Live Blog — Yanks at Rays, Opening Day 2012

Welcome to Opening Day 2012 — Since I have the day off, we’ll be live blogging the Yankees opener in pursuit of their 28th World Series title…

3:12 — Nice at bat by Jeter as he works the count full and rips a line drive back through the box.  All feels right with the world.

3:15 — Lou Piniella in the Yankees booth, trying to count the number of times home plate umpire has ejected him, saying it’s one or two.  I’m willing to bet it is higher than that, Lou…

3:16 — Shields seems to be throwing a lot of straight changes trying to punch Granderson out early . . . comes back with FB and barely misses under Granderson’s hands at 1-2.

3:17 — Granderson rips the 2-2 offering after a couple of ball balls, but right into a shifted Sean Rodriguez for an easy 6-3 DP.  Shields pitch count approaching 20 so desperately needed that.

3:20 — easy chopper to first and the side is retired, CC Sabathia takes the hill in the bottom of the 1st.

3:21 — Rays announced lineup includes Jeff Keppinger hitting cleanup.  #uhohontheraysplayoffchances.

3:24 — nice AB by Jennings, working back from 1-2 for a walk.  CC missing up and away with the last two fastballs.

3:25 – Ben Zobrist first pitch hacking scalds a line drive to dead center, good running catch by Granderson.

3:26 — CC again strugging a bit with command early, falls behind 2-0 to Longoria, who jumps on the 2-0 offering with a single through the hole into LF.

3:27 — “Yankees suck” wafting up from the stands.  Could it be there are more Rays fans than Yanks in Tampa today?

3:29 — with the runners going, Keppinger bounces softly to SS.

3:29 — Bottom of the 1st and we’ve got our first visit to the mound, 2 outs and 2nd and 3rd, Girardi out to discuss pitching to Sean Rodriguez.  Decision made to walk Rodriguez intentionally to pitch to Pena with the bases loaded.  I don’t know what is more annoying, IBB in the 1st, or IBB to Sean Rodriguez.

3:31 — and now 2-0 on Pena.  Perfect.

3:31 — 2-0 fastball knee high middle in.  What were you looking for Carlos?

3:32 — 3-1 offering ripped foul, full count and the runners will be off…

3:33 — Carlos Pena turns on a high fastball and destroys it up into the bleachers in right center.  Serves you right Yankees.  Idiotic overmanaging early.

3:38 — And we’re back in the top of the 2nd, because its only opening day my reaction to the Yankees stupid decision is muted.  ARod turns on a 1-1 fastball and drives it into the gap for a double.

3:38 — Shields immediately plunks Teixeira with a fastball.  One of the Yankees recurring themes over the past few years is a lack of protection for its players.  Will CC hit Longoria or Zobrist?

3:41 — Swisher swinging at everything, a slightly concerning sign, but his dribbler up the 1B line moves the runners over.

3:42 — rolling curveball from Shields and Ibanez grounds out to 2B for an RBI is his inaugural at bat in pinstripes

3:42 — Rays shifting Russell Martin like a dead pull hitter, Zobrist at 2B almost behind second.  #JoeMaddonunafraidtopresssmalladvantages.  Cone making a nice point in the booth about how Shields is pitching to the defense with sinkers inside and changeups.

3:44 — the 3-2 pitch gets away from Molina (probably goes as a WP but Molina should have stopped it) and Teixeira comes in to score the 2nd run.  Beautiful baseball being played here in Tampa.

3:45 — Brett Gardner opens 2012 by slashing a line drive into left field, mercifully interrupting Lou Piniella’s interminable discourse on moving runners over

3:46 — Jim Hickey to the mound to talk to James Shields.  That’s 2 mound visits so far and we’re in the top of the 2nd.

3:47 — Jeter up with Tex and Gardner on base.  Odds that Gardner passes Tex on a base hit?  2-1.

3:47 — Shields 2-0 fastball is low, his 40th pitch of the game.  5 hour 9 inning game coming?

3:48 — 4 pitch walk for Jeter, completely uncharacteristic for Shields.

3:49 — but Shields quickly 0-2 on Granderson…

3:50 — and a nice changeup down and away gets Granderson fishing, disaster averted for TB

3:52 — Nice diving stop in the hole by ARod, who gets to his feet and throws out Jose Molina by 30 feet.

