Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Yankees Opener A Blast

A-Rod Slam Propels Yankees to 15-2 Rout

The Oakland Athletic probably wished Mother Nature had cooperated last night and it had poured like it was originally called for. The only thing less reliable than the weather was Barry Zito's curveball. Zito's lack of control contributed mightily to the shortest outing, 1 1-3 innings, of his career as the Yankees belted out 17 hits in a 15-2 blowout.

The Yankees threatened in the first after two out walks to Gary Sheffield and Alex Rodriguez, but Jason Giambi struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch. The bottom of the first wasn't much better for Giambi who was charged with an error after not being able to hold a low throw from Rodriguez, allowing the A's Mark Kotsay to reach second with just one out. Randy Johnson struck out Bobby Crosby and got Eric Chavez to fly out to deep right to end the threat.

The wheels completely came off for Zito in the second and the Yankees took full advantage. After inning opening walks to Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams delivered an RBI single for a 1-0 Yankee lead. Jorge Posada beat Eric Chavez to third base on Robinson Cano's sacrifice bunt to load the bases with none out. Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter followed with RBI singles for a 3-0 lead and the bases remained loaded. After Sheffield struck out, Rodriguez waited on a hanging 70 mph curve and slugged it in the left field seats for a grand slam and a 7-0 lead. It also marked the end of the night for Zito who is now 2-8 lifetime against the Yankees with a 5.38 ERA.

That's all the support Johnson would need as he dominated the A's hitters, allowing just 5 hits, walking none, and striking out three in 7 innings of work. Frank Thomas's first at-bat as an Oakland Athletic looked like a lot of his old Chicago White Sox at-bats. Thomas narrowly missed a home run, but 2 pitches later hit a Johnson fastball into the left field seats for career home run number 449.

The Yankees went back to work against Kirk Saarloos in the fourth. Gary Sheffield reached on an error by Bobby Crosby and Alex Rodriguez followed with a single putting runners on first and second with no one out. Jason Giambi followed with an RBI single and then he and Rodriguez scored on Hideki Matsui's 3-run home run.

Rodriguez and Matsui would later add RBI singles and Bernie Williams drove in a second run with a bases loaded walk. The A's added a final run in the ninth off of Ron Villone.


The 15 runs scored by the Yankees were the most for them on opening day since a 19-1 rout of the Washington Senators in 1955. Johnson's 14th opening day start tied him with Walter Johnson, Steve Carlton, and Jack Morris for second all time. Tom Seaver is the career leader with 16 opening day starts. It was Johnson's 264th career win.

Johnny Damon went 3-7 in his Yankee debut with an RBI and two runs scored. Jorge Posada was hit twice by pitches, including getting hit square in the back by former teammate Brad Halsey. Giambi was also hit on the hand. The Yankees did not retaliate, but that could change over the next two games.

Octavio Dotel continued his comeback by throwing 40 pitches off a mound in Tampa, Florida. Aaron Small also threw, but is still experiencing discomfort in his hamstring.

The Yankees celebrate their opening night win (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

No comments:

Post a Comment