The Yankees won their first game of the season on Wednesday night, 4-3, against the Toronto Blue Jays. Michael Pineda pitched six strong innings while only allowing two runs, but he wasn’t able to get the win because the Yankees were only able to score one run while he was pitching. However, he did use his changeup more than in the past and was able to get out of trouble in the third and fifth innings as he limited the Blue Jays to only one run in each inning.
The Yankees offense finally came alive in the sixth inning after they were not able to figure out R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball in the first five. Brett Gardner hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Jacoby Ellsbury for their first run, and those two will have to be productive while the middle of the order tries to figure out how to hit like they did a few years ago. They added three more runs in the eighth inning as Chris Young, who hit a double to leadoff the inning, scored on a wild pitch, Ellsbury scored after McCann was hit by a wild pitch and Gardner scored on a Chase Headley single.
They didn’t hit for much power but they were able to take what the Blue Jays gave them. They were helped by an intentional walk, two hit by pitches and a wild pitch, but that tends to happen more in the beginning of the season. A positive sign to take out of this game is that Chris Martin is emerging as a reliable arm in the bullpen as he pitched the seventh inning and didn’t allow a base runner for the second consecutive game.
Dellin Betances struggled with his command by allowing two walks, but he was able to rebound by getting Dalton Pompey and Kevin Pillar to ground out to him to end the inning and prevent more than one run from scoring. Andrew Miller picked up his first save and strikeout as a Yankee in the ninth inning.
CC Sabathia will look to give the Yankees their first winning streak of the season when he gets the start for the Yankees on Thursday night in the Bronx. It will be his first start since May 10 of last season after missing the final four months as a result of getting a stem-cell shot in his knee. He finished last season with a 5.28 ERA in eight starts.
Even though his stats were not impressive during spring training, his velocity was much better than it was last season and he said that he felt much better command wise than he did last season. The Yankees need him to pitch like a No. 3 starter this season and not a No. 5 starter. He will be able to do that if he can locate his changeup and consistently throw in the low 90s and occasionally the mid 90s.
Besides last season, Sabathia had made 30 or more starts in six of his previous seven seasons and he is looking forward to doing so again in 2015. He can’t wait to hear the Yankee Stadium crowd again after not pitching in a game since last May.
“I’m excited. Especially getting the chance to pitch at home, first start. It’ll be fun,” Sabathia said before the Yankees’ 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays. “It’s similar, just having a year off and not pitching since May, it’s going to be fun, especially to be home and have that energy.”
“Just playing catch and getting out there throwing the ball out in front. Playing catch these last couple games and throwing a bullpen,” Sabathia said. “I really made sure I could get a feel for my fastball and make sure I can put it in good spots.”
If Sabathia gets lit up in the cold on Thursday night it does not mean that he will not be able to have a bounce back season, but if he can simply allow three runs in six innings that will really help his confidence going forward. A key for him will be locating the inside fastball that Andy Pettitte used to rely on throughout his career.