New York Yankees: Role Players Carried Team in First Week of the Season

By Nik Swartz
Francisco Cervelli New York Yankees
Rick Osentioski-USA TODAY Sports

After CC Sabathia’s rough Opening Day start, and a week of subpar outings by the pitching staff, the New York Yankees got the start they needed and expect from their ace, in the Yankees 7-0 win over the Detroit Tigers.

Not many gave the Yankees a chance to win, as Sabathia faced all-everything pitcher Justin Verlander.

Sabathia was excellent. It was nice to see that he’s still one of the best pitchers in the game. The bigger story of the game was the Yankees’ lineup against Verlander.

Verlander, who has never started a season 2-0 in his career, had one bad inning, but it was enough to continue his streak of starting the season off without two straight wins. The best part about the second inning was the players who got to Verlander for three runs.

Verlander walked Vernon Wells to start off the second inning. Wells, who has found a home in the Bronx, has done more than anyone had expected him to do so far this season. Wells is the best and most dangerous hitter in the Yankee lineup right now.

With one out in the second inning, the Yankees biggest surprise so far this season, Francisco Cervelli, laced a run scoring double. The inning did not end there, as another role-player stepped up for the Yankees.

Sunday, the role player was Jayson Nix; he jacked a 2-run shot to left scoring Cervelli. That’s all the Yankees needed to avoid the sweep. Now they will try and carry that momentum to Cleveland.

A lot of good happened this week. It shows why the Yankees can be in this race – even with the injuries. The Yankees may be 2-4, but so are the Los Angeles Angels, as well as the team most of baseball figured would win the AL East – the Toronto Blue Jays.

There are a lot of good players in the Yankee dugout.

No one should put much into the first week of the season, but seeing role-players and players that the Yankees needed to come through stepping up should give all Yankee fans a lot of confidence in this team.

The Yankees’ big guns have been cold and the team has won two games. The players the Yankees brought in for the 2013 season have been playing fantastic.

Kevin Youkilis has a .409BA, and early on he looks like the Youkilis who was a Yankee killer for so many years. Wells has been better than anyone could have expected, hitting .294 with two HR and four RBI.

During Sunday’s game, the one inning that Sabathia was close to getting himself into trouble, Cervelli looked like a 10-year veteran when he went out to the mound and calmed down the big man. If there was a Yankee MVP for the first week of the season, it would easily be Cervelli. His defense, hitting and his game calling show he is the player the Yankees knew he was capable of being.

Not to compare this Yankees team to the 1998 Yankees team, but there is one thing they have in common — they both started the season 1-3 and many were not sure what to expect from them.

The 1998 Yankees were a team like no other Yankee team. They always seemed to find a way to win and often it was the role players that stepped up. That team finished with a Yankee franchise record 114 wins, an AL East title and won the World Series.

That’s not to say the 2013 Yankees are close to that team, but they will compete. If the pitching knocks off the rust and pitches like they can, this team could do better than hold on until May when the stars on the DL come back. Not often is a 2-4 team looked at as good, but there are a lot of positives to hang your hat on if you’re the Yankees.

Nik Swartz is a featured columnist for the New York Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @Sweetnesz13 or Google+


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