Call it a knee-jerk reaction, or call it the same New York Yankees. Whatever you’d prefer.
Either way, it’s happened on Opening Day. The Bombers kicked off the 2021 season just how they ended 2020. They couldn’t get a strong enough start from their ace. The failed at every opportunity to deliver a situational hit. They stared at strikes and provided terrible at-bats in high-leverage situations.
These are the exact characteristics the Yankees need to dispel this year if they want to win a World Series, but that goal is off to the worst start possible.
After New York failed to score in the bottom of the ninth with a runner on second with no outs, the Blue Jays capitalized on the extra innings rule and drove in the runner from second in the top of the 10th to go up 3-2. How did the Yankees respond after Nick Nelson got out of the inning? Three straight strikeouts in the bottom of the 10th. It’s like they had never seen a pitcher before.
The first time with fans in the stands since 2019, and this is what they do for the home crowd at Yankee Stadium. Two runs on six hits and six walks. 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Their lone two runs came on one swing of the bat from Gary Sanchez, who had the best game of anyone on Thursday.
Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton spent the afternoon looking at strikes wiz by them. They went a combined 1-for-14 with eight strikeouts against Hyun-Jin Ryu and a bullpen of scabs.
Gerrit Cole had the lead, of course, until he didn’t. He gave up a game-tying home run to Teoscar Hernandez in the sixth inning and was promptly removed after throwing 97 pitches. Not a bad day for the Yankees ace, but certainly far from “good enough.” He was just as good as Ryu, which isn’t great.
Yup, it’s only Opening Day. There are 161 games left. There’s really nothing to worry about. But to start the new year the exact way you ended the disappointing one that preceded it will not put fans in the right headspace.
The reason why people are frustrated? Because they know this team is capable of more. Hiccups and obstacles are always part of the grind that is an MLB season, but the Yankees are held to a higher standard. The fact that Jay Bruce, LeMahieu, Judge, Hicks, Stanton and Gleyber Torres, who also played bad defense yet again, couldn’t drive in a single run when the team needed it is as discouraging as it gets. The fact Cole couldn’t pitch past Hernandez doesn’t help, either.
Let’s erase this from our brains and get back to work on Saturday. We shouldn’t be this mentally exhausted after Game 1.