No chance for closer in this opener
None of us expected the Yankees to go 162-0 this year, but the 6-2 loss in Tuesday night’s season opener to the lowly Astros started things off with a thud. The Yanks were six runs in the hole after the first two innings and while Houston was shut out the rest of the way the Yankees could not climb out of it.
A surprisingly effective Scott Feldman took a one-hit shutout into the seventh for the Astros, who won only 51 games last year. A sellout crowd of 42,117 at Minute Maid Park that included Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Nolan Ryan and former President George H.W. Bush witnessed another dismal Opening Day effort by CC Sabathia.
The trimmed-down lefthander admitted afterward that his motor was running a bit too much early on as the Astros jumped him for six runs and six hits, including home runs by those household names Jesus Guzman and L.J. Hoes, in the first two frames. Sabathia eventually settled down and allowed only two singles over the next five innings long after the barn door was closed.
Opening Day has seldom gone smoothly for Sabathia, whose career mark in lid-lifters is 1-3 with a 6.17 ERA. With the Yankees, CC has been even worse in Opening Day starts — 0-3 with a 7.17 ERA.
The Yankees escaped first-inning scares when Derek Jeter and Brian McCann sustained hand injuries that turned out minor. Jeter had one of the Yankees’ six hits. So did McCann, who drove in his first run with his team team with a single in the seventh. Mark Teixeira followed with an RBI single to left crossing up an over-shift, which was a good sign.
Jeter and Teixeira were hurt at this time a year ago and with all the newcomers Brett Gardner was the only player other than Sabathia from the 2013 opener in the starting lineup. New right fielder Carlos Beltran had the Yankees’ first hit, a single in the fourth. New center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury reached base once in five plate appearances with a walk.
There certainly was not much to write home about. Dellin Betances may have been the highlight for the Yankees with a scoreless inning of two-strikeout relief. With David Robertson succeeding the retired Mariano Rivera in the closer role, there is the need for a setup reliever to emerge. Betances worked the seventh inning in the opener but continued impressive work could move him into the setup picture.
There would be no save opportunity for D-Rob in this one, however.