The Yankees got home runs from Granderson and Mark Teixeira, six solid innings from starting pitcher CC Sabathia and three hitless innings from relievers Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera yesterday at Yankee Stadium.
Granderson’s seventh-inning homer snapped a 3-3 tie for the Yankees, who were playing a home game in March for the first time. The game-time temperature on a windy, overcast afternoon in the Bronx hovered around 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius).
“It was great, except for the weather,” said Granderson, whose status for the game was in question because of a strained oblique muscle. “You’re excited that the season is pushed up, but at the same time its March 31 and you know how the weather can be here in the northeast. We made it through and we got a victory, which was the best thing.”
It was one of six games yesterday, as the major league season began on a Thursday for the first time in 35 years.
Atlanta’s Jason Heyward hit the first home run of the season to lift the Braves to a 2-0 win over the Washington Nationals. Ramon Hernandez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Cincinnati Reds rallied for a 7-6 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Yankees scored three runs in the seventh and eighth innings yesterday to improve their record to 35-14-1 all-time in opening day games at home.
After the Tigers took a 1-0 second-inning lead, Teixeira hit a three-run homer into the second deck in right field in the third to put the Yankees up 3-1. The Yankees’ first baseman had a team-leading 33 homers last season even though he had a .136 batting average in April.
The Tigers rallied to tie on a run-scoring single by Brandon Inge in the fourth inning and a sacrifice fly in the fifth by Miguel Cabrera. Both runs were off Sabathia, who became the first Yankee pitcher to make three straight Opening Day starts since Roger Clemens from 2001 to 2003.
Justin Verlander made his fourth straight Opening Day start for Detroit -- the Tigers’ longest streak since Jack Morris pitched 11 straight openers from 1980 to 1990 -- and gave up three runs over six innings.
Verlander was replaced in the seventh by former Yankees reliever Phil Coke, who surrendered Granderson’s go-ahead homer into the second deck in right field. It was Granderson’s third straight Opening Day homer.
Derek Jeter added a sacrifice fly in the inning and Nick Swisher had a run-scoring single in the eighth.
Chamberlain got the win by pitching a scoreless seventh inning for the Yankees, while Soriano, who signed a three-year, $35 million contract in the offseason, threw a perfect eighth inning. Rivera closed out the Tigers in the ninth for the save.
“It was exactly how you would have drawn it up,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
The Yankees are beginning the season with a seven-game homestand, comprising three games against the Tigers and four against the Minnesota Twins. New York, which next hosts Detroit on April 2, is at home for 13 of its first 16 games this season. The Yankees have the best home record in the majors since opening their new stadium in 2009, at 110-53.
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