3:53 — Surprised to see Matt Joyce getting the start against the LHP — not sure whether that is the plan going forward or just a nod to Opening Day.

3:54 — 2-1 slider from CC to Joyce.  What the hell is going on here?

3:55 — CC sticks with the slider and whiffs Joyce swinging.

3:56 — 1-2 slider to Jennings – CC’s slider is hanging a little, both the one that got Joyce and this to Jennings that was fouled off…

3:58 — Jennings lines the ball right at CC, who knocks it down and throws to first.  CC 45 pitches to get through 2 innings.

3:59 — Flipping around the dials quickly, those old school Orioles caps are hideous.  (No offense, Mr. Palmer).

4:01 — Leading off the 3rd, Robinson Cano bounces a ball into CF for his first hit of the 2012 campaign.

4:01 — ARod jumps all over the first pitch fastball and rips it into left center for another hit, Cano does a nice job going first to third and the Yankees are threatening already.  with two on and none out in the top of the 3rd, this game is turning an hour old.

4:02 — 2-0 to Tex, and Cone making the good point that Shields and Molina are not on the same page re pitch selection.  But, it doesn’t matter as Tex pops up a 2-0 change harmlessly to SS.

4:04 — Swisher also first pitch swinging, fouls it back.  With Shields at 50 pitches and their bullpen a bit depleted, good move?  And . . . second pitch swinging as he chases a changeup in the dirt.

4:05 — Swisher hits a hard ground ball that Carlos Pena spears coming off the bag after holding on ARod, but he wheels and fires in the dirt to home — Cano is safe on the fielders choice.  Given how tough the play was, not sure that Pena made the right decision — go to 2nd for the runner and perhaps there’s a chance to turn 2…

4:08 — Wow, Raul Ibanez sitting on a 3-1 fastball hits a laser beam deep over the fence in RF.  6-4 Yanks.  Its still in the top of the 3rd…I guess all the good pitching ended yesterday.  Either that or Joe West is going to get an earful from one or both of the pitching coaches…

4:11 — There’s soemthing you dont’ see every day -soft line drive to 3B and it bounces off Evan Longoria’s glove.  Lost it in the lights?  Or in the crowd?  Bizarre.  And even more bizarre, Gardner get’s a basehit.  I’m not sure you should be awarded base hits on plays I was expected to make in high school.

4:13 — Shields finally closes out the 3rd with his 64th pitch.  I’d like to tell you this is a good baseball game . . . but it isn’t.

4:16 — 0-2 slider from CC much tighter break and just misses, the 1-2 slider gets Zobrist on a check swing.

4:17 — first pitch to Longoria is another slider, that’s 3 straight…and then CC comes back with a fastball that Longoria deposits in the 10th row.  6-5 Yankees with one out in the bottom of the third. Is this beer league softball?

4:19 — Piniella making the brilliant observation that you don’t know what to expect in baseball. (a) what are you talking about, Longoria mashing a 90 MPH fastball into the seats?   Of all the things I dislike about this game, Piniella in the booth is near the top.  At least I’m not listening to Jon Sterling.

4:20 — two more hits for the Rays and we’re 1st and 2nd with one out.  Jeff Kepppinger is pissed I called him out.  I’m now officially wondering whether either pitcher will make it into the 6th.  CC at 57 pitches.

4:22 — Sabathia got away with one there to Pena, he fouls off a hanging slider to make it 1-2.

4:23 — Another slider up but its good enough to ring Pena up.  Two on and two out.

4:28 — I feel like I can barely keep up, every ball is hard.  Granderson hits a hard grounder into the shift, Cano with another baseknock and ARod strides to the plate having hit two balls hard already today.

4:29 — Shields goes 3-1 and then misses up and in,  he didn’t look like he wanted any part of ARod.  1st and 2nd, one out for Teixeira.

4:30 — Yuck, Tex has always been a disciplined hitter but he’s flailing at the plate today, this doesn’t bode well for a rebound year.  His bat even looks a tad slow.  Here is one time I’m happy that this is a small sample size.

