Yankee Opener Goes According To Plan

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Yankee Opener Goes According To Plan

When the Yankees traveled to the Winter Meetings, they had one main objective: Break into camp with Joba Chamberlain.

While other youngsters like Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and Melky Cabrera proved to be flexible as trade bait for Johan Santana (not all in the same deal), Chamberlain was never an option for trade.

Coming into Spring Training, the Yankees faced a major question: Start Joba Chamberlain or let him be the set-up man?

The Yankees and Joe Girardi opted to keep Chamberlain away from a starting role and allowed him to work through Spring Training and open the season as Mariano Rivera's set-up man.

Other options included hard-throwing Kyle Farnsworth and journeyman LaTroy Hawkins, but Chamberlain is the knockout punch the Yankees have yearned for in front of Rivera for years.

The plan worked perfectly when the Yankees opened up their final season at Yankee Stadium Tuesday against the Blue Jays.

While it was extremely optimistic, the ideal plan coming out of camp was to have the starting pitcher take a lead through seven innings. From there Chamberlain and Rivera would knock 'em down, essentially creating a seven inning game.

On Tuesday, the Yankees executed that perfectly.

Helped by an Alex Rodriguez RBI double, a Cabrera home run, and a Hideki Matsui RBI groundout, Chien-Ming Wang gracefully pitched his way through seven innings before leaving the game with a 3-2 lead.

Chamberlain then came in for the eighth inning and knocked 'em down as promised.  After surrendering a one-out walk to Alex Rios, the phenom struck out the final two batters he faced to end the inning.

Rivera then picked up his first save of the year with a three-up, three-down performance in the 9th.

Whether or not this optimistic plan continues to work for the Yankees remains to be seen. While their starting pitching has been criticized to start the season, Yankee fans can only hope that Wang has started a contagious trend.

For one day though, the Yankees plan was a wild success.

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