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Sabathia, Yankees get off to a bad start in Opening Night loss to Astros
Sure, it could have been worse.
The Yankees could have been shut out, for instance.
And no one got hurt.
The Yankees' season opener, the last of Derek Jeter's career, was a bust, a 6-2 loss to the expected-to-be-lousy Astros Tuesday night in front of a sellout crowd of 42,117 at Minute Maid Park. It was the Yankees' third straight loss on Opening Day.
Here would be a good spot for the obvious interjection for the panic-prone: There are 161 of these to go.
"We're not going to go undefeated, that's the only way you can look at it,'' said Jeter, who went 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch on his left forearm in his first at-bat. "It's one game. The good thing is we come right back tomorrow and play, so you can't put too much stock in one game.''
There were several culprits, starting with CC Sabathia. He's trying to rebound from a career-worst year (14-13, 4.78 ERA), but he didn't come close to doing so, allowing six runs, eight hits and a walk in six innings.
"I just didn't really settle in like I wanted to,'' the 33-year-old lefthander said. "I think that's just the excitement of Opening Day, not trying to get over-amped, and I think I backed off a little too much and was just leaving balls up.''
Sabathia, who allowed two homers in the first two innings, did settle down, pitching four straight scoreless. "I'm not too worried,'' Joe Girardi said of Sabathia, whose much-discussed fastball velocity rarely hit 90 mph.
While Sabathia commanded much of the attention, the Yankees' nonexistent offense against righthander Scott Feldman gave him no chance at a victory.
Feldman, 12-12 with a 3.86 ERA last season with the Cubs and Orioles, held the Yankees hitless until Carlos Beltran's one-out single in the fourth. He faced no threats until the seventh, when he loaded the bases with two outs, but lefthander Kevin Chapman retired Kelly Johnson on a dribbler to the mound.
The Yankees scored twice in the eighth. Feldman walked Jacoby Ellsbury and, after Chad Qualls came on, Jeter singled. RBI singles by Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira made it 6-2.
Teixeira went 2-for-3 with a walk after missing most of last season with a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist.
"You never want to lose Opening Day,'' said Teixeira, adding that he felt good but acknowledging he'll always be dealing with a "new normal'' with the wrist. "But we know we have a group of veteran guys that are going to go out and come back tomorrow and hopefully get a win tomorrow.''
Teixeira credited the young Astros, who got homers from Jesus Guzman, a two-run shot in the four-run first, and L.J. Hoes, a solo blast leading off the second that made it 5-0, for how they swung the bats, as did Jeter.
"They came out swinging, so you have to give them credit,'' Jeter said. "It didn't seem like they were nervous or anything or they had any butterflies. They came out and swung the bats well.''
In the bottom of a sloppy first, Sabathia fell behind leadoff man Dexter Fowler 2-and-0 before he ripped an 89-mph fastball to the grassy incline in dead center for a double. Ellsbury's right calf, which kept him out of spring training for nearly three weeks, was tested as he gave chase. After Fowler went to third on Robbie Grossman's fly to right, Jose Altuve sent a 1-and-2 pitch to left for an RBI single.
With Jason Castro in an 0-and-2 hole, Altuve took off for second. Sabathia's wild pitch dived into the dirt and past McCann, who threw wildly to third when Altuve headed there.
With the infield in, Castro hit a grounder to first, and Teixeira chose not to step on the bag for the easy out, and his low throw home skittered to the backstop, though it looked as if Altuve would have been safe anyway.
"I was trying to break some momentum,'' Teixeira said. "I knew it was a slim chance but I didn't want them going up 2-0 in the first. I took a chance, it just didn't work out.''
Pretty much par for the course in this Yankees' opener.