4:32 — Shields’ 80th pitch is a nice fastball (or maybe a cutter) painting the black on the outside corner.  It’ll be up to Swisher to try to cash in.

4:33 — Swisher again hacking at the first pitch.  That might be each AB…

4:33 — First Fangraphs mention by David Cone.  It’s officially baseball season.

4:33 — Swinging bunt by Swisher.  I’m not sure that ball went 20 feet, but good enough.  Bases juiced for Raul Ibanez, Piniella and Cone noticing Swisher was a bit gimpy going down the line…

4:35 — Lot of awkward swings on Shields cutter . . .

4:36 — Yanks strand three, 3.5 in the books and its 6-5 Yanks…

4:38 –Right back to our game, CC goes 2-0 on Jose bleeping Molina.

4:38 — Make that 3-0

4:39 — 3-1 changeup to Molina.  Seriously what is going on?  Misses on the full count and Sabathia gives a leadoff walk to the worst hitter in the American League.

4:40 — Joe West getting into the act clearly missing a 1-0 strike to Matt Joyce…and the Rays bullpen gets busy in the 4th as Wade Davis begins to warm.

4:41 — the Matt Joyce against LHP does not appear to be returning the desired results, at least for Joe Maddon as he flails helplessly at a 1-2 slider.

4:42 — Wow, great sliding catch by Nick Swisher in shallow right center after CC saws Jennings off.  Almost doubled off Molina who was caught in no man’s land.

4:44 — Full count to Zobrist.  I do not want to see Longoria with 2 on …

4:45 — Wow.  Joe West rings up Zobrist with a horrible call on a fastball that missed both low and away.  Mid season form for West.

4:49 — 6-5 Yankees in the top of the 5th, Shields at 94 pitches after getting Martin to chase.  This has to be his last inning.

4:53 — Nice play by a charging Sean Rodriguez to nip Jeter at 1st and Shields is through 5 with 103 pitches.  Would be surprised to see him out for the 6th regardless of what the Yankees do here.

4:56 — As we come back from the break, nice job by the Yes cameras picking up a little bit of a scuffle/disagreement in the dugout between Molina and Shields.  Probably frustration but worth watching if Maddon runs another Catcher out for Shields next start.

4:57 — Longoria lines a ball into center.  He is so much fun to watch.

4:58 — Only increasing my mancrush on Longoria, Keppinger hits a little blooper into Center — looked like Granderson might have a play but Longoria read it off the bat (correctly) and went 1st to 3rd.  Runners on the corners and none out.  Yankees bullpen should be stirring…

4:59 — Overmanaging, Part II.  Joe Maddon calls on Sean Rodriguez to safety squeeze, which results in an easy out.  Keppinger moves up to 2nd on the out.  Brings up Carlos Pena with 1st base open.  Yanks playing the infield back, conceding the tying run.

5:01 — CC’s 1-1 offering hits Pena, but I guess it hit his hands on the bat or something, count moves to 1-2, probably setting up slider away…

5:02 — and the slider away misses…

5:02 — another slider away misses, pitch #90 for CC and the count rolls full.  Elliott Johnson on deck, probably means another sldier down and away…

5:03 — and he does, and Pena chases for strike 3.

5:05 — Elliot Johnson couldn’t have hit that ball harder, but the line drive finds ARod’s glove more than anything and CC escapes, with an assist from Joe Maddon’s ridiculous squeeze play.

5:07 — JP Howell in to start the 6th inning — I guess that takes him out of the closer mix for the moment, and he induces a weak looping line drive from Curtis Granderson for the 1st out.

5:08 — two outs on 5 pitches and Howell’s debut is finished.  Are we really in need of matching up R/L in the 6th inning?  Enter Wade Davis to face ARod…

5:12 — Rays D completely overshifted on the infield, but it doesn’t matter as ARod pops out to SS.

5:15 — Sabathia still on the bump in the bottom of the 6th, pops up Molina for the first out and he is about to cross 100 pitches.

5:17 — Another whiff for Joyce.  Joe Maddon is perhaps the best in the game at squeeezing every possible advantage out of his team, but sending Matt Joyce out to RF against Sabathia looks as bad as we might have expected it to look.

