One-by-one, the Yankees walked side-by-side through the middle of the infield. There was no over-the-top celebration, just a standard postgame ritual after the first win of the season.
“It’s nice to shake hands again,” Mark Teixeira said. “In spring training, not many of us are there in the ninth inning to shake hands, so it’s nice to go through the line again.”
Offensively, the Yankees didn’t do many things differently tonight. They scored six runs — same number they scored Friday and Saturday — but some hard-hit balls found holes at the right times, and Ivan Nova made the offensive production hold up with big pitches in big spots.
“It’s good to get the first anything of the season,” Derek Jeter said. “Whether it’s the first hit, the first RBI, first anything – first win. … You don’t want to think about it too long. A lot of guys, when you’re trying to get your first hit, the more days that go by, you start to panic a little bit. It’s a little different In terms of getting a win, because we feel as though we have a good team. But yeah, it’s good to get the first one.”
This was a tied game until a three-run fourth gave the Yankees some breathing room. From there, they pulled away a little bit, and kept potential Orioles rallies from becoming real problems. In other words, they played a winning baseball game. Nothing special, nothing out of the ordinary except that it was the first of the season.
“I thought our guys were pretty loose today, and that’s what I want,” Joe Girardi said. “I want our guys relaxed and playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played. But I’m sure everyone exhaled a little bit.”
• Nice outing by Nova, who struggled with command and consistency in spring training, but put together seven walk-less innings to continue his winning streak. Counting last season, he’s won 13 straight decisions. “You can see what happened last year,” Nova said. “I know last year is last year, but when I get the lead, I feel really good about it. I want to go for the win, so that’s the first thing I put in my mind.”
• This was the 37th four-hit game of Jeter’s career. He has four more five-hit games. Two of his four-hit games have come at Camden Yards. “I just want to be comfortable,” he said. “If you’re comfortable, good things will happen. We’ve only played a couple games, but you want it to continue, and to be comfortable. If I’m comfortable, then I’m confident the success will be there.”
• Russell Martin was laughing about what he called a “yapping session” with Robert Andino at the end of the game. Although Martin wouldn’t come right out and say it, it seemed that Martin might have been accusing Andino of trying to steal signs. He admitted that he said something first. The two shouted at each other a little bit as they went off the field. “Probably maybe a look that I gave him,” Martin said, smiling. “Maybe he didn’t like the way I looked at him or something. I don’t really know. Is this Sherlock Holmes? Are you guys looking for clues and stuff? That’s all I’ve got. I think he was inviting me to a sparring session next offseason, by the way. I don’t know. I’ll get his number. We’ll talk it over later.”
• As for the game itself, here’s Martin on Nova: “He was great. Just located his fastball both sides of the plate, elevated when he needed to, he gets his curveball in there nicely, sprinkled a couple of sliders. He was just in control and getting ahead of hitters and when you do that you’re going to be successful.”
• Nova said he told Freddy Garcia that he expected to be the guy to end the Yankees losing streak. “A lot of times last year, in the same situation, when we had lost a couple games in a row, and I came back and stopped it,” Nova said. “I told Freddy, maybe that’s the day, that I was ready to win. I think that’s what happened. When you’re mentally prepared and ready to do something, it’s easier to do it.”
• Andy Pettitte wound up pitching three innings tonight. He allowed one run on two hits and no walks. He struck out two. “It sounds like he threw a lot of strikes,” Girardi said. “I’ll try to give him a call either later tonight or tomorrow morning to see how he feels, but it sounds encouraging.”
• Pettitte threw 32 pitches, 26 for strikes. Pettitte told the Associated Press that he’s getting an extra day off because he’s been throwing a lot. His next start will be Sunday in Tampa.
• Michael Pineda had the day off today. He did long toss yesterday and will do long toss again tomorrow.
• The Yankees have scored six runs in three of their four games, but they’ve hit just three home runs. Tonight, their only homer was a solo shot. For the most part, they’ve been able to manufacture some offense. “I like that,” Girardi said. “We have speed and we can do some things with this club. We don’t always have to be station to station. Some of the guys are a little bit more station to station than the others, but we do have speed and we can do some things.”
Associated Press photos