Quick Thoughts –Yankees/Rays Opening Day 2012

As you likely know by now, the Rays defeated the Yankees 7-6 in Tampa this afternoon.  I live blogged the game (which you can see here), but now that Game 1 of 162 is in the books, we can sit back and reflect on what we saw.  A few thoughts on Opening Day 2012:

  1. First things First – CC Sabathia struggled and Mariano Rivera blew a save.  I have little to no concern about either pitcher.  Rough days happen – Sabathia struggled with his fastball command and took 3 innings to find the feel on his slider.  Rivera’s leadoff single by Desmond Jennings went up the middle just out of Derek Jeter’s grasp.
  2. The over managing was absurd by both skippers.  In the 2nd inning, Joe Girardi  intentionally walked Sean Rodriguez (career 229/307/367) in favor of Carlos Pena, who promptly went yard against Sabathia.  Joe Maddon used 7 pitchers, including at one point replacing right handed Wade Davis with right handed Blake Badenhop.  He also twice called for a suicide squeeze with two strikes and runners on the corners – Jose Molina missed the first sign, and foul/struck out on the 2nd.  C’mon managers, let’s play baseball, not try to make Tony LaRussa’s heart flutter.
  3. Swisher and Tex showing their age?  It is only one game, but Swisher swung at the first pitch I believe in every at bat, while Teixeira’s bat looked slow against a number of hittable fastballs and sliders.  I don’t know which development would be more disturbing if they became a trend – Swisher’s plate discipline has been a calling card and I expect that his walk rate will be around his career norm.  Tex is in the midst of a 4 year trend of declining OPS and at age 32 his bat could be slowing.
  4. In contrast, ARod was youthful.  Two hits at the plate and two diving stops at the hot corner, Rodriguez looked 5 years younger.  After two years struggling with health, it would be nice to see Alex Rodriguez healthy for 140-145 games.
  5. Though they won today, the Rays are vulnerable against LHP.  Luke Scott didn’t start, Matt Joyce took the golden sombrero with 4 strikeouts, and though he homered today Carlos Pena struggles against the southpaws.  When you are hitting Jeff Keppinger and Sean Rodriguez behind Evan Longoria in the 3 hole, it could be a long year.
  6. Fernando Rodney as closer?  When Kyle Farnsworth hit the DL, smart money was on Joel Peralta as closer – however, it was Fernando Rodney that pitched last for the Rays (albeit in a non-save situation).  Rodney showed an easy 95 and a nice little cutter at 90, and struck out Brett Gardner freezing him with an off-speed 3-2 pitch.  Could be a sleeper in the Rays pen…

Hoping for better things tomorrow as Hideki Kuroda takes the mound for his Yankees debut…

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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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