Along with bringing Major League Baseball across the pond to London this weekend for two games against the Red Sox, the Yankees are bringing something that apparently is now as American as apple pie:
Manager Aaron Boone made the announcement in an off-hand way on Tuesday when he was asked if he knew who was starting Sunday’s second game of the two-game showcase series and said, “No. TBD. Probably be an opener.”
The opener has certainly been a good-luck charm for the Yankees, who improved to 7-0 this season when using Chad Green for a short stint to start a game in a 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.
Green, who threw two-thirds of an inning in the Yankees’ 10-8 victory on Monday night, started Tuesday night and faced three batters. The righthander retired them all with one strikeout. That was his day’s work.
American audiences may still be wondering what to make of the opener, which was invented by the Tampa Bay Rays, an organization that likes to push the envelope and may soon be embarking on another of baseball’s international adventures.
You remember last week’s guffaw-inducing news that the Rays were given permission by MLB to explore playing half of their schedule in Tampa Bay and the other half in Montreal.
The mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida, where the Rays currently play in front of almost no one, said: “This is getting a bit silly.”
Still, on Tuesday, Rays owner Stu Sternberg continued to push the silliness, which would depend on both cities building new baseball stadiums for half a team apiece.
“This is about Tampa Bay keeping its hometown team and Montreal having one, too,” he said. “I believe strongly in the sister-city concept. We’re asking for open minds.”
(We know plenty of Mets fans who would send their team to another city. Or country.)
MLB is serious about its international sojourns. This is why the Mariners and A’s opened the season in Japan and why the Yankees and Red Sox are playing the first-ever games in Europe at London’s boringly named London Stadium (they don’t have corporate sponsors over there?).
The games were transplanted from Fenway Park. According to MLB, tickets are still available for both games in the soccer stadium, which is being transformed into a temporary baseball field with artificial turf and a 16-foot wall in centerfield that is being dubbed the “little Green Monster,” even though it’s much shorter than the actual Green Monster and in the wrong place.
Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to start Saturday’s opener. For Game 2, Boone could choose CC Sabathia or J.A. Happ, but the indication is that he’ll use Green.
“I think it’d be pretty cool,” Green said. “Just to be able to pitch there is awesome. If that’s something that they’d do, definitely looking forward to it.”
After Green’s 13-pitch performance, the Yankees took a 2-0 lead with back-to-back homers by DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge to start the bottom of the first. Gleyber Torres went deep in the second to make it 3-0. Edwin Encarnacion homered in the eighth.
Winning pitcher Nestor Cortes Jr. came in to start the second and pitched four scoreless innings before allowing a pair of runs in the sixth.
(Why not just start Cortes? Shhhhhh. We don’t ask those questions around here when it’s working.)
Boone is going to use a regular starter in Wednesday’s series finale in James Paxton. Then the Yankees will fly to London and will be off Thursday and Friday.
They are off again Monday before traveling across a different pond -- the East River -- to face the Mets in the Subway Series rematch at Citi Field.
No openers, probably, but no designated hitters, either, because the games are in an NL park. Try explaining that one to the people of London, who just figured out what a DH is. Bloody silly!