Saturday, April 19, 2014
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GOOD DEBUT: Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr., left, follows through after hitting an RBI groundout as New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli looks on during the seventh inning Monday in New York. Bradley went 0-for-2 with three walks, two runs and one RBI.
No matter the colorful history between the clubs, the reality in 2013 is this: The two teams that have dominated the division for more than a decade enter opening day with considerably less swagger.
Heck, the Yankees played as if they were still trying to get to know each other — and they were, with several March acquisitions.
The Bleacher Creatures’ roll call was loaded with new names because of injuries and the departures of free agents Nick Swisher and Russell Martin.
“We brought some guys in later into camp,” manager Joe Girardi said. “They’re going to get a lot of opportunities here, and we’re going to need them to perform.”
One name the Creatures did include was closer Mariano Rivera, who is coming back from a torn knee ligament and said during spring training he plans to retire at the end of the season.
But he wasn’t needed in this one after Boston jumped out to an early lead. That was enough for Lester, who looked more like the pitcher who won at least 15 games every year from 2008-11 and not the one who went 9-14 last year.
Boston wasn’t at full strength, either. David Ortiz is on the disabled list with sore heels, the first time he was not the Red Sox designated hitter for the opener since Jeremy Giambi in 2003.
The Red Sox had only four players from their opening-day lineup last year starting in this one: Dustin Pedroia, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ellsbury and Lester, making his third consecutive such start.
Even weirder: former gritty Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis was clean-shaved and in Yankees pinstripes.
“I think we’re making it more than it is,” he said. “I go out there and play. I don’t sit down and stare at my uniform all game.”
Making his 10th opening-day start overall, Sabathia settled after the second to allow four runs and eight hits.
Francisco Cervelli, who spent nearly all last season in Triple-A, had a two-run single off Lester in the fourth and made a swift tag on Ellsbury sliding into home plate in the sixth.