Its easy to look back at this series and feel frustrated. I think most fans were expecting the Yankees to get at least two wins out of this series. After all, the Orioles weren’t really competition last season and they seemingly did little in the offseason to improve their team.
Plus, the Yankees were starting three of the most dominant pitchers in the AL last season in each game. Well, things didn’t play out the way most of us had hoped but there are still some top notch things about this team so far.
CC Sabathia: Most of the tabloid newspapers were all over Sabathia after his debacle of a start Monday afternoon. I was all over Sabathia after that start too, especially seeing it happen live. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s still way to early to think Sabthia might be following in the footsteps of Randy Johnson and choking as a Yankee.
After all, Sabathia did start the 2008 season 4-8 before he was traded to the Brewers and finished the season on a 13-2 run to acheive a mark of 17-10 and a top 5 finish in the NL CY Young Voting.
Mark Teixeira, Johnny Damon and Captain Clutch: Joe Girardi may have demonstrated his potential genius as a manager. What I thought to be simply a loyalty stunt to make sure Derek Jeter got the first real-live Yankee at-bat at the new Yankee stadium actually turned out to be great management. Jeter has a .429 on-base percentage, while Damon has a .357 OBP this season. Although this arrangement has only produced three runs, the two players have gotten on base a combined 11 times. If Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui hit a little better in the first two games, the Yanks might have had better chances to win due to those extra runs.
Teixiera is a known slow starter. His career April batting average is somewhere below .275. I don’t think it’ll be that bad this season, but we will need Teixeira to rake up some RBI’s, especially with A-Rod out until May.
AJ Burnett: Great start to his season with 6 K’s in 5 and 1/3 innings. He had control of his pitches, throwing 60% for strikes and walking only one.
Nick Swisher: Swish seems to also represent the managerial intelligence of Girardi. Brought on to improve defense at first base and be a back-up option in the outfield, Swish got knocked out of the everyday starting lineup when the Yankees snagged Teixeira. Despite not starting, he has been a big part of the Yankee offense so far. Swish has been 4-6 with two 2B, 1 HR and 5 RBI’s. Swish had a clutch hit in game 1, only to be left hanging on base, and he put the Yankees ahead for good in game 3 with a 2 run HR in the 4th.
It will be interesting to see how Girardi uses Swish in the upcoming weeks. With Hideki Matsui off to a slow start, we might see Swish get some starts at DH if he remains hot.
Robinson Cano: I knew Cano was putting in a lot of work this offseason to get back his hitting form from 2006-2007. I didn’t know he’d get off to this great a start. Compared with the everyday guys that have tallied at least 10 at-bats this season, Cano is leading the team with a .545 average with 1 HR, 3 RBI, and 3 BB. Oh, and he has not struck out once. In 2006 he narrowly missed out on the hitting crown. Maybe he can replicate that effort again.
The Bullpen: These guys have really done a decent job so far, combing for 10 K’s in 11 1/3 innings. The only two runs scored against the bullpen came from a 2-run HR in game 1 off Phil Coke. The best thing about it? We have barely even seen Mariano Rivera. Girardi probably had Rivera pitch an inning in game 3 to keep him from turning into a fossil from lack of use.
And, you know, maybe the Orioles aren’t as bad as we thought.