Results tagged ‘ Opening Day ’

Key contributions from keystone duo

It may be a very long time before the Yankees see a keystone combination with the combined offensive productivity of Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano of the not so long ago. Two games into the 2016 season, however, there has been much to enjoy about the combined efforts of this year’s shortstop-second base combo of Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro.

The pair have done more damage at the bottom of the lineup than those at the top for the Yankees. Castro, who had a two-run double in Tuesday’s Opening Day loss, probably had the most important hit Wednesday night as the Yankees came off the canvas for a 16-6 romp of the Astros. After Michael Pineda nearly gave up all of a 6-1 lead as Houston closed to 6-5 in the top of the second, Castro crushed a three-run home run in the bottom of the inning to put the Yankees back in command.

It was a four-hit, five-RBI night for Castro, who was acquired from the Cubs in an offseason trade for pitcher Adam Warren. After watching Stephen Drew struggle to hit .200 last year, it has been a treat so far to see a Yankees second baseman handle the bat so well. In addition to his three-run bomb, Castro knocked in two more runs with singles in the six-run first inning and the three-run seventh. In only his second season at second base after being moved there from shortstop last year,  Castro has looked comfortable in the field as well.

Gregorius, who settled in nicely as Jeter’s successor in 2015 after a shaky start, has broken out of the gate much better this year. He hit an impressive home run Tuesday and followed that with three singles Wednesday night. From the 8-9 holes, Castro and Gregorius are batting a combined .563 with two doubles, two home runs and eight RBI in 16 at-bats. Contrast that with the 1-2-3 hitters for the Yankees, who have combined for one hit in 22 at-bats (.045). 

With Castro’s double and Gregorius’ home run Tuesday, it  marked the first time since at least 1913 that the Yankees’ starting middle infield pairing both had extra-base hits and RBIs on Opening Day. The YES Network reported that Castro and Gregorius, both 26, are the Yankees’ youngest regular starting middle infield pairing since 1977 with second baseman Willie Randolph, 22, and shortstop Bucky Dent, 25, who played together for three-plus seasons.

Gregorius became the third Yankees shortstop to homer on Opening Day. Jeter did it three times, all of which came on the road — April 2, 1996 at Cleveland, April 5, 1999 at Oakland and April 1, 2002 at Baltimore. Dent went deep April 9, 1981 at Yankee Stadium against Texas.

It would be too much to ask Castro and Gregorius to duplicate some of the seasons Jeter and Cano had together, but so far so good.

 

When in doubt, hit a runner on wayward path

The bullpen is supposed to be a major strength for the Yankees this year. The trade for Aroldis Chapman from the Reds added the game’s fiercest flame thrower to a back end of the pen that already featured last year’s 1-2 punch of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. Chapman is serving a suspension until May, but the Yankees feel protected in the interim because of the presence of Betances and Miller.

So it was a decided downer that a shaky inning by Betances in the eighth Tuesday sent the Yankees to their fifth straight Opening Day defeat. The Astros came back from a 2-0 deficit against Masahito Tanaka for a 5-3 victory. Betances was tagged with the loss, but this one probably should have an asterisk. The three runs he allowed that inning were all not earned, although that was because of an error that Betances himself committed. But that errant throw occurred on a disputed play yet one that is not reviewable by observing video replays.

You have seen this play plenty of times. A runner heading from the plate to first base runs on the grass, which forces the pitcher to elevate his throw to first base. In this case, Betances’ high toss sailed past first baseman Mark Teixeira, which allowed Jose Altuve, who led off the inning with a single and stole second base, to score the tie breaking run. Betances walked a batter and struck out another subsequently but gave up a single to Luis Valbuena that sent home two more runs.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi got into a heated argument with plate umpire Dana DeMuth, who at least agreed to confer with his fellow umps,but the safe call on Carlos Correa’s dash to first on the squibling grounder fielded by Betances stood.

As I watched the play unfold, I though that the best thing Betances could have done was just throw the ball at Correa. Had the ball hit him while he was clearly on the grass, Correa almost certainly would have been called out. I have advocated this for years and even suggested it should be practiced in spring training (with runners wearing protective gear naturally).

Girard even acknowledged that had Betances done that Correa would have been called out, “but is that what we want?” the manager wondered.

Well, you want an out in that situation, and spearing the runner apparently is the only way to get it if a video replay is not available for a second look. Girardi said DeMuth told him he did not think Correa’s path impeded the first baseman’s ability to make a play. Really? With the height of Betances’ throw over Correa, the only chance for the Yankees to get an out there would have been if Wilt Chamberlain was playing first base.

