Today was a good day for the Yankees. Just about everything that could have gone right, went right. Luis Severino pitched well, the bullpen was (mostly) solid, and the lineup was as much of a powerhouse as expected.
Notable performances include Judge's two hits and a walk, Stanton's two dingers and four RBI, and Hick's two hits. Severino made a solid statement with seven strikeouts in 5.2 innings, and Green followed that up with three Ks in 1.1 innings.
The Yankees went up against old friend Tyler Clippard, and Stanton punished him. With two outs in the inning, he knocked another mammoth shot over the outfield wall to tack on an extra run. It really wasn't necessary, but boy was it fun to watch. This is like having two Aaron Judges in the same lineup, to be honest.
Now, we know what happens when Tyler Clippard coughs up a fat pitch to Giancarlo Stanton. It ends up HERE: pic.twitter.com/Rf12Tjgc0N— Andrew Mearns (@MearnsPSA) March 29, 2018
Aroldis Chapman closed out the game, giving the Yankees a win to start the season. This was their first win on Opening Day since 2011, which feels like a very long time.
Not everyone got things off to a good start, though. Dellin Betances entered in the bottom of the inning and immediately allowed a home run to Kevin Pillar. Every out was a struggle, with Tyler Wade and Neil Walker making great defensive plays to get the outs. It seems we got bad Dellin today, because he was a bit wild and hittable. Hopefully we can get good Dellin before too long.
Brett Gardner has had a truly frustrating game. Every at-bat he's come up and hit the ball hard, but nothing has come of it. He reached on an error in the first and was robbed of a hit by Smoak at first. In the seventh inning, though, he got what he was owed. The long fly ball to right field seemed to keep going all the way over the wall for a solo shot to put the Yankees up 5-0.
The Yankees used their first challenge of the young season in the sixth after Neil Walker doubled over the wall to reach for the first time on his new team. Tyler Austin hit the ball to Josh Donaldson over to third, who seems to be having trouble throwing to first today. The throw wasn't very strong, and it pulled Justin Smoak off the bag, making it look like the runner was safe. The call was for an out, but after a brief challenge, it looked like it could get overturned. Unfortunately the umpires weren't convinced and the play stood, ending the inning. As the broadcast mentioned, if Donaldson continues to have these throwing problems all series long, the Yankees need to challenge him.
Something to look out for is what the Yankees are doing with Tyler Austin. He didn't return to the field for the bottom of the sixth, but the YES booth acted like it was a defensive replacement. Walker moved to first and Tyler Wade came into the game to play second, but why do you need to worry about defense in the sixth inning? Seems a little early. No indication suggests that he's hurt, but this could be some indication of how the team plans to use Austin while Greg Bird is hurt.
Severino could have given the team more, but with 91 pitches in 5.2 innings on the first day of the season, Aaron Boone decided to go easy on his best pitcher. He walked Donaldson, bringing an end to his day, with relief weapon Chad Green ready to come in. He finished the day seven strikeouts, allowing just one hit and three walks. It was exactly the kind of statement he needed to make on Opening Day. Meanwhile, Green came in and struck out the final batter to get out of the inning.
After a few hard hit balls and a walk to Judge, the Blue Jays finally yanked Happ from the game. He threw 96 pitches in just 4.2 innings, but did manage to keep the Yankees offense quite outside of that one Stanton home run. The Blue Jays don't have much of a bullpen, so this could definitely end up helping the bombers in the end. Stanton came up against John Axford and managed to knock a double, bringing Judge around to score and make it a 3-0 game. Gary Sanchez then came up big with a double of his own to bring in another run. This is exactly what the Yankees expected to get from the heart of their order, and it is what they will need all year to ensure this team stays in contention.
The Yankees got something going in the top of the fourth inning when Aaron Hicks reached on a single that deflected off the body of Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ. Brandon Drury then managed to reach on a bloop single, but that's as far as it got. Tyler Austin unleashed a long fly ball that was ultimately caught near the center field wall. The team now has four hits on the day, with Aaron Judge having roped a double to the left field wall earlier in the game. Everything seems to be going according to plan so far.
On the other side of the ball, the Yankees hit a little bit of a bump. Severino allowed his first hit of the day, and then quickly followed that up by throwing the ball away. Trying to check Granderson at first, the ball went wide and got away from Tyler Austin. A solid ricochet allowed Neil Walker to get the ball back in to second and keep the runner. A long fly ball then went to the wall, but Gardner made the catch. This is now the second time Severino has gone through the order, so he's going to have to be careful. He's done well so far, striking out four and allowing only three baserunners.
Starting the game off with Brett Gardner at the plate, J.A. Happ induced an easy fly out to left field. Unfortunately Curtis Granderson started off the 2018 season on quite a poor note. The ball went right to him, but it bounced out of his glove and Gardner reached on an error. That's certainly a embarrassing way to get things started. Giancarlo Stanton made them pay for it with his first dinger in a Yankees uniform. He's projected by multiple systems to hit over 50 home runs this year, so it's certainly the way to get things started here.
In case you didn't hear it on the broadcast, Stanton's home run was the hardest-hit opposite field homer since MLB started tracking home runs with Statcast. That is beautiful.
Maybe the craziest part about Giancarlo Stanton's 117.3 mph home run is that he hit it to the *opposite field.* It is the hardest opposite-field homer since #Statcast started tracking. #Yankees pic.twitter.com/K2Lylg6T9Z— David Adler (@_dadler) March 29, 2018
Luis Severino got things started, but it quickly got away from him for a second. After two outs, the right-hander issues two consecutive walks, which brought Larry Rothschild to the mound for the team's first official mound visit with the new rules. He must have said something good because Severino struck out the next guy to get out of the inning. It's not great to see that in the first inning, but it was actually good to see him work himself out of trouble. Hopefully that can continue.
Before the beginning of the game, the Blue Jays held a special ceremony to commemorate the loss of Roy Halladay, who died in a plane crash back in November. Toronto showed just how much he meant to the organization for so many years by retiring his number, placing him in the team's Level of Excellence, and making the Doc's Box a permanent feature within the ballpark.
It is truly a somber moment to start the season on, but Doc would want us all to cary on all the same. This is probably a tough game for the City of Toronto.
Much of the roster has returned from the year before, though some turnover has taken place. Neil Walker is now the team's starting second baseman and Brandon Drury will be playing third base. Most exciting is the addition of reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, who will hopefully do big things in a Yankees uniform going forward. Luis Severino has been appointed the team's new ace, and will get a chance to prove himself right away with an Opening Day start.
Unfortunately, the Yankees weren't able to make it out of spring training without suffering a few injuries. Greg Bird underwent ankle surgery and is expected to be back in game shape by early summer. In the meantime, Tyler Austin will replace him on the roster and hope he can measure up. Jacoby Ellsbury suffered an oblique strain early in camp and was never able to recover in time to make the team. He will start the season on the disabled list with Jonathan Holder up as an extra bullpen arm. It shouldn't be long before Ellsbury returns.
Your 2018 #Yankees Opening Day lineup:— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) March 28, 2018
1. Brett Gardner, LF
2. Aaron Judge, RF
3. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
4. Gary Sanchez, C
5. Aaron Hicks, CF
6. Didi Gregorius, SS
7. Brandon Drury, 3B
8. Neil Walker, 2B
9. Tyler Austin, 1B
Luis Severino, RHP
Even with the loss of Bird, the team's lineup looks great. Batting Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez together could make for some of the scariest situations in baseball. Who are you excited to see play today?