It was quite the Opening Day for the Yanks yesterday, who are now on pace to score 2,430 runs this year (I'll take the under on that one). We got a glimpse of what the offense is capable of and the pitching was solid.
The offense was obviously good, but what often gets lost in the thick of things was the general well roundedness of the attack. The Yanks scored runs in just about every way imaginable: homeruns, situational hits and walks with the bases loaded. They were patient at the plate - especially when Zito was all over the place - and hit their pitch.
Randy Johnson was better than good but not great; I'd give him a solid 8 out of 10. I personally would have liked to have seen more than 3 K's, but Oakland's lineup is very disciplined and won't needlessly swing at pitches. That's nitpicking on my part though. I had every intention of charting Unit's velocity, but the game was blacked out on ESPN, and the A's broadcast didn't give radar gun readings (what the hell is that about?). Sturtze gave up a hit, but he needed only 12 pitches to get through the 8th. Ron Villone certainly could have done better.
The biggest play of the game for me was Robbie Cano's bunt in the top of the second, it showed that Cano's making an attempt to add more depth to his game, because he was an atrocious bunter last year.
Barry Zito made me look like an idiot after I praised him on this blog and countless comment sections of other blogs. He flat out sucked and will now need to throw 16 consecutive scoreless innings to get his ERA down to 4.00.
One thing that usually flies under everyone's radar in blowout games like last night's is that the Yanks used up a good portion of the A's bullpen. Swingman/vowel aficionado Kirk Saarloos threw 3.1 innings (48 pitches) and likely won't be available again in the series. One time great Yankee Brad Halsey threw 34 pitches in his 1.1 IP, so it's unlikely he'll see action tonight, which leaves Joe Kennedy has the A's only available lefty for tonight's game. Jay Witasick bit the bullet and tossed 51 pitches in his 2 innings - he should be done for the series. Kiko Calero will be a go for tonight if needed, but he needed 22 pitches to get out of 1 inning, so the Yanks have an idea of what he throws.
Oakland has only 3 fresh arms available tonight out the pen (Street, Duchscherer, Kennedy), so if the Yanks do a good job of working the count against Harden (who is prone to high pitch counts) they really could put themselves in a good position for game 3 of the series. Don't expect another one-sided game tonight with Harden going however, if he's on it could make for a long night for Yankee hitters, assuming it doesn't rain.
In minor league news, low Class-A Charleston knows who will be playing for them this year
Three of the top-ten prospects in the New York Yankees organization, as well as six returning players from last season, will highlight the opening day roster for the 2006 Charleston RiverDogs, the Yankees announced Sunday.
Highly-touted outfielders Jose Tabata and Austin Jackson, in addition to young shortstop C.J. Henry, will begin the season in Charleston. The 17-year-old Tabata, ranked by Baseball America as the third-best prospect and the "Best Hitter for Average" in the Yankees organization, batted .314 and stole 22 bases as he helped lead the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Yankees to a championship last summer.
Jackson, a 19-year-old eighth-round draft choice by the Yankees in 2005, will likely patrol centerfield for the RiverDogs this season. Ranked as the fifth-best prospect in the organization by Baseball America, Jackson hit. 304 and did not commit an error in 40 games for the GCL Yanks last summer.
Henry, the Yankees first-round draft choice last June, was named the fourth-best prospect and the "Best Athlete" among all Yankee farmhands by Baseball America. The 19-year-old, who stole 17 bases in 48 games in the GCL last summer, was the Yankees highest first-round selection (17th overall) since 1993.
I look forward to seeing what these 3 will do this year, because Joseph J. Riley Park is very hitter friendly
, especially for right handed hitters, which Tabata, Jackson and Henry all happen to be (305 to LF, 356 to LCF, 386 to CF, 366 to RCF, 337 to RF).