Correa, the American League winner of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award last year, was all over this game. He mishandled a grounder that had the potential for an inning-ending double play that opened the door to the Yankees’ first two runs on Starlin Castro’s two-out double in the second. Correa’s home run off Tanaka in the sixth, the righthander’s last inning, tied the score at 2. And there was Correa in the middle of all the commotion in the eighth.

The winning decision went to 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, who had a 23-inning scoreless streak against the Yankees stopped but got 12 consecutive outs from the fourth through the seventh to keep Houston in the game. Didi Gregorius made it 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth with a leadoff home run, but the Yankees did not get a base runner after that.

Johnny Barbato, the James P. Dawson Award winner as the top rookie in the Yankees’ spring training camp, made his major league debut in the eighth. He hit Astros designated hitter Preston Tucker on the right wrist with his first pitch, then settled down and retired the next four hitters, three on strikeouts.

The Yankees’ offense had a subdued game. The first three hitters were a combined 0-for-10, although Alex Rodriguez managed to steal a base on those 40-year-old legs.

Yanks’ opener postponed to Tuesday

The Yankees will try again Tuesday to open the 2016 season. Monday’s scheduled opener against the Astros at Yankee Stadium was postponed due to forecasts of inclement weather. Tuesday’s forecast calls for brisk weather, but at least it is not supposed to rain. For the 1:05 p.m. start, the temperature may not get above 40 degrees, so dress appropriately.

Tuesday’s rescheduled Opening Day game will be broadcast on the YES Network, except in areas serviced by Comcast. Gates will open to fans with valid tickets at 11 a.m., and pregame events and ceremonies scheduled for Monday will take place prior to the rescheduled game Tuesday.

As a reminder, as part of Major League Baseball’s initiative to standardize security procedures at all 30 parks, all ticket holders are required to be screened via metal detectors before entering the Stadium. The Yankees strongly encourage all visitors to budget extra time for arrival and entry to Yankee Stadium for all home games.

Fans holding paid tickets for Monday’s game may use them for the rescheduled game or exchange their paid tickets for any regular season game at the Stadium through the end of the 2016 season, subject to availability.

Fans holding complimentary (COMP) tickets for Monday’s game must use them for the rescheduled game. COMP tickets or equivalent tickets bear no cash value and do not have any additional benefits that may be offered to tickets with a dollar value.

For complete information about the Yankees’ rainout policy, please visit http://www.yankees.com/rainout.

For tickets purchased through Yankees Ticket Exchange, please visit http://www.yankees.com/ticketexchange or call (800) 355-2396 for complete information about its rainout policy.

Sept. 24 ticket holders offered free 2014 tickets

Fans holding tickets for Mariano Rivera Bobblehead Night Sept. 24 may redeem their tickets for complimentary tickets to any regular season game at Yankee Stadium during the 2014 season, excluding Opening Day and Old-Timers’ Day, subject to availability.

Season ticket holders, group leaders and individual-game suite licensees who no longer possess their physical tickets from Tuesday night’s game should contact their Yankees ticket representative for assistance. Fans who purchased their tickets for Tuesday night’s game through the Yankees ticket office or yankees.com and who no longer possess their physical tickets should e-mail tickets@yankees.com.

Please note that the Yankees can only accept tickets with valid bar codes for the Sept. 24, 2013 game.

Fans may redeem their tickets at Yankee Stadium advance ticket windows beginning when 2014 individual-game tickets go on sale to the general public through May 31, 2014. Fans will be able to redeem their Sept. 24, 2013, tickets for select Field Level, Main Level, Terrace Level and Grandstand Level seats.

“The strength of this organization comes from the lifelong relationships we have developed with our fans,” Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost said. “Although a perfect storm of circumstances beyond our control led to the delay in the distribution of last night’s promotional item, the fact remains that our fans were inconvenienced. It matters little why – only that they were. We take last night’s event seriously, and to apologize to our fans and express our loyalty to them we are inviting all ticket holders from last night’s game back to Yankee Stadium for a complimentary game during the 2014 regular season.”

For complete information about the Yankees’ redemption policy with respect to the Sept. 24 game, please visit http://www.yankees.com.

Fans who did not redeem their bobblehead vouchers before leaving the Stadium Tuesday night may redeem them at either of the Yankees’ two remaining home games Wednesday and Thursday nights provided they have valid tickets for these games. Voucher redemption will take place inside Gate 2 through the end of each game.

