Damn Yankees: Bronx Bombers Lose Opening Series to Rays

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With a lot of hype and excitement for the New York Yankees youth movement and their success in Spring training, (24-9) the first week of regular season baseball is finally here. With cold weather lingering back home, the Yankees take an extended stay in Tampa to face the AL East rival Rays. Evan Longoria feasts off of Yankees pitching but the Yankees youth movement gives some hope that their bats can keep pace.

Let’s see how the series turned out.

Game 1: Sunday April 2nd, 2017

At Tampa Bay Rays (Game 1)

With a lot of hype and excitement off of their highly productive Spring, everything that looked good seemed to fall off the wagon right away. The Yankees offense couldn't get on base, and Masahiro Tanaka couldn't get hitters out. Heading into the final week of training, Tanaka had not given up a run and K'd 22 over 18.2 innings. He only lasted 2.2 innings, giving up 7 earned runs; two of which came off of the long ball. Called up late last year, Gary Sanchez was so productive he ousted Brian McCann in the off-season. His debut as the everyday starting catcher saw 'the kraken' flop on the deck with an 0 for 5 performance. Greg Bird, the young starting first baseman, after returning from shoulder surgery, had his wings clipped with an 0 for 4 performance. The whole team performed so poorly, they were given Monday off to think about what they’ve done.

Everyone’s Hero: By beating the shift, Chase Headley got on base 3 times!

Damn Yankee: Masahiro Tanaka

Final: NY 3 - TB 7

Game 2: Tuesday April 4th, 2017

At Tampa Bay Rays (Game 2)

The Yankees didn’t exactly come out of the gate tearing the cover off the ball, but they produced 5 runs of offense to secure their first win of the season. CC Sabathia picked up the win by providing 5 innings of shut-out pitching; giving up only 3 hits along the way. The smallest Yankee had the biggest night, however, as Ronald Torreyes delivered the first home run of the season! The ‘big toe’, as he’s affectionately called, flashed some leather by providing a highlight worthy, barehanded, pick-and-throw off a ball up the middle. Gary Sanchez continued to struggle as he turned in another 0 for 5 night. Sanchez may be the starting catcher, but he can’t seem to catch a break. Hitting the ball hard enough to be batting .300, he can’t seem to “hit them where they ain’t” (to quote the late great Willie Keeler). Shift beating legend, Chase Headley continued his hot start with a solo shot to center field.

Everyone’s Hero: After a rough Spring, CC Sabathia’s veteran performance shut down Tampa.

Damn Yankee: Gary Sanchez

Final: NY 5 - TB 0

Game 3: Wednesday April 5th, 2017

At Tampa Bay Rays (Game 3)

Will the real Michael Pineda please stand up? Pineda’s struggles, to get out of innings, carried over from last year; as he gave up 4 runs in 3.2 innings. The first run came off of a solo HR on his third pitch of the game. Even though he struck out 6 batters, Girardi was treating this like a playoff game by giving him the quick hook. Did Girardi not trust his offense to score more than 4 runs? Well, he must have been onto something because they only scored 1. A solo HR from Jacoby Ellsbury kicked off a night of RiSP frustration as the Yankees went an anemic 0 for 9. Good news? Gary Sanchez got a hit! Bad news? The only HR’s this year for the team are from light hitting (and bottom of the order) Headley, Torreyes and Ellsbury.

Everyone’s Hero: Jacoby Ellsbury finally had a night going 3-4 with a HR!

Damn Yankee: Michael Pineda

Final: NY 1 - TB 4

Series Re-Cap:

  • Yankees Lose Series 1-2
  • Yankees MVP: Chase Headley
  • Best Team Stat: Bullpen - 0 Runs, 13.2 Innings
  • Worst Team Stat: SP - 11 Runs, 11.1 Innings
  • Run Differential: -2 (NY 9 - TB 11)

The Yankees flee from their opening series loss and head to Baltimore with plenty of questions that need answering. Will Tanaka bounce back, or has that nagging elbow finally become a liability? Is Gary Sanchez ready for the show, or was last year the 2017 version of Kevin Maas? The good news is, after 3 games, the bullpen has yet to yield a run. Momentum starts with the next day’s pitcher, just ask CC Sabathia, so there shouldn't be any hangover when the team arrives in Baltimore. Having been outscored 11-9, you can’t point to the offense too much, although seeing their continued RiSP struggles, it’s clear that clutch hitting remains a problem.

So to wrap up the series, it’s clear the starting pitching was the main problem. Which many predicted would be important to their success this year.

There’s still a long season ahead, but for a franchise that places a high priority on winning, losing the opening series isn’t how Yankees fans envisioned 2017 starting off. Especially against a division rival who many picked to finish last.