5:18 — OUTSTANDING play by Brett Gardner.  Jennings hooks a rolling slider into the LF corner, Gardner cuts if off, wheels and fires to cut Jennings down trying to stretch a single into a double.   He might be the best defender at any position in baseball.

5:21 — Coming back from break, the replay showing that perhaps Jennings snuck into 2B before Cano applied the tag (to Jennings’ jaw…)

5:24 — Wade Davis appears poised to pitch himself onto the Durham Bulls roster…

5:24 – Swisher swinging 3-0, I just don’t get it.  Davis can’t find the plate and you help him out with a gift.

5:28 — Routine flyout for Ibanez but pretty impressive job to get the barrel to the ball on a fastball up and in.  Joe Maddon again going to the bullpen for a right hander to replace the right handed Wade Davis.

5:30 — Ground ball behind third, another uncharacteristic mishandle for Longoria — this one goes as an E5 and Russell Martin is aboard.  After one pitch, Maddon is back out to the mound again to bring in Jake McGee to face Brett Gardner.  This has officially gotten absurd.  Managers, stand down.

5:35 — McGee walks the bases full, presumably to highlight Maddon’s overmanaging.

5:38 — McGee has a very live arm, he’s sitting at 95 pretty easily and pounding that fastball in on Jeter’s hands.  1-2, bases loaded 2 out.

5:39 — Harmless groundball to short brings us to the 7th inning stretch, 6-5 Yankees.  Would expect us to see the pen here — mix and match 7th, then Soriano/Rivera to close it out.

5:42 — Well, looks like they’ll go Soriano/Robertson to get to Rivera, rather than the other way around.

5:44 — 3B umpire rings up Zobrist – I don’t think Ben is going to have any love lost for this umpiring crew, he’s been on the wrong end of a few close calls this afternoon.

5:46 — Longoria works a walk, he really looks locked in on every pitch.  Monster season brewing early…

5:47 — Holy cow what is going on with Luke Scott’s mutton chops.  Is that Wolverine?

5:49 — 3-1 to Luke Scott.  This has trouble written all over it.

5:50 — Big play — Scott grounds to Teixeira who touches up at first and makes the tough throw over the runner for the 3-6 DP, inning over.

5:53 — McGee stays in for the 8th, I assume we’ll see Joe Maddon after McGee faces Granderson and Cano.  Meanwhile David Robertson warms in the Yankee bullpen.

5:55 — McGee does his job, K’ing Granderson and popping up Cano and Maddon makes the walk from the dugout (again).

5:57 — Joel Peralta is the Rays 6th pitcher of the afternoon, he has been in the discussion about closing for the Rays while Kyle Farnsworth is out, in to face ARod.  Rays infield again overshifted for ARod.

5:59 — Peralta blows a 91 MPH fastball by ARod.  That is somewhat disturbing.

6:00 — I wish someone would tell the woman screaming into the field mike that this is Alex Rodriguez,  not Derek Jeter.

6:00 — ARod walks.  Could we see pitcher #7?  I assume the rays are out of lefties.

6:04 — Good lord, Peralta kind of leaves a splitter up and in the middle of the plate and Joe West decides to pass…

6:06 — Tex’s bat just looks like it’s dragging through the zone, he has missed 4-5 very hittable pitches today.

6:07 — and as soon as I say that, Tex misses the RF foul pole by about 18 inches, long foul ball but we’ll reset the full count

6:08 — Tex works the walk, with an assist to Joe West who should have punched him out on the 1-2 splitter.

6:09 — Swisher again flails at the 1st pitch splitter, he either is not recognizing pitches or has completely revamped his approach to hitting.

6:12 — another full count for Peralta.  He seems to be putting Fernando Rodney into prime position to close for TB

6:13 — Swisher chases ball 4 up and away.  One of the main takeaways for me from this game is Swisher’s lack of plate discipline.  I hope this is not indicative of a new trend.

6:16 — Leading off the top of the 8th, Piniella and Kay involved in an extended discussion of why it would be better to pinch hit Luke Scott for Sean Rodriguez, apparently oblivious to the fact that Luke Scott ended last inning pinch hitting into a double play.

