Through five innings, CC Sabathia appeared on his way to an Opening Night victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
But the Yankees' ace quickly ran into trouble in the sixth, issuing a walk to Dustin Pedroia before Victor Martinez doubled and Kevin Youkilis brought them both home with a triple to cut Boston's deficit to 5-4.
After the Sox tied the game at 5, New York once again jumped ahead at 7-5, only to see the lead disappear another time thanks to poor middle relief by newly acquired Chan Ho Park and always erratic Damaso Marte.
Here are the grades from the defending world champions' 9-7 loss to the Red Sox on Sunday night.
Joe Girardi, Manager: (B) In his first regular-season game wearing No. 28, the skipper called for one of the most aggressive baserunning plays in his two-plus years at the helm.
With two outs and runners at the corners in the fourth, Girardi had Derek Jeter take off for second base and then instructed the speedy Brett Gardner to sprint for home when the catcher threw the ball down to second. It worked and Gardner easily swiped home on the double steal to give the Yanks a 5-1 lead.
With the departure of Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui this offseason, New York can't rely as heavily on home runs in 2010 and will have to continue playing this type of small ball at times.
Derek Jeter, SS: (A) The captain wasted no time getting back to being clutch, driving in a run with a two-out single in the fourth. He added another base hit in the sixth.
But Jeter wasn't the only Yankee picking up two-out hits. As a team in those situations, New York was 9-for-16 with two homers, four RBIs, five runs and three walks.
Nick Johnson, DH: (B) In his first game back in pinstripes, Johnson did what was expected of him: He walked twice.
Mark Teixeira, 1B: (D) It's only one game, but Teixeira is off to a slow start again, going 0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B: (C-) A-Rod doubled and scored in five at-bats.
Robinson Cano, 2B: (A) Cano picked up where he left off in '09, tallying a single and a double with the bases empty, but going 0-for-1 with runners in scoring position. However, he did drive in a run with that ground out, so he got the job done.
In the field, Cano made an outstanding play in the sixth, when he held Youkilis at third on a ground ball by David Ortiz.
Jorge Posada, C: (A-) A great night at the plate and a terrible one behind it. What else is new? Posada went 3-for-4 with a solo homer in the second, but his passed ball in the seventh allowed the winning run to score.
Curtis Granderson, CF: (A-) Granderson's Yankees debut was uneven. He homered to dead center in his first at-bat and made a nice leaping grab in the field, but he failed to get the runner home from third with less than two outs in the fourth and he struck out swinging against a lefty in the fifth, providing further evidence that Granderson can't hit southpaws.
Nick Swisher, RF: (B-) Swisher was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored, but he made the second worst defensive play of the night when he couldn't cut off Youkilis' two-run triple in the sixth.
Brett Gardner, LF: (A-) Another guy with a good night at the plate and a spotty one in the field. Gardner went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a run scored and that steal of home, but he overthrew everyone for an error in the fifth.
Randy Winn, PR-DH: (INC) Winn pinch ran for Johnson in the eighth.
CC Sabathia, SP: (D) The big lefty was solid until the sixth, when he started getting hit hard. He finished the night surrendering five runs on six hits and two walks, while striking out four over 5 1/3. Sabathia threw 58 of his 104 pitches for strikes.
David Robertson, RP: (C-) The hard-throwing right-hander blew the Yanks' first lead, when he allowed Sabathia's final run to score on a single.
Chan Ho Park, RP: (F) The newest Yankees reliever blew the second lead and his ERA currently stands at 27.00.
Damaso Marte, RP: (F) Which is the real Marte: the one who had a 9.45 ERA during the '09 regular season, or the one who shut down the Phillies in the World Series? I'd say the former after his four-ball, one-strike performance on Sunday.
Joba Chamberlain, RP*: (D-)
Yankees Overall Grade: (D+) The lineup was in midseason form, but the pitching and defense failed to impress on Opening Night. Oh, well, 161 more to go.
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Jordan Schwartz is one of Bleacher Report's New York Yankees and College Basketball Featured Columnists. His book Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and authorhouse.com.
Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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