For the Yankees to have much of a chance this year, they’re going to have to rack up their runs without hitting a bunch of homers.
Their biggest rivals are showing them how its done.
On a bitterly cold Wednesday night in the Bronx, the Red Sox amassed 11 singles and two doubles to beat the Yankees 7-4. In two games, they’ve scored 15 runs without the benefit of a home run, and they’re now 2-0 for the first time since 1999.
Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda already seemed to be in the midst of an off night when he had the top of his fingers grazed by Shane Victorino’s liner through the middle in the top of the second. He remained in, but faced just four more batters, hitting two of them and walking another. He was then removed with an injury with the Yankees down 2-0.
The Red Sox added on from there, scoring four times off Cody Eppley in the third. The Yankees, meanwhile, totaled just one run in seven innings off Clay Buchholz. It was quite a change from the last time they saw him; last October 2, the Yankees torched Buchholz for eight runs in 1 2/3 innings, taking his season ERA from 4.22 to 4.56.
The Yankees did come back with three runs in the eighth on a line-drive homer from Vernon Wells off Alfredo Aceves. Still, it was too little, too late.
The Red Sox went out of their way to improve the clubhouse atmosphere over the winter, and while it’d be rather ridiculous to say that it’s paid off after two games, they have put together a couple of really impressive team efforts. Every Red Sox starter except Will Middlebrooks collected a hit tonight. The seven runs were driven in by six different players and scored by six different players. The one guy to score twice was Jackie Bradley Jr., who picked up his first major league hit when he singled in the sixth.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