The New York Yankees didn’t exactly have the best start to their 2015 season, losing two of three to the Toronto Blue Jays at home. The conditions were not ideal in the final two games of the series. The wet, muggy Bronx created sloppy play from both teams. The mistakes eventually cost each team a game. With the arch-rival Boston Red Sox coming to town, the Yankees will need to clean up the mistakes or else Boston’s stacked lineup will take advantage of them.
Masahiro Tanaka got the opening day start for New York and the questions surrounding his fastball, use of velocity and ailing elbow were once again raised after Tanaka pitched only four innings giving up five runs, four of which were earned. Yankees lost another opening day under the regime of Joe Girardi who is now 2-6 in the last eight opening days. The Yankees followed up their opening day stinker with a sloppy come from behind 6-5 win. Their offense, which had only three hits on opening day, managed three hits in the first seven innings on Thursday. Down 3-1 in the eighth the anemic Yankees offense got some help from the Jays sloppy plays. They ended up scoring three runs on three hits, one of which was an infield single, and two hits batsman. Game three of the series did not favor the Yankees again as CC Sabathia struggled in the second inning giving up four runs. The one bright spot was Alex Rodriguez hitting his first home run since 2013.
Tonight, Nathan Eovaldi will make his Yankees debut against new Red Sox pitcher Wade Miley. The Red Sox come in 2-1. Game time is set for 7:00 pm ET. Another cold, wet night in the Bronx could lead to more sloppy play. Here, however, are the three keys for the Yankees to come away with a series win.
1) Can the starting pitching limit the Red Sox offense
Make no mistake, in two of the first three games the Yankees did not get good pitching out their starters. Tanaka and Sabathia each gave up four runs and put the Yankees offense in an early hole which with their ability to hit is hard for them to come back from. Michael Pineda pitched well in his start giving up only two runs but the Yankees offense waited until the eighth inning to come alive. Against Boston, if they fall behind they might not be able to comeback. Eovaldi gets the first crack. He had an excellent spring and his power pitching might be exactly what the Yankees need. The Yankees have yet to score first in a game and that will be huge against this deep Red Sox lineup. It is Eovaldi, Adam Warren and Tanaka’s job to give the offense a chance to get on the board.
2) Can Beltran, Headley and McCann’s bats wake up?
The three, five and six hitters from the Yankees have combined for four hits and seven strikeouts in three games. For a lineup that heavily relies on these veterans, they need to produce more. Now, the rest of the Yankees lineup outside of Jacoby Ellsbury has not done their part either. They are batting below .200 as a team. That will not get it done. It is still very, very early in the season and against the Red Sox mediocre starting rotation it is time for the bats to wake up especially these three. The Yankees will have to score a ton of runs because everyone knows Boston can light up a scoreboard. If Carlos Beltran, Chase Headley and Brian McCann are able to produce the outcome will be a good one for New York.
3) Can the Yankees stop with the mental mistakes
This offseason general manager Brian Cashman and company had a plan to get younger and better defensively. They did just that sure up their defense with Headley and Didi Gregorius on the left side and Stephen Drew and Mark Teixeira on the right. However, that same defense has not played up to par thus far. Headley made a crucial error on opening day opening the flood gates for Toronto. Beltran then made a throwing error yesterday scoring another runner in a tough second inning for Sabathia. Also, Gregorius has made two bad base running decisions in the Yankees losses. With two outs, down by two and runners on first and second with Teixeira up, Gregorius attempted to still third and was thrown out to end the inning. On Thursday. Gregorius smoked a single to center but went for two on the throw, which was cut off and he was thrown out. The mental mistakes have really hurt the Yankees so far this season. They cannot make these mistakes against Boston or they will find themselves once again trying to dig out of a hole.