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The Yankees opened the 2010 season on a good note, hitting back to back home runs to give them a 2-0 lead, which they squandered in the 7th inning and lost to the Boston Red Sox tonight in Fenway Park, 9-7.

CC Sabathia pitched 5.1 innings in his start and his counterpart Josh Beckett struggled, allowing five runs, eight hits, and only struck out one in 4.2 innings. Sabathia had six hits, five runs and four strikeouts.

Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson hit back to back home runs in the second inning, for the first Opening Day back-to-back jacks since 1983. Posada went 3 for 4 on the evening, with two RBIs. That home run was Granderson’s only hit. Robinson Cano came up big tonight, getting two hard-hit balls, going 2 for 5 with one RBI. Everyone in the Yankees’ lineup except Nick Johnson and Mark Teixeira had hits. Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner were the only other Yankees to get multiple hits. Jeter went 2 for 5 and Gardner hit .500 with one RBI.

There was one brilliant play in the fourth inning when a double-steal happened when Jeter dashed for second base and Gardner sped home and stole home from third base. That was a payback for Jacoby Ellsbury stealing home last year. Brilliant play by the Yankees there.

While CC Sabathia did not earn the decision tonight, he was good for the first five innings, but outfield mental errors by Brett Gardner gave the Red Sox an opportunity to tie the game. It was Gardner’s first game in left field, but he definitely acted that way, not making good jumps on the ball and at one point missing the cut off man and throwing it past Jorge Posada at catcher.

Granderson, however, made an excellent back-to-wall catch in the second inning and he may be a nice asset for the Yankees in centerfield. Only the rest of the season will tell if he’s a good fit than he was in Comerica Park.

The Yankees’ bullpen imploded after Sabathia exited. David Robertson entered the game and allowed a hit, but it was Chan Ho Park, formerly of the Phillies, that allowed three runs, giving the Red Sox the advantage. Park earned the loss for the Yankees tonight. Joba Chamberlain entered in the 8th inning and wasn’t effective allowing two hits and walking one while throwing 33 pitches for 1.1 innings.

Yes, the Yankees may have lost tonight, but keep in mind the Yankees lost eight straight to open the season against the Red Sox, but look at who won the World Series last year.

Both teams are off tomorrow, and the second game is on Tuesday and it features AJ Burnett vs. Jon Lester.

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If I had been born and raised in Maryland instead of just living here the past twelve years, I’d be rooting for the team I’m writing a preview of: the Baltimore Orioles.

Twelve straight losing seasons has taken a hit on the once-proud franchise and its fan base. With their glorious stadium opening in 1992, things looked promising with their marquee shortstop-turned-3B superstar Cal Ripken, the Orioles were the team to beat in the AL East in the early 1990s — until Peter Angelos bought the team. Since then, nothing has gone right except for the ability for the team to get high draft picks, and it will pay off dividends this season.

Offense: Angelos finally did something decent and brought in Andy MacPhail to clean up the franchise, and in the years since, I’ve seen the Orioles become a decent team to watch every time I visit Camden Yards. There are several stars on the team to keep an eye out for. The first is Adam Jones. Jones has shown improvement during his first two years in Baltimore. If he stays healthy in 2010 we could see big things from Jones atop the Orioles lineup.

With their No. 7 pick in the 2003 draft the Orioles selected Nick Markakis. Markakis had a stellar 2008. 2009 was an all-around down year for him. It’s unlikely Markakis will have an off season again, so he should anchor the middle of the lineup.

The star of the future is catcher Matt Wieters. When drafted in 2007, he didn’t play until 2008 and that season earned him the top spot in Baseball America’s Top 100 for 2009. The Orioles opened him in AAA but called him up after 163 PA, installing him as their primary catcher. He hit well, though he didn’t quite live up to the considerable hype surrounding him. Watch for him to break out in a big way this season.

Last but not least, Luke Scott is another player to watch. He will primarily fit into the DH role while serving as a back-up outfielder.

Pitching: Admittedly, the pitching rotation is pretty poor for the Orioles, with such young arms. To combat that, the Orioles traded for Kevin Millwood to give them a veteran presence on the mound and in the clubhouse. The O’s have Jeremy Guthrie right behind Millwood to offer a decent 1-2 punch. There are other pitchers to keep an eye on.

One is Brad Bergesen, a fourth-round pick in 2004 and a high school teammate of Phil Hughes,  made great strides in 2008, leading to his call-up in 2009. A comebacker off the shin cut short his 2009 season, but Bergesen has looked good this spring and will slot in behind Guthrie.

The No. 4 overall pick in 2008, Brad Matusz signed late and missed the minor league season. His first full professional season was 2009 and he cracked the Major League rotation. He features an above average fastball, curveball, and slider, and is working on improving his changeup.

The bullpen doesn’t appear strong at all. With Chris Ray gone Jim Johnson will assume the primary setup role. He was excellent in 2008, throwing 68.2 innings and posting a 2.23 ERA. Behind him Mark Hendrickson will be the long man and Koji Uehara will slot in somewhere once he comes back from his hamstring issues.

Prediction: They are at least better than the Blue Jays, but not ready to contend yet. They have two potential top of the rotation arms in the rotation to start the year and then have another who nearly cracked the Opening Day rotation. Beyond that their # 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8 prospects are all pitchers. If they head into next season with Matusz, Bergesen, and Tillman with one or two of those prospects in tow, we could see big things in 2011. As for 2010, unless something big goes wrong that the O’s will climb out of the AL East cellar and finish ahead of the Jays. The Orioles have better hitting and better pitching in the current talent column, and really they have better future talent as well.

