Yankees

Yankees off to the hottest start since 2003, sweep Astros 4-0 in season opener

The New York Yankees finished their initial series of the year on Sunday with a remarkable four-game sweep over the Astros in Houston. This marks their second consecutive sweep against the Astros in Houston, and the Yankees have now triumphed in the last seven games between the two teams. For the first time since 2003, the Yankees have kicked off their season with a 4-0 record, making them one of just four undefeated teams and the last man standing in the AL East.

SotOswaldo is the Yankees duo we never knew we needed

The anticipation of seeing Juan Soto hit ahead of Aaron Judge in the lineup has been mounting since the trade talks started, however, it was not the Captain who made the biggest impact alongside the generational talent in this series.

Soto was everything and more that he was promised to be, going 9-for-17 (.529) with one home run, four RBIs, and four walks. His plate appearances resulted in an incredible .600 OBP and 1.365 OPS. Beyond his offensive prowess, he displayed defensive excellence, making a game-saving assist in game one and showcasing superb movement in right field. His energy among teammates and his demeanor reflect the current clubhouse mood, clearly lifting everyone's spirits.

In addition to Soto, utility player Oswaldo Cabrera arguably stole the show over the weekend, recording New York’s first home run of the year. Initially a fill-in for the injured DJ LeMahieu, Cabrera's exceptional play made it impossible to leave him out of the lineup, despite plans to start newly acquired Jon Berti. Although hitless in the final game, Cabrera hit two home runs and recorded six RBIs overall. This marked a significant improvement from last year when he finished with a batting average of just .211. Through four games, Cabrera is hitting .538, including a four-hit day in game two.

In addition to Cabrera's improved plate approach, Anthony Volpe's standout performance with four hits, including a home run, in three games is also noteworthy. While Cabrera's current stats might not be sustainable, the increased production from the lower lineup spots could be a game-changer for the Yankees, especially in games where Judge, Stanton, and Torres aren't dominant. Last season, the lineup struggled to pickup the slack when Judge was struggling or on the IL. This year's lineup, so far, is looking like it will be less reliant on the power bats of Judge and Stanton.

MLB should rethink snubbing the Yankees bullpen

MLB's preseason bullpen rankings projected the Astros at fourth best while completely overlooking the Yankees. However, this showdown told a different story. Despite having a historically bad season in 2023, the Yankees shined in one area: its bullpen. This strength has continued into the current season, playing a major role in their recent sweep.

On the flip side, the Astros struggled, particularly in their bullpen. Josh Hader, Bryan Abreu, and Ryan Pressly combined for 7.1 innings, giving up nine hits, four walks, and six earned runs. Their bullpen's ERA sits at 6.89, a stark contrast to their starting ERA of 2.66.

After the season opener and 15.1 scoreless innings, the Yankees’ bullpen boasts a 0.00, making them the only team in the league to achieve this feat in the season opener.

Series Summary

Game 1

NYY 5

HOU 4

Win: Jonathan Loaisiga

Save: Clay Holmes

 

Game 2

NYY 7

HOU 1

Win: Luke Weaver

 

Game 3

NYY 5

HOU 3

Win: Marcus Stroman

Save: Clay Holmes

 

Game 4

NYY 4

HOU 3

Win: Nick Burdi

Save: Clay Holmes

What’s next for the Yankees?

The Yankees will travel to Phoenix for a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, starting on Monday. Luis Gil will take the mound for the first game, with Nestor Cortes and Carlos Rodon to follow. They will then return home for their home opener on Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jonna M. Perlinger

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