We made it!
Well, just about.
As the Yanks gear up to begin the 2017 season against the Rays tomorrow, let’s all give ourselves a collective pat on the back for fighting our way through the offseason.
Before the first pitch is thrown, we need just one more history post to keep us entertained before we welcome back fresh baseball content that will free us from the arduous search for winter content.
At this time last year, Mearns put together a list of the greatest Opening Days in Yankee history. I’ll hesitantly take the negative route and look back to the worst Opening Days in Yankees history. Here’s to hoping we don’t have to add one to this list come tomorrow.
1973: Yankees 5, Red Sox 15
This game was the ultimate tease. The Yanks pounced on Luis Tiant immediately for three runs in the top of the first behind hot starts from Graig Nettles and Felipe Alou, giving starter Mel Stottlemyre an early cushion. That cushion was short lived.
Boston plated a run in the bottom of the first, followed by four more in the second, three in the third, and another four in the fourth, as Stottlemyre was rocked for six earned runs and failed to make it past the third inning. He would leave his Opening Day Start with an ERA of 20.25.
In the end, the Red Sox pounded out 20 hits to destroy the Yanks. The 15 runs were the most given up by the Yankees in their Opening Day history. The nature of the loss coupled with who it was that delivered the beating made this loss extra painful.
2013: Red Sox 8, Yankees 2
I promise we’re done with losses involving the Red Sox after this one. More than 49,000 fans (including myself) packed Yankee Stadium for the largest Opening Day crowd in the history of the new stadium, according to Newsday.
The large crowd on hand was blessed with the opportunity to watch players such as Ben Francisco, Kevin Youkilis, Vernon Wells and Jayson Nix represent the Yanks to start the season. It was just as disastrous as you would expect.
CC Sabathia was shaky from the start, allowing four earned runs over five innings while walking four batters. Despite this Yankees lineup looking so incredibly potent on paper (lol), they were only able to scratch across two runs thanks to Francisco Cervelli. There was literally nothing to cheer about at this game.
2009: Orioles 10, Yankees 5
Here’s another Opening Day clunker from Sabathia. This was not just his first start of the season, but his first in pinstripes as the Yanks opened the 2009 season with a much lighter wallet and much heavier expectations after signing Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett over the winter.
The performance did not match the hype on Opening Day as Sabathia was knocked around for six earned runs over 4 1⁄3 with five walks and no strikeouts, while Teixeira went hitless in five plate appearances. Aside from a 3-5 day from Derek Jeter, there was nothing to be happy about.
Of course, if this season were to end like 2009 did, I would happily sit through a miserable Opening Day like this game was.
2002: Orioles 10, Yankees 3
Here’s another beatdown in Baltimore. After the painful ending to the 2001 season, fans were looking for a source of optimism after losing multiple cornerstones of the recent dynasty such as Scott Brosius, Paul O’Neill and Tino Martinez.
Their reasons for optimism would have to wait another day.
Opening Day starter Roger Clemens held his own for the first three innings before Tony Batista smacked a grand slam to center field as part of a five run fourth inning. Clemens would leave in the fifth and would finish his day with eight earned runs to his name.
Of course, the Yanks did rattle off seven straight wins after this ugly loss, but it still hampered the excitement of the return of baseball for a day.
2003: Yankees 8, Blue Jays 4
I know, the score doesn’t add up with the headline of this post. However, let’s not forget that the win was an afterthought after Jeter suffered a dislocated shoulder on a play at third base, colliding into Blue Jays’ catcher Ken Huckaby and sending Yankees Universe into a state of panic.
Seeing Jeter on the ground in agonizing pain was the ultimate buzzkill on a day usually celebrated around baseball. The Yanks were able to hold the fort without Jeter and wound up winning 101 games in the regular season, and winning the AL Pennant in the most memorable of fashions.