New York frittered away a four-run lead and ace CC Sabathia faded in the middle innings, while a new-look bullpen helped serve up a hot start for Kevin Youkilis as the Red Sox took season-opening honors with a 9-7 victory on Sunday at festive Fenway Park.
"It's disappointing," said Yankees captain Derek Jeter. "Any time we score seven runs and CC's on the mound, you've got to like our chances. But they battled back. They have a good team over there, a good offense. We'd have liked to have gotten this one, but we didn't."
What had been a balmy, pleasant evening for the defending World Series champions ultimately soured in the seventh. Chan Ho Park's Yankees debut was dashed by aDustin Pedroia's two-run homer that landed in the Green Monster seats and made it a 7-7 game.
Opening Night notes
|Cozying up to Cody|
|Curtis Granderson became the first Yankee to homer in his first at-bat with the team since Cody Ransom on Aug. 17, 2008, vs. Kansas City.|
|Double your pleasure|
|Brett Gardner is the first Yankee to steal home since Alex Rodriguez on July 31, 2004, vs. Baltimore. That was also the back end of a double steal.|
|Grand debut for Grandy|
|According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson became the first Yanks to go back-to-back on Opening Day since Dave Winfield and Steve Kemp on April 15, 1983.|
|With Sunday's outing, CC Sabathia's career ERA on Opening Day rose to 5.79 (24 earned runs in 37 1/3 innings).|
|With Sunday's loss, the Yankees fell to 62-45-1 on Opening Day, including 28-31 on the road.|
Youkilis chased Park with a double off the left-field wall, his third extra-base hit of the night, and Damaso Marte uncorked a pair of offerings that resulted in a wild pitch and a passed ball to allow Youkilis to scamper home, giving Boston an 8-7 lead.
Park said that he had "missed the location" and that he could learn from the results of getting a pitch too far into Pedroia's happy area, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi was not thrilled with the initial results from his bullpen after a collectively strong Grapefruit League campaign.
"It's not Spring Training anymore, and it all counts," Girardi said. "I know they have a very explosive offense and they can get to you quickly. That's what they did to us tonight."
Engaged in their first Opening Day meeting at Fenway Park since 1985, the Yankees took the early cards against ace Josh Beckett in yet another heavyweight bout, tucking back thoughts that the next comeback might be just a few poor pitches away.
Jorge Posada logged the first hit of the big league season, clanging a second-inning homer off the Pesky Pole in right field, and Curtis Granderson followed with a no-doubt blast that cleared the Red Sox's bullpen -- a memorable result for his first Yankees at-bat.
Taking the mound after Pedro Martinez was warmly received to throw Sunday's ceremonial first pitch, the two aces did not live up to billing, as the Yankees chased Beckett to only faint applause in the fifth.
Bronx vs. Beantown openers
|2010||9-7 L||CC Sabathia||Boston|
|2005||9-2 W||Randy Johnson||New York|
|1992||4-3 W||S. Sanderson||New York|
|1985||9-2 L||Phil Niekro||Boston|
|1973||15-5 L||Mel Stottlemyre||Boston|
|1971||3-1 L||Stan Bahnsen||Boston|
|1970||4-3 L||Mel Stottlemyre||New York|
|1964||4-3 L||Whitey Ford||New York|
|1960||8-4 W||Jim Coates||Boston|
|1959||3-2 W||Bob Turley||New York|
|1958||3-0 W||Don Larsen||Boston|
|1951||5-0 W||Vic Raschi||New York|
|1950||15-10 W||Allie Reynolds||Boston|
|1945||8-4 W||Atley Donald||New York|
|1944||3-0 W||Hank Borowy||Boston|
|1939||2-0 W||Red Ruffing||New York|
|1935||1-0 L||Lefty Gomez||New York|
|1933||4-3 W||Lefty Gomez||New York|
|1931||6-3 W||Red Ruffing||New York|
|1929||7-3 W||George Pipgras||New York|
|1926||12-11 W||Bob Shawkey||Boston|
|1924||2-1 W||Bob Shawkey||Boston|
|1923||4-1 W||Bob Shawkey||New York|
|1919||10-0 L||G. Mogridge||New York *|
|1917||10-3 L||Ray Caldwell||New York *|
|1912||5-3 L||Ray Caldwell||New York **|
|1910||4-4 T||Hippo Vaughn||New York **|
|1906||2-1 W||Jack Chesbro||New York **|
|1904||8-2 W||Jack Chesbro||New York **|
New York's biggest dent against Beckett came in a three-run fourth inning, highlighted by run-scoring hits from Brett Gardner and Jeter that prefaced a daring double steal, with Gardner sliding home headfirst, representing the fifth Yankees run.
But Sabathia also ran out of luck in a 104-pitch effort, making his seventh career Opening Day start and his second with the Yankees. Holding Boston to two runs through five frames, Sabathia lasted just one out more.
"I was behind a lot today," Sabathia said. "I had good stuff early. I just started nibbling a little too much. I had a lead and I should have just thrown it over the plate and said, 'Here it is -- hit it,' instead of trying to pitch a little too much. It hurt me.
"I normally don't do that, especially with a lead. It was just one of those kinds of days today where I lost focus."
Girardi said that he liked Sabathia's chances in the sixth because the left-hander hadn't yet hit 100 pitches, and the manager noted that it had been decided the ace would stay in to face David Ortiz no matter what.
Sabathia was charged with five runs and exited one batter after allowing a two-run triple to Youkilis. His catcher would lament most the offspeed pitches that the bottom of Boston's order got to.
"I thought the changeup was the one that hurt us today," Posada said. "He threw some good ones down, but once or twice around the lineup, the changeups started getting up. He was still throwing the same pitches, attacking the same way, and the changeup started getting up."
The Yankees made one more late push against Boston's bullpen, as Mark Teixeira walked and Alex Rodriguez doubled in the seventh inning off Ramon Ramirez. Hideki Okajima allowed a go-ahead run on Robinson Cano's groundout, then surrendered a Posada single that brought in the seventh Yankees run.
Boston added to its lead in the eighth inning with a run off starter-turned-reliever Joba Chamberlain, and that was plenty for closer Jonathan Papelbon, who fired a scoreless ninth inning around a hit for the save.
Girardi had spoken before the game about how he thought the Yankees' bullpen had an edge over its 2009 counterparts -- the April edition, at least -- because of the group's veteran experience.
That didn't bear in the results on Sunday, particularly with Park and Marte missing locations, but Girardi said that his bullpen couldn't be judged after just nine innings -- and almost four hours -- of season-opening baseball.
"You don't make too much out of one game, either way," Girardi said. "If they had thrown all zeroes, you can't make too much out of it. It's a long season; it's just one game."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.