The New York Yankees lose 7-6 to the Tampa Bay Rays in a wild Opening Day game

The New York Yankees lost to the Tampa Bay Rays in Tampa Bay this evening by the score of 7-6.  It was a somewhat wild game especially early and late.  CC Sabathia and James Shields started and neither pitched very well.  Sabathia did pitch better after the first inning.  The game ended with Mariano Rivera blowing a save and the Yankees having five infielders in the game.  The game started with a first inning intentional walk to Sean Rodriguez to get to Carlos Pena who hit a grand slam.

Sabathia pitched six innings giving up five runs on eight hits.  He walked three and struck out seven.  Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless inning with a walk and a strikeout, Dave Robertson pitched a scoreless inning with a hit, walk and three strikeouts.  Robertson did his usual Houdini routine putting runners on the corners with no outs but getting out of it.  Rivera took the loss and got charged with a blown save.  He pitched 1/3 of an inning giving up three hits and two runs with two walks although they were both intentional and a strikeout.  Shields really struggled for Tampa Bay giving up six runs, nine hits and three walks in five innings.  He did strike out three.  The Rays used six pitchers out of their bullpen who combined for four innings of shutout baseball.  That is really what won the Rays the game.

Derek Jeter had a hit and drew a walk, Robinson Cano had two hits and Alex Rodriguez had two hits and drew two walks.  Mark Teixeira drew two walks, Nick Swisher had a hit and an RBI and Raul Ibanez had a hit and four RBI in his Yankees debut.  Russell Martin drew a walk and Brett Gardner had two hits and drew a walk.  Rodriguez had a double and Ibanez had a homerun.  The Yankees were 2-11 with runners in scoring position and they left 12 men on base.  The Yankees had chances to extend their lead and didn’t.  That is what really cost them this game.  If they would have had another run or two of cushion at the end, they would of won the game.    Evan Longoria had three hits and drew two walks with an RBI, Carlos Pena had three hits and five RBI.  Ben Zobrist had a triple, Longoria and Pena each had a homerun.  The Rays were 2-11 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.  Longoria made an error.

In the first inning the Rays didn’t waste anytime scoring four runs with a Pena grand slam.  Rodriguez was up before him and Joe Girardi elected to walk him to load the bases.  I disagree with the move simply because it is the first inning of the first game of the season with your ace on the mound.  I think they could of gone after Rodriguez and the whole game may have been different.  The Yankees came back in the second and scored two runs.  Rodriguez doubled and Teixeira was hit by a pitch.  Swisher grounded out moving the runners to second and third with one out.  Ibanez grounded out bringing in one run and Martin walked and a wild pitch by Shields scored the second run.  Gardner singled and Jeter walked.  The Yankees had the bases loaded but Curtis Granderson struck out swinging to end the inning.  Granderson really struggled going 0-5 on the day.  In the third inning Cano and Rodriguez singled to put runners at the corners with no outs.  Teixeira popped out and Swisher reached on a fielders choice scoring a run.  Ibanez hit a three run homerun and it was 6-4 Yankees.  In the bottom of the third inning Longoria hit a solo homerun to make it a 6-5 game.  It would stay this way until the ninth inning.  In the fourth the Yankees had the bases loaded again with two outs but Ibanez grounded out sharply to short to end the inning.  In the seventh inning the Yankees had the bases loaded with two outs again and Jeter grounded out to end the inning.  In the eighth inning the Rays had runners on the corners and no outs and the next three batters struck out.  In the ninth inning Desmond Jennings singled and Ben Zobrist hit an RBI triple to tie the game at six.  The Yankees intentionally walked the next two guys to load the bases with no outs.  Rodriguez struck out swinging and then Pena won the game with an RBI single.

The two teams played a nearly four hour game with a sold out crowd in attendance.  I think most people pick these two as the top two teams in the AL East.  They will play game two of their three game series on Saturday night.  David Price and Hiroki Kuroda will be the starting pitchers.  The Yankees expect to play Eduardo Nunez with the lefty on the mound, Andruw Jones may also play left field with Jeter or Rodriguez being the DH.  This was a very strange game with 11 runs in the first three innings.  Rivera blew a save, the Yankees intentionally walked Rodriguez to load the bases in the first inning.  The Yankees also played five infielders at the end of the game.  This was just game one of 162 should be an interesting season.

Why did the Yankees lose this game??  I think the main reason that they lost is because they didn’t extend their lead when they had a chance.  They had the bases loaded three times after they had a 6-5 lead, granted it was with two outs but they didn’t score any runs.  If they would of gotten one big hit out of those three which would of scored at least one and maybe two runs the game is totally different.  Sabathia is their ace and he didn’t pitch like one especially early on.  Sabathia had been battling fastball command all spring and it wasn’t any different in this game.

I think another reason they lost is because of Girardi overmanaging.  I understand the logic and the stats but sometimes you have to go with your gut.  In the first inning of the first game with your ace on the mound you shouldn’t be walking Rodriguez intentionally to get to Pena who can hurt you with one swing of the bat.  Sabathia didn’t execute a good pitch and just like that it was 4-0 Rays.  If he would of went right at Rodriguez and got him it may have been a totally different game.  Sabathia may have been able to only give up a couple of runs and the Yankees may have never been in danger of losing.

The thing to remember though is it is just the first game of 162.  I know that Yankee fans get aggravated and look to blame anyone, Girardi took a lot of heat in this one but you have to look big picture and relax a little.  It is just the beginning of a long grind, the Yankees will still be one of the best teams in the league and they will win plenty of games this season.

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