It felt like today’s game flew by, whether due to the new rules or Opening Day excitement. Both starting pitchers combined for 23 strikeouts against a mere quartet of walks, and the Yankee infield in particular turned some nifty defensive outs to speed things along. In the end, this was a pretty perfect game for the Yankees, a 5-0 win that saw a great start from Gerrit Cole, a couple home runs, and some tack-on scoring late. They are 1-0, with only about 98 more wins to go!
This winter was a pretty torturous one for the Giants and their fans, and I don’t want to needle them needlessly, but Aaron Judge hitting a home run in his first at-bat of the season, against the same Giants that he “signed” with (for all of seven minutes) was pretty poetic. Taking Logan Webb to center field in the bottom of the first got the Yankees on the board, and Judge looked as locked in today as he did all last year.
Judge added an RBI on a broken bat blooper in the seventh inning, starting his defense of the AL MVP award with a solid two-hit, two-RBI day.
The Judge drama consumed so much of the winter, but one of the other major stories of the offseason was whether the Yankees would actually pull off a trade of second baseman Gleyber Torres, given the presumed logjam of infielders on the roster. For at least today, we should all be happy that no such trade happened, as Torres had the big swing to pull the Yankees away in the fourth:
This is so much of what makes Torres great — being able to drive the ball to right field. Pairing that with the walk he worked in the seventh, before stealing a base and scoring, should give us all hope that the lineup is longer than it was last season.
Gerrit Cole was making his fifth Opening Day start, and today’s was his best. By the end of the fourth inning, he had set the Yankee record for most strikeouts on Opening Day (he ended with 11), and his fastball, slider, and even changeup were all plus-plus. The Giants didn’t even put a slider or change in play all day, whiffing eight times on the secondary offerings to go along with nine misses on the fastball.
Amusingly enough, that all happened after a four-pitch walk to start the game, and while combatting a pretty terrible strike zone enforced by Laz Diaz. Cole is never one to pitch quietly and took care to let Diaz know just how bad a job he was doing behind the plate:
Cole throws a clear strike thats called a ball and you can hear him go "JESUS LAZ" lmaooooo pic.twitter.com/J6UARt3LCq— Gabe (@PlayoffTanaka_) March 30, 2023
There’s nothing wrong with six shutout innings, but I look forward to later in the year, when the Yankees will let Cole get up to 110 pitches or so. It felt like he had a little more left in the tank, but it’s game No. 1 of 162, so I get taking him out.
Anthony Volpe is still looking for his first MLB hit, but he walked in his first trip to the plate before promptly stealing second (the Yankees’ first of 2023). That was the extent of his offensive contribution today, but I thought he looked great at shortstop. He had two different throws to first that, to me, undercut some of the criticisms of his arm strength, and in general he looked like he belonged. Volpe didn’t get a hit today but there are plenty coming.
Oswaldo Cabrera also didn’t have a hit, starting his season with a golden sombrero. He looked a little amped up for Opening Day, especially in his first two ABs, but got #UmpShow’d in his fourth strikeout:
Cabrera didn’t have a great day at the plate but he sure didn’t deserve that.
The Giants are not the best team in baseball, and we are just 0.62 percent of the way through the season, but this was as good a start to the year as we could hope for. Yankee pitching looked terrific, the offense looked good despite great stuff from Webb, and the game breezed by. If there’s more games like this coming, it’s going to be a great year.
The Yankees are off tomorrow and get back to it on FOX Saturday. Clarke Schmidt will get the ball against Alex Cobb after a strong spring, and first pitch comes at 4:05pm Eastern.