The New York Yankees won their first game of the season last night, 4-2 against the Boston Red Sox. Even though this may have only been the third game of the season, the win was big for the team. It was not only the Yankees’ first win, it was their first lead since the 2012 ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles.
It would be easy to focus on the great pitching of ageless wonder Andy Pettitte, or the first save in Mariano Rivera’s last season, but the Yankees win had bigger stars, ones that will be around for years to come. These young players are important to the success of this season, as well as future seasons in the Bronx.
To say a play in the first inning changed a game is something not often said, but the play Francisco Cervelli made, after he let a ball get by him, did just that. Cervelli’s hustle to nail Shane Victorino at the plate ending the first inning seemed to give the Yankees some life, and it carried over – not only in Cervelli but the entire team.
The play made by Cervelli was incredible, but it was helped by Victorino making a mistake on the basses, a problem he has had since his days in Philadelphia.
What made Victorino think it was a good idea to try scoring from second on a ball that was barely five feet behind Cervelli? That is anyone’s guess, but that play changed the game.
Cervelli carried his great defensive play over to the plate with his seventh inning blast that answered the run scored by the Red Sox in the top half of the inning. This is the type of play the Yankees expected from Cervelli when they decided to make him the starting catcher. Cervelli being able to flip the order for the bigger bats will continue to be needed for the Yankees to score runs.
With the two through five hitters in the Yankee lineup going 2-15 with five strikeouts and not being able to get timely two-out hits, the Yankees needed the younger guys to step up to help Pettitte get his first win of the season.
Before the season, if anyone had suggested the player that would give the Yankees their first lead of the season would be Lyle Overbay, it would have been hard not to laugh. Overbay was brought in for his defense, but it was his timely two-out single that was huge last night. In one swing, he knocked in one-fifth as many runs as he did in the 2012 season.
The second inning of the game last night is what the Yankees need to do all season to have a fighter’s chance in the AL East.
In the second inning with Travis Hafner on first, Eduardo Nunez laced a two-out, deep fly that ended up being a ground-rule double. Nunez’s hit was a break for the Red Sox by going over the wall; otherwise he may have been able to turn that into an easy triple.
The important part of the game – for the first time since late last season, the Yankees got timely two-out hits, which led to runs. This was a problem last season when the Yankees were healthy.
The Yankees won because their young players backed up their veteran starter, and it ended with Rivera getting his first save of his last season in MLB.
This is how this Yankee team needs to play. They need guys like Nunez, who leads the team with a .400BA to step up, along with Cervelli and Overbay. With how teams are playing Robinson Cano, the role-players need to get those big hits.
It is hard to believe one game could help so much, but the Yankees getting to taste victory for the first time was huge for this group. It proved they can win, but with baseball, that happy feeling doesn’t last long.
The Yankees have to get right back to it, with a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers, starting today. At least the team knows they can win, and they have a little confidence – it’s only one win, but it was a much needed win.