My wife and I attended yesterday’s game, sitting in the second row of the upper deck in left field. We arrived an hour early so that I could take some photos of the new Stadium (which will be posted soon). The video honoring Cory Lidle was moving (Arod crossed himself at its conclusion).
Johnny Damon is a character. When he got his roll call, he pointed with both hands to the bleachers - he knows how to fire the crowd up. After the roll call, the Bleacher Creatures chanted ‘We want Bernie.’ I, for one, certainly do not. He can’t play defense, can hardly run, and can only hit against lefties. Melky, Kevin Thompson and even Kevin Reese would be more valuable (and versatile) to this team. I love Bernie but there’s just no room anymore.
Arod’s dropped pop-up in the first inning was dreadful - just the worst way to start the season (not to mention the strikeout with two runners on). He was bailed out when Pavano induced a weak grounder. We never booed him but this idiot in front of us did, and he thought he was being hilarious. Then when Arod homered in the 8th, I was hoping he wouldn't get a curtain call (how fickle can fans be?), but he did. I felt embarrassed that he got booed terribly in the 1st, only to get a curtain call in the 8th. In my opinion, neither were warranted.
Josh Phelps looked fine (with the bat at least). Two plate appearances, two walks - OBP of 1.000. He was pulled in the 6th for Dmint when the Rays brought in a righty. But a good start to the season for Phelps.
Pavano pitched good enough, and should have lasted through five, but the Yanks defense let him down. Arod’s dropped pop-up, Jeter’s poor throw, and Phelps' poor toss on a fielder’s choice forced about 15 additional pitches. It was clear he was tiring in the 5th when he allowed a HR to Elijah Dukes and a hard single to B.J. Upton. The pen came to life and won the game for the Yanks: 4.2 ip, 0 er.
Rivera absolutely dominated. One perfect inning, three strikeouts. Dukes had the worst swing of the day against an inside cutter. I was waiting for the changeup, but the cutter was working so well (topping out at 97 mph!), and with a four-run lead with no baserunners, it was totally unnecessary.
A great way to start the season - big hits from Jeter, Giambi and Abreu. Big pitching from Vizcaino and Farnsworth, and even Henn looked good (albeit from the upper deck).
A few things I forgot to mention.
- During every Tampa pitching change, their three outfielders congregated in CF to talk - this is nothing out of the ordinary but I noticed they were all black Americans (Carl Crawford, Elijah Dukes and Delmon Young). It’s becoming more of a rarity in modern baseball to see any black Americans, never mind a whole outfield. And the Yanks don’t have a single one on the current roster! Sheffield was, Tom Gordon was, Charlie Hayes was, but none now. Is it the draw of basketball and football? Is baseball not getting enough exposure in black communities?
- Toward the end of the game, the sun finally cut through the clouds, creating a kind of misty, hazy look to the game. It made the stadium appear old-fashioned and almost ghost-like. A very awe-inspiring moment at the second to last opening day at Yankee Stadium.
3*: Bullpen, 4.2 ip, 0 er
2: Giambi, 2-5, 3 rbi
1: Posada, 2-4, HR, 2 runs, rbi
1: Jeter, 1-4, HBP, game-tying two-out, two-run single
1: Arod, 2-5, HR, 2 runs, 2 rbi, sb
1: Abreu, 2-5, 2 runs, 1 rbi, sb