By Jon Lane
1:04 p.m. First report from Dunedin, Fla., courtesy of Peter Abraham: Leadoff hitter Brett Gardner blasted Brett Cecil’s second pitch over the right field fence to make it 1-0 Yankees. Stepping up to the plate, Alex Rodriguez was booed loudly and jeered about Madonna and steroids before drawing a walk.
Numbers game: Melky Cabrera now wears Bobby Abreu’s old No. 53. Brett Tomko, today’s starter, took Cabrera’s No. 28.
1:20 p.m. Tomko pitched a 1-2-3 first. Talk about a difference of opinion. This from Mark Feinsand of The New York Daily News: Tomko is “a decent pitcher during his career, and could be a find as a long man. It appears to be between Tomko, Dan Giese and Alfredo Aceves for the spot.” Steven Goldman wrote about Tomko this morning and pulled no punches.
Tomko’s line: two scoreless innings, one hit. Jose Veras in.
1:48 p.m. Tied at 1 after Alex Rios’ sacrifice fly. Veras got into immediate trouble after allowing a double, hit a batsman and threw wild pitch. He’s looking smart for declining the Dominican Republic’s invite to play in the WBC. Spots in the underbelly of the Yankees bullpen will be scarce.
2:05 p.m. A-Rod smacks a two-run homer off Ricky Romero to put the Yankees ahead 3-1 in the top of the fourth. Yankees fans cheer, everyone else boos. One pitch before the blast, writes Feinsand, a fan shouted, “That was a steroid-induced foul ball!”
2:18 p.m. 4-1 Yankees at the end of 3 1/2 thanks to Todd Linden’s RBI single off Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan. This morning, commenting on an earlier entry, The Max touted Linden to start Opening Day in left field. These boys live in an alternate universe, but are a lot of fun.
2:25 p.m. Quick Mets update: Luis Castillo has driven in four runs. Castillo for NL Comeback Player of the Year and Jerry Manuel for Manager of the Year.
2:37 p.m. 6-1 Yankees, bottom 5. A-Rod went 1-for-1 with two walks and two RBIs thanks to that fourth-inning homer. The Bergen Record‘s Pete Caldera gauged a 70-30 cheers-to-boos ratio when Rodriguez stepped up for his final at-bat of the day.
Dan Giese pitched a scoreless fourth, allowing one hit. Hold your breath, Kei Igawa is next in line.
2:49 p.m. Stop the presses! Kei Igawa allowed only a hit in the fifth, striking out one without walking a batter. Igawa = AL COY.
4:02p.m. Yankees win 6-1. David Robertson finished up with two strikeouts and a walk in a scoreless inning. Looks like Robertson and Giese moved up the bullpen pecking order while Veras was knocked down a few pegs.