When the Yankees decided shifted their offseason focus to the bullpen, it was with games like this in mind. Tied after seven innings, the Yankees were able to role out Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera through the seventh, eighth and ninth. Not one of them allowed a base runner.
“I know my job,” Soriano said. “I know what I have to do.”
The Yankees have seen Chamberlain and Rivera in the past, and although both are always popular topics of discussion, the day was especially significant for Soriano who faced the heart of the Tigers order in an impressive Yankees debut.
Soriano said afterward that he sought out a meeting with Brian Cashman this spring. Friends back home had told Soriano that Cashman didn’t want him on the team, obviously reacting to Cashman’s comments that he wanted the Yankees to focus their spending elsewhere. They met in Cashman’s office, and Soriano said he left that meeting with a better understanding of the situation, confident that the general manager believed in him.
Today he earned that confidence by retiring Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Ryan Raburn.
“It was different (pitching the eighth),” Soriano said. “But when I signed I knew it would be different.”
• One last Soriano note: He said he usually went to the bullpen in the sixth inning last year. This year, he’s been picking Rivera’s brain, and when Rivera said he was heading to the bullpen in the fifth, Soriano went with him. There was no way Soriano was going to leave later than Mo.
• Speaking of Rivera: Why did he go with the high socks? “I just wanted to do it like that,” he said. Fair enough, Mo. Fair enough.
• Curtis Granderson said he wasn’t sure he would be allowed to play today until he talked to Cashman at around 4 p.m. yesterday. Less than 24 hours later he was in center field.
• As for his home run against a left-hander, Granderson said that’s connected to the changes he made last season. “When I got (the moving parts) all aligned, it didn’t matter if it was a lefty or a righty,” he said. “It was just always a little issue of getting everything in the right spot. What Kevin Long and myself decided to do was, hey, lets eliminate some of those things. This is where we want to be, let’s go ahead and get you right there.”
• Russell Martin on Granderson’s catch in the ninth: “That’s an incredible read off the bat,” Martin said. “He might be the only guy who can catch that ball.”
• Speaking of Martin, he joked that he’s on pace for 162 stolen bases this season. Truth is, when he’s been healthy, Martin has run quite a bit for a catcher. He stole 21 bases in 2007, and 18 in 2008. “I like to pick my times,” Martin said. “We’ll see, if my legs stay healthy, I’ll try to get as many as I can.”
• For Brett Gardner, there’s really no such thing as a straight sacrifice bunt. Today he laid down two sac bunts, and although I’m usually on board with the idea that most bunts are a bad idea, I think it’s a little different when the guy bunting has a chance to turn every good bunt into a single. “He’s bunting for base hits there,” Joe Girardi said.
• Why Joba Chamberlain in the seventh inning and not Dave Robertson? “My gut told me to go to Joba,” Girardi said.
• Martin said the cold and wind had an impact on CC Sabathia’s offspeed stuff, but as Girardi said, the Yankees will take six innings, two earned runs every time. “He said he didn’t have any problem (with the weather),” Martin said. “But my hand was freezing.”
• Building on his strong spring training, Alex Rodriguez had a sharp double and two walks. Off the bat, I was positive — positive! — the double was a home run.
• The Yankees are now 63-45-1 all time on Opening Day. They are 35-14-1 at home and 28-31 on the road.
• According to Elias, the Yankees have started the exact same infield and outfield on consecutive Opening Days for the first time since 1926-27 (1B Gehrig, 2B Lazzeri, SS Koenig, 3B Dugan, LF Meusel, CF Combs and RF Ruth).
• Today was the Yankees first ever home game in March. “I’ve been petitioning the league to start in March for years now,” Mark Teixeira said. “Finally they let us start in March because everyone knows about my Aprils.”
Associated Press photos of Rivera, Rodriguez and Mike Mussina