- Benjamin Gerstel
Yankees win in extra innings 6-5 to open up their season
After a tumultuous lockdown period, “America’s pastime” is back and out in full swing. The New York Yankees open up their season against their arch nemesis, the Boston Red Sox. It’s one of the most historic rivalries in all of sports, and today’s game lived up to the hype. Those rivalry-like sentiments were felt throughout the game, especially at the beginning, when the Red Sox players were introduced to the crowd with the infamous “Imperial March” theme from Star Wars playing in the background.
While it was playful trolling, the Red Sox seemed to have taken it personal. They started off the game strong, with a three-run first inning. After Enrique Hernández walked, it set up the first run of the game on base for Boston. Rafael Devers was able to send Hernández and himself home, with a 382-foot shot. Martinez then hit a double, which was deep enough to allow Boegarts to score after his single. Verdugo, Story, and Dalbec were all then retired, but not after Boston had already created a 3-0 lead at Yankee Stadium.
With all that entertainment in half an inning, it’s hard to match, but the Yankees were able to create a dent in that lead. Aaron Judge was able to rip a single and get on base. Anthony Rizzo then responded to Devers’s second-deck home run, with a monstrous 414-foot home run of his own. The Yankees managed to score two runs, and bring it to a one-run game by the second inning already. Both teams did a fantastic job cashing in on their runners on base. There were also some defensive highlights throughout the first three innings also. The Yankees pulled off a sweet 5-4-3 double play in the second, and Rizzo had a nice scoop for an out in the top of the third for the Yankees. Aaron Donaldson then launched a slightly misfired rocket at Rizzo, but he was able to scoop another tough bounce that retired Boston in the third. After a five-run first inning, both teams were shut out for the next three straight.
A Giancarlo Stanton solo home-run in the bottom of the fourth inning knotted the game up at three, breaking the offensive drought. It was a vicious, 116.3 mph shot that managed to find its way over Yankee Stadium’s famous W.B. Mason sign in right field. Later on in that inning, with a man already on first, a routine ground ball from Xander Boegarts was misfielded, and the Yankees had an opportunity to gain the lead. With men on first and second, with two outs, Isaiah Kiner Falefa was at the plate, and had an opportunity to give the Yankees their first lead of the day. Unfortunately, he grounded out, as Tevor Story easily stepped on second. Even though those were their first runners left on base, the Yankees still found a way to tie the game after Boston went up 3-0 early.
Chad Green replaced Gerrit Cole at the top of the fifth, after Cole was able to make up for a rough first inning. The Yankees ace was limited with his pitch count, due to a shortened Spring training, and he put up three strikeouts, one walk, four hits and 3 earned runs. He let up one less homer than Nathan Eovoldi, but also had two less strikeouts than the Red Sox starter. After Green let up an early hit, the Yankees defense were able to make another double play after Hernandez hit a soft roller to D.J. Lemahieu, who then stepped on second and then got the out to Rizzo. Devers flew out to finish off Boston’s fifth frame. Through five innings, both teams were still tied 3-3.
To close out the fifth, a Josh Donaldson single slowly rolled its way into the outfield, splitting Bogaerts and Story. As if he were still mad at him from earlier, Eovaldi then launched a pitch at Rizzo, hitting Rizzo right in the wrist. Rizzo went down for an extended period of time, and Yankee fans defended him, by chanting in unison. I won’t repeat what they were chanting, but let’s just say New Yorker’s made it clear how they felt about Eovaldi’s pitch. With just one out, that poor decision gave the Yankees men on first and second, with their cleanup hitter, Giancarlo Stanton up. Sadly, Stanton ultimately struck out but it still left D.J. LeMahieu up, who is another talented hitter. For their best highlight defensively of the day so far after a few errors, Verdugo came up big time for Eovoldi. He made an insane diving catch, which robbed Lemahieu of a multiple-RBI hit that would’ve swung the game entirely. However, he was able to cancel out Eovoldi’s earlier mistake, by making one of the best plays of the day.
Verdugo then picked up an RBI up the middle, to send Boegarts home, after a lead-off double in the sixth inning. This gave Boston their first lead since the third inning. During this time, the Yankees turned to reliever Miguel Castro, who was repping his New York Mets-styled glove in his Yankees debut. He was slotted in during a difficult time in the game, with the Yankees down one and defending men on first and second. With two outs, Castro fell behind the count early 2-0, and then ended up walking Bradley, which filled up the bases for Christian Vasquez. Utilizing his unreal 99 mph sinker and convincing sliders, Castro got Vasquez swinging, leaving Boston with three men on base to end the sixth. With the bases fully congested, Boston could’ve created a huge lead with even a single. However, Castro saved the Yankees, after walking his first batter. In the bottom of the seventh, Verdugo made another highlight play, making a stellar sliding catch after Josh Donaldson hit the ball to left field.
The Yankees continued to fight in the bottom of the eighth inning. D.J. Lamaheiu went yard, to right center, to the absolute elation of the Yankee’s bench and fans. After leaving two men on earlier, when Verdugo made his diving catch, D.J. was able to avenge himself, and he gave the Yankees a shot late in the game. Aroldis Chapman retired Boston in the final frame, giving the Yankees a chance to win in walk off fashion. New York’s superstar Aaron Judge, pleaded his case for a more valuable extension, hitting a clutch double, and putting a runner in scoring position for New York. A questionable first swing at a ball that touched the dirt saw Stanton fall behind in the count, and he struck out swinging leaving two men on base. The game headed into extras, after an indecisive first nine innings.
In extra innings, the “Ghost Runner” rule is in full effect, so the Red Sox began the top of the 10th with a pinch runner on second. A late throw by Gallo wasn’t able to get the pinch runner in time, and Boegarts was able to drive in a run for the Red Sox, for a 5-4 lead. With two men on base, the Yankees turned another double play, and were able to minimize the damage made by Boston. D.J. Lamahieu advanced two runners to second and third, after he grounded out into a fielder’s choice. Aaron Hicks was then walked, and Gleyber Torres stepped in for an epic at bat. Boston walked Hicks to give themselves a chance at a double play. With the game on the line, Torres stepped into the batter's box, and he hit a deep sacrifice fly ball to tie the game at five apiece. Kiner-Falefa then checked a swing on an 0-1 count, but was called for a strike. Down 0-2, he hit a couple foul balls, and let two balls pass by for a valorant at-bat. A strong holdoff on an outside pitch brought it to a full count, but Falefa went down swinging.
In the top of the 11th, Michael King struck out two batters in a row, in his second inning of work, for an impressive outing. He displayed nasty 95-mph sliders, and retired Dalbec on a broken-bat groundball to end the top half. Josh Donaldson, in his first game as a Yankee, then walked off with a hit up the middle, and Yankee stadium exploded. It was a phenomenal game, and after not leading through 11 innings, the Yankees were able to win their first game on opening day with a walk off since 1957. The Yankees fought back all game, and finally managed to beat their rivals 6-5. It’s their sixth walkoff in opening day history and an amazing way for Donaldson to start off his Yankee career. In epic and historic fashion, the Yankees kicked off the season the best way possible.