The problem with April games is that winter isn’t always ready to give way to the boys of summer. So when it lingers long enough to drop a large amount of snow on the stadium on what should be Opening Day, the grounds crew spent yesterday clearing a layer of the white stuff off the field and resetting it for a postponed game. But it wasn’t exactly a better option, with the City spending most of the day (and tomorrow) soaking wet from the rain.
That meant the first pitch was delayed an additional 15 minutes and the pre-game festivities were modified or scrapped altogether. But no worries, rather reminiscent to the snowy start to the 1996 season, the game played on, and the Yankees powered through, despite some strong attempts by the visiting Rays to do stop them.
Jordan Montgomery got the start, a rather big responsibility for the young starter, but he continues to prove how necessary he is to the rotation. He threw 80 pitches in his 5 innings, allowing only 2 hit, 4 walks, and a run, and striking out just 4 Rays batters. In the 3rd, he gave up a single and a walk before a fielder’s choice put runners in the corners. A throwing error allowed another batter to reach base as the lead runner scored the Rays’ first run. The next batter hit a long fly ball to center where Brett Gardner fired it in to get the runner out at home for a fantastic double play. (We always say, “Don’t run on Gary!” but we should add “Don’t run on Gardy!” too.)
Jonathan Holder came on in relief in the 6th but really struggled his way through. After a quick strikeout, he then gave up a double and a single to put runners on the corners. A single scored one run and another single loaded up the bases. Now in a jam, the Yankees turned to Tommy Kahnle, who got a strikeout before giving up a 2-RBI double. Kahnle’s 7th inning went better setting up the rest of the bullpen — Robertson and Shreve — who blasted through the Rays’ lineup to close out the game.
In the mean time, the Yankees faced the Rays’ starter, who clearly had a less than ideal day thanks to a very particular Yankee, a Yankee who has Rays’ pitchers’ numbers today. Didi Gregorius led-off the 2nd with a double, moved to 2nd on Walker’s 1-out walk, and then scored on Tyler Wade’s 2-out single. Then, in the 3rd, Gardner and Judge each singled, and then Didi Gregorius smacked a big 3-run home run to put the Yankees in the lead.
But with the game tied in the 6th, the Yankees found another opportunity to advance in the bottom of the 7th. Tyler Austin led-off with a double. Brett Gardner hit into a sacrifice bunt, but made it safely all the way to 2nd thanks to a throwing error that also scored Austin. Judge then singled to get on base, and 1-out later, it would be Didi Gregorius to hit his 2nd 3-run home run of the game to put the Yankees back in a commanding lead.
That wasn’t all. With 1 out, Wade and Austin both worked walks, and after a pitching change, Gardner singled to load up the bases. A walk to Aaron Judge scored Wade, before a 2-out single to (who else?) Didi Gregorius scored Austin and Gardner to ensure the Yankee victory.
Not a bad way to start the Yankees’ home season.
Final score: 11-4 Yankees
Injury update: Jacoby Ellsbury’s comeback is now pushed back thanks to a hip injury. Ellsbury was recovering well from his oblique injury incurred during Spring Training, but now, it looks like he’ll be sidelined a bit longer now. We’re likely to see Aaron Hicks about April 10 if he can stay healthy. Fingers and toes crossed, everyone.
And minor league reliever Ben Heller was moved to the 60-day DL (effectively taking him off the 40-man roster) due to a bone spur in his right elbow. This made room for the Yankees to claim outfielder Trayce Thompson off waivers from the Dodgers. If there’s any further setbacks, calling up Thompson is a real possibility.
Happy Home Opener, Yankee Universe!