Major League Baseball schedule makers gift the big bad Yankees more teams to beat up on to start the season. Next is the Detroit Tigers to enter the buzz saw that is the Yankees lineup. After opening the season against last year’s worst team in baseball, the Baltimore Orioles, who were 11 games worse than the next worse team with a laughable 47-115 record, the Tigers come in after coming off a season two games short of 100 losses. This feels like extended spring practice for the juggernaut Yankees before they face real teams.
Detroit is set to throw out sacrificial lamb, er, Tyson Ross in the series opener. A pitcher signed in the offseason to provide some veteran stability to a club trying to find their way in what seems as a forever rebuild project. The good news is, Ross owns a typically low home rate on his resume. The bad news, it’s the Yankees and it won’t matter in a ballpark where pop fly’s turn to home runs. He’ll be tested, no doubt.
Jordan Zimmermann also gets a crack in the series, who’s actually had some recent success at Yankee Stadium. Over the last two years, he’s run up a 12-inning scoreless streak before that came to a screeching halt in one inning where the Yankees blasted three home runs in an August start. It’s what this Yankees lineup was created to do. However, it was a strong Opening Day start for Zimmermann in Toronto, going perfect through 6 and two-third innings before giving up his first hit of the game.
For the Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka will likely make a start against the Tigers after finally having an Opening Day win. In three previous Opening Day starts, the righthander had a forgettable 0-2 record with a disastrous 9.49 ERA. But with an injury to Severino, he got another opportunity to right his Opening Day struggles. And did just that, earning his first Opening Day win on his forth opportunity, allowing only one earned run through 5 2/3 innings with zero walks and five strikeouts. Quietly, Tanaka has become the Yankees record holder for the most strikeouts by a pitcher in his first five seasons.
These are the teams the Yankees need to beat up on if they wish to surpass the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. Look for them to rake through this three-game set.