March 31, 2019

Schadenfreude 246 (A Continuing Series)

George A. King III, Post:
An addition to the Yankees' clubhouse this year is a lighting system mounted on a wall above the entrance that helped turn the clubhouse into a party room on Opening Day.

For the Yankees' sake, that system better be in play Sunday after the way they let the putrid Orioles fly out of Yankee Stadium on Saturday with a 5-3 victory that was witnessed by 42,203 disappointed customers.

Wasted opportunities at the plate early and three errors sprinkled throughout the game made a ninth-inning rally not enough to beat what many believe will be the worst team in the majors this season. ...

Gary Sanchez's error on a throw to second instead of third when the Orioles pulled off a double steal helped the visitors score twice against James Paxton and cop a 2-1 lead. The winners added a run in the seventh against Chad Green, and LeMahieu's throwing error after making a nice stop at third base on Joey Rickard's grounder to start the ninth accounted for one of the two runs in the ninth being unearned. ...

Baltimore starter Nate Karns, who missed all of last season with an elbow problem, walked Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Voit with one out in the first, and it appeared for the second straight game the Yankees were going to ambush the Orioles in the initial frame after scoring three in the first on Opening Day.

But Andujar's hard-hit ball on a 1-0 pitch was fielded by Karns and turned into a killer double play.

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
Entering just the third game of the season, [Aaron] Judge sees the Yankees as having their backs against the wall. ... [W]inning series against rebuilding teams like the Orioles is how the Yankees (1-1) can get an edge against the defending World Series champion Red Sox.

Last season, the Yankees struggled against the Orioles early on and finished 12-7 against them. The Red Sox went 16-3 against Baltimore.

The Red Sox helped themselves win the AL East last season by beating up on the leasts of baseball. They went 66-19 against teams that finished with a losing record. The Yankees went 57-31. ...

[I]t wasn't just the Orioles getting lucky Saturday. The Yankees dug their own holes on defense too.

Gary Sanchez's throw to second on a double steal in the fifth allowed a second run to score that inning. LeMahieu's throwing error in the ninth allowed Joey Rickard to reach and eventually score. Voit also made a throwing error in the third. ...

It may be the first weekend of the season. There are still 160 games to go, but those mistakes and missed opportunities are the things that could haunt them in October.

Ken Davidoff, Post:
When a bottom-of-the-ninth-inning rally fell short at Yankee Stadium, the team found itself on the wrong end of a 5-3 loss to the egregiously awful Orioles, dropping the season record to 1-1. James Paxton's stellar pinstripe debut went for naught as his teammates stranded 11 runners on base, and DJ LeMahieu, also registering his Yankees launch, mitigated his overall impressive showing at third base — his first game there since 2014 — by committing a costly throwing error of his own that led to a pair of Baltimore insurance runs.

So Sanchez hardly operated alone in this loss to this expansion-caliber club on which the Yankees should routinely pound. He stands the highest, however, because of what we know he can do, and what we saw him not do last season. ...

The Orioles had just tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the sixth, Dwight Smith Jr.'s single scoring Jesus Sucre from third and advancing Richie Martin to second, when they tried a double steal with a 1-and-1 count on Trey Mancini. Rather than try to get the lead runner Martin at third, Sanchez fired to second, and his throw fell short and to Gleyber Torres' left, skipping into center field. Martin strolled home for the 2-1 lead that the O's never relinquished. ...

Throw in praise from Paxton for his battery work — "Gary was great back there," the tall lefty said — and hope remains the Kraken will reign.

For the benefit of all Yankees, though, it would be helpful if that unleashing occurred sooner than later.
George A. King III, Post:
Since a drastic drop in velocity during spring training led to stud reliever Dellin Betances undergoing tests that revealed inflammation and an impingement in his right shoulder and landed him on the injured list to start the season, it was impossible to ignore the scoreboard readings for Aroldis Chapman on Opening Day.

The Yankees closer's calling-card four-seam fastball that routinely pushes the speed guns into triple digits averaged 95.3 mph ...

[One] talent evaluator suggested the Yankees might want Chapman, 31, to pitch more than throw as he ages. ... Another scout who viewed Chapman's performance Thursday was in a different pew than the first two.

"I would be a little bit concerned. The velocity is down and he threw more breaking balls than I have ever seen him throw. It is one thing to work on things in spring training, but now the season is here and the velocity is down," the scout said. "It didn't look like the ball was coming out easy. He might not be stretched out, it's early, or it could be he is 31."

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