Sawx stacking essentially 6 righty hitters in a row through the middle of their batting order today. Worth watching how CC chooses to attack them.
- 12:14 PM- Lotta fastballs early in the count to get ahead from CC. Low-90s. Changeup away to strike out Shane Victorino. Left it up, but still a good pitch to throw with 2 strikes.
- 12:16 PM- Much better changeup location, low and away, on the last 2 pitches to Napoli to strike him out. CC works around a 2-out Pedroia single to get through the top of the 1st.
- 12:22 PM- Lester throwing his fastball with noticeably more velocity than CC (92-96 MPH according to the ESPN gun). Yankee hitters up there swinging at it too.
- 12:23 PM- Farrell not playing around with Robbie Cano. Puts the shift on right off the bat. Get used to that treatment, Robbie.
- 12:24 PM- Sutcliffe splitting the atom by saying Youkilis needs to get off to a fast start this season. Not too sure why he's throwing a .350 batting average out there as a measuring stick for a fast start, though. Have another drink, Rick.
- 12:26 PM- +1 for Youkilis coming up to Soulja Boy. Never would have predicted that in a million years.
- 12:27 PM- Youkilis put a good swing on it, but right at Victorino in right to end the inning. 0-0 after 1.
- 12:31 PM- Golf clap for that play at third by Nix to get the first out of the top of the 2nd. He isn't gonna add much to the mix at the plate, but he won't take anything away in the field.
- 12:33 PM- 1-out walk to Saltalamacchia. CC and Cervelli really trying to work the outside corner against the parade of righties and he missed with 2 straight fastballs.
- 12:36 PM- Sutcliffe can't get enough of Jackie Bradley, Jr. You'd think he was the second coming of Willie Mays. Kudos to Rick for maintaining his enunciation with Bradley's dick in his mouth. Real professional job by him.
- 12:37 PM- And CC walks Bradley to load the bases with 1 out in the 2nd. Picking at corners with his fastball and slider and not hitting his spots.
- 12:38 PM- And it costs him a run as Iglesias chops one into the hole at short for an RBI single. Bad BABIP luck already coming into play.
- 12:41 PM- CC tried to dial up the fastball inside to Victorino and didn't have anything on it. 2 runs score, 3-0 Sawx.
- 12:43 PM- Pedroia goes the other way on a fastball and drives in another run. Sawx jumping all over CC's fastballs in the zone. He's still sitting 88-91 with it and they're squaring it up.
- 12:47 PM- 35 pitches to get through the inning for CC, and Joe was clearly concerned as he got Shawn Kelley up in the bullpen. He gets out of it without any more damage, but 4-0 Sawx was plenty already.
- 12:54 PM- "When you look at the lineup that the Yankees put out there on Opening Day, it's like a split squad lineup for a Spring Training game."- Sutcliffe. Very true, Rick. Very true.
- 12:56 PM- Francisco worked a 1-out walk, but Lester works around it without issue to end the 2nd.
- 1:04 PM- Much better 3rd inning for CC, who sits the Sawx down 1-2-3. Changeup on the outside corner that Middlebrooks swung through, slider on the outside corner that froze Saltalamacchia, and a weak pop-up to short by Gomes.
- 1:08 PM- And there goes the no-hitter! Gardner breaks it up with a screaming 15-foot groundball down the first base line. Time to see how aggressive Joe gets with his speedsters on the basepaths.
- 1:12 PM- Nunez battles but goes down looking for the 2nd out of the inning. Pretty much all fastballs from Lester, so no real chance for Gardner to run and he never even attempted.
- 1:14 PM- He advances on a wild pitch, though, but gets stranded as Cano flies out to the track in left to end the inning. Once again, the Sawx worked him heavy away and shifted the infield.
- 1:19 PM- CC starting to find his fastball command in the 4th; velocity still high 80s-low 90s.
- 1:21 PM- Had Ellsbury set up perfectly after a slider and a fastball on the outside corner for strikes, and then left one over the plate that Ellsbury looped into left for a single. 2 on, 1 out here in the 4th as CC goes back to the top of the order for the 3rd time already.
- 1:24 PM- The big fella works out of the jam with a couple of GB outs to end the inning. Those were big.
- 1:28 PM- Leadoff double for Youkilis to start the bottom of the 4th after starting the AB down 0-2. Second straight AB where he's made strong contact and he made Lester pay for missing his spot inside on a 3-2 pitch.
