Credit: Brian Blanco, Getty Images
It was exciting to finally see Opening Day…for a couple of minutes.
Masahiro Tanaka sailed through Spring Training with a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings of work, only relinquishing runs in his final start (with only one earned). For the first game of the regular season, the results were substantially different. Tanaka was tagged for three runs in the first, and was out of the game in the third inning after surrendering a total seven runs. He took the loss as the Yankees fell to the Tampa Bay Rays, 7-3, and he starts the year with an ERA of 23.63. It was perhaps his worst start as a Yankee.
As a sign for the game to come, the Yankees lost a replay challenge in the top of the first inning when it appeared that Matt Holliday barely beat out a throw to first. If he had been ruled safe, the Yankees would have had two runners on base with Jacoby Ellsbury coming to the plate. Instead, it was the end of the inning and the Rays proceeded to wallop Tanaka who seemingly had no command of his pitches.
Gary Sanchez was 0-for-5 and he left five runners stranded.
Both Starlin Castro and Chase Headley were 3-for-4 but it wasn’t enough.
This Spring, while running up Major League Baseball’s best exhibition season record, the Yankees seemed to be very loose. On Opening Day, they felt tight. They need to relax and move on. It was just one game and there will be better days.
The Yankees begin the year 0-1 (with 161 to go) and now have a day off today before resuming the series with the Rays on Tuesday. CC Sabathia will take the mound for the Yankees versus Jake Odorizzi. As ugly as yesterday’s loss was, the Yankees can still take the series with two wins.
In the category of misery loves company, the Yankees shared Opening Day losses with the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs, two pretty good teams. The Giants lost despite two home runs from their starting pitcher, Madison Bumgarner.
Of the two Rule 5 draftees that I was hoping to get back, the Pittsburgh Pirates did return lefty pitcher Tyler Webb to the Yankees. He was assigned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The other, catcher Luis Torrens, made the Opening Day Roster for the San Diego Padres. The Padres are carrying three Rule 5 draftees on their roster, including the 20-year-old Torrens. Torrens only hit .167 with a 26% strikeout rate this Spring, but the Padres kept him as backup catcher. They also have Christian Bethancourt as backup catcher, but Bethancourt has also been working on pitching too. Time will tell if the Padres retain Torrens all season long. If they don’t, he’ll have to be offered back to the Yankees.
The Yankees also placed Didi Gregorius (10-day) and Tyler Austin (60-day) on the Disabled List, and signed shortstop Pete Kozma to a major league contract, adding him to the 40-man and active rosters prior to yesterday’s game.
Lastly, the Yankees have fallen to third in total payroll. After years of being the payroll leader before being unseated by the Los Angeles Dodgers (The Greedy Blue?), the Yankees have slipped to third behind the Detroit Tigers. Dodgers still lead with total payroll of $225 million, but even they have been borrowing a chapter from Hal Steinbrenner’s play book for salary reduction as they’ve reduced it by $45 million over the last couple of years. The Yankees came in at $195 million, while the Tigers are at $199.75 million. Remove the dead contract of Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees are only at $174 million. Have to save those pennies for Bryce Harper!
Have a great Monday!