CC Sabathia, Yankees fall to Red Sox on Opening Day
The cloud that settled over the Yankees before spring training even started only grew darker on Opening Day.
Their ace didn't have it and their offense unsurprisingly had even less in an 8-2 loss to the Red Sox in front of a Stadium crowd of 49,514 that included managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner.
At least at the start. By the end of the afternoon, one featuring plummeting temperatures, a cold mist and Boston piling it on, only Red Sox fans and Yankees die-hards remained.
"If I'm a fan and it started to rain, I'd run away too,'' said Francisco Cervelli, who produced the Yankees' only two runs with a two-out, two-run single in the fourth. "It was cold.''
Before the game, sun splashed the field, warmed by temperatures in the low 60s, accompanied by optimism appropriate for the time of the year.
"We expect to win, that's the bottom line,'' Joe Girardi said beforehand, speaking of the dire preseason expectations set for his team. "It starts today.''
Instead, the "it'' was what fans have feared all offseason -- a mostly punchless offense, one that struck out 10 times.
"We've got 161 more to go,'' said longtime Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis, who went 1-for-4 in his Yankees debut, including a double, and heard "Youuukkk'' chants most of the day. "There's a lot of games you just throw out the window. Any loss to me is a game I throw out.''
Said Girardi: "It's one game, that's the conclusion I draw from it. I don't make too much of it.''
Girardi sent out a lineup missing Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, all of whom are on the disabled list. A-Rod appeared with his teammates for the first time since ALCS Game 4 last year.
Girardi had his challenges even before players started landing on the DL -- more than 100 home runs departed in the offseason -- and the production from Monday's lineup didn't inspire.
"We're a different type of lineup, there's no doubt about that,'' he said. "We're not a club that is just going to hit home runs. We're going to have to score runs other ways.''
CC Sabathia, never more important to the Yankees than he is this year, had another Opening Day to forget. He entered the afternoon 1-1 with a 5.66 ERA in nine career Opening Day starts, including 0-1 with a 7.48 ERA in four starts with the Yankees, and pitched to those numbers.
Sabathia, roughed up in a 34-pitch, four-run second inning that put his team in a 4-0 hole, made it through five innings, allowing those four runs, eight hits and four of the eight walks given up by five Yankees pitchers. He struck out five.
Boston starter Jon Lester was better in his five innings, allowing two runs and five hits, striking out seven and walking two.
"You always want to pitch well and try to give your team a chance to win,'' Sabathia said, "and I didn't do that today.''
Cervelli saw it another way. "Only four runs,'' he said. "We gotta hit.''
The Red Sox did more of that, collecting 13 hits to the Yankees' six. The key inning was the second, when Sabathia walked two and allowed a run-scoring infield hit by Jose Iglesias, a two-out, two-run single by Shane Victorino and an RBI single by Dustin Pedroia. The Yankees cut the deficit to 4-2 in the fourth when Cervelli delivered a two-out, bases-loaded single, making him 7-for-10 in those situations.
With the Yankees trailing 5-2, Cervelli and Brett Gardner walked to begin the seventh but Eduardo Nuñez, Robinson Cano and Youkilis struck out.
An erratic Joba Chamberlain walked two as the Red Sox scored three in the ninth on Jacoby Ellsbury's two-out, two-run infield single and Victorino's RBI single.
"We had a few chances,'' Cano said. "But after one game, you don't want to put your head down. You have to keep fighting and be ready for Wednesday and put this game behind.''