- 1:31 PM- Lester looking a little shaky with his command here in the 4th. He's missed with a couple fastballs and almost threw another curveball away against Wells.
- 1:33 PM- Wells battles back from down in the count himself to draw a walk. First rally of the day with nobody out...
- 1:34 PM- And Francisco pops up to the catcher on a 1-1 pitch down the middle. About as unproductive as that AB could have been considering there's no speed on the bases.
- 1:36 PM- Bloop single into right-center by Ichiro on another missed spot by Lester, but Youkilis fails to score after having to hold up to make sure the ball dropped. Bases loaded, 1 out, Nix coming up.
- 1:41 PM- Solid AB by Nix, but he goes down looking on a nasty 3-2 cutter. Give Lester credit for the pitch, but you've gotta be looking to swing at something that close in that situation if you're Nix.
- 1:43 PM- BIG 2-strike, 2-out single down the line by Cervelli and the Yanks are on the board. Lester beat him inside with a cutter earlier in the at-bat and Cervelli was looking for it again with 2 strikes. Great job pulling his hands in and getting the barrel on the ball. Meeting on the mound for Lester, who's had to work hard this inning, and the lead is cut in half.
- 1:45 PM- Gardner gives one a ride to right, but Victorino hauls it in. Some chinks in the armor for Lester in that inning and it's a ballgame, 4-2, heading to the 5th.
- 1:47 PM- If the Yankees are going to win with smallball, that inning was a great example of how they have to do it. Youkilis battled back from down in the count to get on base, as did Wells with his walk. Even though he didn't do anything, Nix had a good AB and saw a lot of pitches, and Cervelli had a smart at-bat too to drive in runs. They're going to need innings like that from everywhere in the batting order while they're undermanned like this.
- 1:53 PM- Great start to the top of the 5th for CC, then a bad sequence to Saltalamacchia that ended in a 2-out double to left. He's still throwing a lot of fastballs and changeups away to the righties, and not going to the slider on the back foot with 2 strikes.
- 1:54 PM- And just like last year's Opening Day, Joe elects to intentionally walk a weak hitter in a situation that doesn't call for it. He's giving the free pass to Gomes here to pitch to Bradley. Because putting more runners on base in a game you're losing is always sound strategy.
- 1:57 PM- And it comes back to bite him as Bradley draws a 5-pitch walk. CC really wasn't close after throwing the second pitch of the AB for a strike and certainly appears to be tiring here as he nears 100 pitches.
- 2:00 PM- CC gets out of it thanks to a pop-out from Iglesias. Give the big fella credit for emptying the tank there to get a much-needed out. At 100+ pitches, he's definitely done for the day.
- 2:04 PM- Lester starting to lose some of the steam on his fastball here in the bottom of the 5th. Nunez got around on a couple cutters inside before striking out, and Cano smacked a high-80s one back up the box for a 1-out single.
- 2:07 PM- Vernon Wells played the "feeling like a kid again" card when speaking to reporters about joining the Yankees and he certainly looked like one in that at-bat, going down looking on 3 pitches to end the 5th. Still 4-2 Bahhston.
- 2:10 PM- David Phelps in for the 6th. Have to think he's only getting 1 inning here.
- 2:12 PM- Final line for CC: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 102 pitches. He wasn't great by any stretch of the imagination, but he wasn't as bad as that line might indicate. Not a lot of sharp contact off him, and the well-placed singles in the 2nd were the only real damage.
- 2:14 PM- Sutcliffe called it, sending Ellsbury on contact, and Pedroia hit it right at Nix. The throw wasn't perfect, but it was in plenty of time and Cervelli put the tag on to nail Ellsbury at the plate. 2 down.
- 2:17 PM- Phelps works around the Ellsbury leadoff triple to keep runs off the board. Lester back out to start the bottom of the 6th against the 6-8 spots in the Yankee lineup.
- 2:19 PM- Scratch that. It's Koji Uehara out to start the inning. Lester done after 5 and it's Travis Hafner hitting for Francisco to lead off the inning.
- 2:22 PM- Hafner pops out on the infield, Ichiro does the same, and Lyle Overbay, pinch hitting for Nix, pops out to left to end an uneventful bottom of the 6th.
