The Yankees’ opening victory looked as easy as Mike Mussina’s ceremonial first pitch, a languid strike that the retired, gray-goateed 42-year-old tossed to his former battery mate, Jorge Posada.
“It was great to see us, the way we did it,” manager Joe Girardi said on Thursday. “It’s how you draw it up.”
The Yankees pounded two home runs, got six effective innings from CC Sabathia and rode a sterling relief corps to a 6-3 win over Detroit at frigid Yankee Stadium.
Curtis Granderson, who made two spectacular catches in center field despite playing with a sore oblique that nearly sidelined him, also hit the tie-breaking home run to right off left-hander Phil Coke, who came in for Tigers ace Justin Verlander to start the seventh inning.
Mark Teixeira slugged a three-run shot to right in the third off Verlander, who gave up just 14 home runs in 224 1/3 innings pitched last season.
Teixeira, whose awful Aprils have become notorious, was generous with fiery high-fives after the blast, and he beamed while discussing it afterward.
“I’ve been petitioning the league to start in March for years,” said Teixeira, drawing laughter. “Finally they let us start in March, because everyone knows about my Aprils.”
Sabathia gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits before three Yankees relievers locked down the Tigers’ potent lineup.
From Joba Chamberlain (1-0) to new setup man Rafael Soriano to 41-year-old Mariano Rivera, the Yankees faced the minimum during the final three innings.
“That’s how it was designed,” said Rivera, as his possible successor in the closer role, the 31-year-old Soriano, answered questions at the adjacent locker. “We don’t have the strong rotation that we used to have before. ... We get six good innings from the starter and then we take over from there.”
With little drama to examine, questions turned to Rivera’s recent decision to sport old-time knee-high socks with his uniform.
Will Rivera maintain the look all season? “I don’t know,” he said. Then he added, with mock exasperation: “Guys, this is socks!”