The 2011 Yankees appear to be off to a good start after taking two out of three in their opening series against the Detroit Tigers. Here are my thoughts on the series:
1. The Yankee offense was in mid-season form. Nine home-runs were hit, including three by notoriously slow-starter Mark Teixeira. Seeing all the balls leave the park this weekend made me think back to 2009, the first year of the new stadium. I wondered if we were going to have that "problem" again in 2011, until I heard home run totals were up all over the majors this weekend. There also was base-running, including a stolen base by catcher Russell Martin! Manager Joe Girardi has said that the team will be running more this season. I like the versatility this will add to the team.
2. The Bridge To Mariano was up and working. We saw it when game one was shortened to a six inning affair. Chamberlain, Soriano and Rivera pitched the last three innings, wrapping up the 6-3 victory. Many are saying that, because of this, the Yankees have the best bullpen in baseball. I agree.
3. A.J.Burnett had a decent outing. Though he had ear and throat infections and felt, as he put it, "terrible," he was able to get through five innings, including a perilous fifth, in which he held it together, snuffing out a potential Tiger rally and keeping the lead for the Yankees, something he never would have done last season. It stands to reason then, that if he pitched decently with a cold, he should pitch even better without one. I'm looking forward to seeing if this is, indeed, the case later this week.
1. Phil Hughes' velocity kept him from pitching well. He hung out between 87-89 mph, topping out at 91. The Tigers were all over him. What's so alarming about this is that there is no plan or program to fix this problem. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild was quoted on Yankees.com as saying it really "just has to happen naturally." How depressing.
2. Bartolo Colon stunk up the joint. His line: 4IP, 4R, 6H, 1BB, 5SO. A long reliever has to be better than that. He has to keep the opposition from scoring more runs and give his team a chance to come back. Colon didn't do that, and I have very little confidence that he will do it moving forward.
3. Billy Crystal's visit to the YES booth was boring as hell. Out of all the celebrity Yankee fans out there, and there are a lot of them, Billy Crystal is the least interesting of them all. The man stopped being funny years ago. I was tempted to turn the sound down on the TV and listen to none other than John Sterling on the radio. But, I didn't.
4. Speaking of John Sterling, in case you missed it, his home-run call for Russell Martin was, "Russell has muscle!" God-awful.
The Yankees open a four-game series with the Minnesota Twins tonight. We'll get our first look at the back-end of the Yankees rotation as Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia are scheduled to pitch in this series. The Twins lost two out of three to the Blue Jays this past weekend and are now headed to their long-time Bronx chamber of horrors. I'm not counting the Twins out. However, every game they've played with the Yankees is close and I expect nothing but more of the same with them this week. I'll have a look back at the series at the end of the week.