It might be a new season, but it was the same old Red Sox-Yankees game at Fenway Park on Sunday night. It was long, it featured dramatic shifts on the scoreboard and it was decided once the starters had gone to the showers. There was also an intensity that forced you to confirm that it was indeed April and not October.
The deciding moment in the game was when Kevin Youkilis scored on a passed ball by Jorge Posada in the bottom of the seventh, as good a reminder of what month it actually is as any calender. The run capped a comeback from a 5-1 deficit built with the help of Curtis Granderson's home run in his first at-bat as a Yankee and a helluva night for Youkilis who doubled twice and tripled. The Yankees also led 7-5, but Chan Ho Park got taken over the Monster by Dustin Pedroia to set up the winning run.
The result was somewhat secondary to the long awaited return of baseball. It was a beautiful day in both New York and Boston, as if the spirits were saying that it was time for baseball to resume its primacy in our sporting lives. That's a good day, win or lose, and we're relatively sure we'd be saying that even if the Yankees had won 10-1.
You don't want to draw any conclusions from the first of 162 games, but you can probably get used to games that run in the vicinity of the three-and-a-half hour-plus affair that you got on Sunday night. The Yankee lineup is as patient as a World War II bride waiting for her husband to make it back from hopping islands across the Pacific -- sorry, that's the usual Sunday night viewing seeping in -- and they make pitchers pay for lapses in concentration.
Josh Beckett was out of gas before the fifth inning was complete thanks to one long at-bat after another and all five runs that he gave up came after he got two outs in an inning. CC Sabathia looked better than his opposite number for much of the night but imploded in a three-run sixth that tied the game while restoring the old maxim that hitters are ahead of pitchers in the early days of the season.
Sabathia wasn't so hot in Baltimore when he started the 2009 season, a thought that will make it easier for many Yankee fans to stomach a loss in an opener that looked like a big win in the early going.
Everyone will sleep late Monday and the Yankees will cede the spotlight to the Mets. The rivals renew animosities on Tuesday with A.J. Burnett and Jon Lester squaring off at Fenway.