You’ve probably heard by now about the unceremonious end to the Yankees Opening Day matchup against the Rays. If you haven’t, here’s the abridged version. Mariano Rivera entered the game in the ninth with a one-run lead and promptly allowed a single and a game-tying triple. Joe Girardi then made the strategic managerial decision to intentionally walk the next two batters, loading the bases for what he hoped would result in some rally-ending outs. Instead Carlos Pena knocked a single off the base of the outfield wall and drove home the winning run. And by the way, that wasn’t the only damage Pena did to the Yankees yesterday. He also drilled a first inning grand slam off of CC Sabathia, who had quite a rough opening day himself.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though. David Robertson pulled his Houdini act – allowing a hit and walking a batter before striking out the next three men he faced and denying the Rays a run. It’s probably unrealistic to expect D-Rob to repeat the season he had last year (1.08 ERA, 100K in 66.2 IP), but he’s off to a good start with his 3 Ks today. Given that Robertson gained his Houdini nickname because of his tendency to get himself into jams and then work out of them, he’s going to have to continue to be a strikeout pitcher if he is going to be successful. If he is unable to shut down guys with strikeouts, his elevated WHIP will eventually come back to bite him. So it’s great to see him hitting 95 mph on the radar gun and continuing to induce hitters to swing and miss.
From an offensive standpoint, today was a textbook example of what this high-powered lineup will need to do to win games. Their six runs will normally be enough to secure them a win, even though that was not the case today. Guys of particular note were Alex Rodriguez (2-3, 2R, 2BB) and Raul Ibanez (1-5, 1R, 4RBI). Both are entering the season with their share of critics, and both demonstrated today that despite the fact that they are getting up there in age, they have prepared themselves mentally and physically to produce this season. Given that A-Rod missed 63 games last year and the Yankees were still able to win 97 games, a healthy A-Rod for the entire 2012 season could push Yanks up to the 100 win mark. And with the talent in the AL East this year, the Yankees are going to need every win they can get.