Fans who are not attending either of the Yankees’ two remaining home games should mail their vouchers and their mailing address to: Fan Services, Yankee Stadium, One E. 161st Street, Bronx, NY 10451. Yankees Fan Services will mail them one bobblehead per original voucher received. Lost or misplaced vouchers as well as copies of original vouchers will not be honored.

Yankees to celebrate Matsui’s career July 28

Hideki Matsui was a big hit with Yankees fans from the moment he stepped foot in Yankee Stadium and hit a grand slam in his debut Opening Day in 2003. The Yankees will pay tribute to the Japanese slugger’s illustrious career in ceremonies July 28 before the 1:05 p.m. game against the Rays, the club for which Matsui ended his time in the major leagues last year.

In order to retire officially as a member of the Yankees organization, Matsui will sign a one-day, minor league contract that day. His parents are also expected to attend the game.

The first 18,000 fans at the game will receive a Hideki Matsui bobblehead – which portrays the slugger with his 2009 World Series Most Valuable Player trophy. In honor of Matsui, who wore uniform No. 55 with the Yankees, the day’s events are to take place on the Yankees’ originally scheduled 55th home game of the 2013 season.

Matsui was also recently honored by the Yomiuri Giants – whom he played for 10 seasons from 1993-2002 – in a ceremony May 5 at the Tokyo Dome. During that event, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presented Matsui with the People’s Honor Award, the country’s most prestigious award bestowed on those who have made significant achievements in their careers and are beloved by the public.

Matsui, whose nickname in Japan was “Godzilla,” played 10 seasons in the majors, the first seven with the Yankees from 2003-09 in which he batted .292 with 536 runs, 196 doubles, 11 triples, 140 home runs and 597 RBI in 3,348 at-bats. He was originally signed by the Yankees as a free agent Jan. 14, 2003, following his 10-year career in Tokyo with the Yomiuri Giants.

The two-time All-Star (2003-04) did not miss a game over his first three years with the Yankees. His 518 consecutive games remains the longest streak to start a major-league career. Matsui also drove in at least 100 runs four times, including each of his first three seasons.

In his final game with the Yankees Nov. 4, 2009, Matsui had 3-for-4 with a home run and six RBI in their World Series-clinching Game 6 victory over the Phillies at the Stadium. He tied the single-game World Series RBI record of Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson in 1960 and Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols in 2011 and sealed his unanimous selection as World Series MVP.

Matsui spent a season apiece with the Angels, Athletics and Rays after leaving the Yankees and finished his career with a .282 batting average, 175 home runs and 760 RBI.

“He is extremely deserving of this honor,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “When I think of Hideki, I think of a great player and a great teammate. Even when he was having some problems with his legs in his later years, he would come up with big hits, none bigger than the ones he had in the 2009 World Series.”

Jeter upbeat during Stadium visit

Derek Jeter was back at Yankee Stadium Thursday as the Yankees opened a 10-game homestand over 11 days. It was uplifting to see the Captain back in uniform, although he is months away from being able to man his usual shortstop position again.

“Jeet told me he could DH tonight,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It was good to see his smiling face in the clubhouse.”

“It’s a difficult process, very frustrating,” Jeter said of his recovery from a second broken bone in his left ankle. “I have been in physical therapy every day for, what, four or five weeks, so I’m happy to be able to be here and walk around.”

Jeter does not like having to wear the walking boot on his ankle, but he does what the doctor tells him. The Yankees have said that Jeter will be back sometime after the All-Star break in mid-July but no specific date. DJ has a date in mind, but he is not sharing it with anyone.

“I can’t magically make the ankle heal,” Jeter said.

Jeter has learned his lessons about deadlines. During spring training, he said he planned to be ready by Opening Day. About a week before the opener, the ankle got sore again, forcing Jeter to back off his program. It was discovered that he had a small crack in another part of the ankle.

“Same bone, different spot,” Jeter said. “You guys know me; that I don’t like talking about injuries. Once I am told that the ankle is healed, I can get back to my program.”

Jeter smiled when several questions mentioned his age, which will be 39 by the time the All-Star break comes around. He said the injury was not age-related and that “there is no doubt in my mind” that he can play at his usual level once he returns to action.

“I have no doubt,” Jeter said. “When you have doubt, you’re in trouble. I think I’ll be very well rested.”

Always antsy when out of the lineup, Jeter said he has not followed the Yankees that closely on television because he does not have the MLB package on his cable in Florida and has not seen many games. No surprise there. The Captain wants to be on the field, not watching from the sidelines.

He was asked if Mariano Rivera’s return from a torn right ACL was an inspiration.

“I didn’t need Mo to get hurt to put my mind at ease,” Jeter said. “Once the ankle is healed, I’m going to get right at it.”

