Monday, April 7, 2014

Yankees Rise in Opener; Robertson Goes Down

Although the Yankees won their home opener for the sixteenth time since the 1996 opener, which was ironically Jeters' first year as the Yankees every day shortstop, another member of the 2014 Yankees is on the disabled list. David Robertson was placed on the DL due to a grade 1 groin strain. Robertson said he pulled the groin yesterday, but wanted to wait until today to see if he would feel better. Joe Girardi was extra cautious about it and placed the closer on the 15 day disabled list, where he joins Mark Teixeira. The pair may come off the DL at the same time because Teixeira's injury was slightly worse, with his hamstring pull.

Through all of this, the Yankees were still capable to win today's game by a score of 4-2 against the pesky Orioles. Kuroda started the game for the Yankees, and he was successful for the most part, but things began to fall apart in the sixth, signaling Girardi to make a call to the bullpen. Kuroda gave up two runs in 6.1 innings and Matt Thornton along with David Phelps were able to get out of the sixth inning. I was worried with Phelps coming into the game given his struggles so far this year, as he inherited runners on second and third with two outs. The runner at second was the tying run and Phelps managed to get a ground ball from third baseman Jonathan Schoop, who is playing third for the recovering Manny Machado. With Robertson not playing for the next two weeks, Girardi is going with Shawn Kelley as the interim closer. Today, he came on to pitch the ninth with a two run lead and it took him nine pitches to get three outs and to notch the first save of his career. If Kelley pitches this well in all of the save opportunities he receives while Robertson is out, it will be a tough decision for Girardi to make upon Robertson's return to the active roster. Based on merit though, Robertson will have the job by default, as he was supposed to be the closer all along and has not done anything for Girardi to have another pitcher close.

Offensively, the Yankees were patient against Jimenez until they knocked him out of the game in the fifth due to a high pitch count. Their patience scored all of the runs, as one of the runs even scored because of a bases loaded walk to Kelly Johnson in the fifth inning. Ellsbury and Solarte both had RBI singles as they continue to be the Yankees hottest hitters, hitting .360 and .450 respectively. Jeter had a double which was a foot away from being a home run and also grounded into a double play in the third inning that enabled Gardner to score from third base with two outs.

Ivan Nova will try to boost his record to 2-0 tomorrow afternoon as the Yankees go for their third straight win. Wei-Yen Chen will pitch for the Orioles. Chen has been tough against the Yankees in the past but the Bombers usually manage to get to him later in the game, as his pitch count becomes elevated. Brett Gardner has done extremely well against Chen, with a homer and 4 RBI in 9 at bats, hitting .556 against the lefty. Soriano is 3-4 off Chen in his career.

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