By Rich Mancuso/ thenyextra.com
Aaron Judge said it was different. And it was different this opening night of baseball Friday in the Bronx. Yankees-Red Sox and no fans at the stadium. And to the Yankees, and Judge, no fans does not go with this rivalry.
Under the circumstances, the Yankees went out and won another baseball game and are 5-1 to start a season for the first time since 2003. Yes, this is different when you account for a 60-game season.
And the Yankees 5-1 win was their fourth straight over the Red Sox. They have won nine of their last 10 against the Red Sox since July 28 of last year when the season was normal.
So a long awaited Opening day, rather night in the Bronx, was different. Judge hit a two-run homer in the third to deep right center. No fans rising in the Judges’ chambers for a career high tying third straight game. No roar of a capacity crowd.
But plenty of noise and social distancing were observed in the Yankees dugout. Judge is locked in, and that’s good to see as the future of this abbreviated baseball season is in the hands of how many more COVID outbreaks occur with teams.
Prior to the game, the Yankees honored local healthcare workers that have been on the frontline fighting COVID. Players and coaches banged on metal trays to express their appreciation, and no pun intended to the can banging and signal stealing Houston Astros.
No roar of a crowd. Though, silence, as the Yankees and Red Sox paused to remember General partner and Co-Chairperson Hank Steinbrenner who passed away in April.
Silence and a great rendition of the National Anthem from Yankees radio announcer Suzyn Waldman up in the radio booth. CC Sabathia threw out the first pitch and the only applause came from his former teammates in the dugout.
And what followed was Yankees-Red Sox. The noise of barely coming from the piped in crowd that is heard in every ballpark to provide some atmosphere that goes with the television and radio broadcast.
“But it was definitely a little bit different,” said manager Aaron Boone about his team.
It will be this way at Yankee Stadium as the season quickly enters August. Then there is September. The Yankees this week appear to be locked in for a great run in October, assuming again, that this unusual season progresses.
But the Yankees were hearing all the reports about the outlook and outbreak of more teams temporarily shutting down as baseball is not being played in a bubble. First the Marlins, Phillies, and now the Cardinals and Brewers with games all called due to the Coronavirus outbreak among players and personnel.
This is a global pandemic. The Yankees continue to play baseball until otherwise told, and will go about their business as they did again Friday evening with another win.
Jordan Mntgomery got his first win in more than two years after Tommy John surgery.
“It’s the accumulation of all the hard work and grit to get through it,” he said. “I felt good out there. I’m glad to get that one off my shoulders.”
Gio Urshela and Brett Gardner also hit the ball out of the yard. A normal situation in the Bronx, and Friday night the stadium would have been rocking.
“We knew this place would have been packed,” Judge said. “We were upset about that, but the game still goes on. Life goes on. We just prepared the same way, went out there.
Judge said the Yankees got a “W.” Against the Red Sox that meant another win and this start has this team rolling along. They have also hit the home runs, five of their runs, a team that is locked in and has the early MLB team lead in home runs.
“Being home and in this rivalry you can’t help but notice usually how intense it is at times,” Boone said. “That was missing a little bit, At the same time, it was pretty easy to lock in on what we needed to do.”
Saturday evening the rivalry continues. Masahiro Tanaka, healthy and recovered from a concussion. Boone will have the lineup ready. A healthy team, except forTommy Kahnle in the bullpen as Tommy John surgery awaits the right-hander with a damage to the ulnar collateral ligament.
And their closer, Aroldis Chapman, was negative after two Covid tests and could be in the bullpen by the end of this series.
Yes, it’s normal in the Bronx for the Yankees. Except this series with the Red Sox does have that difference,
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