6:18 — David Robertson walks Sean Rodriguez, who OPS’es approximately .670 against RHP, to lead off the 8th in a one run game.  Carlos Pena comes to the plate with none out.

6:21 — Joe West misses yet another pitch, and Carlos Pena promptly follows by going thr other way with a ground ball through what would normally be SS — except Jeter had broken to cover 2nd with Sean Rodriguez going.  Runners on the corners with none out, and Steven Vogt coming to the plate to pinch hit for Elliot Johnson (in what I’m assuming is Vogt’s debut as a major leaguer?)

6:24 — Robertson rings up Vogt with a good fastball.  Welcome to the majors Mr. Vogt.

6:25 — Piniella again wondering about Luke Scott.  You guys are seriously killing me.  Don’t you guys have a scoresheet in front of you?  Kay joining him.  Unbelieveable.

6:27 — Wow, Molina fouls off the 1-2 offering, but BOTH runners were going.  Piniella saying squeeze play but no chance with 2 strikes.  Hit and run with a runner on 3rd?  I have no idea what just happened there.  Sean Rodriguez is lucky he didn’t get his head taken off.

6:27 — And AGAIN the runners were going, squeeze in fact was on, and fouls off the bunt attempt for strike 3, runners go back to 1st and 3rd.  The level of overmanaging in this game is ludicrous.  Joe Maddon is reading too many of his press clippings.

6:29 — Robertson again getting ahead, this time 0-2 on Matt Joyce in the midst of a forgettable opening day.

6:31 — Great job by Robertson.  95 MPH on the black punches out Matt Joyce for the 4th time today, and we head to the 9th inning still 6-5 Yankees.

6:34 — Fernando Rodney in to pitch the 9th.  Hard to draw any definitive conclusions but it would appear that Rodney may be the choice to close in the absence of Kyle Farnsworth confounding fantasy baseball owners everywhere.

6:36 — Rodney looking good to start, sitting 95 with the fastball and it looks like 89-90 with a little cutter away to RHBs

6:37 — Rodney saws off Martin after getting Ibanez, two up two down.

6:39 — Long conversation on the mound between Rodney, Molina and Pena.  I can only imagine Rodney is pissed at Joe West’s strike zone behind the plate.  And he’s now 3-0 on Gardner.

6:40 — Bronx cheer for west as he raises his right arm on the 3-0 pitch.  Gardner takes the 3-1 offering as well and now the count is full.

6:41 — Wow.  Rodney pulls the string on 3-2 and freezes Gardner for the 3rd out.  Enter Sandman.

6:44 — And Mo is sitting at 92, 0-2 to Jennings.  I’ve seen this movie before.  I am beyond sad that we’re nearing its end.

6:45 — Of course, as I say that Jennings spanks a 1-2 fastball over the plate into CF for a single.  I expect Zobrist isn’t bunting because that takes the bat out of Longoria’s hand.  Zobrist should be hitting from the right side against Rivera.

6:46 — Zobrist hammers the first pitch into the gap in RCF, and all of a sudden, Mariano looks human.  Winning run 90 feet away with none out.  Clearly you put Longoria on now, the question will be if you also put Scott on (and I would assume that you do).  Great point by Cone, Rivera slide stepped and got too much of the plate with that pitch.

6:49 — Eduardo Nunez coming in to replace Swisher, but play as a 5th infielder.  Does this mean Nunez is officially in the game as a outfielder though? (This is very important for one of my fantasy baseball leagues).

6:52 – Horrible at bat by Sean Rodriguez.  Got Rivera 3-1, then swung at ball four before swinging through the 3-2 cutter.  One down, but the Yankees are sticking with 5 infielders rather than playing for two.

6:53 — Joe West has been generous with the strikes against LHB down and away…and Rivera stays right there to see how far outside he can go.

6:54 — Ballgame as Carlos Pena shorthops the LF wall.  Rays win 7-6, Rivera blows the save.  Cats and Dogs living together, masss hysteria.

Post game thoughts up shortly.


About Bill Porter

Bill is an aspiring sportswriter (attorney by day) born in Washington DC, raised in New York, and currently living in San Francisco with his wife Kirsten and two spazzy labs, Fletch and Bear. Follow me on Twitter at @wfporter1972
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