Victorino leads revamped Red Sox
By the time Brett Gardner fouled out to Will Middlebrooks and ended the game, most of the seats at Yankee Stadium were empty.
On what began as a sunny 62-degree afternoon, the vast majority of the sellout crowd of 49,514 left after New York fell behind or when rain started to fall in the top of the ninth inning.
For the first time since their 1982 start was postponed five days because of a snow storm, the Yankees lost a season opener at home. For the first time since 1961, the Yankees lost a season opener at home by six or more runs.
”It was ugly out there weather-wise. That got the crowd out of it,” Kevin Youkilis said.
Ugly day. Ugly start.
These no-name Yankees hope it’s not an ugly year.
Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox got off quickly in 2013 after their first last-place finish in two decades, giving new manager John Farrell an 8-2 win Monday.
Newcomer Shane Victorino led a revamped Red Sox lineup with three RBIs and Jackie Bradley Jr. walked three times and scored twice in his big league debut. Boston’s big day against CC Sabathia came a year after it lost its first three games under Bobby Valentine and skidded to a 69-93 finish.
”It got kind of raw, in a sense,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
New York’s batting order was filled by Gardner, Robinson Cano, Youkilis, Ichiro Suzuki and a bunch of no-names and castoffs: Eduardo Nunez, Vernon Wells, Jayson Nix, Lyle Overbay and Francisco Cervelli.
A two-run single in the fourth by Cervelli, the No. 9 hitter, was the only production for an offense more Murmurers’ Row than Murderers’ Row without Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez.
”You’re talking about some of the best players in the game. It’s going to be a little different,” Sabathia said. ”But we know what we have to do and who’s not here. That’s not an excuse. We had injuries last year, the year before. We had the guys step up to get the job done. There’s no reason why we can’t do it again this year.”
The missing four stars have combined for 32 All-Star selections, and the Yankees were weakened when Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez departed as free agents. Wells and Ben Francisco began spring training elsewhere.
For the first time in the five-year history of new Yankee Stadium, there were no home runs on opening day.
”Yes, we are a different type of lineup. There’s no doubt about that,” Girardi said. ”We’re not a club that is just going to hit home run. We’re going to have to score runs other ways.”
Sabathia (0-1) dropped to 0-2 with a 7.43 ERA in five opening-day starts with the Yankees, allowing four runs, eight hits and four walks in five innings. Coming off surgery Oct. 25 to remove a bone spur from his left elbow, Sabathia topped out at 91 mph.
”I’m sure the velocity will keep coming back, and the arm strength will keep building up the more I throw,” he said. ”Health-wise I feel fine: elbow, shoulder, everything.”
He gave up four runs in the second inning, when two walks helped set up Juan Iglesias’ run-scoring infield single to shortstop, Victorino’s two-run single and Dustin Pedroia’s RBI single.
Bradley hit a run-scoring comebacker in the seventh against Boone Logan, and the Red Sox added three runs in the ninth off Joba Chamberlain, when Jacoby Ellsbury drove in a pair with a 150-foot single to Cano at second. He didn’t have a play at first, then fumbled the ball before making an offline throw home. Victorino then singled in the final run.
Lester (1-0) gave up two runs and five hits in five innings against the defending AL East champions, who have reached the playoffs 17 times in 18 years.
”It’s big,” Lester said. ”It’s obviously a lot nicer than the past couple of years to be on top 1-0 instead of going through a whole road trip without a win again.”
New York has not won a game since Jeter was helped off the field with a broken ankle during the AL championship series opener last October.
Already, Yankees fans are worried.
”We brought some guys in later into camp,” Girardi said. ”They’re going to get a lot of opportunities here, and we’re going to need them to perform.”
Youkilis went 1 for 4 with a double in his Yankees debut, but was part of the fizzled seventh. After Andrew Miller walked his first two batters, he struck out Nunez, Cano and Youkilis in order, with Youkilis slamming his helmet in disgust.
After helping the Red Sox win World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, he’s now playing for their biggest rival.
”I think we’re making it more than it is,” he said. ”I go out there and play. I don’t sit down and stare at my uniform all game.”
NOTES: Teixeira, recovering from a partially torn tendon sheath in his right wrist, said he has been given permission by his doctors to remove the brace, except when he works out. He hopes to return in May. … Mariano Rivera received the biggest cheers during pregame introductions, and the Bleacher Creatures chanted his name after the starting lineup during Roll Call. … With increased use of tablets, the Yankees have removed the individual computers that were installed in the home clubhouse when the stadium was built.