Rays 7 Yankees 6

Okay, mark your calendars, game 1 of 162, inning 1 of (at least) 1,458 and Girardi’s chronic micro-over-managing of his pitching staff has already begun.

Who had the under?

Only five batters into the 2012 season Girardi trotted out to the mound to advise the ace of his staff, CC Sabathia, to issue an intentional walk to Sean Rodriguez, yes thee Sean Rodriguez, and load the bases for Carlos Pena. Who, by the way, has been a “Yankee killer” ever since they cut him back in 2006. Worst case scenario ensued when Pena deposited a 3-2 pitch 428 feet away for a grand slam.

I don’t care if Pena is only 4-35 off CC while Rodriguez is 6-21, you don’t give a free pass to a light-hitting middle infielder with 22 career home runs to face a slugger with 258 career bombs who can hit the ball off any pitcher out of any ballpark. No matter what Girardi’s precious numbers say, you just don’t do that. It’s baseball 101. This is a perfect example of why human beings, and not computers, manage baseball teams. You can’t always go strictly with the numbers. Doing so is a cop-out. Sometimes you just have to let your pitchers pitch.

But despite all that, the Yankees were able to rally and take a 6-4 lead when Raul Ibanez blasted a 3run homer to cap a 4run 3rd inning.

A solo shot in the bottom of the frame off the bat of Evan Longoria made it 6-5.

Fast forward to the bottom of 9th, enter Sandman to close it out and preserve the 6-5 win. Needless to say things didn’t go according to plan. A leadoff single by Desmond Jennings followed by a triple from Ben Zobrist and suddenly its a tie game, save blown with nobody out  and a runner on third. Two intentional walks and a strike out later enter Carlos Pena with the bases loaded, again. This time all he did was hit a game winning single. Ball game over, Tampa Bay 7-Yanks 6.

Mo’s pitches looked flat and he left a couple out over the plate but he’ll be fine. All he did is confirm to me what I already knew after watching  11 runs scored through the first three innings, its still spring training for the pitchers. Rivera said it best in his post game interview, “thank god its only one game.”

Regardless of the blown save, how many games can the Yankees expect to win when they go down 4-0 in the first and the offense goes 2-11 with runners in scoring position stranding 12 men on base? I’d be much more concerned about that and Girardi’s cult-like devotion to “the numbers” then I would be about Mariano Rivera’s performance.

Despite the negative outcome and  bad taste yesterdays game left in the mouth of Yankee fans it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Bronx Bombers. In his Yankee debut DH Raul Ibanez had 4RBI including the aforementioned go ahead home run.

David Robertson worked into and out of trouble in the 8th. Facing a 1st and 3rd, nobody out D-Rob, showing no ill-effects from the preseason foot injury he suffered, struck out two and got Jose Molina to foul out, inexplicably, trying to lay down a bunt with two strikes and hold the one run lead.

And finally, but maybe most importantly, Alex Rodriguez looked healthy and showed good bat speed going 2-3 with a double and also made a few nice plays at third.

All in all it was an ugly game but it was only 1 of 162 so lets keep it in perspective. I’m very interested to watch Hiroki Kuroda make his debut tonight and see how the Yankees respond.

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