Thursday, April 8, 2010

Granderson shines in opening series win over Red Sox

In stark contrast to last season when the Yankees lost their first 8 games to Boston, New York took two of three at Fenway and if not for a bullpen collapse in the opener, would've swept the Sox.

Curtis Granderson has made a big splash already, homering in his first at-bat as a Yankee and hitting another last night to put the Yankees ahead for good in the 10th inning. On the other hand, the Yankees' second key offseason acquisition, Nick Johnson, is hitless in nine at-bats but has drawn five walks.

Speaking of walks, the Yanks hit just .255 in the three-game series but registered an on-base percentage of .365 thanks to 16 walks, equal to their number of strikeouts. Yankees batters see so many pitches that Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey threw just 15.2 innings in the series.

The resulting long games (almost 11 hours combined!) also led umpire Joe West to complain about both teams needing to pick up the pace. On multiple occassions batters were not granted timeouts in an effort to speed the games along. If West doesn't like the pace of Yankees-Red Sox, than he shouldn't be the umpire for their games. It's as simple as that.

Besides game one, the Yankees bullpen was excellent in the series allowing just three runs (all in the opener). Considering the shaky starts from C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, this is a very good sign for the Yankees. Their bullpen is viewed as their biggest question mark heading into every season and a strong performance by the relievers, combined with expected success from a deep rotation, will make New York a force to be reckoned with.

The Yankees will need more production out of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, who went a combined 2-for-27 against Boston. Neither is particular worrisome, as Teixeira starts slow every season although I thought that might change this season with Rodriguez protecting him from the start. A-Rod's numbers will look much different after a multi-hit game or two and it's way to early (David Ortiz would agree) to dwell on low batting averages.

The Yanks will head to Tampa for another divisional series on the road and will get to face young guns David Price and Wade Davis. I'd be surprised to see either of those pitchers make it into the sixth inning, as the Yankees will surely try to run up their pitch counts early and force Joe Maddon to go to a weak bullpen sooner than he would like.

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