Yankees’ Boone to make home managerial debut vs. Rays
NEW YORK — For only the fourth time in the last 26 years, the New York Yankees will introduce a new manager to fans attending their home opener.
From 1976 to 1991, there were nine different managers on Opening Day, but since then Aaron Boone will join Joe Girardi, Joe Torre, and Buck Showalter as the fourth manager to tip his cap to fans in baseline introductions.
That is assuming the game gets played because there is snow in the forecast for Monday morning and cold conditions by the time the Yankees are slated to host the Tampa Bay Rays in their 10th home opener at the current Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees are 5-4 in home openers at the current ballpark but are no strangers to cold weather in those games. Last year’s temperature was 76 degrees, but in 2016 the Yankees lost to the Houston Astros in 36-degree conditions.
Regardless of the weather, Boone is ready to return home nearly five months after being introduced at a crowded press conference to replace Girardi.
The Yankees return home after their new manager made two questionable bullpen decisions in a four-game series at Toronto that ended with Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the Blue Jays.
On Saturday, he brought out Dellin Betances for a second inning only to see him allow two runs. Then Sunday, Boone instructed David Robertson to intentionally walk Josh Donaldson to load the bases for Justin Smoak, who ripped Robertson’s fastball for a grand slam.
“We liked him better against Smoak and I think he felt better with the Smoak matchup,” Boone said. “I’m comfortable with the matchup, just didn’t get it done today.”
Robertson was not the only Yankee to get it done at various points during the first weekend. New York hit six homers and scored 17 times but batted .209 (28-for-134).
“Everything’s magnified in the early days, good and bad,” Boone said.
Giancarlo Stanton, who joins Boone as getting introduced for the first time, hit two homers in the season opener and was 4-for-14 in his first four games. Aaron Judge was 3-for-15 and Gary Sanchez was 1-for-12.
“I feel like it’s a matter of time with him, it’s close,” Boone said of Judge.
The Rays are serving as the visiting team in a Yankee Stadium home opener for the second straight season and fourth time overall.
Tampa Bay heads to New York after scoring nine times and hitting .190 while losing three of four to the Boston Red Sox. The Rays rallied for a 6-4 victory on Thursday but stranded nine in a 2-1 loss on Sunday.
Brad Miller homered in Sunday’s loss and starting pitcher Jake Faria threw 53 pitches in four innings.
Jordan Montgomery, who was 9-7 with a 3.88 ERA in 29 starts as a rookie last season, starts for the Yankees. He made his major league debut on April 12 against Tampa Bay in New York’s second home game.
The left-hander is 1-1 with a 4.73 ERA in three starts vs. Tampa Bay, all at Yankee Stadium. He was 6-3 with a 3.43 ERA in 15 starts at Yankee Stadium and his ratio of 0.77 homers allowed per nine innings in New York is the sixth-lowest by any Yankee with a minimum of 75 innings.
Tampa Bay will use its second “bullpen game” of the season and did not name its starter until after Sunday’s loss. Ultimately, manager Kevin Cash selected Austin Pruitt, who was the winning pitcher after pitching two scoreless innings Thursday.
Pruitt was 7-5 with a 5.31 ERA in 30 appearances as a rookie last season. The right-hander was 2-3 with a 4.19 in eight starts last season and is 0-1 with an 11.74 ERA in five outings (one start) against the Yankees.
Tampa Bay’s other “bullpen game” was Saturday when Andrew Kittredge allowed 3 1/2 innings and Ryan Yarbrough followed with four innings.
“I’ll give a couple cycles through the bullpen day — we don’t rate anything really after one go-round,” Cash told reporters after Saturday’s game.
Last season, the Yankees won 12 of 19 meetings with the Rays, including eight of 10 at home.