Relax, there are 161 games to go

There was very little good for the Yankees in their 2013 season opener, a dismal 8-2 loss to the Red Sox on a day that began with unseasonably warm weather and deteriorated into a cold, rainy affair. Yankee Stadium, which swelled with 49,514 people, the most for a season opener at the current facility, was practically empty by the ninth inning.

Take solace, Yankees fans, there are still 161 games remaining, so leave us not get carried away by one dreary game. The Yankees are starting the season behind the 8-ball with regulars Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson plus starting pitcher Phil Hughes on the disabled list.

Monday’s game featured six players who made their debuts in pinstripes – Kevin Youkilis, Vernon Wells, Ben Francisco, Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay and Sean Kelley – and two players in the starting lineup who are normally on the bench – Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix.

Francisco Cervelli, back with the Yanks after spending most of 2012 in the minors, knocked in both Yankees runs with a double down the left-field line in the fourth inning. When the key to the offense in a game is the 9-hole hitter, chances of winning are pretty slim. A Yankees rally in the seventh petered out after Boston lefthander Andrew Miller followed two walks with strikeouts of Nunez and Robinson Cano. Righthander Andrew Bailey then came in and struck out Youkilis.

Cano looks pretty naked in this lineup and saw an abundance of pitches out of the strike zone, which is likely to be a regular occurrence until Granderson and Teixeira return to provide some protection or if Youkilis and Wells return to their former RBI form.

“The new faces are going to have to step up,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi noted. “This is a different type of lineup than we have had in recent years, there is no doubt about it. “We are going to have to score runs in different ways.”

With so much firepower on the DL or lost to the free-agency defections of Nick Swisher, Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin, the Yankees will not be relying on the long ball as they did a year ago when they smacked 245 home runs.

The Yankees still consider pitching a strength, but their rotation ace, CC Sabathia, was down in velocity and struggled to get through five innings. The Red Sox batted around in the second inning against Sabathia, who allowed four runs on four hits and two walks. With his fastball topping out at 91 miles per hour, CC did not have blow-away stuff or crispness on his slider.

Girardi mentioned that Sabathia’s velocity is usually down early in the year. “That is common among power pitchers,” the skipper said. “We’re used to seeing a big difference in velocity from CC from April to June.”

“It takes time to build up arm strength,” Sabathia said. “I had trouble finishing off hitters. With two outs [in the second inning], you’re always one pitch away from ending the inning, but I let it get away from me.”

Youkilis, who started the game at first base and moved to third in the seventh, and Cervelli combined on a fine play to get the second out of the inning at the plate, but Sabathia then yielded RBI singles to Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia. Even though it was so early in the game, the 4-0 deficit seemed ominous considering the shell of the Yankees’ current batting order.

Opening Day problems are part of Sabathia’s DNA. Monday was his 10th Opening Day start, the past five with the Yankees. He is 0-2 with a 7.43 ERA in Yanks openers and 1-2 with seven no-decisions and a 5.80 ERA in all openers.

This was the fourth loss in the past five Opening Days for the Yankees, whose overall record in season lid-lifters is 63-47-1, including 35-15-1 at home. They had a chance to set a record for consecutive home-opening victories but had their streak end at 11 games to remain tied for the mark with the Mets, who won the same total of home openers from 1971 through ’89.

Here is an interesting item researched by the Elias Sports Bureau. The Yankees’ lineup Monday marked the first time since 1992 that it did not contain a switch hitter. That was the last Yankees team to finish with a record under .500 (76-86).

“It’s just one game,” Girardi said. “Don’t make too much of it.”

Yankees fans must try not to.

Familiar faces missing at Yanks’ opener

It was Opening Day at Yankee Stadium Monday, but not for everybody with the Yankees. They opened the franchise’s 1111th season with five important ingredients missing due to injuries. No Derek Jeter. No Alex Rodriguez. No Curtis Granderson. No Mark Teixeira. No Phil Hughes.

With four major position players out of the lineup, the Yankees had a decidedly different look from the team that finished the 2012 season. Newcomers to the squad included Vernon Wells in left field, Kevin Youkilis at first base and Ben Francisco as the designated hitter with familiar faces from the bench getting starting nods, Eduard Nunez at shortstop, Jayson Nix at third base and Francisco Cervelli behind the plate.

It may take some time for Yankees fans to warm up to Youkilis, a long-time target of disdain during his years with the Red Sox. He was slow to acknowledge the bleacher creatures’ first-inning roll call and heard some boos then and again when he batted in the first inning. Youk did hear cheers when he threw a runner out at the plate in the second inning, a rough one for CC Sabathia, who was touched for four runs on four hits and two walks.

