We should all know by now that games in April don't mean as much as the games in September. There is no division title on the line and no playoff spots still up for grabs. Right now, players are still trying to get their swings down, and we're still trying to figure who's a contender, and who's a pretender.
But no matter how early in the season it is, it's always a big deal to win games when the Yankees and Red Sox are playing each other.
In the first of 18 regular season meets last night in the Bronx, the Yankees triumphed over the Sox, 4-1, in the series opener, thanks to six-plus very solid innings from Michael Pineda, who held Boston to just one run -- a solo homerun by Daniel Nava -- while striking out seven in his Yankee Stadium debut.
There are still three games left to be played in this weekend series, but the Yankees could take one more big step towards accomplishing the sweep by beating the Sox once against tonight at 7:05 pm ET.
One of the biggest storylines coming into the game tonight might not even be something that involves tonight's game directly, rather involving events from last night's match. I'm talking, of course, about the "dirt" on Pineda's hand last night that TV cameras picked up around the 4th inning. The substance, which looked an awful lot like pinetar, was eventually removed before the 5th inning.
When questioned afterwards, Pineda said that it was just dirt. Joe Torre, who is a high-ranking official for MLB, issued a statement today saying that no disciplinary actions would be taken against Pineda because the issue was never made aware to the umpires during the game, but Torre said he plans to talk with the Yankees about it.
(Personal note: I think this whole thing is stupid. Numerous pitchers around the league do thing kind of things, and it's not much of an issue between players, because they know it's going on.)
Tonight's lineup against Boston:
- Derek Jeter SS
- Jacoby Ellsbury CF
- Carlos Beltran RF
- Alfonso Soriano DH
- Francisco Cervelli C
- Yangervis Solarte 3B
- Ichiro Suzuki LF
- Brian Roberts 2B
- Kelly Johnson 1B
Pitching matchup preview: CC Sabathia vs Jon Lester
Tonight's matchup features the two aces for both clubs, Sabathia and Lester. Sabathia has gotten off of a pretty slow start this season, being roughed up in his Opening Day outing against the Houston Astros, but looking a little bit better in his second start of the year, against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Sabathia picked up his first win of the year on Sunday when he gave up four runs on four hits in six innings, as the Yankees beat the Jays 6-4.
"I just thought he was down in the zone," Yankees manager Joe Girardi told MLB.com. "His ball was sinking like it was supposed to. I thought his changeup was good. I thought his slider was good. So I was encouraged."
Lester, however, is still in search of his first win of the season, and will be looking for it night against the Yankees. He's pitched well in both his starts this season, but the Sox's offense has been unable to provide him much run suppose, thus giving him two losses to start the year.
Lester is 0-2, but is ERA is just 2.25.
"Well, he's pitched outstanding the first two starts for us," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Unfortunately, he's pitched on the wrong day, where the offense hasn't been there to pick him up."
Beat the Streak: New pre-game feature here on the site, I'm going to give you my daily Beat the Streak pick, along with the current streak counter. Jacoby Ellsbury cam through for me last night to bump the streak up to 2, so tonight I'm handing the bat to Cervelli to get the job done. Fingers crossed!