It’s opening day at the ballpark. Barely a cloud in the sky. Perfect view of the Manhattan skyline. The opponent is the Brooklyn Cyclones. Everything you could ask for at the beginning of a Staten Island Yankees season. Let’s hope this weather is an indication of how this season will go…clear sailing.
Starting for the Staten Island Yankees tonight was top prospect, Matt Sauer. Rarely have the Staten Island Yankees been able to hand the ball off to a starter with this much polish at the beginning of the season.
Sauer started the game off with a strikeout, making the lead-off hitter look off balance after swinging and missing. After walking the next batter, he started to get a little wild, having trouble locating his fastball in the zone. To end the first inning, Sauer was able to pick off the runner at second, ending any chance for a rally.
In the top of the first, the Yankees led off with second baseman Jesus Bastidas, who grounded out to short, after batting to an 8-pitch at-bat. Hitting second, shortstop Eduardo Torrealba destroyed a 1-1 pitch to the left-center gap, easily reaching second with a double. Left fielder Canaan Smith was the next batter. After getting into a full-count, Smith reached on an error by the shortstop, advancing Torrealba to third. Clean-up hitter Junior Soto came to the plate next. After extending the at-bat to a 2-2 count, the center fielder grounded out into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play. The takeaway from this half inning was how patient the Staten Island batters were, bringing the Brooklyn Starting pitcher to 22 pitches, even though only four batters appeared in the inning.
Sauer continued to struggle with his command in the second inning. With one-out, Sauer was bailed out by Shortstop Eduardo Torrealba, who made a highlight diving grab to his right side.
Third Baseman Andres Chapparo did his best job to reenact Torrealba’s double from the first inning, driving a 1-0 pitch to the left-center gap. Just like in the first inning, Chapparo would not score in the inning. Chaparro was the only player tonight with multiple hits.
“He is a guy that prepares well. He has a plan when he gets out there,” said Yankees manager Lino Diaz, “and that’s why he gets the results he gets. He’s a guy that works very hard, not only on offense but also on defense. I can only tell you good things about him.”
In the bottom of the third, Jesus Bastidas took a 4-pitch walk, which already followed a full count, 7-pitch at-bat. This patient hitter then took second on a wild pitch, only to later be caught in a rundown, leaning too far off second base.
Matt Sauer went for six no-hit innings tonight. He struggled some during the early parts of the game, not being able to control his fastball in the zone. As the innings went along, Sauer started to pitch more economically, including a 7- pitch inning. Over a stretch of time, Sauer got into a rhythm in the middle innings. Between the end of the 3rd, and into the 5th, there was a stretch of 6 out of 8 batters who faced three pitches or less.
It did not look like Matt Sauer had his best stuff today. His fastball was sitting in the 90-92 range, with some late life. Sauer was able to use his curveball effectively, especially in situations where he needed a strike. His third pitch, a changeup, which is a pitch he has been working on in extended spring training, is still a work in progress and was used in fewer pressure situations. Even without everything working perfectly, Sauer was still dominant tonight.
In the top of the 7th Inning, Relief Pitcher Chase Hodson was handed the ball. After recording the first out, a bleeding ground ball snuck through the right side of the infield. Hodson would surrender the lead in the seventh, but eventually, get credited with the win after pitching the seventh and eighth innings.
Eric Wagaman led off the bottom of the 7th with a double up the left-field line. Wagaman would then advance to third on an Andres Chapparo fly out to left. To tie the game, Wagaman would later score on a balk, which was the first run of the season for the Staten Island Yankees. This run tied the score at 1.
Designated Hitter Fredrick Cuevas stepped to the plate in the 7th inning. After getting to a 2-2 count, Cuevas drove a ball to straightaway center field, clearing the wall next to the centerfield eye black. This home run was the first for the Staten Island Yankees this season, and would eventually be the game-winning run.
The Staten Island Yankees would add an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth after Canaan Smith doubled to score Jesus Bastidas.
Garrett Mundell was given the ball for the 9th inning. Mundell gave up 1 hit and had 1 strikeout. After speaking with Manager Lino Diaz, Mundell is a prime target to be the Staten Island Yankees Closer.
There were a couple of new faces to the team since media day. One such player is Rashad Crawford. When asked directly about Crawford, Manager Lino Diaz said the following:
“He is a guy that has a little bit of experience, and anytime you get that kind of player around your players, it is always a positive impact on the team. They see a veteran, a guy that is still young, but he knows how to play the game. He has been in major league camp, so definitely a positive influence on the rest of the guys.”
The Staten Island Yankees will make their way across the Verrazano Bridge, and play in Brooklyn tomorrow. Starting for the Yankees will be Alex Mauricio. Game time is at 6:30 pm.