Nearly seven months after bowing out quietly in the playoffs, the names have changed but the results remained the same.
An injury to Hiroki Kuroda put an early damper on things and the negativity persisted for most of a frigid night as the Yankees fell to 0-2 with an ugly, 7-4 loss to the Red Sox before an announced crowd of mostly 40,216 annoyed customers.
The Yankees have dropped their first two games for the third time in five years and lost their first two games of the season when starting the year at home for the first time since 1982 when they were a 79-win team.
Still, even as they wait for the likes of Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez to return from injuries, the last thing they want to be doing is concerning themselves with holding down the fort.
“I hope people aren’t thinking that way,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Our goal is to win every series because you can’t count on when someone’s coming back. You got to go out and play well. That’s our goal to go out and play well.”
The Yankees haven’t looked good in getting outscored by a 15-6 margin. They are hitting .221 and have posted a 7.50 earned run average while allowing the Red Sox to start the season hitting .329.
“I’m pretty sure we’re going to lose two games in a row,” catcher Chris Stewart said. “Last year we lost three in a row [to start] and we were all right.”
“It’s not unusual to lose two games in a row,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I think it becomes somewhat glaring when it’s the first two of the year but we didn’t start off too good last year either. If I remember the thing turned out OK.”
Kuroda’s night ended at 41 pitches with a contusion on his right middle finger. His night ended after he hit Daniel Nava in the right foot with a fastball with one out in the second.
The Yankees said Kuroda has a bruise and they will determine if he can make his next scheduled start based on how he gets through his bullpen session Friday in Detroit. X-rays were negative.
“It is tough to tell,” Kuroda said through a translator when asked about making his next start. “But, for me, I’m going to try [my hardest] to get ready.”
Kuroda was initially injured four batters earlier when on instinct he put his right hand up in an attempt to grab Shane Victorino’s line drive. After taking a few warm-up tosses, he stayed in the game but he hit rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. and issued a walk to Jacoby Ellsbury.
The score was 2-0 when Kuroda’s night ended but it got a lot worse in the third when the Red Sox scored four more runs all with two out in the third.
Since the Yankees had a lineup that featured just two starters from the last playoff game at Yankee Stadium (Ichiro and Robinson Cano) the deficit seemed a lot worse.
The Yankees avoided getting shut out when Travis Hafner hit his first home run in pinstripes but that qualified for their lone offensive highlight. They wasted first and third with two outs in the opening inning and then went quietly for the remainder of the night.
After knocking out Jon Lester after five innings Monday, the Yankees could not use that as a silver lining last night. Clay Buchholz barely broke a sweat and the Yankees hardly worked the pitch count in seven innings.
The Yankees saw 94 pitches – two fewer than what they saw from Lester. Those fans which remained expressed their disgust with loud boos when Hafner took a called strike three to end the sixth.
The only other highlight for the Yankees was a three-run home run by Vernon Wells with two outs in the eighth off reliever Alfredo Aceves.
“It’s hard no matter what,” Wells said. “You never want to lose games. Obviously they’re going to come, but we haven’t played good enough baseball to win. That’s the bottom line. We haven’t clicked in all three phases of the game. It’s just a matter of time before we do, but it would be nice for it to happen sooner rather than later.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.