The first two games of this Opening Day weekend could not have been more different, with the Yankees following up their picture-perfect season opener with a rather untidy loss in game two. Luckily, the rubber match resembled the opener, as the Yankees take the first series of the season. Jhony Brito sparkled for five scoreless innings, while mammoth home runs from Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton kickstarted the Yankees offense en route to a 6-0 victory.
It’s pretty cool that the Yankees handed two youngsters their MLB debuts on Opening Day weekend. Brito’s obviously was influenced by injury absence, but he demonstrated why the Yankees turned to him over the options in the minors. He wasted no time collecting his first big league strikeout, whiffing leadoff man LaMonte Wade Jr. on four pitches. Known more as a strike-thrower with high groundball rates in the minors, Brito displayed impressive swing-and-miss stuff throughout the outing, finishing the day just one off the whiff tally set by Gerrit Cole in his Opening Day gem.
New York loaded the bases in the first on a leadoff Gleyber Torres single and walks from Anthony Rizzo and Josh Donaldson, but Oswaldo Cabrera struck out to leave them juiced. After a quiet second, it turns out all the lineup needed was a preview of Ross Stripling’s pitches before dialing it in. Judge opened the scoring with a solo shot to left as his blistering Opening Day weekend continues.
After a Rizzo single, Stanton vaporized a first pitch hanging slider 485 feet to dead-center for the second-longest home run of his career.
Homers hit off the batter’s eye at Yankees Stadium are impressive — I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one hit over NYY Steak, much less five rows beyond. Even Kyle Higashioka got in on the fun with a fourth-inning leadoff jack to give the Yankees a 4-0 lead.
By this point, Brito was cruising. He struck out the final two batters of the second before whiffing the side in the third, all on a handful of filthy tailing changeups. The late diving movement of the pitch, paired with his ability to command it to the armside edge of the zone, led him to collect an absurd 50 percent whiff rate with the change (11 on 22 swings).
His fastball showed good life at the top of the zone, but I was most impressed by his ability to locate the curveball on the outside corner facing righties. If he has that pitch working, he has have a real chance of sticking at the major league level.
At 76 pitches through five and without any hiccups since the first, I expected Brito to be sent back out for the sixth, but I can understand wrapping up a win in his first big league start before fatigue settled in. His final line: five innings, no runs, two hits, one walk, and six strikeouts. He joins Deivi García and Luis Gil as recent rookies to log scoreless MLB debuts.
New York added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh, though in far less emphatic fashion than their first four. Anthony Volpe and Gleyber Torres drew leadoff walks and advanced on a double steal, setting Rizzo up to drive the former in on a sac fly. A pair of wild pitches from Giants (and literal giant, at 6-foot-11) reliever Sean Hjelle allowed Torres to advance to third and ultimately home.
The San Francisco offense never really had a chance in this one, their biggest opportunity coming in the sixth when they put runners on second and third against Jimmy Cordero. However, Ron Marinaccio slammed the door on the inning and followed it up by striking out the side in the seventh. Colten Brewer made his Yankees debut, pitching two scoreless innings to wrap up a nearly flawless Yankees victory, 6-0.
Interleague play continues tomorrow with the Yankees welcoming the Phillies to the Bronx for a three-game set. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm EST with Nestor Cortes facing Taijuan Walker. Be sure to join us in the game thread!