81-83, Fourth Place

In the very first live game I watched in Taiwan, Andy Pettitte was overpowering, retiring his first 20 batters before an error spoiled both his perfect game and no-hit bid, as the Yankees defeated the Orioles 5-1.

With the win tonight, Pettitte passed Lefty Gomez for third place on the all-time Yankees wins list with No. 190. Pettitte also improved to 50-19 career in August. His .724 August win percentage stands third best all-time.

Pettitte was ready to finish the seventh without allowing a baserunner, but Jerry Hairston let a two-out grounder slip through his legs for an error.

With his 190th victory with New York, a number bested by only Hall of Famers Whitey Ford (236) and Red Ruffing (231), Pettitte allowed one run and two hits, struck out eight and walked none to improve to 4-0 in his last seven starts. Brian Bruney gave up a walk and a single in the ninth before Mariano Rivera got two outs for his 37th save — and career-best 33rd in a row.

Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie allowed two runs and four hits in six innings. Nick Swisher led off the third with his 22nd homer. New York used successive doubles by Robinson Cano and Swisher to make it 2-0 in the fourth.The Yankees pulled away with a three-run eighth that featured an RBI single by Johnny Damon and a two-run double by Robinson Cano.

AJ Burnett takes the mound on Tuesday night at 7:05pm. It was a good game for me to watch this morning — remember there’s a twelve hour difference between Taiwan and the east coast in the U.S.

For the first time since the All-Star break, the Yankees failed to win a series.  In the final game of their three-game series, the Yankees were beated 7-2 by the Texas Rangers.  Despite 12 strikeouts in 6 innings by AJ Burnett, the Yankees were not able to muster enough offense to win.

The Yankees pitching wasn’t horrible – they only allowed 6 hits.  Unfortunately, three were homers, giving Texas all the offense they needed to soundly beat the Yankees.  Ian Kinsler homered twice for the Rangers, creating 4 RBI.

AJ Burnett bounced back from his horrible start against the Red Sox last weekend with a 6 inning, 2 hit, 3 walk, 12 strikeout performance.  He did allow the 3 run homer by Kinsler in the fourth – but normally the Yankees would score more then 2 runs in the first six innings.  Unfortunately, Burnett was credited with the loss – his fourth of August.

Burnett was on fire in July, earning 4 wins in 5 starts (the Yankees won the fifth game) but that success did not extend to August.  In 6 starts, Burnett is 0-4.  Fortunately, the Yankees won the two games that Burnett was “no decisioned.”

The Yankees now face the Chicago White Sox – a team that beat them 3-games-to-1 in their four game series in Chicago back in July.  Back then, the Yankees were in second place in the AL East and Chicago was in first place in the AL Central.

Since then, the Yankees have improved to 79-48, own a 6-game lead in the AL East and boast the best record in the majors.  They are also an outstanding 28-11 since the break.  Chicago has dropped to 4 games behind Detroit in the AL Central and are 64-64 on the season.  They have also lost 7 of their last 11 games.

Boston is playing the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend.  I think we almost should expect them to win 2 of 3, at least.  To keep the divisional lead, the Yankees will have to make that happen as well.

Last night was a night to remember as the Yankees had a hit and run fest in Fenway Park. Hideki Matsui homered twice and had a career-high seven RBIs, Alex Rodriguez had four hits in a 20-11.

The Yankees scored two runs in the first inning, four in the second, six in the fifth, three in the sixth, one in the seventh and four in the ninth.

Matsui hit three-run homers in the fifth and ninth, giving him 21 for the year, and drove in a run with a groundout in the seventh.

Rodriguez went 4 for 4 after getting just five hits in his previous 25 at-bats. Mark Teixeira and Melky Cabrera had three hits apiece and Teixeira drove in three runs. Derek Jeter went 3 for 6 for his fourth three-hit performance in the last five games and is batting .543 in his last 11 games.

The Yankees led 12-1 before the Red Sox scored three in the bottom of the fifth off Andy Pettitte (10-6).

Jeter doubled in the first, Teixeira walked, Rodriguez singled and Jorge Posada hit a two-run single. In the first, Johnny Damon fouled a ball off his right knee,and left the game in the bottom half with a bruised knee.

Eric Hinske cam in to replace Damon and contributed offensively by doubling in a run in the second before a two-run double by Teixeira and an RBI single by Rodriguez.

Behind stellar offense, Pettitte just needed to keep the Sox at bay. He pitched five innings, allowing 7 hits, 7 runs (5 earned), while walking two and striking out four.

An oversight on this offensive fireworks was the disastrous showing of the bullpen. Brian Bruney pitched 1.1 innings but walked 3 and allowed one hit. Damaso Marte came in for the first time in months for .2 of a inning and struck out one, so he was the minor bright spot. Sergio Mitre was awful in the bottom of the ninth, allowing two home runs to let the Sox bring up their score to 11. This cannot happen on a regular night, but Girardi was probably liberal because of the Yankees’ lead in runs.

Today it’s AJ Burnett against Tazawa at 4:10 p.m.  No matter what happens, the Yankees will leave Beantown with at least a 5.5 game lead, which is still pretty comfortable.

Go Yank-eeees!

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