Brett Gardner, who missed most of last season with a wrist injury, was back but this time in center field. Yankees manager Joe Girardi toyed with the idea of flip-flopping Granderson and Gardner during spring training, but when Curtis went down with a forearm injury the experiment never materialized.

Sabathia made the 10th Opening Day start of his career and the fifth in a row for the Yankees. He became the sixth pitcher in franchise history make at least five Opening Day starts. The only pitchers with more were also lefthanders, Whitey Ford and Ron Guidry with seven apiece and Lefty Gomez with six.

A moment of silence was observed before the game in memory of former Yankees fireballer Bob Turley, the 1958 American League Cy Young Award winner and World Series hero who died last week at the age of 82.

There was also a touching tribute before the game in memory of the victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting in Newtown, Conn. An honor guard of Newtown police officers and firefighters were on the field as a list of the victim’s names appeared on the center field video screen. Yanks and Red Sox players wore special ribbons on their uniforms to commemorate the tragedy.

Sandy Hook tragedy to be remembered Opening Day

The Yankees and the Red Sox, legendary rivals, will stand together Opening Day in dedicating the April 1 game at Yankee Stadium to victims of the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, their families and the greater community of Newtown, Conn.

Pregame ceremonies will feature joint honor guards of Newtown police and firefighters, along with a moment of silence, during which a list of the Sandy Hook victims’ names will be recognized on the center-field video board.

Yankees and Red Sox players will wear a special ribbon on their uniforms for Opening Day to honor those lost and those affected by the tragedy. This ribbon will also be prominently painted on the field in front of both dugouts.

To show Major League Baseball’s solidarity in remembering the victims, their families and the greater community of Newtown, commissioner Bud Selig has asked the 28 other teams to follow suit in wearing the ribbon during their respective Opening Day games.

The Yankees have also invited approximately 3,000 children, families and members of Newtown to celebrate summer recess Sunday, July 7, by attending the Yankees’ 1:05 p.m. game that day against the Orioles. The Yankees have proclaimed the date “Newtown Day at Yankee Stadium” at a time of year after the school calendar is complete that allows for the greatest number of children and families to be able to attend.

“On Opening Day, we will reflect upon more important things and play the game to honor the community of Newtown,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “Since the day of the tragedy, our hearts and thoughts have been with those who were affected. We hope that bringing the families of Newtown together at Yankee Stadium later in the summer will give the community an opportunity to create new memories and aid in the difficult process of moving forward.”

Added Red Sox principal owner John Henry, “Months have passed, yet we are still trying to come to grips with this incomprehensible tragedy. “As our teams look to face each other on Opening Day, we will stand united in support of the families affected as we remember and honor those who were lost.”

“The Yankees organization has supported our community in several ways since the tragic events of December 14,” said Pat Llodra, First Selectman, Town of Newtown. “Their generosity and compassion during this difficult time means a lot to all of us. We also would like to thank Commissioner Selig, the Red Sox and Major League Baseball for this meaningful tribute to our community.”

2013 schedule out; Yanks-Mets down to 4 games

Major League Baseball released its preliminary schedule for the 2013 season Wednesday. It reveals the change in inter-league play based on the Astros’ move from the National League Central to the American League West that will create two 15-team leagues and require inter-league play on a daily basis.

What that means to the Subway Series is that instead of two three-game series, the Yankees and the Mets will play consecutive two-game sets May 27-28 at Citi Field and May 29-30 at Yankee Stadium. This is a good idea. Six games each year was at least two too many. Remember, in the first two years of inter-league play the New York clubs played one three-game series, in 1997 at Yankee Stadium and 1998 at Shea Stadium. The downside is that there can be a series split, which would take away the reward of bragging rights.

The Yankees will open the season with at home against the Red Sox for the first time since 2005. The Yanks are 18-11-1 in 30 previous Opening Day games against Boston, including a 4-4 game due to darkness in 1910 at old Hilltop Park. The Yankees will play 19 of their first 32 games at home.

The other inter-league matchups for the Yankees will be against the NL West with home games against the Diamondbacks April 16-18, Dodgers June 18-19 and the Giants Sept. 20-22 and road games at Denver May 7-9, Los Angeles July 30-31 and San Francisco Aug. 2-4. The Dodgers’ visit will mark their first regular-season games at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees will have inter-league games in every month of the season.

The Astros will come to the Stadium as an AL team for the first time April 29-May 1. The Yanks will end their season with a three-game series Sept. 27-29 at Houston’s Minute Maid Park.