Yankees Take Two From Red Sox to Open Season


The Yankees and Red Sox battled it out in the Bronx this past weekend. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The Baby Bombers era is officially over in New York. After running it back with the same young core for five seasons, the New York Yankees switched it up this offseason — they went for experience. The changes were apparent through one series in the Bronx against the team that sent them packing a year ago.

36-year-old Josh Donaldson, the team’s big offseason splash, batted leadoff in all three games versus Boston. Donaldson brings an edge to the team that the Yankees previously lacked, one that doesn’t always show up in the stat sheet. However, on opening day, he was the stat sheet, hitting a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th inning. He is just the third Yankee to hit a walk-off home run in their debut game, and the first Yankee to do so on opening day since 1957. “The [walk-off] is probably gonna stick out, but I think the team win, the team resiliency — it’s going to lead to good things in the future,” said Donaldson. This resilience marks one of the biggest changes from last season. 

The Yankees trailed three runs in game one before they stepped up to the plate. Once Gerrit Cole and the bullpen settled in, the Yankees were able to claw back thanks to some timely homers from Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu, who was the recipient of so much criticism a year ago, could not have started the season stronger when he tied things at four in the bottom of the 8th.

However, what set the tone for a comeback-riddled weekend was Anthony Rizzo’s two-run blast in the bottom half of that first inning. 

While he’s not as popular a name as offseason targets Matt Olson or Freddie Freeman, Rizzo, a 2016 World Series champion, brings a winning mentality to the team. And in three games, he was all over the box score, hitting two homers and driving in six runs. 

He also impacted the team in other ways, as rookie pitcher Ron Marinaccio made his major league debut in game number two. After five straight balls from the anxious rookie, Rizzo walked over to the mound and calmed the right-hander down, who proceeded to get out of the inning unscathed. 

Getting out of the inning was a theme for Yankees relievers all series long, as they needed to step up with the starters not being stretched out due to the shortened spring. They did just that, giving up three total runs in 18 and two-thirds innings. 

They shined particularly strong in game one, going six shutout innings and allowing the bats to wake up. It was the aforementioned Rizzo tying things at two and Stanton continuing his torment of Boston with a two-run homer to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead they would hold on to. 

Stanton, who became the first Yankee to homer in six straight games against the Red Sox, was in the middle of every game. In the one game he failed to homer, he had three hits and drove in a run. “Dating back now, he was in a pretty locked in place,” manager Aaron Boone said. “When ‘G’ gets locked in, that’s what happens.”

Despite his three-hit effort in game three, the Yankees were unable to start their season with a sweep. Just like in games one and two, New York spotted Boston an early lead. Stanton and Rizzo again were in the middle of everything, picking up RBI base hits of their own to knot things at three. Rookie Clarke Schmidt, who replaced Jordan Montgomery in the fourth, kept things at bay besides a solo shot from Bobby Dalbec. 

Unlike in games one and two, this was a deficit the Yankees would not be able to overcome as they left a staggering 29 men left on base in the process. Aaron Judge was unable to win an 11 pitch battle with Jake Diekman in the ninth as the Yankees went down 1-2-3, losing the contest 4-3.

Judge was the hottest topic as always heading into the season, but this time because he and the Yankees were unable to work out a contract extension before the pre-set opening day deadline. Judge has reaffirmed his stance that he will not negotiate during the season as he’s willing to play out this final year of his rookie deal. 

While both game three and the failure of the two parties to reach a contract extension leave a sour taste in the mouths of Yankee fans, their success this weekend can’t be taken for granted. 

The pitching was excellent, the lineup showed fight and a team that lacked a true identity last year has found one through the veterans. 

It’s just three games of a sixth-month marathon, but the Yankees, who started last season losing their first seven games against the Red Sox, appear to be turning a corner in 2022. 

On Monday, the Yankees fell 3-0 to the Toronto Blue Jays but rebounded with a 4-0 victory on Tuesday.