- 2:27 PM- I don't want to tell Dave O'Brien to shut the fuck up when he says 85 games will win the AL East this year, because there is a non-zero chance that happens, but I still want to.
- 2:31 PM- I don't care how many times I see it, the clip of Boone hitting that Game 7 HR off Wakefield will never get old. You could strap me to a chair and pry my eyes open "A Clockwork Orange"-style and I'd still just sit and smile watching that over and over again.
- 2:33 PM- Phelps laboring through the 7th, he's already put 2 runners on and thrown 30 pitches, and I have to question Joe's logic in bringing him out for another inning here. You're down 2 in a close game and he's starting on Saturday. Why not go to Joba?
- 2:37 PM- Joe goes to Boone Logan to face Bradley and surprisingly Farrell doesn't pinch hit. I'm admittedly not that familiar with the Fraud Sawx's roster this season, so I'll chalk that up to Farrell already having all his big righty hitters in the lineup.
- 2:40 PM- Props to Bradley. He worked himself into a hitter's count and drove the run in with a productive GB out. Big run for the Sawx.
- 2:46 PM- Logan made it interesting, but limits the damage to 1 run. 5-2 Sawx going to the bottom half of the 7th.
- 2:55 PM- Leadoff walk for Cervelli in the bottom of the 7th against Andrew Miller, who missed his spot badly with all 5 pitches he threw. He follows that up with a walk to Gardner and the Yanks are in business.
- 2:57 PM- And Nunez follows it up with the least productive AB possible. Down 0-2 after a shit swing at a fastball off the corner and a foul ball down the LF line, he lets strike 3 go right by him.
- 2:58 PM- Save us, Robbie Cano. You're our only hope...
- 3:00 PM- Not for nothing, but did my apartment complex's maintenance crew have to pick today to do all kinds of loud work in the hallway?? Come on, guys! It's fucking Opening Day.
- 3:01 PM- After just pulling a hanging slider foul down the first base line, Cano goes down swinging on a high-90s fastball. Helluva pitch by Miller.
- 3:06 PM- Andrew Bailey fans Youkilis with some high cheese and that's that. Strikeout, strikeout, strikeout from the 2-4 hitters after the first 2 batters reached base. Cervelli and Gardner never moved from first and second.
- 3:13 PM- Not to throw in the towel here or anything, but you know the game isn't looking good for the Yanks when the announcing crew starts talking women's NCAA tournament. Shawn Kelley throws a 1-2-3 8th in his Yankee debut thanks to a couple of nice plays by Youkilis and Nunez.
- 3:18 PM- Yankees announced a 49,514-person paid attendance for today's game. New YS3 record.
- 3:20 PM- 1-out single from Hafner right into no man's land in the shift. Not the guy you want to see base hits from, but whatever.
- 3:22 PM- Ichiro with another early swing and an inning-ending GIDP. Time to grab another beer.
- 3:25 PM- 20 bucks says Youkilis asked Big Sloppi "what'd you say?" because he actually couldn't understand him.
- 3:29 PM- Joba in to pitch the 9th, and FWIW the ESPN gun has him at 94-96 with his fastball. I'll take that in early April.
- 3:32 PM- Wind picking up at The Stadium, and we're closing in on the 3 1/2 hour mark as Joba loads the bases with 1 out. Nothing can stop a Yanks-Sawx game from going longer than it needs to.
- 3:35 PM- Miscommunu between Overbay and Cano on a GB in the hole and it turns into 2 runs for the Sawx with 2 outs. Bad baseball, but tough to get on guys who haven't played together much.
- 3:36 PM- RBI single for Victorino to follow it up and it's an 8-2 Sawx lead. That's all but all she wrote, folks. Joba done; Eppley coming in.
- 3:40 PM- Nice play by Nunez to end the inning. We head to the bottom of the 9th as the ESPN guys get to work on Jackie Bradley, Jr.'s HOF bust.
- 3:44 PM- In typical YS3 fashion, the crowd has completely disappeared in the late innings. Not that they were very loud in the first 7...
- 3:47 PM- Yanks' bullpen today: 4 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 4 ER. Sawx's 'pen: 4 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 0 R. That was the difference.
- 3:49 PM- Gardner fouls out down the left field line to end the game. Not pretty, but still just 1 game out of 162. I'm going to have a few more beers, let my thoughts on what I saw marinate, and speak more on this one tomorrow. Thanks for hanging out with me today, gang.