NY Sports Day
Matt Mankiewich

Karpin’s Korner: Sometimes a First Impression Can Leave a Lasting Impression

It was only Opening Day. It’s only the first game. The Mets always win on Opening Day, the Yankees beat up on a much inferior team. You’ve heard all the cliches.

Both teams won their season openers but it’s the way that it was done that is worth noting.

The Mets’ strength is their starting pitching, led by Jacob deGrom who was his usual, brilliant self, despite not having his best stuff. DeGrom may have set an early tone for a Mets season that we know, depends a lot on health.

You can’t deny that last year’s team would have somehow found a way to lose that game.

The moment is never too big for deGrom but his ability to “wiggle out of jams” which is a remarkable trait for any pitcher. The reigning NL Cy Young winner strutted his stuff when he kept the Nationals off the board in the first, third and sixth innings.

The cynics are lamenting the lack of run support for arguably the best pitcher in baseball, but this offense has some real upside.

The work of the bullpen was a huge positive as they were tested right out of the gate.

As I’ve written in this column before, the Divisional games will carry much more importance for the Mets because there are four teams that could win it. Don’t downplay the fact that the opening win came on the road against a Divisional opponent.

The Yankees are going to hit a lot of home runs but they’re going to have to show if they can get the timely hits that eluded them last season.

You won’t be able to get any measure of this Yankee team against the Orioles, who are fielding a team that makes you feel bad for their fans. What was encouraging was Masahiro Tanaka’s performance as the Opening Day starter.

I have to admit, I was not that high on Tanaka when he came to the Yankees but the last few years have impressed me, especially his pitching I-Q. Tanaka still has to get out in front of hitters to be successful because he doesn’t “grind through a game” when he doesn’t have his good stuff. If he falls behind in the count, he’s “meat” for the hitters but the right hander uses his experience and his intellect to set up the opposing hitter and then put him away.

James Paxton is going to have to live up to the billing and the Yankees may have to “piece together” the rest of the starting rotation for awhile and back it up with a strong bullpen. The Yankees are hoping to get Luis Severino back but I’m sure they’ve got a “plan B” if he can’t. If Tanaka can avoid the inconsistencies and the Injured List, he would be a huge asset.

I still think the Yankees are a little short on left handed hitting so Didi Gregorius’ return could be a key to adding some balance to the offense. What was encouraging was how Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton both went to right field for hits to set the stage for Luke Voit’s three-run home run.

An unusual infield fly play caused a lot of confusion during yesterday’s Orioles/Yankees game.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Luke Voit was on second and Miguel Andujar was on first. Gary Sanchez lifted a high fly pop up in front of the plate. An infield fly was called and Orioles catcher Jesus Sucre, despite battling the wind, looked like he would make the catch but he dropped the ball.

Apparently not knowing the rules and that a force play was nullified by the infield fly rule being applied, Andujar took off for second. Orioles third-baseman Rio Ruiz fired to second but Andujar needed to be tagged. Second-baseman Jonathan Villar alertly fired to third to get Voit who was tagged out but neither runner needed to move.

If Voit was safe at third, Andujar would’ve been called out for abandoning the base. After thinking he was forced out, Andujar headed back to the dugout.

You got all that. The play turned into a 5-4-6-4 double play. Sucre does not get an assist because he would’ve been charged with an error if the runners were safe.

LAST LICKS: The Red Sox come to the Bronx three times (2 game, 3 game and 4 game series) while the Yankees are at Fenway just two times (both 4-game series) because the other two Boston home games will be in London at the end of June…..If the first two games are any indication, the Cardinals/Brewers games will be fun to watch. Interesting that they play each other ten times in the first 24 games…..Now that Milwaukee knows they won’t have Corey Knebel this season, will they continue a pursuit of free agent closer Craig Kimbrel. Knebel needs Tommy John surgery on his right elbow


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