The Yankees take their home opener 5-1 on the backs of three home runs from the top and bottom of their lineup. The evening had a little extra meaning attached to it, as it was imbued from the start with the spirit of remembrance and gratitude. Suzyn Waldman started the night with a stirring rendition of the national anthem. This was followed by a video remembering the late Hank Steinbrenner, as well as a ceremony honoring the first responders and essential care workers of New York.
Boston first baseman Michael Chavis opened the scoring in the top of the third with a solo shot launched into the left field bleachers on an elevated 1-0 Montgomery cutter that stayed middle in. Aaron Judge promptly responded with a two-run shot of his own in the bottom of the inning. After a DJ LeMahieu leadoff single up the middle, Judge stepped in looking to do damage. He stayed inside a hanging first pitch front door slider, depositing a wall-scraper in right to put the Bombers up 2-1.
The homer traveled 376 feet and had an exit velocity of 99.5 MPH. It was Judge’s third home run in as many games as it appears the towering righty is heating up. Perhaps as impressive as the blast itself was Jackie Bradley Jr.s balance to stay on his feet after getting his foot caught in the Pepsi advertising board.
Gio Urshela extended the lead to 3-1 with an opposite field home run of his own in the bottom of the fourth. He displayed impressive discipline, waiting back on a 1-0 changeup high and away before going with the pitch, sending a 99 mph fly ball 363 feet into the seats in right. This was enough to spell the end of Weber’s night, who was pulled after retiring one more batter, only managing to last 3.1 innings.
Brett Gardner wrapped up the scoring in the bottom of the eighth, adding two more insurance runs with a home run to right. Voit led of the inning with a walk after working the count full and was replaced by pinch runner Tyler Wade. The Yankees’ speedster advanced to second on a steal attempt as Urshela grounded to short, and took third on a pitch that got away from catcher Christian Vazquez. Facing a 3-1 count, Gardner spun on a hanging curve, sending a towering fly ball into the right field second deck. The blast registered at 102.3 mph and had a projected distance of 401 feet.
On the pitching side of things, Jordan Montgomery looked energized out of the gate, pumping a couple fastballs up to 94. He coasted through the first two innings before running into some trouble in the third. Monty had to labor through the next two innings, and might have seen his outing cut short but for some well-executed double plays. The Yankees turned three in the game, including a heads-up play in the third on a line drive to Judge, who fired to first to double up Pillar.
Montgomery settled down in the fifth, retiring the side on just seven pitches and restoring hope that some bullpen arms could be saved. On a night when his fastball lacked command and his cutter lacked bite, Montgomery was able to go to his changeup to induce swings-and-misses and soft contact.
The Yankees’ bullpen breezed through the rest of the game, including a lights-out two innings of work from Chad Green in which he retired six of six including four strikeouts. Jonathan Holder came in to wrap up the ninth and turned in a nice inning of work. This is an encouraging sign for the Yankees, as he built upon a solid appearance vs. the Nationals, pumping in cutters at 93 and hitting corners.
The Yankees face the Red Sox tomorrow evening in the middle game of this three-game set. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 PM.